Monday, January 5, 2009

Books About the Early 1920's in WNY - Part 2

(About a month ago I bought 2 books to read, little realizing at the time that they both occupied the same space in time - the early 1920's in WNY. They also intersect briefly regarding an incident or two in the much broader common ground of Prohibition. They were not on the same side.)

Stefano Magaddino was a recent immigrant and Catholic by birth. This alone would have put him in the cross-hairs of the hooded knights. Like he even cared about them. However Magaddino wasn't fighting against the laws mandating Prohibition. Far from it. There was money to be made, and lots of it. The Buffalo-Niagara region was just the place to do it.

It was business, strictly business.

The Anti-Saloon League was a minor irritant at first. Once they hitched their wagon to the kkk they became emboldened. Petty bottle smashings started turning into a few major inconveniences for Magaddino and company. An annoying itch had become a pain in the posterior. You might say it caught their attention.

Don Stefano Magaddino was The Man in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls region and throughout southern Ontario. You might say he had the ins and outs of liquor smuggling covered, and much more.

A few fire-bombings later the preachers decided that maybe membership in the kkk wasn't all they had thought it would be. The sheets didn't give them quite the anonymity they craved, and certainly didn't protect them.

"Hooded Knights on the Niagara" was written using documentation from the 1920's. That means there was no mention of the Mob, as it didn't exist as far as periodicals of that time were concerned. Hoodlums and bootleggers also get scant attention.

For information on what else was happening regarding Prohibition on the Niagara Frontier back in the 1920's you need look no further than the life and times of Stefano Magaddino as described in "Mob Boss" by Mike Hudson. That's where you'll get the scoop on the men behind the steady influx of alcohol during this period.

Ever since reading the Reader's Digest condensed version of "The Valachi Papers" in one sitting while being the only kid at my aunt's house one long ago Thanksgiving, I have read many books that furthered the subject matter. "Mob Boss" fills in many of the blanks regarding the Outfit throughout WNY history. Facts are rounded out with folklore and memories of those who remember when.

I almost forgot - another look at Magaddino can be had through The Mob Tours, conducted in Niagara Falls by local author and historian Mike Rizzo. The website is pretty interesting too.

Two books, two viewpoints presented on facets of life during the Roaring 20's in WNY. I'm sure there are many more out there too. In fact, I may have a few of them on my bookshelf...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mob Boss is a good read, but factually incorrect. There are dozens of misspelled names also.