CRADLE OF CRIME- A Daughter’s Tribute By: Luellen Smiley
The memoir began as a compass to my secretive and criminal family history. This is the story of a woman whose survival is wedged between shameless love and immobilizing fear of her father.
As Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s best friend and business partner from 1937 until his death in 1947, my father, Allen Smiley, acclaimed Ben Siegel. He was seated next to Ben the night he was murdered; a story very few have read.
Faced with identity meltdown ten years after Dad died, I implored his friends, associates, historians, FOIPA, The Immigration and Naturalization Agency, and Archives of the Department of Justice, to build the branches of my legacy. Along with this irreversible journey, I suffered disgrace, rage, and Dad’s ghostly disapproval as I delved into the FBI files and discovered the family secrets: his gambling addiction, criminal activities, imprisonment, an attempt at reformation, and the vendetta the government placed on him for not cooperating as an informant. I could be mute about the subject, or expose what I know because I’ve made the family history mine.
Incorporated within stories of discovery are government surveillance records, newspaper articles, court testimony, and criminal activities that defamed his reputation and our family. As the research escalates, the reader is taken inside the transformation of my identity. Once liberated from Dad’s paranormal disapproval of my investigation, the book is written.
After convincing the Mob Dad wasn’t going to cooperate with the government when they offered him immunity, the Mob honored and protected him using amusing, violent, and illegal means. Dad served the organization until he took his own life in 1982. It’s taken twenty years to publish the book. This is a startling, yet inspirational look inside the struggle of a gangster’s daughter to understand her father’s allegiance to the Mob.
I hope you will consider my point of view; men in organized crime bare a life and death burden as fathers.
The book is 264 pages and is available thru Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and several wholesalers. It has earned 28 -5* reviews on Amazon.
My Father is not a gangster
Los Angeles, CA. 1966.
Luellen, I heard your father is in a book, The Green Felt Jungle. It’s about gangsters. Wanna’ see if the drugstore has it?” I agreed to look because she was interested, but it meant nothing to me. Dena twirled the book rack around as I stood behind her watching.
“That’s the book! Let me look first and see what it says,” she whispered. I could feel her arm tense up as I grasped it.
“Oh my God! There he is,” she said. We hunched over the book and read the description of my father: “Allen Smiley, one of Ben Siegel’s closest pals in those days, was seated at the other end of the sofa when Siegel was murdered.” Dena covered her mouth with one hand and kept reading silently.
“What does that mean? Who is Siegel?” I asked.
“Shush–not so loud. I’m afraid to tell you this. It’s awful.”
“What’s awful? Tell me.”
“Bugsy Siegel was a gangster in the Mafia. He killed people. Your father was his associate.”
That was the first time I’d seen photographs of Ben Siegel slumped on that sofa, dead with an empty bloody eye socket. I was thirteen years old. The same year my mother died. A few days later after Dad left for the evening I opened the door to his guarded bedroom. I walked around the bed to a get a closer look at the photographs on the wall. It was the first time I could read the inscription: “To Smiley, from your pal, Ben.” It was the same man in The Green Felt Jungle.
“What are you doing in my bedroom?” I slammed the drawer muted by Dad’s abrupt appearance. He pulled a key from his pocket and locked the drawers. His hands shook, and the veins in his neck inflamed.
“HOW DARE YOU GO INTO MY THINGS? What is it you’re looking for? Tell me or else you will not step out of this apartment for a month. Speak up! What are you looking for?”
“I was looking for pictures?” I stammered.
“What kind of pictures?”
“You’re lying to me! Don’t think you can fool me, you can’t. You want to see photographs have a look at this one.” I looked down at the ground and held my breath.
“Now you listen to me and don’t forget this for the rest of your life. This is Benjamin Siegel! He was my dearest and closest friend. “He paused to regain his composure.
“What else do you want to know? Let’s discuss it right now!”
“Daddy, what is the Mafia?”
About the Author
Author Name: Luellen Smiley
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Luellen is a creative nonfiction writer and newspaper columnist. She wrote a weekly bi-monthly column, “Smiley’s Dice-Adventures in Livingness, for the Del Mar Times in San Diego. Smiley’s Dice earned a Blue-Ribbon Award in the California Newspapers Association for her Growing Up With Gangsters columns. Cradle of Crime- A Daughter’s Tribute is her latest publication and is available on Amazon.
THE MOB MUSEUM LAS VEGAS – Book Signing August 5, 2017, postponed
JEWISH POST & NEWS WINNIPEG – Book Review
THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN – Book review
THE BALLSTON SPA JOURNAL- Book review
THE SARATOGIAN -Book review
ARTISTS FIRST CRIME BEAT RADIO – Book review
THE VOICE OF SANTA FE 101.5- Book Interview
LA COSTA NOSTRA – Print excerpt from the book
LA POSADA RESORT AND SPA- Book Publication Party
GANGSTERS INC. – Print Interview
WINNIPEG JEWISH TIMES- Excerpt from book
KLAS-TV LAS VEGAS- TELEVISION INTERVIEW –BUGSY SIEGEL
KNPR RADIO LAS VEGAS, NEVADA MOB EXPERIENCE
KABC TELEVISION INTERVIEW MOB EXPERIENCE
KPBS: On-/Air Magazine Interview featuring her dance troupe; The Jammers.
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE: Health Feature on the Jammers.
MORE MAGAZINE- Monthly contributor
ALAN SITMAR : BOOK JAM: Confessions of a Mob Kid
NEW YORK POST: Confessions of a Mob Kid
DEL MAR TIMES: Weekly columnist 2/2000- 7/2007 Smiley’s Dice
THE SOLANA BEACH SUN – Smiley’s Dice
THE RANCHO SANTA FE REVIEW – Smiley’s Dice
THE JOCKEY CLUB NEWSLETTER: Feature “Jockey’s Wear Nikes Too.”
THE SARATOGIAN: Feature story, “For the Love of Molly.”
TIMES UNION ALBANY: Feature on naming Ballston Spa, “The Village of Friends.”
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