I dropped Darling Daughter #3 off at her high school this morning as usual. It’s not that all of a sudden I stopped being a grumble crunch and turned into Mary Poppins Mom, no. If I don’t drive her she’d be late every day. She comes home herself via public transit. So, I said to my self, “Self, I’m on the Belt (Belt Parkway) and it would take about ten minutes to get to Howard Beach. So, let’s go.” So, I went.
As I drove around the snow encrusted streets of this upscale waterside Queens neighborhood, I pondered how it took 35 years to make an arrest in this infamous 35-year old case…the Lufthansa heist which the Martin Scorsese 1990 movie “Good-fellas” made infamous. The thing is, the robbery’s mastermind, James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke (portrayed in the film by Robert De Niro as Jimmy Conway) made sure most of the men on the “crew” didn’t live to tell. The chances of anyone ratting from the grave are nil. However, now some evidence has surfaced, including digging up the body in a mob hit done in 1969.
First I stopped at St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church, a long respected institution in the neighborhood that also has a thriving school. I’m well aware that Howard Beach was the home of mob king John Gotti, but I prefer to think of the folks who go to St. Helen’s as being truly representative of the community.
Then I took the road to the backside of Howard Beach, which edges on a wetland. I’ve driven this road several times and it’s always a bit eerie to me. Off in those reeds beyond the bend is where, if I were a mobster, I imagine I’d bury or sink the dead bodies. But it might be a protected wetland and then when law enforcement tried to dig them up they might run into problems with the EPA. Actually, no, I think murder would trump in that scenario.
I didn’t look for any crime scene tape on a house, or something ornate or walled-in that might resemble a mob residence so I could then photograph it. Living in Brooklyn lo these many years, has led me to believe that might not be a very healthy thing to do. Although I can’t imagine why, as a great many mob-wives readily display their homes on reality TV shows. I don’t watch those shows and so wouldn’t recognize any of those houses if I drove right past them.
I did snap shots of typical neighborhood homes, many of which still had their outdoor Christmas decorations up because it’s way to cold to take them down due to the arctic deep-freeze New York has been going through these last few weeks.
Then I hit the main drag, Cross Bay Boulevard, and stopped at the legendary Lenny’s Clam House, with its gallery of notables including politicians, actors, athletes, singers, and musicians. My husband Joseph and I have eaten here and also at a steakhouse we enjoyed that is now long gone.Both have been rumored to have served a mobster or two.
Now when I drive to Howard Beach, I usually stop at Starbucks where I open my laptop and work on my next novel, or I pull out my Kindle and read something hot in Christian indie fiction or crime fiction while I sip a cup of Tazo Awake tea. When in Howard Beach, I want to stay fully awake, as I might pick up some ideas for my next crime fiction novel.