A Moose Is Born On Delancey Street
Dominic weighed twelve pounds seven ounces when he was born on the fourth floor of a walk up near Delancey Street. The Irish midwife who lived two floors below stayed with Sophia for the entire 16 hours of labor and giggled, “He’s as big as a moose” when Dominic finally made it into the real world. Sophia, who spoke very little English, liked the sound of the word and started to call her first born “Moose.” The name stuck.
Unlike Sammy “Nutso” Kaplan, the Moose had an uneventful childhood. His mom was usually pregnant and every couple of years there was another mouth to feed. By the time the Moose was thirteen-years-old, he had three brothers and three sisters. To support the growing family, the father Alphonso made a living any way he could. He’d sell clothing one week, do some labor the next, maybe knead some dough at the bakery. His wife Sophia helped out by taking in mending when she wasn’t looking after the little ones and somehow they managed to survive without any help from anyone.
Dominic was a bright kid. In another era he would have become a doctor, a scientist, a teacher. But this was the early 1900’s. And for a child born to an immigrant Italian family, the opportunities were limited. New York City was booming, construction was everywhere, and most of his friends took jobs building the skyscrapers that would eventually fill the landscape.
Construction wasn’t something that Dominic was crazy about. He could do it if necessary, but there was something more that he wanted out of life than getting yelled at by some boss. There were these men in fancy suits that never seemed to work and made their living providing protection to the shops in the area. Once the Moose grew up, it wasn’t too long before he would accompany them on their recruitment drives for new clients or when they needed to collect from a shopkeeper that had fallen behind on the easy installment plan.
It was just another way to make a living. The Moose would stand in the background with his hands in his pockets and make a few cents. Occasionally, he would hold a guy or smash a window, nothing that serious, but it was enough to add money into the family savings jar.
His best friend was Abe Solomon, a Jewish kid about his age, who grew up one floor above the Mancini apartment. Moose and Abe were like brothers. They were the same age, had the same interests, and when they got older even enjoyed the same women. While the Moose made money with protection, Abe kept looking for something even bigger. And when the 18th Amendment that banned alcohol was passed, he found it.
In 1920, the United States turned dry. Moose, his two younger brothers, and Abe Solomon stole a small truc. They painted a giant Moose on the side and started to drive in liquor from Canada. One truck led to two and before long, they had a dozen trucks driving back and forth. Everyone made money, the neighborhood had plenty to drink, and the Moose became a big shot.
Of course, there were risks: a driver would get hijacked; a truck would get torched; some runner would get arrested. But a few dollars here and there kept the party rolling. And by 1924, Moose Trucking had become the largest trucking company on the East Coast. Liquor continued to pour in from the north, but concrete needed to be delivered, heavy machinery needed to be moved, and cheap cigarettes could be brought in from the south.
In 1925, two truck drivers called in sick. It happens. Some concrete needed to be delivered to the West Side and Moose’s brothers volunteered to drive the few blocks to the job site. The Moose said, “it could wait.” Abe responded, “What’s the big deal?” Carmine and Mario drove out of the lot, made a right, and continued straight for a couple of blocks before they got stopped behind some road work that had mysteriously appeared. Four men with Thompson Submachine Guns appeared and riddled them both with enough bullet holes that made an open casket impossible.
At the Molina Funeral Home, a pale, distraught Abe Solomon walked in to pay his respects to his best friend. He went to give Moose a hug when Moose pulled out a handgun and shot his friend in the head. After Abe fell to the ground, the Moose shot him five more times, and then spit on the body before he slowly left the funeral home. The Moose wasn’t angry at Abe, but he wanted to make a point; mistakes are not tolerated.
The seventy-eight mourners who were in the funeral home when the shooting took place didn’t see how it happened and the local police, after receiving a sizable donation to their early retirement fund, closed the investigation as another unsolved murder in the escalating gangland violence.
In the years since, the Moose has become the head of the largest mob family in the United States.
Unsurprisingly, mistakes are still not tolerated.