author, Cereal Authors, JD Holiday, Life, Truth, As Strange As Fiction, writer's life

Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Life In Riverside

Image result for 1960s pictures of paterson nj

Riverside is a larger neighborhood in Paterson, New Jersey. Its boarded on three sides by the Passaic River, hence its name. My husband Angelo grew up in Riverside on Fifth Avenue. Everyone in the neighborhood was familiar with the mob’s management style learned from fearful whispers. From the 60s through the 70s the mob was in control of this Italian neighborhood. Like other ‘families’ in other places, in Riverside the mob owned most everything. They owned many types of businesses. Among them oil and textile, dozens of factories that had seen better days, the local lumberyard, a couple of bars and a few restaurants. Even the local laundromat and a whole lot of real estate – many run down houses which crammed the city streets. It was far from an upscale area.

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This is what the house Angelo grew us it looks like today.

Random crime was not done in Riverside without the perpetrator facing retaliation to set an example. And the only killings, shootings and stabbings, handled the ‘family.’

Between the police presence and the mob it was safe to walk the streets. Joseph D. Pistone aka FBi undercover agent ‘Donnie Brasco,’ said that growing up in Paterson he learned how local mobsters acted as he saw them hanging around, gambling, doing ”the basic things that wise guys do.”

The street rules were, don’t meet their eyes if you could help it, or if you did, look away as quick as you can. And if spoken to, be polite. You could see them at their local hangout in the back booth and a nearby table in the pizzeria on River Street talking, smoking and reading newspapers or the daily racing forms.

During the race riots that followed the death of a great uniter Martin Luther King (1968) the Riverside area stayed untouched for this very reason. While Riverside escaped the turmoil, my part of town near Madison Avenue and Market Street wasn’t so luck. The riots brought nightly looting and fires to the businesses. We kept our doors locked and shades down through the curfewed nights. Each morning we’d wake and feeling jittery head out for school once the seven AM road barricades lifted.

National Guard lined the streets and manned the barriers while their military tanks (this was my first time seeing tanks) and jeeps parked nearby. My dad drove me to St. Joseph’s High School through these narrow cobblestone back roads. We meandered along those street to avoid any lingering problem passed an unkempt park. This whole area was hundreds of years old. I asked my dad how he knew about these street. They were new to me. He smiled. In his college days, he said he attended William Paterson college then located on twenty-third Ave and worked for a beer distributor. He would deliver beer weekly to the St. Joe’s rectory for the priest’s Friday night deliver on these very roads.

Any murders in Riverside were not gangland killings, those between mob families over turf. But of anyone who betrayed or inform on the mob. Their bodies left in the open over night as an example to others. A few major cases were of a guy knifed on Fifth Avenue and left at the bus stop for the morning commute. Another was a man shoot threw the windshield and his car backed into a parking space in the A&P lot, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company-an extinct grocery stores chain. The third happened at 1:30 AM on October of 1966. A neighbor of Gabriel ‘Johnny the Walk’ DeFranco, (known for a limp when he walked), looked out and saw three men assail DeFranco on his apartment porch at the corner of Madison and 5th Avenues. DeFranco answered his doorbell to his killers. They beat DeFranco before slashing his throat. His killing would be later connected to an earlier murder of a young married woman shot twice in the head in February of that year. Her body dumped in a Garden State Parkway gully not far from her home. Her car was found in Newark doused with gas and on fire. Both murders were later connected to a wife-swapping club, amateur porno shoots, and counterfeiting. Angelo was paper boy in the early 60s in the neighborhood and DeFranco was his best tipping customer.

Angelo rode his bike to do his paper route after school. One time a couple of mob guys stopped him. They ask him to take a bag and ride down a block and throw it into the open window of a black sedan. Angelo murmured, “I got to get home,” and rode off. He knew not to do anything of that source.

Angelo and I married in 1970 and for a time we lived with my in-laws. (More on that in a future post.) Shortly we moved next door with our baby to the first floor apartment of the corner house. Both my parents had died sixteen months apart and the rest of my family imploded in the squabbling aftermath. For me, my father was the glue. When he died my mother slipped away from the rest of the cracking paste which crumbled after her.

The mob boss drove himself around in a Cadillac. He would stop by for the rent money from my mother-in-law first of every month and have coffee with her. My husband’s family paid sixty-five dollars a month for as long as they lived there while most renters paid one hundred-fifty dollars and had to go to the lumber yard to pay it. If my father-in-law had a few drinks he would say the landlord was sweet on her. She got us the apartment next door.

I only met the mob boss twice and remembered all the rules of engagement barely looking at him while greeting him with smiling.  I couldn’t have described him if someone paid me.

Both meetings were in my mother-in-law’s unattractive aqua colored kitchen. All the rooms were the same color. That included the walls, woodwork and ceilings of this early nineteen hundreds house remodeled for the 1960s.

Near the end of the four years we lived in Riverside Angelo begun interning as a nuclear medical tech. He was now lived near that Pennsylvania hospital. So it was up to me to walk around to the lumber yard where renters paid there rent on the first of the month. Lumber of all sizes laid around in neat stacks lining the driveway you had to walk down. I don’t think lumber in the yard or at else from those stacks ever moved. I would write the check out at home to be able to get in and out of the office fast. You didn’t know who would be in the office. Usually a few men hung around a water cooler off to the side of the front counter giving you the eye. But it you were luck it would just be the one nice guy there was working the office. He wasn’t much older than me and he was always respectful. Only once did one of the wise guys try to chat me up as I nervously looked away. But Mr. Nice Guy told him, “She’s married and a young mother,” to him and a smile for me.

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THIS is the house we rented in the 1970s. This is what it looks like today.

Soon a new reasons to leave arose. By this time muggings and worse began devastating the area. The neighborhood schools continued the down hill spiral they’d been on for years. My daughter was now a four year old and this was on our minds heading into the future. On weekday mornings I would feed my daughter, get ready for work and then get her dressed for another day with her grandmother. This one day, she couldn’t find her pink bow headband. It was a favorite for the moment, so I joined in her search. Earlier, she was playing on the couch in front of the TV. Thinking that was the best place to start, I moved a cushion and put my hand around it feeling to the beloved headband but pulled out a warm died baby rat. I knew mice from rats. I dropped it and drew my daughter away from the couch, leashed the puppy we took in after someone had dumped it in our backyard and ran to my in-laws. The lumber yard sent a couple of men right over in answer to my frantic phone call where I was told, “Yeah, we are have that problem in the area right now.” They gave me the all clear the next day, but that was it for us. While we packed to move we found huge lifeless relatives of the baby rat in the yard. We saw our future elsewhere now. The old Riverside mob was beginning to lose its grip and the younger guys, now heavily into the drug trade and the crimes that it brought with it. No more ‘safety’ from the horrors of life. 

Copyright 2019 ~JD Holiday

Character Quotes, Dellani Oakes

Character Quotes from Raven Willoughby: Origins

character-quotes-image“When you didn’t come back, we went looking for you,” Micah growled. Though he’d said they wouldn’t. “We couldn’t find her lair, though we were up the coast three days or more, and back down. No sign of you or her. Where have you been for nigh on four months?”

“With her. Eating, drinking, making love.” He paused, squinting at the shorter man. “Four months? You’re sure?”

“Positive. One of the mildest winter’s we’ve had, but still here and gone. You came at winter’s start and here it is spring.”

“My business!” Raven moaned. “My ships! They’ll think I’m dead. What’s become of my venture. My money!” Grasping his hair, he paced the land, bemoaning his fate.

“That’s why you never love a witch,” Payter said. “Didn’t your mother ever teach you that?”

“Excuse me,” Raven said. “But she died when I was seven. And before that, the subject of bedding ancient witches hadn’t come up. Until all this happened to me, I thought witches were a thing from fairy tales.”

Payter shrugged. “Still. Anyone should know that. Worst thing in the world, bedding a witch.”

“Best thing that ever happened to me,” Raven countered. “If I died today, I’d be a happy man. The things she did to me—weren’t human, decidedly immoral and very likely illegal.” He chuckled earthily.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Dellani Oakes, Sassy Sarcasm

Wil VanLipsig, the Most Sarcastic Man I Know by Dellani Oakes

sassy-sarcasmAdmittedly, many of my characters are extremely sarcastic. I’m sorry (well, not really) they are related to me, after all. It can’t be avoided, surpassed or denied. I’m not ashamed of their scathing wit and sarcastic communication. In fact, I like it. I feel at home there.

One of the most sarcastic of all my characters is Wil VanLipsig, the Lone Wolf. Wil is a genetically enhanced Galactic Marine. Although he is 86 years old when Lone Wolf begins, he doesn’t look a day over 30. The doctors on the enhancement team had tried to extend the life span of the Marines. Instead, they stopped the clock. That’s not to say that he can’t be killed, but he’ll make a very youthful corpse.

I can’t even talk about Wil without being sarcastic. See what he does to me? It’s his fault, I promise you. I’m not nearly as sarcastic as he. Then again, I’m not nearly as old and jaded as he is, either. He’s seen a lot in his long life, most of it horrible. He knows the evil that men do, he’s been on the receiving, as well as the giving, end of that all too often. He is either hero or villain, depending upon ones perspective.

In any case, I digress, which I’m wont to do when I speak of Wil. He is one of my favorite characters. I won’t say the most, I don’t want to be accused of favoritism. It will make the other characters angry if I extol his virtues without mentioning his faults.

Perhaps a few snippets of dialogue will better illustrate the relationship I have with him, and he has with others.

lone wolf first four covers

Lone Wolf:

“Could you maybe?” Wil gestured to the point of her weapon, motioning down.

Lowering the barrel, Matilda kept her eyes on him. “Colonel VanLipsig, I’m required to quote you Guild Regulation 516 A, which states….”

“I know what the hell it states, Commander. Let’s pretend you quoted to me about unprovoked attacks on a fellow Guild member. Only he started it and I’m not Guild. I just transport stuff.”

“Why?” she demanded.

“Cause I’m nice.” His tone was petulant, his stare defiant.

“And damn well paid,” Marc added, his voice harsh and raw.

“Yeah, well that….” Wil said with an offhand shrug. “Look, I’ve been out deep for awhile. A man gets pretty lonely out there all alone. You’re the first woman I’ve seen since I left Aolani six months ago. Damn, you’re fine! I bet you have men panting after you all the time.”

“Not really,” she lied. This was a trick to get her off guard and she knew it. “I very much doubt Captain Slatterly would react so heatedly just because you were trying to seduce me.” She flashed a cocky grin.

Wil paused, gazing at Marc appraisingly. His expression changed to a stony-edged glare. “I dunno, it was over a woman last time too, wasn’t it, Marc?”

Lone Wolf:

“I’ve never been able to compete with that thing you do.” Marc wiggled his fingers by his head.

“Believe me, Marc. I didn’t do the thing.” Wil imitated Marc’s gesture unconsciously, then hesitated, hating to admit the truth. “Well, I tried, but it didn’t work.” He held up both hands as if Marc pulled a gun on him.

“How could it not work?” Marc was incredulous. “I know the pheromone touch when I see it!”

“I did the touch, I let her get my scent. She felt it, but shook it off somehow.”

“Are you sure?”

Wil gave him a patient look. “She pointed a gun at my head and threatened to kill me. Yeah. It worked.”

“Then why is she with you and not with me?”

“My magnetic personality.” Wil chuckled as Marc grimaced.

Lone Wolf Tales new

Gone But Not Forgotten – A Lone Wolf Tale:

“Drink this,” the doctor commanded. He handed Wil a large thermal bottle of cold liquid. It was roughly two liters of fluid.

“All of it?”

The doctor nodded, not taking his eyes off Matilda.

“Think of it as a really big shooter. You’re losing a lot of fluid, that replaces it.”

Sighing resignedly, Wil picked up the bottle and drank. In disgust, he spewed, wiping his lips roughly with the back of his hand. “This tastes like lizard piss!”

“You’re an expert on flavors? You’ve sampled some lizard piss, have you?”

“Yeah, as a matter of fact, I have,” he replied testily.

The doctor shrugged. “Chug it, won’t taste it as long.”

“Thanks, you’re a real saint.”

I could go on and on, but I wouldn’t have any good quotes to share next time – or the time after, or the time after that…. Okay, you get the idea. You probably noticed that Wil isn’t the only sarcastic one present. I think he actually brings that out in other people. Maybe it’s part of his magnetic personality?

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Character Quotes from Trifecta by Dellani Oakes

character-quotes-imageHe climbed up on the examination table, with her help, and propped his leg for her, hiking up his shorts so he top of the cast was exposed. While he did that, she got the saw and other equipment she would need to remove the cast. Russ watched her move around, admiring her taut glutes and firm thighs.

“Stop staring at my ass,” Althea Lang complained without looking at him.

“Why do you always know? You can’t see me. I don’t make a sound.”

“It’s the lack of noise that’s the key,” she stated as she approached with the saw. “Considering where this saw is going, do you really want to perpetuate this conversation?” She revved the saw with a grin.

“I’m sorry. Like always. But you have a very—picturesque physique, Nurse Lang.”

“How very carefully worded, Detective Cavanaugh.” She put on the goggles and face mask before bending over to her work.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Character Quotes from Crime Makes an Entrance by Dellani Oakes

character-quotes-imageDino started the car and took off in his usual cavalier style. Ms. Du Champs was silent for some time, just trying to stay in an upright position while Dino drove down the ramps at forty miles an hour. He cut into the outgoing traffic and sped into the night, zipping in and out of traffic seemingly at random.

“Really, Dino, do you have to drive so carelessly?” she griped at him now, leaving Deacon off the hook for the time being.

“It’s better when you don’t look,” Deacon murmured, sliding lower into the seat.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Among the Shine Clan, Dellani Oakes

Among the Shine Clan Part 22 by Dellani Oakes

among the shine clan coverFiddlestix has left the military and is now freelancing as a solo. Her path leads her to Daytona Beach, where she’s sitting in a bar, waiting for something to happen.

As if on an unspoken signal, the three men approached her table, in a non-threatening manner. The bodyguards kept their hands well away from their weapons, moving in to flank the corp. He stopped by her table, asking permission to sit with a gesture of his hand. A sharp inclination of her spiked blonde head indicated he could. Taking a seat on the rickety chair, he leaned across the table in a conspiratorial manner drawing unwanted attention. Fiddlestix pressed her thick soled boot against his seat, pushing it away from the table, tapping his testicles in the process. Getting the idea, he moved back.

“Is there somewhere more appropriate we can talk?” Even his voice was medium range and uninfluenced by an accent.

Fiddlestix was formulating a snide, snappish reply when he reached up to remove his glasses. For the first time, she saw something of him that wasn’t dull brown. His eyes were a startling, vivid green. The expression in them was one of desperation. Her manner changed rapidly from sarcastic to curious.

“Sure.” she said softly.”Low’s got some private conference rooms downstairs.”

The tall, ugly one nodded slowly. The short one looked around quickly, assessing the room before Fiddlestix and the corporate rose from the table.

“Lead the way,” the short man said with a thick Hispanic accent.

Remaining wary, she strutted toward the stairs leading down to the private, secure conference rooms. They were the only aspect of Low Blow Gonzalez’ dive bar that was high tech and sophisticated, laced with a security system that made Fort Knox look like it was made from Tinker Toys. They entered one of the rooms, locking it with a code that Fiddlestix tapped in. The room would remain sealed until she released it.

The corporate took a seat in one of the broken down chairs, inviting Fiddlestix to sit. Knowing the instability of the furniture, she chose to stand instead.

“How can I be of assistance, Mr…?”

He had failed to introduce himself. Fiddlestix refused to deal with people whose names she did not know.

“Smith,” he replied with a furtive look at his bodyguards.”These two gentlemen are Blacksmith and Buzzard.”

“Your real name. I don’t deal with people who hide things from me. You want my help, be honest.”

“Donnan Varin,” he admitted quietly.

“The contractor king?”

Varin had forged an empire by building substandard housing for the poor. Dozens of lawsuits were pending. To avoid controversy, he went into hiding. Now here he sat bold as brass, begging for her help.

“Yes,” he muttered. “But it’s not what you think.”

“Mr. Varin was indisposed for awhile,” Blacksmith explained.

“A lot was done in my name,” Varin said fixing her with a commanding gaze. “My affairs were mishandled by people I thought I could trust.”

Fiddlestix propped one foot on an unsteady chair, lighting a cigarette while she waited for him to continue. Instead, he turned to Blacksmith, eyes pleading.

Blacksmith stepped forward. “What Mr. Varin is trying to say, is that while he was indisposed, things went wrong in his business and his wife disappeared.”

“Define indisposed. How could all this happen without his knowledge or consent?”

“I was medically incapacitated.”

Fiddlestix was getting annoyed, which usually meant she got violent. “That didn’t explain at all. I want plain English, Varin, or I walk.”

“Well, I was dead.”


He nodded nervously. “For a period of five years, I was dead. This body is a replacement, the first one died of a rather dreadful disease.”

“You’re a clone?”

“Yes. You see, I had my former body held in stasis until I could reunite my body with my psyche.”

“Spare me the details. It sounds like it’s bordering on metaphysical, let’s not go there.” She turned away, waving her hand, ending the discussion.

“I badly need your help, Miss Braun.”

Fiddlestix whirled on him, grabbing his shirt. “Don’t ever use that name! Hannah Braun is dead.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Character Quotes from Author of Love by Dellani Oakes

character-quotes-imageRegina gave me a saucy wink. “A girl never tells.”

Girl was a stretch, but she was a fine looking woman of a certain age. She was still neat and trim of figure, even if most of her years were behind her.

“Will you come meet my friends?”

“Perhaps in a bit,” I said, leaning closer. “I’m trying to work my charms, Ms. Regina. Think I’m doing okay?”

We glanced at Grace, who could hear every word. Regina studied Grace’s face, tilting her head.

“Yes, I do believe you are. You hang on tight to this one,” she advised Grace. “And grab that delicious ass of his at least three times a day, you’ll be the happiest woman on earth.” Giving me a big kiss, she swished over to her table. “I told you I knew him,” she said to her friends.

They were all ogling me. I knocked my napkin on the floor and bent over to pick it up, giving them a good look. I winked at Grace when I sat back down. Her napkin over her mouth, she snorted a little, trying not to laugh. Her blue eyes twinkled and danced.

“You’re plain evil, Blake Arbuthnot.”

“You say evil. I say resourceful. Potato—Potahto.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Character Quotes from Dark Rock by Dellani Oakes

character-quotes-image“Private Armstrong reporting, sir.”

“I’m Hawk. The sultry Asian beauty next to me is Jade. See that woman right there, by herself?”


“That’s your new partner. Dark Moon, keep an eye on the kid, huh?”

The young man crawled over to the woman who had some of Archer’s blood drying on her suit. He dropped on the floor beside her.

“Hiya, Sis.”

“Wait a second. She’s your sister?” Hawk sounded incredulous.

“Yeah. So?” Tweak replied.

“Moon, you cool with this?”

“He’s a crack shot, I taught him myself. He’s a little wacko….”

“All good techs are. Keep him alive, huh?”

“I’ll do my best.”

“Yeah, Mom would get really mad if you let me die.”

“Shut up and do your job.” Dark Moon thumped her brother affectionately on the helmet.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Character Quotes from The Ninja Tattoo by Dellani Oakes

character-quotes-image“Your disappearance made the news,” Billy said. “If Tack hadn’t of called when he did, your Aunt Betty Jean and your mama were gonna come lookin’ for you personally.”

“Holy God,” Teague rolled his eyes. “I can imagine how that’d be.”

“It’d end in tears, that’s for damn sure,” Billy nodded, grinning. “Ain’t a force in nature as can stand up to those girls where their babies are concerned.”

“I’m surprised they didn’t come with you,” Teague said.

“Well, they were gonna,” Junior said from the kitchen. “But damn if Connie didn’t trip over something and sprain her ankle. And Mama had to stay and watch after her.” He winked, going back to work.

“You tripped my mother?” Teague didn’t know whether to be angry or laugh.

“Me? Oh, hell no,” Junior replied. “She tripped over the tackle box that got shoved in her way. Hell of a thing, couldn’t figure out how it got there. Must’ve been a ghost.”

Teague was laughing hard by now, picturing his mother taking a header over Junior’s tackle box.

“You’re an evil man, Junior Dugan. I’m sure glad you’re not mad at me.”

“Ain’t mad at your mama either, but Daddy said they needed to stay behind. I had to do some quick calculating and you know I’ve always been a little slow with numbers.” He shrugged.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Character Quotes from Fly by Night by Dellani Oakes

character-quotes-imageLori came back a few minutes later. “I was banished. All I did was offer to put the crystal in the dishwasher and I earned a one way ticket to the living room.” She and Blythe exchanged a high five. “I totally love this family. Mine is so normal.”

“Yes, we’re odd, but in a fun way. And I wouldn’t exactly call you normal. Your dad won’t eat any white vegetables and your mom picks things up off the floor with her toes.”

“That’s it, malign the monkey toes. I see where this is going.”

“Oh, where?” This from Jason as he walked back in the room.

“To the trees, McDuff.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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