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July 02, 2008


I'm going to delve a little into the dark past of my family history. I had two Great Uncles named Rocky and one named Joe. Both of my Great Uncle Rocky's and my Great Uncle Joe worked for Al Capone.

I never had the honor of meeting my Great Uncle Joe; he met an untimely end way before I was born. My Grandmother told me he had a fond love for cars. He was an incredibly good driver and was able to turn corners at a high rate of speed without rolling over. I’m not sure what position My Great Uncle Joe filled while under the employment of Al Capone, but my guess is that it had something to do with high speed chases.   His life ended behind the wheel of a car. Not from injuries sustained by a car accident, but from a shower of bullets through the windshield from a couple of Tommy Guns.

My Great Uncle Rocky's, made it to ripe old age of being really old. To avoid confusion of   having two Uncles named Rocky, we gave them nicknames based on their size. There was Big Uncle Rocky and Little Uncle Rocky.

Little Uncle Rocky ran booze for Capone. Basically making deliveries to various speak easies and clubs. It was probably one of the safest jobs to have working for a gangster and it apparently paid pretty well. Whenever Little Rock was around for family functions or even if he passed me or one of my cousins on the street, he'd pull out a wad of cash and throw us a twenty. Our parents always told us not to take it or to give it back. We would always make a half hearted attempt to return it, but he would never take it back.

My cousins and I thought that our parents frowned upon us taking money from him, because he was old and unemployed and the money he was giving away he actually needed. What we learned after his passing, little Uncle Rock had a mattress stuffed with cash and hadn't worked since his days as a booze runner. Our parents objection to taking this money was because they felt it was dirty. I don't know who ended up with that mattress, Little Uncle Rock didn't have any kids and he wasn't married. My guess is that Big Uncle Rocky might have staked a claim.

Now my Big Uncle Rocky was a big strong guy. Even though he was up there in years, he can still pack a punch. Every time I would shake his hand he would crush mine. He taught me that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they shake hands. A strong firm handshake means a person is confident and fearless. A limp handshake is a sign of weakness.

One day Big Uncle Rock gave me a rubber ball. He said "Take this kid and squeeze it. It will increase your hand strength and you'll bring your enemies to their knees".

Big Uncle Rock was muscle for Capone. He was an enforcer. He's the guy who would break your bones if you didn’t pay up. Did he ever kill anyone? That I don't know, but I do know that the law was after him for a very long time and they eventually got him for tax evasion He spent the last two years of his life in prison.  Perhaps  the IRS  came  across an unclaimed  cash filled matress in his  garage.

Although I have never used my Uncles extensive handshake training to crush my enemies, I actually have used it to judge strength of character. However, I never adhere to that rule, but it always sticks in my mind when I shake a persons hand.