an untold story

Dick Kreck’s book about the Smaldone family is probably of interest to me because we lived in Denver on three separate occasions.

My father worked for Gates Rubber Company in Denver and we moved back to New Mexico shortly before Pearl Harbor was attacked December 1941.

My husband and I had four children, ages 8, 7, 6, and 4 1/2, when we moved to Denver from Houston in 1970, moving back to Houston in 1976.

A final stint in Denver was our longest: 1980 until we moved to Seguin December 1997.

Thus, I  certainly read about the  Smaldones and remember hearing about the great Italian food at Gaetanos (although we never seemed to make it to the restaurant).

Kreck “captures the complexity of this local crime syndicate” in Smaldone The Untold Story of An American Crime Family.

From the book:

The two men on his front porch were familiar to Joe Roma.  Otherwise, he never would have opened the door to them.  He was careful like that.

The little house at 3504 Vallejo Street in the heart of North Denver seemed a safe haven for Roma and his second wife, Nettie, whom he had married on April 14, 1931.  The couple had lived in the isolated bungalow, which provided unobstructed views in all directions, for only a few days.  The house directly behind theirs was unoccupied, the lot on the north side was empty, and undeveloped blocks covered the south side of West Thirty-fifth Avenue and the west side of Vallejo Street.  The nearest neighboring house, 3455 Vallejo Street, was catercorner to the Romas’.  Nobody heard the shots that killed him.

The front and back doors to the modest gray stucco house were always locked, and a bodyguard frequently stayed in Roma’s home–but somebody got in.  Shortly after noon on Saturday, February 18, 1933, the boss of Denver’s gangland, the man known as Little Caesar, was riddled with seven bullets, six of them to the head.  When Nettie returned home from visiting her mother on Quivas Street, a few blocks, away, she found Joe slumped in his favorite overstuffed chair in the front parlor.  She thought he had fainted, but when she tried to lift him out of the chair, she saw that he was covered with blood.  “Oh!  He’s dead!” she screamed to no one in particular.  She carefully laid his body on the floor and called the police.


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