Petty Tyrants

The seventies turned out to be a trend-laden, fad-crazy decade. We all listened to 8-track tapes of Jackson Browne, Olivia Newton-John, and Marvin Gaye. Disco was born, the sounds of Abba, the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. Every party you went to would have cheese fondue. This was the decade of wife-swapping parties and smoking pot. I guess Jack was ahead of his time with the wife-swapping attempt. People were wearing what they wanted, growing their hair long, having sex, doing drugs. For the first time in my life, I was totally free to do as I liked. I smoked pot and liked it. No, I loved it. Sex didn’t mean love so there was a lot of that. One day, another Jim walked into my life. I was working at O’Tooles. Jim Brazil watched me whizzing around serving drinks for about an hour. He then called me over to his booth and asked me if I wanted a job. I said I already had a job. He wanted me to waitress at a new place on Moosic Street called, The Upstairs. It was run by Benny Santoro and Billy Schreiber. I took the job and made more money right away. Grown men tipped better than college students. Billy Schreiber was a bit of a tyrant. You could never please him. Benny Santoro on the other hand was a doll. I didn’t know at the time if Benny’s family was “connected’. There was a big crime family presence in Scranton. The Buffalino crime family, was an Italian-American Mafia crime family active in Northeastern Pennsylvania, primarily in the cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Pittston. The Don lived in Pittston and was connected to the "Five Families". The organization spanned from Philadelphia to Los Angles. Benny’s father Vito was rumored to be one the Buffalino family’s trusted soldiers. The Upstairs was primarily a forum for dancing and Rock music. It was ear splitting loud and hard to hear the drink orders. Billy did not miss my unmistaken ability as a cocktail waitress. He had more of a stake in the bar downstairs, simply called the Downstairs at the Upstairs. This was more of a laid-back lounge. He wanted me to work there. That meant he was now supervising me, not laid-back Benny. I remember one night the place was packed and I was the only waitress. Every time I walked by him, he would say, “Hustle, Hustle, Hustle.” He really got under my skin. I was his best waitress, but he would never tell me that. There was a band that played upstairs that had an organist who was partly deaf. I thought that was amazing that he was able to be a musician despite his disability. The Downstairs closed earlier than the Upstairs. After I finished work, I would go Upstairs for a drink. One night the band had me on stage with them. I couldn’t sing or play an instrument, so they gave me a tambourine. I had such fun that night. Frankie, the organist, and I were very attracted to each other. We ended up at his apartment a few times. All I can say about sex with him was that it was quite acrobatic. I called him one night, a booty call to be honest. I had been drinking, but drove to his place in Dupont. I made a left turn that was too wide and almost hit another car. There was yelling and cursing. I did not get out of the car. There was not actually an accident, so I drove off. I still did not realize at the time that I had a problem with alcohol. Fourth of July that year, I had the day off. I made plans to go to a clambake with some friends. That morning, Billy S. called and told me I had to work. When I told him, it was my day off, he could care less. He said “Come in or you’re fired?” I was angered, I yelled back, “I quit” and hung up the phone. Good thing I was living with my parents again because I was now unemployed. A few weeks later, I needed to take a cab somewhere. The cab driver looked familiar. It turned out he was a regular from The Downstairs. He told me driving a cab was just a side job. He was also the manager of a neighborhood bar called the Black Garter and could use a cocktail waitress. Unfortunately, Bill S, my former boss was the owner. He said don’t worry, he never comes in. He won’t even know you are on his payroll. The next week I started my adventure at the Black Garter. That’s where I met Johnny Donahue. The universe just kept sending me clones of my father. I guess that happens until you learn the lesson the Universe is trying to teach you.

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