Articles by Ronald Rawson

Marcello Gumbo and a Big Easy Lagniappe

A mixture of New Orleans and Marcello stories, factoids, rumors and sayings. Everyone knows that Mosca’s Restaurant was Carlos’s favorite place to eat. It became Mosca’s in 1946 and is still in operation today. Prior to 1946 it was called Willswood Tavern. The story goes that Carlos liked the cooking of Provino Mosca so much that he gave the place to him and his wife and even built a small house for them to live…


The Death of New Orleans First Godfather (Part 2)

When we last left New Orleans it was April 1st 1869 and New Orleans first Godfather, Raffaele Agnello, had been shot down on Toulouse Street in The French Quarter, or as it was called at the time, Little Palermo. His brother Joseph, known as Peppino, would take over his spot as ruler of the Italians of New Orleans but it would be short lived and Peppino was never quite as effective as his brother. Another…


The Death of New Orleans First Godfather (Part 1)

Niccolo sold pots and pans from his pushcart. Well, not only pots and pans but other useful items as well. But he made his best money on those pots and pans. Since coming from Monreale to New Orleans two years earlier he had done moderately well for himself. First fishing and oystering in a lugger with a friend and then buying his own cart and supplies with the money he had saved up from that….


Carlos Marcello Makes a Name for Himself as Fagin

Today marks the birthday of the Little Guy, The Tomato Salesman. The one time Godfather of New Orleans and the South, Carlos Marcello. When I first started digging into all of the New Orleans history I was of the mind that I wouldn’t focus too much on the Little Guy. I knew about him of course, knew the basic history and the more famous stories and was more than familiar with the JFK angle. I didn’t…


The Life and Times of Vito DiGiorgio

Two armed men entered the shop of Debilia Liacola as Vito DiGiorgio was sitting in the barber chair and James Casaio was playing pool. The gunmen drew pistols. “You take the one in the chair and I’ll take the one playing pool” one yelled. ~ Police believe the slayers trailed the men over the country to assassinate them. ~From the Freeport Journal-Standard in Freeport Illinois, Saturday May 13 1922~ Vito Di Giorgio, arguably the first…


Silver Dollar Sam – Creation of The New Orleans Crime Family (Part 2)

So, as promised, I’ve found some new information on Silver Dollar Sam and want to pass it on to everyone. First, regarding the story on Sam and Al Capone meeting at the New Orleans train station and Sam sending him packing back to Chicago with his bodyguards nursing broken fingers. It appears more likely that the source for this myth would likely be that, yes, a Capone was in New Orleans but it was Ralph…


An Oysterman Gets Shucked

The young woman sat outside her father’s bar on Rue Bienville. She sat in one of several chairs lining the narrow walkway under the window of the bar that had Zimmerman’s Coliseum Saloon painted in red letters on it. The July heat was bad enough out here but it was much worse inside the bar. Add the exertion of serving customers, cleaning up and moving the crates of bottles around and it just made it…


On This Day in 1943 Charles Matranga Dies Aged 86

On this day the man widely considered the first Mafia boss of New Orleans, dies at his sister in laws home on Moss St., in New Orleans. Charles “Millionaire Charlie” Matranga, succumbs to natural causes at the age of 86, at approximately 12:15 am on the morning of Thursday, October 28, 1943. Born in Monreale Sicily in 1857, he is brought to New Orleans, in 1858. Over the next three decades his family are players…


Where New Orleans Buries it’s Dead Mobsters

Ever wonder where New Orleans, buries it’s dead mobsters? Probably not unless you have a bit of ghoul in you. BUT, just in case the thought did pop into your head, the NCS and The Crescent Corner, have compiled a handy dandy (kinda) quick reference guide for you to consult. I do have a bit of the ghoulish in me, and have spent hours walking around in NOLA cemeteries looking for some friends of ours….


Corrado Giacona: New Orleans Mob Boss (1922 – 1944)

“Pietro, I thank you and your son for the hospitality and the wonderful food, but this saddens me very much. We are friends and what I ask is not such a terrible hardship on a successful man like yourself. Please just say you’ll pay us the money and things will be as they always have been.” The men sat on the back porch of Pietro’s home. Pietro’s son, Corrado, sat next to him at the table holding a small…


Silver Dollar Sam – Creation of The New Orleans Crime Family

“You came a long way for nothing,” said the man standing on the platform. He spoke with a slight Italian accent. The man he was speaking to had just arrived to New Orleans, by train from Chicago. The two men were close to the same age but differed in appearance. The first was slight in build and balding. The newly arrived man was big, with a scar on the left cheek. He had spent several…