Charles Angelo Siringo (1855-1912)
Siringo was born in Matagorda County, Texas to an Irish immigrant mother and an Italian immigrant father from Piedmont. He attended public school until the age of 15, when he started working on local ranches as a cowboy. After taking part in several cattle drives, Siringo stopped herding to settle down, get married (1884) and open a merchant business in Caldwell, Kansas. He wrote a book, entitled, A Texas Cowboy; Or Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony. A year later, it was published and became one of the first true looks into life as a cowboy written by someone who had actually lived the life.
In 1886, bored with the mundane life of a merchant, Siringo moved to Chicago and joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency. He was immediately assigned several cases, which took him as far north as Alaska and as far south as Mexico City. He began operating undercover, a relatively new technique at the time and infiltrated gangs of robbers and rustlers, making over one hundred arrests.
In the late 1890s, posing as “Charles L. Carter”, an alleged gunman on the run from the law for a murder, he infiltrated Butch Cassidy’s Train Robbers Gang. For over a year, using information he would gather, he severely hampered the operations of Cassidy’s gang, but without many arrests. After the gang committed the now famous train robbery near Wilcox, Wyoming, in which they robbed a Union Pacific train, Siringo again found himself assigned to capture the Cassidy gang. Several members of the gang were captured as a result of information Siringo gathered, including the capture of Kid Curry, who escaped but was again cornered and killed during a shootout with law enforcement in Colorado. Siringo’s information helped track him down. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid both fled to South America.
Siringo retired in 1907 and wrote another book entitled, Pinkerton’s Cowboy Detective. The Pinkerton Detective Agency held up publication for two years, feeling it violated their confidentiality agreement that Siringo had signed when he was hired and objected to the use of their name. Siringo gave in and deleted their name from the book title, instead writing two separate books entitled, A Cowboy Detective and Further Adventures of a Cowboy Detective.
Giuseppe “Joe” Petrosino (1860 – 1909)
In 1874, the remaining members of the Petrosino family emigrated to the United States from Padula (in the province of Salerno, Campania), a village in southern Italy. Joseph had come over previously with his cousin to live with their grandfather in New York. An unfortunate streetcar accident took the life of the grandfather and the two young cousins wound up in Orphans/Surrogates Court. Rather than send the children to the orphanage, the judge took them home to live with his own family and provided for the boys until relatives in Italy could be contacted and arrangements made to bring over family members. Joseph Petrosino and his cousin, Anthony Puppolo, lived for a time in a “politically connected” Irish household and this opened up educational and employment avenues that was not usually available to immigrants.
On October 19, 1883, Joseph joined the NYPD. During his service he would become friends with Theodore Roosevelt, who was police commissioner of New York City at the time. On July 20, 1895, Roosevelt promoted him to detective sergeant in charge of the department’s Homicide Division, making him the first Italian-American to lead this division. The pinnacle of his career came in December 1908 when he was promoted to lieutenant and placed in charge of the Italian Squad, an elite corps of Italian-American detectives assembled specifically to deal with the activities of organized crime.
One notable case in Petrosino’s time with the Italian Squad was when the Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso, who was performing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, was blackmailed by gangsters who demanded money in exchange for his life. It was Petrosino who convinced Caruso to help him catch those behind the blackmail. A second notable case was Petrosino’s infiltration of an Italian-based anarchist organization that assassinated King Umberto I of Italy. During his mission, he discovered evidence that the organization intended to assassinate President William McKinley during a trip to Buffalo. Petrosino warned the Secret Service, but McKinley ignored the warning, even after Roosevelt, who had by this time become Vice-President of the United States, vouched for Petrosino’s abilities. McKinley was assassinated during his visit to Buffalo’s Pan-American Exposition on September 6, 1901.
Petrosino’s investigations into Mafia activities led him to Don Vito Cascio Ferro. In 1903, Petrosino arrested him on suspicion of murder, but Cascio Ferro was acquitted. Cascio Ferro later returned to Sicily, where he became increasingly involved with the Sicilian Mafia. In 1909, Petrosino made plans to travel to Palermo, Sicily, on a top secret mission. Unfortunately, the New York Herald published the story of Petrosino’s mission on February 20, 1909, just days before his departure. Even though he was aware of the danger, Petrosino headed to Palermo as planned. Petrosino wrongly believed that the Sicilian Mafia would not kill a policeman, as they did not in America. On March 12, 1909, after arriving in Palermo, Petrosino received a message from someone claiming to be an informant, asking the detective to meet him in the city’s Piazza Marina to give him information about the Mafia. Petrosino arrived at the rendezvous, but it was a trap. While waiting for his “informant”, Petrosino was shot to death by Mafia assassins.
The various crime fighting techniques that Petrosino pioneered during his law enforcement career are still practiced by various agencies in the fight against crime.
John Sirica (1904 – 1992)
John Sirica was born in Waterbury, Connecticut to Ferdinand and Rose (Zinno) Sirica, both Italian immigrants. His father, Fred, who had emigrated from a village near Naples in 1887, worked as a barber. His mother, Rose, ran a grocery store. “It was”, Judge Sirica later said “an uphill fight against poverty.” The family, including brother, Andrew, moved several times, to Jacksonville, Fl, New Orleans, Richmond and, then when John was 14, to Washington D.C. Along the way, he helped out, working once as a waiter and another time selling newspapers.
Sirica received his degree from the Georgetown University Law Center after doing undergraduate work at Duke University. Boxing champion Jack Dempsey was a close friend of his and was Sirica’s best man at his marriage in 1952.
Sirica was in the private practice of law in Washington, DC from 1926 to 1930. He was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1930 to 1934 and, subsequently, returned to private practice from 1934 to 1957. He also served as general counsel to the House Select Committee to Investigate the Federal Communications Commission in 1944. John was a Republican and was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on February 25, 1957. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 26 and became chief judge of the court in April, 1971.
John Sirica had a largely unnoticed career before Watergate. He rose to national prominence during the Watergate scandal when he ordered President Richard Nixon to turn over his recordings of White House conversations. Sirica’s involvement in the case began when he presided over the trial of the Watergate burglars. He did not believe the claim that they had acted alone and persuaded them to implicate the men who had arranged the break-in. For his role in Watergate, the judge was named TIME Magazine‘s “Man of the Year” in 1973.
Sirica served as chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia from 1971 to 1974 and assumed senior status on October 31, 1977. He died in 1992 at the age of 88. Sirica, with the help of John Stacks, published his account of the Watergate affair in 1979 under the title, To Set the Record Straight: The Break-in, the Tapes, the Conspirators, the Pardon.
Frank Serpico (1936 -)
Serpico was born in Brooklyn, the youngest child of Vincenzo and Maria Giovanna Serpico, Italian emigrants from Marigliano in the province of Naples, Campania. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed for two years in South Korea as an infantryman. He then worked as a part-time private investigator and as a youth counselor while attending Brooklyn College.
In September 1959, Serpico joined the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and was assigned to the 81st precinct. He worked for the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) for two years and then was assigned to work plainclothes. Serpico worked in Brooklyn and the Bronx to expose vice racketeering. In 1967 he reported credible evidence of widespread systematic police corruption. Nothing happened until he met another police officer, David Durk, who helped him. On April 25, 1970, Serpico contributed to the New York Times front-page story on widespread corruption in the NYPD. Mayor John V. Lindsay appointed a five-member panel to investigate charges of police corruption. The panel became the Knapp Commission, named after its chairman, Whitman Knapp.
Serpico was shot during a drug arrest attempt on February 3, 1971. Four officers from Brooklyn North received a tip that a drug deal was about to take place. Serpico was sent up the fire escape to enter the building by the fire escape door and follow two suspects. When they came out the police arrested the two suspects who were found with bags of heroin. Serpico (who spoke Spanish) was told to attempt to make a fake purchase and to get the drug dealers to open the door. Serpico knocked on the door and the door opened a few inches, just far enough for Serpico to wedge his body in. Serpico called for help, but his fellow officers ignored him. Serpico was then shot in the face and the bullet struck just below the eye and lodged at the top of his jaw. His police colleagues refused to make a “10-13″, a dispatch to police headquarters indicating that an officer has been shot. An elderly man who lived in the next apartment called the emergency services and reported that a man had been shot. The bullet had severed an auditory nerve, leaving him deaf in one ear and he has suffered chronic pain from bullet fragments lodged in his brain. He survived to testify before the Knapp Commission.
On May 3, 1971, New York Metro Magazine published an article about Serpico titled “Portrait of an Honest Cop”. Frank Serpico retired on June 15, 1972, one month after receiving the New York City Police Department’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor. Serpico, a biography written by Peter Maas, sold over 3 million copies. The book was adapted for the screen in the 1973 film titled, Serpico, which was directed by Sidney Lumet and starred Al Pacino in the title role. In 1976 David Birney starred as Serpico in a TV-movie called, Serpico: The Deadly Game. This led to a short-lived Serpico TV series the following fall on NBC.
Serpico still speaks out against police brutality, the weakening of civil liberties and corrupt practices in law enforcement. On June 27, 2013 the USA Section of ANPS (National Association of Italian State Police) awarded him the “Saint Michael Archangel Prize”, an official honor by the Italian State Police and the Italian Ministry of Interior.
Antonin Scalia (1936 -)
Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey. His father, Salvatore Eugene Scalia, was an immigrant from Sicily, who was a graduate student and clerk at the time of his son’s birth, but who later became a professor of Romance languages at Brooklyn College. His mother, Catherine Scalia (née Panaro), was born in the United States to Italian immigrant parents and worked as an elementary school teacher.
When Antonin was six years old, the Scalia family moved to Elmhurst, Queens, in New York City. After completing eighth grade in public school, he obtained a scholarship to Xavier High School in Manhattan, where he graduated first in his class. In 1953, Scalia enrolled at Georgetown University, where he graduated valedictorian and summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in history in 1957. While at Georgetown, he also studied at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland and went on to study law at Harvard Law School, where he was a Notes Editor for the Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law in 1960, becoming a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University. The fellowship allowed him to travel throughout Europe during 1960–1961.
On September 10, 1960, Scalia married Maureen McCarthy, whom he met on a blind date while he was at Harvard Law School. Maureen Scalia had been an undergraduate at Radcliffe College where she later obtained a degree in English. The couple raised nine children, five boys and four girls.
After spending six years in a Cleveland law firm, Scalia became a law school professor. In the early 1970s, he served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, first in minor administrative agencies and then as an assistant attorney general. He spent most of the Carter administration teaching at the University of Chicago, where he became one of the first faculty advisers of the Federalist Society. In 1982, he was appointed as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Ronald Reagan.
In 1986, Scalia was appointed by Reagan to the Supreme Court to fill the associate justice seat vacated when Justice William Rehnquist was elevated to Chief Justice. Scalia was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, becoming the first Italian-American justice. As the longest-serving justice currently on the Court, Scalia has been described as the intellectual anchor of the Court’s conservative wing. In his years on the Court, Scalia has staked out a conservative ideology in both his opinions and in constitutional interpretation. He is a strong defender of the powers of the executive branch, believing presidential power should be paramount in many areas. He opposes affirmative action and other policies that treat minorities as groups. He files separate opinions in large numbers of majority opinion cases and, in his minority opinions, often castigates the Court’s majority decisions.
Regional Foods of Piedmont – a region of northwest Italy.
Piedmont’s forested foothills provide mushrooms and white truffles that add depth to risottos and pastas. Rich foods in general are featured with anchovies, garlic and gorgonzola cheese often in their recipes. The breadstick is also characteristic of Piedmontese cuisine. Grissini were actually invented at the end of the 17th century to cure the health problems of young Duke Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy. The Duke had major difficulty digesting most foods and the court doctor commissioned the court baker to make an extremely light bread. The baker decided to take dough used to make ghersa, a typical bread of Turin, and stretch it out into long, thin strips. Once baked, the thin breadsticks were crisp and easy to digest. Thanks to this recipe, the duke’s health improved and, after a couple of years, he was able to take the throne. He was crowned king in 1713. Legend has it that the ghost of the King, with grissini in hand, still haunts the rooms of his old castle.
- 1 cup milk
- 2 envelopes active dry yeast (4 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
In a saucepan, warm the milk. Add the yeast and sugar and let stand until slightly foamy. Pour the milk into a large bowl. Add the flour, butter, salt and oil and stir until a stiff dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead until elastic, about 5 minutes. Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough to it, turning to coat. Cover with a towel; let rest until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. (You can also use an electric mixer to make the dough.)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat down. Cut into 5 pieces and roll each piece into a 10-inch square. Brush the dough with oil and sprinkle with salt. Using a ruler and a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1/3-inch-wide strips. Transfer to the baking sheets. Bake the grissini for 12 minutes or until golden and crisp, shifting the pans as necessary for even browning. Let cool completely before serving.
Regional Foods of Campania – a region south of Rome on the west coast of italy.
Its capital, Naples, is the birthplace of Pizza Margherita (a tomato, basil and mozzarella pie) and its pizzerias are praised around the world. The area, which includes Pompeii and the Amalfi coast, is also famous for its San Marzano tomatoes, seafood and pasta. Campania is agriculturally rich: Tomatoes, chestnuts, figs, beans, onions, artichokes, lemons and apples flourish in the rich soils under Mount Vesuvius. Fresh, still-warm mozzarella, floating in brine; bubbly, wood-fired pizza and just-caught shellfish tossed with pasta are just a few of the can’t-miss dishes. The most famous Campania food product made from Sorrento lemons is limoncello (or limunciel, as the Campanians call it), a liqueur that is the result of an infusion of lemon peel in pure alcohol.
You can add rosemary, onion or oregano to season the focaccia, however the most traditional version calls for no extra flavorings.
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
In a bowl of an electric mixer, add the water, yeast and olive oil, then cover the liquid with flour. Add the salt. Mix the ingredients with the paddle attachment until combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic.
Coat a baking dish, roughly 9″ x 13″ and 2″-3″ deep liberally with olive oil.
Stretch the dough until it is roughly the shape of the pan, lay it in the pan and push it into the corners to fit. Wiggle the pan back and forth to make sure the bottom of the dough is coated and slides smoothly. Cover and let rest an hour or until it has risen by half.
Create an interesting pattern of indentations using your fingers, coat the top with yet more olive oil to fill the indentations and bake in a 450 degree F oven for 20 minutes.
Regional Foods of Sicily
Separated from the peninsula by the narrow Strait of Messina, Sicily sits at the toe of the Italian boot. Grapes are not the only fruits that thrive in the warm Sicilian sunshine. Oranges, lemons and figs also love the climate and rich volcanic soils. Eggplant and tomatoes are also in abundance. The waters around Sicily provide tuna, sardines, anchovies and swordfish. Dry pastas come in every shape and size in Sicily. The local olive oil is often poured over pastas and used to marinate fish. Local cheeses include the hard Pecorino Siciliano and creamy ricotta.
- 1 packet dried yeast
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1/4 cups golden durum flour or semolina -( if using semolina, grind in a blender a quarter cup at a time with some of the white flour until it becomes powdery)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
Dissolve yeast in warm water, let stand 5-10 min. until creamy. Stir in olive oil.
Mix together golden durum flour and salt and stir into yeast mixture. Slowly stir in 1/2 all purpose flour. Spread 1 cup all purpose flour on a work surface and turn the dough out onto the flour. Knead until silky, about 10 minutes. Work in more flour as needed. (You can also use an electric mixer to make the dough.)
Form dough into ball, oil a large bowl, place dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover, let rise 1 1/2 hours or until doubled. Without punching down, shape dough into a loaf.
Heavily dust a peel or baking sheet with flour. Place loaf on the baking sheet or peel and brush with water.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and press seeds into dough. Cover and let rise for 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for 30 minutes with a baking stone or tiles on the middle rack.
Spray the oven with water to create steam and slide bread onto the baking stone and spray with water again. Bake for 10 minutes, spraying with water during that time.
Reduce heat to 400 degrees F and bake 40-50 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow.
- Research: Pinkerton Detective Agency (cyncatsinkblot.wordpress.com)
- Italian American Culture – The Art Of Writing(jovinacooksitalian.com)