The song “It Was A Very Good Year” was written in 1961 but made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1965. Sinatra was described by J. Edgar Hoover as having a “hoodlum complex.” Frank wasn’t bashful when it came to hanging around with some of the Mafia types. One writer noted: “The greed and chutzpah of a career criminal can never be underestimated. Sinatra had been good for the theater, but the way the wiseguys figured, he could be even better for them if he performed for free.” And Frank did perform for his Mafia friends without charging them
I mention all this because Frank’s song would have spoken of what both Mafia killer Greg Scarpa and the sordid and morbid Stevie Flemmi considered the year 1964. Scarpa was 38 and Flemmi was 30. Each one met and became romantically involved with a stunning and breathtakingly beautiful 17-year-old woman.
Greg Scarpa met Linda Diana a five foot five-inch stunner who at age 17 was wise to the world or as one would say was 17 going on 35; Steve Flemmi met Debra (Debby) Davis already married at that age but not too worldly wise. Both men would start to shower their young women with a multitude of gifts including new cars. Greg bought Linda a 1964 Buick Riviera; Stevie also bought Debby a brand new head turning car.
When Stevie met Debby she was working at Taylor’s Jewelry Store in Brookline. George Taylor who owned the place was rumored to be the biggest fence in Brookline. There was more than one woman who told how she brought her diamond ring to his shop to be appraised only to find out years later that rather than having a diamond in her ring she had a rhinestone. Whether Debbie knew about George’s knavery is not known; what is known is that a guy like Stevie would need a good fence. George Taylor filled the bill. That’s how Stevie discovered Debby.
Both men became deeply involved with these teenagers. Scarpa fell in love with Linda; Stevie could never fall out of love with himself enough to love Debbie. That’s why when Scarpa lied dying of AIDS 30 years later Linda was still his girl. She took good care of him during his declining years; 30 years after Stevie met Debby all he had to take care of him was a prison guard. In 1995 Debbie was no longer around and Stevie was in prison where he remains to this date.
Both Linda and Debbie wanted to start a family. Stevie told Debbie it was out of the question; Scarpa told Linda he’d be happy to be the father to her children. Linda was delighted at this so she pushed him to get divorced from his wife Connie. Linda did not want to be a single mom and have her children born out-of-wedlock. Scarpa explained to her that as a Mafia man he was prohibited from divorcing Connie.
They came up with an unusual solution to their problem. Linda would marry another guy but would have Scarpa father her children. They had two kids and their relationship continued until Scarpa’s death.
Stevie’s obstinacy about not having children made Debbie start drifting away from him. She went off on a trip six or seven years into their relationship to Mexico. There she met a guy who could give her the comforts of life she had become accustomed to as well as one who was interested in having a family with her. After a while she developed a serious relationship with him, planned to go live with him, and told Stevie the news that she would soon be gone because she was moving on.
Debbie remained strong despite Stevie’s rage over the idea. She naively thought she could maintain a friendship with him. Stevie learned she had bought plane tickets to go back to Mexico in a day or two. He told her before she went she should come to see the house he had just bought for his parents. Debbie knew Stevie had other women and had lived off and on over the years with Marion Hussey. She figured Stevie could live without her; it never occurred to her that he believed she shouldn’t live without him.
Stevie could not conceive how another man could take his place. When she came to visit his parents future home he made one last pitch to her not to go; when she refused he strangled her.
Two young and beautiful women of the tender age of 17 made decisions to involve themselves with older men who were high level gangsters. Each one perhaps had thought: “When I was seventeen, it was a very good year.” Of the two one would see the autumn of her years; the other would have a few years after twenty-one and then a grave in a bank of a river.