On the city streets dealing on a daily basis year after year with the full spectrum of mankind one learns the necessary steps to survive. Fights and killings don’t occur because the FBI is telling street-wise people certain things are happening. They are everyday occurrences.
Here are two or three of the many things I’ve gotten almost jammed in on that jumped into my mind as I write. I wasn’t one of those guys out looking for trouble even though it seemed to walk the streets with me. I walked into a popular Ho Jo’s on Morrissey Boulevard to get an ice cream cone and happened to look at another guy standing by the cash register. He threw at me, “what are you looking at!” The next thing I know I’m in a fist fight. I was standing in a bar and talking about a baseball game with a couple of friends. One of the really tough psychos appeared out of the blue. He said, “what are you talking about me for. You wanna step outside.” I obviously didn’t and smothered him with a million assurances of my innocence.
I was walking down the street with a couple of friend and three guy were coming the other way. Passing by on the sidewalk I accidentally bump into one of them squeezing by. He yells at me and pulls a switch blade. Words were exchanged but eventually we talked down the situation. Cooler heads prevailed. Later one of my friends asked me, “why didn’t you take the knife from him? Weren’t you taught that in the Marines.” I smiled thinking there’s a great difference between practicing and the real thing. Better to see if what I learned would work when there was no other choice.
On the streets it is a world where insults are imagined by some or are looked for by others. It’s a world where the truth is “heard on the street” or picked off “the grapevine.” It’s like in the Marines when we lived off scuttlebutt that often was wrong. Or, the federal courts where multiple hearsay is accorded the status of truth and the killing is done by taking years from a person’s life. Multiple hearsay when it boils down to is rumor or gossip, in some worlds it’s enough to get someone murdered by a gun or in others more slowly in a prison cell.
I suggest, and I’ll get to it more as I continue the reexamination of Whitey’s life, that it is more likely that if Whitey was involved in the murders of Halloran and Callahan that it was done from information he picked up on his own through his street contacts than anything Agent Connolly passed on to him. My recollection of Halloran’s cooperation, which I will refresh later, is that it was so well known that FBI agents were filing informant reports stating that their street level toughs were telling them that the word on the street was Halloran was cooperating and was wired. Every time Halloran called or met with Callahan according to FBI Agent Montanari, who was heading the investigation, all Callahan wanted to talk about was the weather. It was obvious Callahan knew he was working with the FBI. If Callahan knew, all the hoodlums knew.
Never mind that, all the gangsters knew Halloran with a pretty bad rap sheet was out on the street on $50,000 bail. He was facing a first degree murder charge for shooting George Pappas in the head in China Town. Normally one without a record would be held without bail yet Halloran, a known gangster with a prior gun charge, is walking the streets. Don’t think that did not raise the eyebrows of some of the gangsters. As I said, it doesn’t take much for them to want to protect themselves.
The natural assumption by any gangster would be that if Halloran is wearing a wire and trying to get information from Callahan then the FBI is trying to get information from Callahan. John Murderman Martorano knows the information Callahan has about his involvement in the Wheeler murder puts him in great danger. The murder of Roger Wheeler was done by Murderman because Callahan asked him to do it. Callahan hoped that by killing Wheeler he could buy Miami Jai Alai which Wheeler owned. He promised Murderman $10,000 a week to provide protection once he took over. It’s quite clear Murderman didn’t need to have a Ph D to figure out Callahan was a danger to him, all he needed was his street experience. He certainly didn’t need the FBI to tell him he was in danger.
When I open my mind to the realities of the gangster world where several dozen people were killed during their wars in the 1960s I have to keep in mind that murder is nothing to some of these people. To quote Murderman and Salemme, as I have it from his testimony in my book Don’t Embarrass The Family, Murderman said, “I’ve got to tell you one thing. Them 1960s and 1970s were tough times” or as Frankie Salemme put more succinctly, “As I said, its kill or be killed.” The gangsters need little reason to take a life, something as small as insulting one’s dog.
When they think someone has the potential for is ratting on them they don’t have to be told by the FBI that they are in danger. To think that they do is to ignore how they have lived their lives. Halloran’s cooperation was an open secret; Callahan as the instigator to the Wheeler murder was a clear and present danger. How John Connolly, or the FBI, gets blamed for those murders require a total ignorance about the way gangsters operate and a rush to believe the most outrageous lies of criminals. It runs up against the experience of anyone who grew up on the streets of the city. It is a tale told by conniving fools and believed by the innocent and gullible living in their ivy towers.