Students Can Surprise You, Part 3
Luke 21:36 -” Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
Inlingua is an international, European based language school with a branch office in Miami. Many languages are taught here: French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, English. You name it and they’ll find a teacher for it, all using the same and most effective Inlingua method. I had the opportunity of teaching one-on-one English to all members of a very wealthy family from Columbia while working on my doctorate. They lived in one if those multi-million-dollar condos on Key Biscayne with a residence in Medellin, Columbia. This was the 1980s, era of guerrilla terrorism throughout Columbia, left and right.
Their story was known to a point. An attractive mixed-race family, the father was the owner of a chain of very popular department stores in Columbia. He was also politically influential. In the United States, he had special privileges as a visiting dignitary. Well dressed, well-mannered were his wife and two daughters. One day I noticed during our individual sessions, this particular class one-on-two, scars on the knees of the two young ladies. Couldn’t help but notice. They confided in me their story. Being as wealthy a family and as well-known as they were, left wing guerillas had kidnapped the two daughters demanding millions. He paid off but not without a struggle. The Columbian military had intervened with the intent of capturing the kidnappers. Unfortunately, the two daughters were caught in the middle and consequently there developed an opportunity to escape. They ran from where they were being retained and shot in the knees during their escape, disabling their efforts but nevertheless successful. Let’s say the guerillas were merciful. They did get their money. No sooner than they had rehabilitated and recovered, the family was then threatened by right wing militias, mother and father included. Not again! They packed up to escape Columbia and moved the entire family to Miami. They left behind a contingent of paramilitary protecting their Department Stores and its administrative staff left in Columbia. And that’s the rest of the story as revealed to me by the father.
The Gambino family was Catholic, a la Vito Corleone style Catholic if you know what I mean. Carlo Gambino was known as the ‘Capo de tutti capi’, boss of all bosses, in the Gambino crime family of Brooklyn, NY. Everyone knew of him in New York City. At the time of his reign, many a street shoot out, many a court room drama pertaining to criminal accusations of his purported shenanigans. No one was safe from competing crime families, even innocent family members.
All this transpired shortly before the Godfather movie. And though the Godfather movie portrayed the real Bonanno family, The Gambino family story had many parallels. One very striking similarity was their origins of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, the same as our family. Another story there.
Enter Amari, an Afro American student who transferred from a small private college in North Dakota. Originally from Miami, he wanted to return home. He responded well in my class and we struck up conversations. He admitted that he could see I was very Italian and had many characteristics similar to his roommate in that North Dakota college, especially the way we talked and expressed ourselves. He told me of how he became good friends with his roommate and how he would remind Amari of his willingness to help him if he ever needed help, that he would back him, that he would support him in any way. Just ask. Everyone on campus seemed to like his roommate, this Italian kid from Brooklyn, and had great respect for him. So I asked him, what was his name, expecting some typical Italian name.
“Carlo Gambino,” he replied.
“What?! Do you know who that is?”
After further inquiry about him, it was confirmed. Carlo Gambino is the grandson of the ‘capo de tutti capi’ Carlo Gambino of Ocean Parkway Brooklyn. So named after his grandfather as traditional Italian families do. Since mafia families all live in danger, it is better that the next generation be protected by being sent to some obscure college in some obscure state. Here they can get the education needed in order to continue with more legitimate family business in the future. The Bonanno’s did it, the Corleone’s did it. The real Joe Bonanno went to Arizona, the fictitious Michael Corleone enlisted in the army. With so many enemies and fear of attack on every side, send the grandson to North Dakota. What do these cafone [ie. Italian peasants] of Brooklyn know about North Dakota? Let us hope this leaves the younger Gambino, essentially an escapee from mobster Brooklyn turmoil and left to worship God without undo interference as a young Catholic boy should.