Thanks to all who came out to hear about Father of Mine

On Thursday, I did something I rarely ever do.

I left the house.

Yes, I leave for NBC-related travel. I leave for periodic vacations. I leave to run errands once per week. (Grocery store, pharmacy, bank.) I leave to go out to dinner, maybe once per month.

This time, I got in my car and drove roughly 110 miles from our home in North Central West Virginia to my hometown of Wheeling. I'd been asked to appear at a lunch-hour discussion about Father of Mine, my mob novel set in Wheeling.

The request came far enough in advance to get me to not think about the fact that I'd be sinking roughly six hours into the effort at a fairly busy time on the calendar. For July 12 Florio, the wishes and whims of August 31 Florio didn't matter.

So I agreed to do it. My biggest concern was that no one would be there. (My second biggest concern was that someone from the old crew would show up in a Members Only jacket, duck into the bathroom, and then the screen goes black in the middle of a Journey song.)

When I got to the Ohio County Public Library, I surveyed the parking lot. (No parallel parking.) It didn't look all that crowded. But the lot wasn't so empty to raise any red flags.

When I got down to the auditorium where the event was being held, I was blown away. Standing-room only. One of the library workers counted 200 people. I was amazed that so many people showed up for something I never would have gone to.

They streamed the thing. I spoke for about 20 minutes, answered questions for about 40 minutes, and signed books and visited with old friends and neighbors for another 45 minutes.

I spend 10-15 hours each week speaking extemporaneously, but I'm usually alone with a camera or a phone. To have 200 people in the room was a little different, to say the least, when it was time to start saying words and not sounding like a moron.

Along the way, I picked up two interesting tidbits.

One gentlemen told the story of hanging out at the local horse track, calling in bets to a bookie (not my dad) after a race ended but before the bookie knew the race had happened. That's frowned upon, for obvious reasons. He and his partner did it six times that day.

They got caught. They were called in for a sit down with the boss and others, and they somehow lived to tell about it.

Another man, now bound to wheelchair, told me a story about being in his father's store in 1948. My grandfather, who died seven years before I was born, walked in. The man asked his father about my grandfather.

His father said he had great respect for my grandfather because, at the time, the Black Hand was attempting to infiltrate the Italian neighborhood between 16th and 18th Streets in Wheeling. My grandfather fought hard against them.

Through the pressure and the threats and the intimidation, he did not relent. He did not waver. He did not fear them.

His message to those who hoped to apply Old Country ways to a New World was simple: "We are Americans now."

Hearing that made the entire trip worth it. (It was also nice to get on the front page of the local newspaper twice in five days, without getting arrested. When I was a kid, I used to deliver that same paper to 50-60 houses every single morning in the rain, snow, ice, wind, whatever.)

Thanks to everyone who showed up for the event. I apologize that we ran out of books. There might be a few more signed copies available at

Father of Mine can be ordered from Amazon, $4.99 for the ebook and currently $14.24 for the paperback.