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Earth to Earth and Ashes to Ashes

Submitted by on Tuesday, 19 May 2009No Comment
Paul Winning First Place In Karate (1982)

Paul Winning First Place In Karate (1982)

It is June 6th, 1981 and we are leaving from my uncles house in Romeoville, Illinois to go back to the funeral home in Chicago. It’s my father’s funeral and he is going to be buried today. I don’t even know how I feel any more. I have been through so much already but I am handling it. Everything is still surreal to me.

We get to the funeral home and it is a very sunny day. The sun for whatever reason took away some of the darkness of the day or at least for a little while. The energy at the funeral home is different today. It has been real slow and somber previously. Today it was more fluid and about logistics. I remember the funeral director, a friend of my uncles, was telling him how the day would go. The priest will come in to say a prayer; we will bring the hearse out back, then to the church, and finally the cemetery. It seemed like too much praying and dragging this thing out from my perspective. I wanted to get this day over with so I could begin to figure things out.

The priest came in and led in prayer. They led everyone out of the viewing room except for us. We watched as they loaded my father in the back of the hearse.  I did not like this. I felt like my father was more like cargo then my father.  After what seemed like a long discussion we figured out what vehicle we were supposed to be in and started lining up for the procession.  I don’t know how they handle funeral processions today but back then every car was given a purple cross decal that they place in the front window of their car. Everyone reminds everyone to have their headlights turned on. When you ride in a funeral procession, you do not stop for any lights or stop signs. This is great for Chicago-land traffic but I was in no rush for anything. I just wanted this over with. We finally arrive at the church for my fathers service.

Before pulling out the casket, they pulled out this accordion like device with wheels. It is used to move the casket if it was not being carried. It repulsed me and it was strange with all that was going on that this “casket carrier” would evoke such strong feelings from me. I could only think that this reinforced for me that he was now like cargo. Not my father,  but cargo. I don’t remember much but I do remember the church had Jesus on the crucifix in the front of the church. I recognize the inside of this church once on TV because of the Jesus on the crucifix. That was the biggest Jesus on a cross I had ever seen.  Then another priest led us in prayer again. If we were not so redundant with all this praying, we could be done with this already. The reality was that there was no amount of praying that was going to bring my father back, so what was the point of doing it more than once?   Now we have to load my father on that horrible contraption, and wheel him back to the hearse for the trip to the cemetery.

 

Queen of Heaven from Roosevelt Road

Queen of Heaven from Roosevelt Road

Queen of Heaven Cemetery is very large cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. It is off of Wolf Road and is across the street from another cemetery, Mount Carmel. I have family in both cemeteries. One of Mount Carmel’s infamous residents is Alphonse Capone. Al Capone is one of the first leaders of the Chicago Outfit (the Chicago mob).  Other than being the most famous gangster known, he was also very responsible for the Chicago Outfit being a single hierarchy or one leader. He simply killed all those that did not share this philosophy. Across the street at Queen of Heaven Cemetery there are other Outfit members buried there. If you are familiar with the Chicago Outfit then you will be familiar with Anthony “Big Tuna” or “Joe Batters” Accardo, and Joseph “Dove” Aiuppa. Both were gunman for Al Capone and later each became the lead man in the Outfit. Anthony Accardo got his nickname “Joe Batters” supposedly from Al Capone. After he smashed a couple of Outfit traitors heads in with a baseball bat, Al Capone responded by saying that kid was a real “Joe Batters.” Both of these men ran or influenced the Chicago Out fit all the way into the late 80’s and early 90’s. They also can boast what most gangsters can’t – they each died of natural causes. Sam “Mad Sam” DeStefano and many other Outfit members are also buried at Queen of Heaven. “Mad Sam” is considered to be one of the most violent members in the history of the Chicago Outfit. He would torture most of his victims and he liked to use an ice pick. Here’s the irony.   He was also the mentor (and was later killed by) another gangster buried at Queen of Heaven –  Anthony “The Ant” Spilotro. In Martin Scorcese’s movie Casino, Joe Pesci played the character of Nicky Santoro. Nicky Santoro was based on the real life Tony Spilotro.  Tony Spilotro was Frank Cullotta’s boss during the Las Vegas days before Tony was killed in 1986 by the Chicago Outfit.  Frank Cullotta was the boss of Larry Neumann and Larry Neumann is the killer of my father.   That’s right – the ultimate “boss” of the gang that killed my father is buried in the same cemetery.

This is Joe Pesci in the movie CASINO as Nicky Santoro. The Outfit tough sent from Chicago to protech the Vegas skim.

This is Joe Pesci in the movie CASINO as Nicky Santoro. The Outfit tough sent from Chicago to protech the Vegas skim.

We took my father to the chapel at Queen of Heaven.  The chapel is powerful and overwhelming in its conveyance of the Roman Catholic faith. You feel naked before God there.  I was alright with that though, because I felt miserable and God knew it; everybody did. The priest came to lead us in prayer.   I guess this was just in the case the first two sessions of prayer earlier in the day did not take.  Someone has given me a rose. I can’t remember who actually gave it to me – but I remember a few of us had them. I remember my mother and my uncle had their roses. We all placed them on my father’s casket one at a time. The man in the box was my dad. I would never see him alive or dead again. It’s sinking in, he is gone. Oh, I am hurting now, the awfulness of this is now being realized in this moment. I am not the only one. My mother and my father’s brother are literally holding each other, in tears. I never seen my uncle cry. I lost it, I am bawling, I can’t take this “FUCK EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING!” Why did this have to happen.  Why? No one should be ever made to feel like this, especially a little boy. My life was circumvented for what. The pain is so bad that I give in to my anger. This is the first day of emotional recognition. I am fucking angry!

I remember that we lagged behind as we always did. I remember my uncle talking to someone at the chapel. They were either from the funeral home or the cemetery. They wanted to make sure that my father did not have any exposed valuables. My uncle said that he didn’t and now I understood why everything was put inside his jacket suit pocket. So my father is not even safe in death. What an ugly fucking world. Why is there so much out there to make me hurt – to make me angry. The young boy who was care free and loved life just days ago is gone forever. I have never seen him again since. This is too bad because I liked that young boy and I miss him very much.

I think that everyone went to Uncle Joe’s and Aunt Cherrie’s house. They lived nearby the cemetery and we always wound up there after a family funeral.  Nothing was going to comfort me. Not family, not food, nothing. I felt like I was so alone in this world. No one can hear me, no can understand me. I was now on my journey. I did not know where I was going to journey to, but I was on a path.  All I knew was it was not going to be a good one, but I am forced to walk it all the same.

How am I going to cope with all of this?

 

Amazon link to Murder In McHenry

This is the Amazon link to the book Murder In McHenry by Paul Scharff and Keith Bettinger

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