A Gangster is Born

Charles "Lucky" Luciano was born in 1897 in Lercardia Friddi, Sicily. The town was known for its sulfur mining and was short jaunt from the largest city of Sicily, Palermo. His parents worked hard as they could to provide for young Charles, but the long hours and chapped hands still didnít put enough food on the family dinner table. Not only that, little Charles had a penchant for hanging around older kids that contributed to his mischievous behavior.

The Lucianos looked at their bleak surroundings long and hard. Should they continue to stay in an area that their ancestors lived for hundreds of years? What about their friends and other relatives, it would be difficult to part from them. But they knew they had to find a better way of life and fast because Charles wasn’t getting any younger. They heard about the promised land of America from friends. They were told about plentiful work and good schools. They would soon realize that this simply was not true.

The Lucianos set sail for America in 1906 and arrived at New York harbor in November of that year. Mischief and mayhem were the key factors in describing Charles’ youth. He logged his first arrest in 1907 for shoplifting. During the same year, he started his first racket. For a penny or two a day, Luciano offered younger and smaller Jewish kids his personal protection against beatings on the way to school; if they didn’t pay, he beat them up.

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Lucky Luciano

One runty kid refused to pay, a thin little youngster from Poland, Meyer Lansky. Luciano fought him one day and was amazed at how hard Lansky fought back. They became bosom buddies after that, a relationship that would continue long after Luciano was deported back to Italy years later.

In his teens, Luciano became adept at various vices, most notably narcotics. At age eighteen he was convicted of peddling heroin and morphine and was committed to a reformatory for six months. Upon his release he resumed narcotics dealing. By 1916, Luciano was a leading member of the notorious Five Points Gang and named by police as the prime suspect in a number of murders. His notoriety grew as did his circle of underworld friends.

By 1920, Luciano was a power in bootlegging rackets (in cooperation with Lansky and his erstwhile partner Benjamin "Bugsy Siegel), and had become familiar with Joe Adonis, Vito Genovese and most important among Italian gangsters, Frank Costello. It was Costello who introduced him to other ethnic gangsters like Big Bill Dwyer and Jews like Arnold Rothstein, Dutch Shultz and Dandy Phil Kastel. Luciano was impressed by the way Costello bought protection from city officials and the police, which his buddy Meyer Lansky had already told him was the most important ingredient in any big-time criminal setup.

Luciano later joined forces with Joe "the Boss’ Masseria. He soon realized that Masseria didn’t see the future like he did.

1. Cosa Nostra

2. A Gangster is Born

3. The Long Ride

4. Castellammarese War

5. My Friend Meyer

6. Murder, Inc

7. Living Large

8. Not So Lucky

9. Lucky Factor

10. Bibliography

11. The Author
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