Believe it or not, I am not the first writer in my family. Granted, I don’t come from literary stock. The kids in my generation were the first family members to actually make it to college. And even my own writing history is less than traditional — no MFA, no creative writing classes, not even a single writing workshop. I just had a crack at it as they say.
But I was not the first…
In 1975, Mario J. Della Torre, Sr., a cousin of mine who in that strange Italian twist was the same age as my parents, published his magnum opus, With A Ferry Boat They Robbed The Bank — Italian Style. Two years in the making, this comic crime-caper told the story of Meme, Co-co, Pepe, and Senor Dadone, a pack of feisty Italian immigrants who want to stick it to the man by robbing a bank in New Jersey. They make their getaway in… you guessed it, a Ferry Boat on the Hudson River. Not just a crime novel, there are endless inside nods to the Italian-American community. And comedy, New Jersey Italian style:
Just then, something happened which you would never expect at a Bank robbery. Co-Co had developed severe gas pains. He had to go to the toilet.
“Where’s the john?”, he yelled. “Quick, I can’t hold it back much longer.”
The Senore turned to the teller, “O.K., Mr. chief teller, show Co-co the men’s room, and be quick. We can’t hang around here all day.”
Poor Co-Co just about made it. The odor was unbearable. He must have had fried onion sandwiches the night before.
Crisis No. 2: Co-co started shouting. “There is no toilet paper.”
“O.K.”, the Senore yelled back, “Flush the john, or we are all going to pass out.”
The Senore snapped open one suitcase, and took out 4 $20.00 bills. “Here. Tell Co-co to use them for you-know-what.”
As with my own publishing efforts, it was a bit of a DIY effort: Adele Della Torre did the cover design (which sadly I don’t have with my copy — but I can tell you it was pink and featured a painting of a ferry boat), and Guy Della Torre did the interior illustrations of the characters. It was published by Pageant-Poseidon Press of Elizabeth, NJ, but I have no idea if that was a self-pub house or a legitimate publisher.
I’m currently working on the screenplay adaptation. I see Zach Galifianakis as Co-co and Harvey Keitel as the Senore.