BERNIE THE BOOKIE: From The Heart of a Gangster

Marshall Frank

By Marshall Frank

Most people who are introduced to my history as a 30-year law enforcement officer in Miami-Dade, Florida, immediately draw a conclusion that I’m a tough guy.

Not true.

I hate guns. Hate fighting. I was terrible at sports. I’m reluctant to call anyone “Sir,” especially those who had not earned the moniker. My six-year nightmare in the U.S. Marine Corps (reserves and active duty) was an exercise in utter misery. Yet, I was able to fake through it.

When people hear that I authored fifteen published books (fiction and non-fiction) and had over one-thousand op-ed articles published in various newspapers, they draw a conclusion that I’m an intellectual.

But I never ever saw myself as an intellectual.

I do not read for recreation, nor anything I don’t want to read. As a kid, books were a bore. Adults accused me of having “ants in his pants.” I flunked high school English, two years in a row. I did not graduate because I rarely attended classes. My tenth-grade English teacher, a humble old woman, didn’t want to see me flunk so she offered me a special assignment to read any fiction book of my choice and write a report citing story-line, characters, plot and publishing details. A month later, the teacher reminded me that my paper was due the next day. Oy!

I had yet to write one word of the assignment. I had no book. With one day to go, I concocted the false title of a book (that never existed) and wrote a detailed story-line with people and places that never existed and character struggles that were totally fictional. I invented the title as I did the name of the publisher, and of course, the characters.

I got an A plus.

Forty years later, some scientific brainiac labelled a new-found psychological condition which replaced “ants in pants” and now called it, “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).”

I could not sit still. Neither could I concentrate on classroom learning if it didn’t stimulate. I dreaded boredom.

My mother insisted I learn music, so she bought me a violin. (half-size) She had been a classical pianist as a young girl, but now we were living in a small hotel room on Miami Beach amid the post-war world of thugs and gangsters. No room for a piano. My Italian-born teacher named Atillio Canonico, said I had talent. c. 1947

My mother was also an accomplished dancer. As a twice widowed mother in 1949, she needed a job and began working for a dance studio. As a bonus, I was awarded free lessons. Yes, I learned the art of ballet, tap and Paganini at a young age. My mother had good intentions, but the rough-tough kids in school thought otherwise. At age eleven, I became the repeated subject of a classical bullying campaign. Kids surrounded me in the school yard, chanted dirty names, kicked and punched my face, and took my violin, the case, and my leotard, throwing things in the woods, while I wept.

It was a nightmare.

I pleaded with my mother to let me quit dance school. But I had to continue violin. Apparently, I was lucky to be born with an amazing ear for music.

In 1955, mom remarried her third husband, another former New York gangster known as Bernie the Bookie. He was good to her and to me. What he did in his other life was no business of ours. I was the son he always wished he had. He loved telling me stories, about his friends, Bugsy and Meyer. He’d lay back in his bed, wearing only his underwear, puffing on a cigar despite the oxygen tank on the floor near his bed.

A few years later, at age 20, I knocked up a girl in the back seat of my Pontiac. She was gorgeous. Mom was irate, but we had to get married nevertheless. I needed a regular job, so I asked Bernie if he knew any place where I could play violin in restaurants or maybe, the Miami symphony. That’s when he smirked at me and said, “I’ll tell ya what, kid. You’re gonna be a cop.”

A pall of silence cloaked the room. I was stunned. Bernie smirked, puffing the cigar. He couldn’t get over the startled look on my face.

“Bernie, that’s impossible. I can’t be a cop. Are you kidding? I’ve had some trouble with the law.” (traffic)

“Fuhgettaboutit, kid. You’ll make a good cop. Good pay, good insurance, job security.”

I still had acne pimples. Being a police officer was inconceivable. “Bernie. They’ll never hire me.”

“Yeah they will.”

“How do you know?

Bernie chuckled, like all gangsters chuckle. “Heh. I got connections.”

The rest is history. Of thirty years on the job, sixteen were assigned to Homicide where I rose to the rank of captain. It was important that no one in the department ever knew I had family connections to hard corps mobsters. I worked closely with future Attorney General Janet Reno heading up a most tragic investigation of a black motorcyclist chased down for speeding in the night. When apprehended, the cyclist was beaten and killed by several out-of-control cops. I ended up as arresting officer of five officers. After their acquittal, the Miami riots exploded in May of 1980, leaving 18 innocent people dead.

I was eventually invited to testify before the U.S. Congress in 1980, about crime problems in the United States. I also headed Homicide during the Cocaine Cops investigations, and the arrests of many corrupt officers by federal authorities. Then came the Mariel Boat lift incursion of 125,000 desperate and/or handicapped Cubans fleeing the communist dictatorship headed by Fidel. Bodies were everywhere, every day; car trunks, beaches, Everglades, trash bins and death falls from tall buildings. Miami became the murder capital of the nation, for four years.

Bernie, nor the dirty cops on the job, ever asked me to compromise my position in any legal actions or police issues of any kinds. As far as the department was concerned, I was clean, one of the good guys.

He kept me clean. One day I was chatting with Bernie in his bedroom, as I watched him taking bets on the phone. (Using flash paper…that would vanish by one lit match if the cops raided)

The idea of a little extra money sounded good. “Hey Bernie,” I said. “I know the sporting world, let me make a couple bets on the horses and baseball.”

He turned suddenly sullen. With the cigar gripped in his fingers, he lasered his eyes directly at mine, and took a deep breath. “Let me tell ya something, kid. I do what I do, ’cause I don’t know nuttin’ else. You? You keep your nose clean, and never ask me that question again.”

In March of 1966, while my mother was suffering from brain tumors on the 6th floor of North Miami Hospital, Bernie was dying on the 3rd floor from heart failure. I stood by his bedside and helped him to raise his head, sipping ginger ale from a straw. When I put his glass back on the table, he offered me a blank stare, exhaling his final breath.

I never knew much about his sordid lifestyle from the other side. But I do know I would never have risen to my successes if he hadn’t guided my life.

Thanks, Bernie.

· “Marshall Frank has authored fifteen books, fiction and non-fiction, with more to come. He is probably the most natural crime story writer in the world today.”

— — Christopher Douglas, Author, Publisher, founder of Authorpaedia

An extension of this story is available in Frank’s book of memoirs, From Violins to Violence. Frank can be reached via his web site: www.marshallfrank.com

More details about Marshall Frank at: Marshall Frank — AUTHORPÆDIA

Marshall Frank retired as a 30-year police captain from Miami-Dade, mostly homicides. Author of 15 books. www.marshallfrank.com

A BOY WHO MATTERED by Marshall Frank

Announcing the release of my non-fiction book, “A Boy Who Mattered,” Independently published by Frankly Speaking Enterprises through Amazon (KDP).
     In January of this year, my son, Bennett A. Frank, died at the age 58 of from a mixed overdose of three powerful drugs. He had lived a floundering life in and out of dependency, yet he was loved by many including his son, daughter, brother and father. He wasn’t a bad person. He was, simply, a diehard drug addict with a weak constitution.
     While I certainly grieved, like millions before me, I thought it would be worthwhile to share the story of this complicated life with others who are either suffering from powerful addiction, or are emotionally and physically tied to a sufferer. I hope there is something significant that can be learned from Bennett’s struggle by turning a negative into a positive, imparting the highs and lows, struggles and mistakes along the way.  The book is for those who suffer from the disease of addiction, or – equally important — for others in the arena including loved ones, family and friends who struggle as they hopelessly watch a human deteriorate day by day.
     The following paragraph is the standard promo, including the ordering of books.

A BOY WHO MATTERED – Examining the Roots of Drug Addiction
Independently Published| July 2019 
ISBN: 9781080157594 | Paperback: $14.95
In “A Boy Who Mattered” author Marshall Frank draws the reader into the pathetic life of his firstborn son, Bennett, who entered the drug world in his preteens, turned on by a family member. This ultimately opened the doors of dependency sickness, failure and homelessness that profoundly affected many others, friends and family, for forty years. This saga focuses on the root causes of dependency and what could be done about it. Hopefully, this story will guide abusers and loved ones about options on how to combat this dreaded disease. If but one human being is saved, Bennett’s struggle will not have been in vain.
     Signed-by-author books can be obtained directly for $15 and no shipping costs. For more info, just e-mail: MLF283@aol.com or send check to: P.O. Box 411841, Melbourne, Fl. 32941. Books are also available via amazon.com for the $14.95 retail price plus shipping.
     (Info about all my 15 books can be accessed at www.marshallfrank.com )

A BOY WHO MATTERED by Marshall Frank

Announcing the release of my non-fiction book, “A Boy Who Mattered,” Independently published by Frankly Speaking Enterprises through Amazon (KDP).

     In January of this year, my son, Bennett A. Frank, died at the age 58 of from a mixed overdose of three powerful drugs. He had lived a floundering life in and out of dependency, yet he was loved by many including his son, daughter, brother and father. He wasn’t a bad person. He was, simply, a diehard drug addict with a weak constitution.
     While I certainly grieved, like millions before me, I thought it would be worthwhile to share the story of this complicated life with others who are either suffering from powerful addiction, or are emotionally and physically tied to a sufferer. I hope there is something significant that can be learned from Bennett’s struggle by turning a negative into a positive, imparting the highs and lows, struggles and mistakes along the way.  The book is for those who suffer from the disease of addiction, or – equally important — for others in the arena including loved ones, family and friends who struggle as they hopelessly watch a human deteriorate day by day.
     The following paragraph is the standard promo, including the ordering of books.
A BOY WHO MATTERED – Examining the Roots of Drug Addiction
Independently Published| July 2019 
ISBN: 9781080157594 | Paperback: $14.95
In “A Boy Who Mattered” author Marshall Frank draws the reader into the pathetic life of his firstborn son, Bennett, who entered the drug world in his preteens, turned on by a family member. This ultimately opened the doors of dependency sickness, failure and homelessness that profoundly affected many others, friends and family, for forty years. This saga focuses on the root causes of dependency and what could be done about it. Hopefully, this story will guide abusers and loved ones about options on how to combat this dreaded disease. If but one human being is saved, Bennett’s struggle will not have been in vain.
     Signed-by-author books can be obtained directly for $15 and no shipping costs. For more info, just e-mail: MLF283@aol.com or send check to: P.O. Box 411841, Melbourne, Fl. 32941. Books are also available via amazon.com for the $14.95 retail price plus shipping.
     (Info about all my 15 books can be accessed at www.marshallfrank.com )

QUIT SMOKING-ONE MAN’S STORY.

Today, January 14, 2019, is the 36th anniversary of my birth…or should I say, rebirth.  Truth be told, in 1983 it was the date that I stopped smoking cigarettes, forever. Had I not, I would have been long dead by now, and a horrible death at that.

     A year or so prior to then, a doctor-friend shared a diagnosis with me that I had the early stages of emphysema which, in today’s jargon, we call COPD.  I’ll not forget his words. “Marshall, I would rather treat an advanced case of cancer anytime, than a patient dying of emphysema. There is very little I can do to alleviate the suffering.”

     This would be no easy task for a four-pack a day addict like me. Like many folks of the early era, I started in 1955 at age 16 mainly to fit in with friends. It was cool. It was in. Movie stars on and off screen, all smoked. So did famous recording artists. Physicians could be seen on billboard ads recommending Camels or Lucky Strikes. In the 1950s and 60s you were not cool if you didn’t smoke.

     But time marched on. Literature was coming out just how dangerous cigarettes are. I was coughing my guts out every morning, before lighting my first of the day. The addiction was so powerful, I smoked everywhere, in movie theaters, in my officers, elevators, the back of airplanes. I even smoked in the shower, having a Pall Mall burning on the edge of a toilet tank. I, alone, set the stink-standards for others to tolerate inside offices and cars.

     But I needed to quit. I figured I’d use some methods and devices that supposedly helped others. I tried One-Step-At-A-Time filters, four weeks later I was still at four packs a day. I tried acupuncture, (in the ears) no success there. I went to a hypnotist. I think it was ME that put HIM to sleep. Finally, the realization occurred to me that I was a hopeless addict, and the only thing that could help me stop smoking was — me. Quitting cigarettes was not up to the devices or methods, it was up to me. I had to do it on my own. No weaning. No clinging. Cold turkey was the only method that could work.

     I had one idea that might help. I asked my doctor if he had a drug that could knock me out for a full day and a half. He administered the medicine on a Friday afternoon, (after work), and I didn’t wake up until Sunday morning. By that time, I had a head start. I woke up as a non-smoker on my second day. Meanwhile, I had warned my co-workers, friends and family that I would likely be on edge for a few days or more, and to please understand.  

     Remaining a non-smoker was the next step. Some folks suggested I get active with exercise. I hate work-out gyms, so I tried the running therapy. My lungs were so bad I couldn’t jog more than 50 yards without coughing my guts out. But I tried again, and gradually went to 100 yards.  Then 200 yards and eventually, a half mile.  I grew to love the running experience. I started entering 5K and 10K runs, not to win, but to endure. Two years later, I completed the Orange Bowl Marathon, 26.2 miles.

     To cigarette addicts who are hoping to quit the habit, here’s my hindsight advice.

  1. Don’t “Try” to quit smoking. You either quit, or you don’t. Trying is not quitting.
  2. Don’t depend on devices or methods to do it for you.
  3. Forget about vaping and pot smoking, you are still smoking and self-damaging.
  4. Learn about COPD and the horrors such patients experience
  5. View color pictures of autopsies comparing pink lungs to smoker’s lungs.
  6. Realize the long range suffering you face if you continue smoking.
  7. Just do it.  Believe me, you’ll live through it.

QUIT SMOKING-ONE MAN'S STORY.

Today, January 14, 2019, is the 36th anniversary of my birth…or should I say, rebirth.  Truth be told, in 1983 it was the date that I stopped smoking cigarettes, forever. Had I not, I would have been long dead by now, and a horrible death at that.

     A year or so prior to then, a doctor-friend shared a diagnosis with me that I had the early stages of emphysema which, in today’s jargon, we call COPD.  I’ll not forget his words. “Marshall, I would rather treat an advanced case of cancer anytime, than a patient dying of emphysema. There is very little I can do to alleviate the suffering.”

     This would be no easy task for a four-pack a day addict like me. Like many folks of the early era, I started in 1955 at age 16 mainly to fit in with friends. It was cool. It was in. Movie stars on and off screen, all smoked. So did famous recording artists. Physicians could be seen on billboard ads recommending Camels or Lucky Strikes. In the 1950s and 60s you were not cool if you didn’t smoke.

     But time marched on. Literature was coming out just how dangerous cigarettes are. I was coughing my guts out every morning, before lighting my first of the day. The addiction was so powerful, I smoked everywhere, in movie theaters, in my officers, elevators, the back of airplanes. I even smoked in the shower, having a Pall Mall burning on the edge of a toilet tank. I, alone, set the stink-standards for others to tolerate inside offices and cars.

     But I needed to quit. I figured I’d use some methods and devices that supposedly helped others. I tried One-Step-At-A-Time filters, four weeks later I was still at four packs a day. I tried acupuncture, (in the ears) no success there. I went to a hypnotist. I think it was ME that put HIM to sleep. Finally, the realization occurred to me that I was a hopeless addict, and the only thing that could help me stop smoking was — me. Quitting cigarettes was not up to the devices or methods, it was up to me. I had to do it on my own. No weaning. No clinging. Cold turkey was the only method that could work.

     I had one idea that might help. I asked my doctor if he had a drug that could knock me out for a full day and a half. He administered the medicine on a Friday afternoon, (after work), and I didn’t wake up until Sunday morning. By that time, I had a head start. I woke up as a non-smoker on my second day. Meanwhile, I had warned my co-workers, friends and family that I would likely be on edge for a few days or more, and to please understand.  

     Remaining a non-smoker was the next step. Some folks suggested I get active with exercise. I hate work-out gyms, so I tried the running therapy. My lungs were so bad I couldn’t jog more than 50 yards without coughing my guts out. But I tried again, and gradually went to 100 yards.  Then 200 yards and eventually, a half mile.  I grew to love the running experience. I started entering 5K and 10K runs, not to win, but to endure. Two years later, I completed the Orange Bowl Marathon, 26.2 miles.

     To cigarette addicts who are hoping to quit the habit, here’s my hindsight advice.

  1. Don’t “Try” to quit smoking. You either quit, or you don’t. Trying is not quitting.
  2. Don’t depend on devices or methods to do it for you.
  3. Forget about vaping and pot smoking, you are still smoking and self-damaging.
  4. Learn about COPD and the horrors such patients experience
  5. View color pictures of autopsies comparing pink lungs to smoker’s lungs.
  6. Realize the long range suffering you face if you continue smoking.
  7. Just do it.  Believe me, you’ll live through it.