Using FBI Documents when Writing my Mafia Memoir (Chapter Nine)

Basing at least part of my childhood memoir on FBI documents has created an interesting challenge for me as an adult writer.  Sure, a large portion of my material comes from memories I’ve retained since I was a kid.  However, given my father’s organized crime connections and my being present on several occasions when the FBI raided our home, it’s been fascinating to place the details I recall within a context that’s established by federal files and to use those memos and, in some instances, surveillance notes to fill in the details I don’t remember or never witnessed in the first place.

It’s also been informative to compare stories my parents told with the facts recorded in those documents, noticing when those details sometimes vary from what the feds noted at the time.

Frustrating, however, has been the degree to which I have not been able to make the kinds of comparisons I’d like because either the files I’ve received have been so heavily redacted or the material remains classified and outside the scope of material released by the Freedom of Information Act I filed.  For example, when I submitted the paperwork requesting my dad’s FBI file, I was told more than 1,700 pages were available.  However, only around 400 pages were ever released to me.

In a future post, I’ll share my personal reflections on memory and the nature of family stories—insights gleaned from comparing and contrasting both with the details established in the federal documents themselves.  Today, however, I’ll publish below only the narrative I’ve drafted (a few details changed for the sake of dramatic impact), along with family photos and pages from FBI documents.

The chapter below draws on several sources:  newspaper clippings from the 1970s, FBI documents, family stories, personal memories, Dick Thornburgh’s autobiography Where the Evidence Leads, and details about people’s appearance based on family photographs.  Some of that material is inserted at relevant points in the narrative, so you can compare and contrast the story I’ve drafted with those documents, if that sort of thing interests you.

Most of what I’ve written about and posted below are events I did not witness myself.  For example, I was not present when Dick Thornburgh approached my parents on the street in downtown Pittsburgh, a story shared in the opening part of this chapter.

The chapter goes on to describe an FBI raid that happened on November 21, 1970.  That day more than 100 federal agents raided 22 locations across Pennsylvania, places that were associated with illegal gambling operations.  The events described in the second half of this chapter involve a raid at the home of “Bobby I,” the primary target of federal agents.  It just so happened that my father was locked in a secret room with Bobby, when that raid occurred.  Simultaneously, another search warrant was executed at my parents’ house.  As an 8-year-old, I was home during that raid and witnessed some of what happened.  However, I will cover those events in a separate chapter.

The Mafia Verses the Big, Bad Wolf  (Chapter 9 of Odds: A Childhood Gambled on God and the Mob) 

"Bobby I," the bookie boss (4th from the right) who figures in this post, was in my parents' wedding party. At that time, however, my mother knew nothing about my father's organized crime connections or the role Bobby would play in our family's future.

“Bobby I,” the bookie boss (5th from the right) who figures in this post, was in my parents’ wedding party. At that time, however, my mother knew nothing about my father’s organized crime activity or the role Bobby would play in our family’s future.

Whether it was World Series tickets or PGA passes, my father was forever after the means of admission.

My parents in Vegas with the "I"s (couple seated in the foreground) during the 1960s. My mother, though difficult to see, is seated across from my father (5th fellow on left).

My parents in Vegas with the “I”s (couple seated in the foreground) during the 1960s. My mother, though difficult to see, is seated across from my father (5th fellow on left).

Any event deemed big, any venue that glittered—my dad wanted to go there–experience the sparkle, encounter the spin.  And he wanted his family to be a part of it, as well.

So, here’s what happened on a summer night sometime during the ‘70s—

My parents on a cruise during the early 1970s.

My parents on a cruise during the early 1970s.

Daddy has taken my mother to see Hello Dolly in downtown Pittsburgh—a highlight of his July being the series of musicals that play at Heinz Hall during the longest and warmest evenings of the year.

My parents have just exited the theater, Daddy dashing in his cotton Brooks Brothers suit and striped silk tie, my mother wearing a quilted Dior jump suit, sleeveless in pink and teal, a matching fuchsia feather boa, and strappy silver sandals whose high heels clatter on the sidewalk.

My parents during the later '70s--my mother in her famous feather boa.

My parents during the later ’70s–my mother in her famous feather boa.

Barely a block down Penn Avenue, my Dad opens the passenger door of his dark green Sedan d’ Ville, its newly-waxed finish reflecting his face in the overhead street light.  My mother slips past him, a scent of Channel, lingering as she settles on the leather seat, a beaded hand-bag in her lap.  But just as Daddy rounds the rear bumper, nearing one of those oversized pot holes that plagued Pittsburgh during that decade, Dick Thornburgh approaches, sauntering down the sidewalk from the south on Sixth Street, waving his pudgy finger and warning my dad, “I’m gonna get you, Tyce McCullough.”

“Sure, Dick,” Daddy responds, sliding into the driver’s seat and saluting the then attorney general for Western Pennsylvania, who sports a big grin and  arrogant attitude, huffing and puffing the threat of federal prosecution—the big, bad wolf on a Pittsburgh street determined to blow our house in—and in some cases, doing so quite literally—sending FBI agents to break down our steel-reinforced, never-secure-enough front door.

It’s true that Thornburg goes on to become Pennsylvania governor and then attorney general for both presidents Regan and Bush Senior, but back then he is public enemy number one, at least in my mind, as an 8-year-old, chronically ill-equipped to distinguish the good guys from the bad.

Kathy, age 8

Kathy, age 8

Still, Thornburgh, as Nixon’s senior law-enforcement officer for western PA, takes it upon himself to fight organized crime in the state, especially once he discovers that Mafia bosses are paying 4 to 6 million dollars annually to local law enforcement officials to turn their backs on organized crime.

The big, bad wolf doesn’t like this. He’s outraged.  He huffs.

Then, Thornburg discovers illegal gambling is funding those payoffs, becoming what he calls the Mafia’s “cash register.” He doesn’t like that either.  He puffs.

The first successful wiretaps in western Pennsylvania helped bring down the massive sports-gambling operation of . . . “Bobby I” . . . .  After accumulating sufficient wiretap evidence, over 100 FBI agents staged a series of raids on twenty-two suspected gambling locations on November 21, 1970, seizing gambling records and paraphernalia.  This action sent shock waves through the illegal-gambling community, which had thought only interstate activities were within the reach of federal investigators.

The evidence gathered in the raids was presented, and an indictment was returned against [Bobby “I”] and twenty-five others on federal gambling charges.  All were subsequently convicted.  We had struck out first effective blow at the rackets.  (Dick Thornburgh, Where the Evidence Leads, 43-44)

Specifically tragic for my family is this.  The biggest numbers operation in the state, the one Thornburgh sets his sights on, is run by my father’s boss.  In fact, when on November 21, 1970, 100 federal agents raid 22 locations across the state, my dad is the only one locked in a room with the man many called “Bobby I,” the primary target of FBI investigators.

Talk about wrong-time-wrong-place.

Here’s how it happened.

It’s 12:25 pm on a cold, rainy Saturday before Thanksgiving, when four federal agents jump from an unmarked sedan at 315 Thompson Run Road, in Ross Township, a sleepy suburb just north of Pittsburgh.

"I" family home in Ross Township--

“I” family home in Ross Township–

The house, raised on small hill, slightly above the street looks like the Brady Bunch abode, brick with clean modern lines and a double wide, wood front door.

When over-coated agents knock, Dee “I” answers, outfitted in a ruffled pilgrim apron, and begins screaming as soon as Special Agent Scarborough flashes his badge.

My mother (R) with Dee "I" (L) during the summer of 1970--

My mother (R) with Dee “I” (L) during the summer of 1970–

“Bobby, Bobby, it’s the police!” She proceeds to hyperventilate, while, at the same time, blocking the officers’ access to the basement with her body.  Bleached blonde, helmet hair and holiday baking notwithstanding, Dee swings a plastic spatula at a second agent who dares push her aside, so two others can rush down the stairs, two at a time.

The family’s white toy poodle nips at the heels of the officer removing Mrs. “I,” as cookie crumbs from her Tupperware weapon of mass destruction cover his overcoat in a dander of the maniacal, Betty Crocker variety.

raid iannelli page1 1970 001 (2)

While that second officer reads Dee her rights, a third proceeds up the steps through the kitchen and past that into the pool room, where the smell of chlorine eventually overtakes the aroma of fresh-baked cookies cooling on the counter.

In the meantime, Special Agent Scarborough and his partner follow the sound of paper shredding, football blaring and phones ringing through the basement wreck room and into the garage.  There behind what appears to be a peg board hung with garden tools,  Daddy and “Bobby I” lob whispered warnings at one another, stopping periodically to answer one of three phones, announcing only, “The police are here,” before hanging up and continuing to destroy as much paper as possible.

raid "i" page2 1970 001

“So there’s a room back there?”  Scarborough asks.  “How the fuck do you get in there?”

“Must be a door hidden behind them tools.”

"I" family garage door and driveway.  The secret room was just to the left, inside the garage door.

“I” family garage door and driveway. The secret room was just to the left, inside the garage door.

As Scarborough and partner begin ripping the peg board from the wall to reveal a wrought iron door bolted to both the cement floor and ceiling rafters, the bookies locked in the 3 by 8 foot cement room begin stuffing bets down an industrial garbage disposal.  The sound of running water then accompanies the percussion of paper pulsed and grinding.

FBI evidence: contents of garbage disposal.  Printing is clearly that of my father.

FBI evidence: contents of garbage disposal. Printing is clearly that of my father.

After blunt force alone fails to budge the door, another 15 minutes of dismantling with tools found on the garage’s opposite wall, reveals yet another door, this one constructed of steel.

“Shit, what’s up with this!”  Scarborough curses.

Our friendly federal agents may feel frustrated at this point but Bobby panics, knowing there is now only a single barricade between them and the looming law of the land.

Bobby "I" (L) and my father (R) during the summer of 1970--

Bobby “I” (L) and my father (R) during the summer of 1970–

“Look on the bright side,” Daddy offers.  “It’s taking them so long to get in here, they might as well walk around this place for 7 days like they’re the Jews circling Jericho.  Maybe then the walls’ll come crashing down on their own.” He can’t help but mock the biblical scale of this ineptitude.

Then, when the garbage disposal clogs, Bobby brilliantly offers, “Let’s burn the shit.”

So my father turns off the faucet feeding the disposal, tosses the remaining papers in the sink, and lights a match to the pile now spilling over the edge, singing to himself the entire time a song we kids had learned in Sunday school, “And the walls came tumbling down.”

FBI diagram of Iannelli garage

FBI diagram of “I” family garage

“God damn it, Tyce.  You’re gonna exfixifate us before the feds even have a chance to stash our asses in the slammer,”  Bobby bullies from the far corner, as Daddy climbs over him to turn on a fan, high on the wall, meant to pull air, and in this case, smoke, from the enclosed space.

It doesn’t work.

Daddy climbs down.  “Don’t tell me you didn’t test the thing—wise guy.  We’re gonna be toast here in a matter of minutes.  Literally.”

So knowing their jig is up, Bobby pulls the key from his pants pocket and unlocks the door—

Opening it to the big, bad wolf, huffing and puffing, and fueling the flames.

But, what’s ironic to me now, more than 40 years later, is knowing that those papers—burnt, shredded, or otherwise—didn’t mean much in the end—at least, not as much as wiretaps would—especially considering the nearly concurrent illegal wiretapping the Nixon administration carried out on the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Office Complex.

It’s no wonder to me now, that as a child, I confused the criminals and their less-than-virtuous counterparts running the government.  If the very administration indicting my dad was legally using wiretaps to accomplish that, while simultaneously using them illegally to win reelection, how did I as an 8 or 10 year-old stand a chance of discriminating between right and wrong?

Who was the enemy—my dad taking illegal bets or the president of the United States happy to hedge his own, unwilling to leave his reelection fate in the hands of American voters?

Would the real criminal please stand up?

So, would you read my memoir?  Have you ever used government documents as a basis for writing creative non-fiction?  Were your parents larger than life characters to you when you were a child?

This post was written in response to the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Object.  My FBI documents have proven enlightening objects to write about, not just for this particular challenge but for the larger challenge of writing a memoir about my childhood.  For inspiration, check out these posts by other WordPress bloggers:

103 thoughts on “Using FBI Documents when Writing my Mafia Memoir (Chapter Nine)

  1. Yes, I would read the memoir, Kathy. Who is the 3rd woman in picture(summer of ’70) who looks more like you than your mother looks like you. When you get your contract, dont sign over the movie rights to your publisher. The women are such a fun part of the story….and beautiful!


    • Thank you, Sista! Glad you enjoyed the photos that accompany this post. It was fascinating to compare the story I was always told with the one recorded in these documents. Sometimes there is overlap. Sometimes not.

      I saw on Facebook this morning that your book is out. I can’t wait to read! Congratulations, my friend. Are you going to announce that on your blog?

      Hugs to you, dear Miranda!


  2. I’ll be sure to not sign over the movie rights. Thanks for that reminder. The other woman is that picture is the sister-in-law of the woman on the left. She’s another of the “I” wives. Hard to imagine that I look like her.

    I, too, get a kick out of seeing these old photos. The women were so glamorous. I have to agree.

    Hope your kids have a better day today. Great to hear from you, JK!


  3. My dear Kathy,

    In this Casino Nation wrong is only wrong when you do it; when the powers that be exercise the same activities, that they have lobbied in legislated into law to be wrong, they are unconditionally right.

    If you rob from the 1% you will wind up in prison, while the one percent continues to steal from the 99%.

    Evidently, so far, it is law.

    I admire your research and love your creative descriptive prose, as well as the question you raise.

    My mother too, wore a peroxided cotton candy helmet and dressed and flaunted it every Saturday night. She’ll be 86 tomorrow.

    I’m looking forward to reading your next post.




    • What a wonderful comment, Robert. I love hearing your perspective. You have articulated SO well a very sad reality about the US–but I love your putting it in the context of the 99 vs. 1%.

      I loved also hearing about your mother. How fun to hear that you have similar bleached blonde, helmet hair memories. Happy birthday to your mom, my friend!

      It’s great to hear from you. Have a wonderful day!


  4. I understand the challenge you have here of comprehending “right from wrong” then and even now. It is difficult to understand what a family who believes they are respectable, and are in many ways, can deal with the hypocrisy of the situation.
    Of course now gambling is a rage and addiction happening all over the country and the world.
    As I read this I kept thinking about the guys I knew from Boston who’s father was in “business” too, and there was guy who I hired to work at a restaurant I work, who’s father was in the “business” than, as well at the bar tender who had gone to jail because he wouldn’t “talk”… Imagine I have been on the fringe many times. LOL

    You have done a great job “recreating” events.

    Hugs from NJ


    • Oh, dear Jeff, thank you for your comment. Love hearing how you brushed up against some of this in your own life. My father tended bar back in the day, as well.

      The funny thing about the right and wrong issue, of course, was that as a kid I did not recognize that there was a problem. This was all a given in my life. So weird to think about all of that now.

      Great to hear from you, Jeff. Thanks so much for your feedback!


  5. Loved this Chapter Kathy! I am sure you were so frustrated after only receiving 400 pages from the so called FREEDOM of Information Act……The government loves to put spin and jingoism together ie Patriot Act! Cant’ wait for the finished product. By the way LOVE your 8 year old pic…..You have not changed a bit! Love ya! Juan


    • Thank you, Juan. You are such a sweetie. Yes, it was frustrating to receive so few pages. I may have to put in another request. However, it took nearly a year to get what I did. Glad you enjoyed the photos. Hope you guys have a great day!


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  7. Keep it coming Kathy, I am intrigued! And I love the pictures, including the floor plan and the FBI documents…they add to the sense that we’re piecing it all together, along with the agents and little Kathy.

    Were my parents larger than life? Well, my first memory is visiting my dad in prison and playing with my Christmas presents under the table. God only knows what was being said above me. My mum had three girls under five, another on the way and until he was arrested, knew nothing about my father’s fraudulent activities!


    • I love that that is your first memory, Kirsten. Seriously, can’t tell you how glad I am share of bit of this criminal history with a gifted writer like you. Maybe we were driven to write, for the sake of sanity. Have you ever thought about writing a memoir?

      Wonderful to hear from you today. Hope your week is going well. Thanks for the comment!


      • I do think I was lucky to have had my ‘writer’s eye’ woken up at such a young age. I was obsessed with finding out what the hell was going on in the secret world of adults and the fact that I detached emotionally both protected me and allowed me to log all the details.
        I have thought about a memoir Kathy, but there is such sadness in some of it and I don’t want to cause those I love any more pain. My detachment meant I emerged relatively unscathed compared to my mum and my sisters, so I need to tread very carefully. x


      • I understand. I SO understand. I think I dissociated from much of what was happening at our house, a form of detachment, but I didn’t record all of the details. Wish I had. Fortunately, one of my sisters remembers what color her dress was on the third day of Kindergarten. She has been a huge help in that regard.


  8. An excellent chapter IMHO…your writing skills are really showcased in this one….cannot wait to see the final production hit the market place….you may have to go on a book signing tour. 🙂


  9. Of course I would read it!

    I like how you never come right out and condone your father, but you are very honest about his illegal activities. It’s got to be a fine line to walk, and you do it well. This chapter had me on the edge of my seat. Pretty thrilling for a memoir!


    • Thank you, Mark. I hadn’t ever thought about how or why I do that. Just seems to be the only option for me. And I am TOTALLY thrilled you were on the edge of your seat. That makes my day! Great to hear from you today, my friend.


  10. Kathy — I’ve got three words for you: F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C! Absolutely F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C!

    So, would you read my memoir?
    In a heartbeat!

    Have you ever used government documents as a basis for writing creative non-fiction?

    Were your parents larger than life characters to you when you were a child?
    Yes, indeed. My mother (no longer living), remains my s/hero! The grand illusions surrounding my still-living father have fallen away.


    • You have made my day, Laurie. Seriously, you have made my day. Glad you enjoyed the chapter. And glad you had your mother as hero. My father was, in a strange way, a kind of hero to me–inasfar as he was such a huge character. I don’t know why we all loved him so. Maybe because he loved us.

      Thanks for your comment, Laurie!


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  12. Yes, Kathy, I would definitely read your memoir!!! Children have no frame of reference when they’re starting out in life, so I find stories about children trying to make sense of unusual circumstances very compelling.

    It makes one wonder what was included in the other 1,300 pages of FBI documents!

    The only government documents I can think of using are veterans’ records and census records when trying to write a biographical sketch for an ancestor. Even those can be missing key bits of information.

    My parents were larger than life characters to me – they seemed so educated and knowledgeable about science and nature and social justice. They explained things so thoroughly and no topic was off-limits. For the longest time I regarded them as the ultimate authority about any question I had.

    Looking forward to reading more about your astonishing childhood!


    • Great to hear from you today, Barbara. Like you, I’d love to know what’s contained in those other pages. I’ve considered submitting another request and trying to get more pages. However, it took nearly 10 months for me to get the first batch.

      I suppose most parents are larger than life to their kids. Yours sound like really special people.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. Glad you’d like to read more.


  13. Can you do a book signing in London? Please. I loved this chapter and couldn’t wait to see what happened. A fire in a small room–glad it didn’t turn out worse than it did. I can’t wait for the rest of the book and heck yeah I’ll read it. Have you ever read Black Mass about Whitey Bulger? It’s hard to tell who the criminals are in that story as well.


    • Yes, of course, I’d be happy to do a signing in London.

      Glad you enjoyed the chapter, TB, and will read the entire thing one of these days. No, I have not read Bulger’s book. I need to put that on my list. Thanks so much for mentioning it.

      I’ve been a bit discouraged, as this post has been a bit of flop compared to stuff I’ve written in recent years–so few likes, comments, hits. I’m a bit weirded out by that. Sara says the post was too long. What would you make of that?

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment, my friend.


      • I wouldn’t worry about it too much. And I’ve given up trying to predict which blog posts will be successful. You never know what’s going on in people’s lives when you hit the publish button. Keep on writing and focus on that. You have a great story.


      • Thanks, TB. You are right. You know, I had stopped worrying, and then suddenly out of nowhere this one concerned me. Probably has something to do with an issue way older than this post. DAH! Why didn’t I think of that before I started typing this comment? Hope you all have a lovely London weekend!


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  16. Wow, Kathy! I’m always blown away when you share these mafia stories. What a crazy time that must have been. I would definitely read more, and I’m looking forward to the day when I can hold your memoir in my hands.
    As always I love the photos that you include with these posts. Your mother’s feather boa is ah-mah-zing!


    • Thank you, Jackie. You are sweet. I can’t tell you how much your feedback means to me, and I can’t wait for YOU to hold my memoir in your hands. Glad you enjoyed the feather boa. I think that photo is a hoot. Hard to believe folks actually wore those things. And for all I know, they still might. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, my friend.


  17. Wow, Kathy. I would read your memoir for sure! Your parents sound like quite the characters. I can certainly understand your confusion over who were the bad guys vs. the good guys, considering Watergate and the government’s widespread use of wiretapping. It’s really interesting how you’re trying to piece together your memoir from your own memory, the stories your parents told, and these incomplete FBI documents. I wonder why on earth they haven’t given you all the documents? Are either of your parents still alive?

    What an interesting process. I would love to write about my own family; it would be interesting for sure, but there’s no organized crime there. Just a lot of craziness. I would love to know all the secrets, but somehow those secrets are held closely. It will be great to watch your process as you piece together all the evidence!

    Keep on writing. You will succeed, I’m sure. 🙂 Hugs. xxx


    • Gosh, thank you, Cathy. You’re a dear. So happy you got to read. (Hope your husband had a wonderful birthday, by the way, and job applications are going well.) I SO appreciate your taking the time to read. I know this was a god-awful long post.

      Yeah, it’s fun putting this all together–fun, when it isn’t maddening, I should say. Yeah, my mother is still alive and so are many of the folks I write about, especially the man my dad was locked in that room with. I’m sure that’s the issue–or suspect so. Still, it’s maddening not to have more material.

      Craziness in any form makes for good story-telling—-though the family isn’t always pleased about that sharing. Sometimes it’s best to keep things quiet, I suppose, unless, as in my case, things were obviously a mess and that mess made the news. Then one might as well tell.

      Great to hear from you today. Tell you husband I said happy b-day! Hope you both have an awesome weekend.


      • Yes, I guess since your family history is public knowledge, it certainly can’t hurt to write about it. It will definitely be quite a story when all is said and done.

        My husband had a happy birthday, I think. He just turned 60 but he keeps insisting he’s only 59. I hope you’re progressing along nicely with your writing. I’m revising my novel for the 2nd time. At some point I’ve got to find a reader, because no one has seen it but me, and who knows what other people will think of it! 🙂 Enjoy your weekend. 🙂


      • Glad your husband had a good birthday and you are revising your novel. I bet there are a number of good writing groups in your part of the US, where you could find readers. Good luck. No writing for me so far this weekend. Spent the last two days getting ready for an exhibit of my work that opens tomorrow.


  18. Of-course, I would read the memoir. Interesting and fun. I love the boa! Nixon was a crook and a liar. He was the bad guy. And the Watergate hearings wiped out a summer of All My Children and Bewitched. Loser!!


    • Now THAT’S a crime–a summer of Bewitched lost is not only a crime, it’s a capital crime! LOL

      But, seriously, you are right, Nixon was a really, really BAD guy. I hate think what it says about our country that we were able to elect him.

      Hope you and Cole have a wonderful weekend. Happy June-Bugging! Great to hear from you, and I’m SO glad you would read my memoir.


    • Wonderful to hear from you today, Sybil! How wonderful that you have been able to build that family tree without involving law enforcement officials. LOL Glad you think it’s gripping. I suppose it is. Have a great weekend!


  19. It finally clicked. You moved to Ecuador as a safe harbor to write your novel. I don’t blame you. You might wanna dye your hair and stuff your clothes to hide out a little better, And take your photo off the blog and all ’cause for the right price, I’m liable to help the folks find you. I don’t know how they’d find me to find you. Maybe I should advertise.


    • TOOOOOO funny, my frined! You are SUCH a TRAITOR to the blog cause! LOL Seriously, thanks for reading. Hadn’t thought about it looking like I was hiding out in an Amazon country. Your comment made me LOL–literally. Have a wonderful weekend! And thanks for stopping by! I’m off to have my hair dyed————-


    • Thank you, Heather. It’s wonderful to hear from you today. Glad you enjoyed the descriptions. I have such fun going though old photos and looking at what folks were wearing and then inserting the details in appropriate places. Have a wonderful weekend, my friend. Thanks for stopping by!


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  21. First, your parents were gorgeous; lets just get that out of the way. I would read this cover to cover. I love how you have intersected pictures, FBI documents, evidence and your narration; absolutely fabulous.

    What a childhood, what a life.


    • Thank you, dear Val! Your comment has made my morning! I didn’t realize when I was a kid that my parents were attractive. Funny how that happens. Wonder what happened to me? So glad you will read. Truly, your enthusiastic comment has given me some fuel to keep going. It’s not been a great week in my writing world, so I needed this.

      I SO love hearing from you. And PLEASE come visit!


      • Are you kidding? You so much look like both of your parents! I can see it each time I look at you, especially when I look at your parents together. You are a beautiful combination of their best.

        Kathy, keep that bedroom open I am actually looking at how I can accomplish that trip.


      • Oh, thank you, Val. We are ready and waiting.

        I will post your name on the door before the day ends. Just let us know. Let me recommend that you fly into Quito and then from Quito to Cuenca. You may have to overnight in Quito, but there are hotels near the airport that will meet your flight and take you to the airport in the morning. Hotel room will cost around $40. It’s a 50 minute flight to Cuenca that costs around $50-75 round trip, and we live 5 minutes from the airport here. Otherwise you have to fly into Guayaquil with is a 3.5 hour drive from Cuenca.

        Hope you can come. You need a change of scenery!


  22. Fascinating stuff. I’d most definitely read your memoir. I’m so glad you finally got access to these FBI docs because they really enrich your story.

    My favorite description, because it’s a pitch perfect description of an outfit from the 70s:
    “Daddy dashing in his cotton Brooks Brothers suit and striped silk tie, my mother wearing a quilted Dior jump suit, sleeveless in pink and teal, a matching fuchsia feather boa, and strappy silver sandals whose high heels clatter on the sidewalk.”

    Keep going!


    • Oh, thank you, Monica! Wonderful to hear from you. Hope you are having a great visit with your daughter! And I’m so pleased you enjoyed the clothing descriptions. As I said to someone else, I have SO much fun going through old photos, reminding myself what folks wore, and then writing about those flashy outfits. Can you believe women actually wore feather boas? Surely, no one wears them today, right?


  23. Kathy I had to wait until the weekend to read. First, your mom and dad are adorable. Wait…I can’t see them as criminals first. I see them as your lovely parents first. I’m having a difficult time making the connection between the two. Yes, I would read this! 😉 And your humor style of writing is fantastic. I love it. Your dad would be very pleased. If he was capable of singing while the feds were busting in on him….I bet he would love your writing. 🙂


    • Oh, thank you so much for reading, Colleen. I know it was a crazy long post. Sara pointed that out to me. And thank you for your kind comment about my parents. I suppose it was only my father who was a criminal, but still, I have a hard time understanding it, especially when I consider how many lotteries the government now runs. Glad this made you laugh. My dad was a really funny guy. Hope you and David are having an awesome weekend! I hear there may be another storm coming your way.


      • I have to say, I do have a difficult time picturing your dad as a “criminal”. (Sorry about the misspeak and lumping your mom in to that!)

        We are having a busy and fun weekend. And if it gets crazy with the storming we may be snow bound NOT AT HOME!!!


      • Well, her crime may have been that of Christian crazy. Hers was the God-mob. LOL Seriously, she made the most of a difficult situation, but she may have been a bit over-zealous in transforming the Godfather into God the Father.

        Being away from home might be good! If away means AWAY from the storm. Enjoy!


      • Excellent play on words Kathy. 😉

        We are on our way home and will find out if the storm is going to impede our way…. sure woke up to a lot of it where we were but it’s gone from the road. Now, if we just make it before the next wave hits! 😉


  24. Finally, I get back to comment on this brilliant post!

    I really loved reading this. Your pacing is just excellent, as usual. And that picture of you made me laugh, because you still have that cheeky grin, even now 😀 How fantastic!

    Criminal behaviour, well, I guess it depends on the viewpoint, really, doesn’t it? I think at a federal level, it’s particularly worrisome, because after all, we’ve elected these people into office based on integrity. It’s quite disturbing to find out some of the nefarious activities in which some of them engage. But perhaps we’re the fools, expecting them to be cut from finer cloth than the rest of us? They’re just people too, I suppose.


    • Oh, thank you so much for taking the time to read this very long post. So glad you enjoyed it, photos and all. Your enthusiasm means a lot to me, a whole lot!

      Yes, I love your perspective on crocked politicians–that we probably shouldn’t expect them to not be capable of what we all are. I LOVE that insight, as you never hear folks say that. We get all holier than thou when they do underhanded things.

      Great to hear from you today. Hope you had a wonderful weekend, my friend!


  25. Sorry, it’s taken me so long to get to this post, but I just have not had the time to focus on reading it until this weekend. You’re making excellent progress and the images are a deft touch. But of course, I am the type that likes to watch.


    • I know this was a god-awfully long post, so thanks for taking the time to get back to it. Yes, I’m making progress, not as much as I’d like, but progress nonetheless. Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Hear you all are going to get some more snow. Something different, right? God, bet you want to scream! I’d say it should be over soon, but I’m beginning to lose faith.


  26. Fascinating. & Interesting as hell.

    Forget the memoir….write a freaking screen play and have Sharon Stone play your pretty Mommy.

    FABULOUS stuff. Very soprano-Y.

    XXXXXXX Love from Minnesota.


    • Oh, Kimmy, you are such a sweetie. Glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, it would be cool to do a screen play, if I had ANY idea how to write one, which I don’t. Hope you had a great weekend. Stay warm, my friend. Love to you, too!


    • Goodness, just went over to your post a while ago and saw the photo. You are not kidding. Our parents could not have been more different had they been born on separate planets.

      Great to hear from you, Jean. Hope you’re doing well. Thanks for reading.


  27. I love this, Kathy, how you have interwoven the government documents with your memoir. I enjoy creative non-fiction, anyhow (most of what I write these days). And, yes, I am looking forward to reading your book — and then seeing the movie. Thanks for giving us another, intriguing glimpse.

    I like, too, that you’ve used the government document as the header on this post.

    Hugs to you in Ecuador.


    • Thank you so much for reading this insanely long post. Glad you enjoyed the way I used the federal documents. This was a fun post to put together, if a bit long for the poor reader. Great to hear from you, my friend. Hugs to you in Delaware.


  28. Kathy, I am fascinated with your story. I’ve always been curious about events where you read of the FBI literally at your door, knocking it down, plowing through. To imagine you at 8 yrs of age( such a cute photo btw) seeing all of this happen.. I wonder, did you truly understand the enormity of what was going on?

    I love your writing, it hooked me in and left me wanting more. How fantastically skilled of you to use the FBI docs to enthrall us. I am late with reading your post but I wanted to read not scan through it.

    The photos of your parents in these beautiful clothes and their wedding photo alone are memoir worthy.
    Please keep writing! loved it.


    • Oh, thank you so much for taking the time to read. I know it was an extremely long post. Glad you enjoyed it, photos, FBI documents and all. I don’t know how I took it all in as a kid, as the threat of FBI raids then became a given in our lives, and, indeed, there were several more.

      Great to hear from you today. Thanks again for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. Hope your week is going well!


  29. I find the whole story fascinating…I would definitely read the memoirs. I can’t imagine all the stories your brain holds from such an adventurous past! I can’t wait to read the next installment!!

    Awe struck in Indiana,


    • Thank you so much, Tia. Glad you enjoy these stories. They are always fun to put together, and, to be honest, reading my dad’s FBI file has been fascinating. Great to hear from you this morning. Hope you have an awesome vacation in Mexico!


  30. Oh Kathy, this is brilliant. I’m so glad you are back at work on this. Of course I would read it. I don’t have any US docs, but I used a couple of my grandfather’s court docs in my dad’s story. Keep going.


    • Thanks so much, Christine. Glad you enjoyed the post. I think court documents would also be interesting to work with. Great to hear from you today. Hope you’re doing well. Hear you all have had a warm-up.


  31. Kathy, I most certainly would (WILL) read your memoir! This excerpt was thrilling– you did an amazing job of piecing together an engaging narrative from the files you were sent from the FBI (edited or not!)


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  33. I can completely understand your confusion about who were the good guys and who were the bad guys! Your childhood certainly contains all of the makings for a fascinating memoir. I love the photos as much as the story itself.

    My childhood, in comparison, was extremely uneventful.


    • I think there’s a lot to be said for an uneventful childhood–gave you a chance to enjoy just being a kid. Glad you enjoy the story and would want to read more. Great to hear from you today. And good luck with your car shopping!


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