Researching Gangster Lore for Daughter Am I

I have notebooks full of gangster lore that I collected when I researched Daughter Am I, my young woman/old gangsters coming of age novel. (I keep calling it that, but it’s so much more — a murder mystery, a treasure hunt, a romp through the middle of the United States with a young woman and a busload of irrepressible octogenarian rogues. “Snow White and the Seven Old Farts” as one of the villains called them.) As usual, I am digressing. Someday, perhaps, I will learn that just because I use parenthesis, it doesn’t give me the right to meander off topic. Or maybe it does.

Anyway, the point is, I was able to use only an iota of my notes. So many real-life characters never even got to be reborn in the person of one of my “elders.” (There’s a topic for discussion — what does one call a busload of aged men and women? I despise the term “senior citizens,” I have no fondness for “old folks” — the term, that is — and “golden- agers” is too nauseating. So I settled for “elders” with its nuance of wisdom.)

One such character I never used for my book was Jake “The Barber” Factor, who stole millions from people through stock market swindles and investment fraud. He worked as a bootblack when he was a boy, shining shoes outside of a barbershop. The price of a shine was two cents, but he’d tell unwary customers that he’d give them a “steamboat shine” for one cent. If the customer agreed, he’d polish one shoe until it gleamed, then he’d say, “There’s your steamboat shine, Mister. For a dime, I’ll shine the other shoe.” 

Oscar Wilde once said, ” The Americans are certainly great hero worshippers, and always take heros from the criminal classes.” Well, perhaps not always, but most of us bear a grudging admiration for con men and women, mostly because they seem so much smarter than the rest of us. Or maybe they just have fewer scruples.

Daughter Am I will be released by Second Wind Publishing in the middle of October. 

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

2 Responses to “Researching Gangster Lore for Daughter Am I”

  1. Sheila Deeth Says:

    I’ll go for elders. Sounds nice, though part of me always wants to read “elves” when I see the word.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Oh, good. I struggled with the appellation, and finally decided to stick with that one. I wish that was one we used in real life. I wouldn’t mind growing into elderhood.


Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: