Amid a childhood steeped in tragedy, murder, and abuse clouded by the family's alcoholism and inner demons, one boy, crowned with an innate gift imposed on him by the miracle of human creation, at the age of fourteen, separates himself from the family ignominies and to stave off poverty. He is determined to override and erase the memory of his abusers and his grandfather's debacle and the tragedy that resulted from it--his self-confidence prevails. The combination of forbidding and bliss convey a diverse story: from a group of religious people who sexually abused him, to the center of the glamorous celebrity world, to Mother Nature that, in a spectacular display, demonstrated his future, and how he comes to meet the President of America, Pope John XXIII, the King of Thailand, and numerous Hollywood luminaries.
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IL MONDOOne Man's World
By Tony Bond
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Tony Bond
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Wrath
"Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy."
In a time of taboo and social injustice, having a romantic affair or living with the opposite sex out of wedlock was, for many, sinful and forbidden. A daughter could not rendezvous with a man unless the question of matrimony was already on the table. Perceived by many as the sacred union between a man and a woman, marriage could only be executed upon the approval of the family patriarch. In those days, arranged marriages were very much in fashion with little or no choice for the groom or bride to protest. Although this tradition has long disappeared from our society, it still prevails in many different cultures of the world, though not as rigidly as in those days. Unspeakable and even worse was for a single woman to become pregnant. It was conceivably the scandal and family disgrace of the century, and still is in for some.
It was in 1931 when William Singer, son of Albert Frank Singer, was forced to marry Leona Lindbom, because of their professed amorous and scandalous relationship—most notably, because Leona's belly had distended. Their son and only child, William Singer, with no suffix, to whom I will refer henceforth as Bill, as he preferred, was born seven months after their marriage. The force of habit and potent desire for alcohol caused frequent separations between the couple. During these separations, William, the senior, would go to live with his dad.
Work was not one of his intrinsic worth. He never held a job for any length of time. Most of the time, his wife Leona, who was illegitimate, and who did not know her father, had to provide for their son.
Leona's mother Ella, who became pregnant at the age of sixteen, faced the demons and brutal scrutiny of humanity; she was disowned by her family; and she was divested from the privilege of motherhood. The fact that she was carrying a baby without being married was a source of disgrace for her parents. Her father, to flee the social prejudice and humiliation, secretly found an underground group of people and sent Ella to a home for unmarried pregnant young girls—several miles away from their hometown—where she stayed until the baby was born. At the same time, Ella's parents concocted a story that their eldest daughter Edith, who was married at the time, was pregnant. Ella was forbidden to raise her own child. Even before baby Leona had her first cry or put on her first smile in her mother's arms, she was taken away from her mother and placed at the home of their daughter Edith. Leona was announced as the daughter of Edith, who then raised her, as her own child. Somewhere in time, during Leona's early years, Ella determined to deprive the agonizing moments, and for her child to know the truth, she decided to divulge the great family secret. She told Leona that her biological mother was she, and the woman Leona knew as her mom was actually her aunt. Ella was not allowed to reunite with her daughter and disappeared from Leona's life, ever since. Mother and daughter never saw each other again.
Leona Singer, a true brunette, petite and an outgoing personality, who enjoyed being around people, strove to maintain a semblance of stability at home, as her husband was frequently gone for extended periods. She also put up with her husband's philandering and the plague of his idleness. A ballet and a tap dancer by profession, Leona had to feed an extra mouth. But her performances were scarce and she had to find jobs anywhere she could. For that, Leona would ask her sister, Ruth, to baby-sit the kid, for she had to put food on the table, and at times relied on her mother's and in-laws' support.
Auntie Ruth, a vibrant, extroverted, and beautiful woman, who had plenty of time on her hands, would spend much of that time taking the adorable Billy—as she called him—to the park, candy store, and the movies. Bill detested the name Billy, though he relished all of the confections his aunt bought for him, something never offered at home. At the movies, the child never complained or cried. With eyes bugged out, fixed on the screen, he calmly sat in his seat; his whole attention surrendered to the excitement he received from the animated wall in front of him. The world ceased to exist for little Billy as he was pulled away into a magical land by the moving characters and objects on the screen, and nothing could distract him or get him up from his seat.
As the years elapsed, the family was on the roll—moving from place to place. Bill was only seven years old, when he experienced the most horrific event any seven-year-old kid should ever have to behold, which undoubtedly left an indelible scar for the rest of his life.
The innocent child could not help but witness the brutal shooting deaths of several members of his family. Every one of those morbid moments had left its mark, an irrevocable trace with hard texture that shadowed his youthful and adult years, and he was unable, for a very long time, to look or smile at disbelief in the reality of the trauma.
His parents had moved to Los Angeles, California from Saint Paul, Minnesota two years prior to the appalling event. They shared a house with his grandmother and uncles.
One night just after his sixth birthday his mother and father had taken him to nearby Long Beach. His family wanted to view a vaudeville show and that night Bill got to perform for the audience and sang "The Beer Barrel Polka" to a thunderous applause and rain of nickels. The kid was ecstatic, especially for the storm of coins reward for his efforts that night. The following morning however, tragedy struck at his home, which hunched like a manmade lintel on the head almost his entire life.
* * *
Born on January 1, 1874 in the Polish Corridor, in the village of Oxfet, Prussia, Albert Frank Singer was the only child of Joseph and Rosie Singer. Albert's father, after his mother's demise in 1878, left for the New World, and jumped ship in New York harbor in 1880.
At the age of eight he was reunited with his dad, in Chicago, Illinois, when, in 1882, his father sent passage for him. Upon arrival, Albert found out that his father had left for the Dakotas. However, Dad had arranged for the kid to live with a family they knew in Germany. A short while after he warmed-up to his new environment, Albert went to work selling newspapers and shining shoes on the sidewalks of Chicago.
With an education of eight months of school in Germany when he was seven years of age—three months in the Chicago Polish Parochial School at the age of thirteen—and three months of high school, it was there, in Chicago, where Albert established himself as a well-respected businessman.
At the time, Albert operated several different businesses: four coffee and tea stores, one butter shop, two taverns, one small hotel, and two grocery stores. He built a lucrative enterprise, which afforded him to become a philanthropist where he donated money to several churches, schools, poor families, and sponsored numerous charitable affairs. For three years, he served as the President of the Polish Butchers and Grocers Association in Chicago, and State Vice President of the Polish Catholic Union of Chicago for several years.
A devout Catholic and a father of ten, three of whom died in infancy, Albert sold the enterprise in 1914 and moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota, with the intent on furnishing his family a better place to live. He purchased income property and operated a general store, six grocery stores, two restaurants, and one real estate office. At the time, the family assets valued at 30,000 dollars, all of which Albert kept in the name of his wife, provided generously for the large household. His family always received the best of care and never was in need. All of the children attended private elementary schools and later Albert helped them in business by turning over some of his stores to them.
Owing to the economic downturn that crippled the nation—the largest stock market crash in America's history in the 1930s that lasted much of the decade—Albert's enterprise took a nosedive and hit rock bottom. It was on January 5, 1936 that Albert attempted a comeback. He left Saint Paul and returned to Chicago to operate a grocery store leaving his wife Frances in charge of their community property. By this time, all of his children except Harry and William had moved on.
Forced by the economic plague, which continued sweeping the nation, six months later, Albert had no other choice but to sell the grocery store, and return to Saint Paul in June of 1936. Feelings of wonder and disbelief numbed his entire body when he arrived home. Albert was aghast to find an empty house: no wife, no sons and no furniture. Wife Frances and sons, Harry and William, had purchased a car with money received from the rents of their community property, packed what little was left in the car, and moved to Los Angeles. They shipped the house furniture. Frances and her sons depleted the savings account. With zero balance, struck by overdue mortgage payments and outstanding bills, everything Albert had worked and hoped for vanished before his eyes.
He felt compelled to travel to Los Angeles to find his wife and two sons. Short on cash and unemployed, he needed to figure out a way. In a few short weeks, Albert secured a position at Master Radio Laboratory of New York, as a sales representative, which required that he owned reliable transportation. As he did not own a car, he approached his son John, who was a married man, and proposed to go on the road with him. The father agreed to split the earnings fifty, fifty. As jobs were hard to come by during that period, John Singer accepted the offer. In a 1930 Essex automobile, Albert, his son John with wife and baby daughter, began their cross-country radio sales journey. The plan worked as intended. Before long, the sales expedition diverted west, bypassing the central and southern regions, and ended at his wife-established residence, at 4511 DeLongpre Avenue, in Los Angeles, California.
Albert was not welcomed with open arms. No one was happy to see him. In fact, his presence spawned a chilling repugnance. And just when they thought they bade the dream of fleeing, the minute they saw him, the harmony they had found suddenly had disappeared for he, admirably, had denuded the nest.
Harry and William who were no strangers to drunkenness, and had both been previously arrested for intoxication—in fact, the entire family was no foreigner to alcohol—viciously thrashed their father numerous times. On several occasions, they jumped Albert, and in a concerted burst, like a sack filled with rubbish, dumped him out on the streets, for what they alleged, his constant and excessive drinking. Seized by antipathy, they snatched Albert's car and peddled it for quick cash, as neither of them held steady, gainful employment.
On June 14, 1939, a dreadful day, Albert had returned home from work at half past three in the afternoon. Feeling the chills and fever, he laid down on the bed in his bedroom, in the rear of the house. At about five o'clock wife Frances and sons William and his wife, John and his wife, and Harry came home from a day-out at Venice Beach. They were all under the influence of alcohol. Harry entered Albert's room and began cursing his father, calling him the vilest names and thrusting his fists at his face and head. He summoned his brother William to his support to throw their father out the window. Fortunately or unfortunately for Albert, the numerous coats of paint firmly sealed the window and it would not open. But that did not stop them. Without shoes, jacket, or vest, they grabbed Albert, and like a dog flung him down the stairs, dragged him across the floor and out the door. He flew onto the street—bleeding through the nose like a slaughtered animal, his clothes torn apart. "This was the greatest disappointment in my life as I sat on the steps in front of the house, crying to high heavens. After forty-three years of hard labor, giving generously, and my best efforts to raise my children to be good men and women, to whom I gave everything, they turned against me like this—even my wife whom I had been married to for forty-three years," Albert wrote in a statement.
After the police departed, Harry tossed the old man's jacket, hat and shoes on the street, and sternly demanded of him to get on his feet, leave their sight, and never return. For if he would, they would quash and slay him like a rat and bury him in the sewer.
With nowhere to go and little cash in his wallet, Albert left the house; he got on the trolley and went to downtown Los Angeles. There, he negotiated an affordable monthly room rate at the Senator Hotel on 726 South Spring Street. After all, he was a savvy entrepreneur and salesman.
Albert purchased a new hat, shirts, pants and socks. He returned to the hotel, freed himself from the old torn clothes, and slipped into his new apparel.
His stock of radios was stowed at a nearby storage on 15 East 7th Street. He left the hotel and went to retrieve his goods to sell. Back in his room at the lodging house, he was organizing his stock of radios. As he was sorting out the merchandise, suddenly, his eyes focused on the handgun that he had brought from home in Saint Paul. He took the gun and toyed with it in his hand. He unlatched the revolver—the pistol was unloaded. Ill thoughts rocketed through his head, of his two sons, who had ejected him from his home like a piece of garbage. "As I held the gun in my hands, it uttered the names of my sons Harry and William," admitted Albert in his statement.
In weeks past, Albert had made efforts to work at his business—selling radios—but he could not find the strength. The untold agony, fainting spells, and pain induced from the beatings lingered. He felt confused and feeble. Evil thoughts entered his mind, and the voices in his head grew louder. Goaded by a ghostly, uninvited force, Albert left his room and descended to the lobby. He exited the hotel and began walking down the streets of downtown Los Angeles, with one aim only. Several blocks away, his eyes focused on a large sign depicting a riffle. He finally spotted what he was looking for—a gun shop. It was just before nine o'clock at night and the stores were still open. He entered the store and continued to the sales counter where he purchased a box of .32-caliber shells.
He grabbed the shells, stuffed them in his pocket, and walked outside. Around the corner, in a dark alley, he loaded the gun, and headed back to the hotel. As he was walking down Los Angeles Street, he heard two men talking behind him. The voices of the strangers sounded eerie and disconcerted him. He heard the two men saying something about rats. Suddenly, he stepped into the darkest area of the sidewalk. His hand reached into his pocket and folded on the gun's grip. He stood mute, motionless. The gun was drawn with the index finger clung on the trigger, ready to ferociously discharge its metallic death at anyone who was a threat. He was ready to gun them down. As the moving bodies approached closer, suddenly, and fortunate for the two fellows, he realized that the men were just two strangers minding their own business. Dropping the revolver back into his pocket, Albert walked back to his residence hotel. "The son-of-a-guns were after me. They were there to get me. I thought they were my sons Harry and William," disclosed Albert, in a statement.
Every day, Albert Frank Singer thought of leaving Los Angeles and started, on several occasions, to go to his family home to secure his belongings. But in hopes that his sons would sooner or later bring his clothes to him as they knew where he was residing, he held back from going. At the same time, he continued to try to work, but only became more affected in body and mind.
On the morning of June 28, his rent became due, but as he had planned to leave for Chicago almost any day now, he decided to pay for one more week. Two days later, Officer Miener of the License Department of Commerce paid Albert a visit at his hotel and told him that he cannot sell his goods on the street, and that he had orders to arrest him if he did. When Albert asked why, the officer replied because he was crazy, and because he was molesting women on the streets. That seemed to affront Albert. It was then that he decided to go back to his so-called home, collect his possessions and definitely return to Chicago.
Several years had gone by since Albert rejoined his family and every day thereafter, he thought of leaving Los Angeles and returning to Chicago. But something always kept him going back to DeLongpre Avenue. Was it because he wanted to be with his family? Was it because he felt a sense of stability? Was it because he was looking for a free ride? Or, was it because alcohol had taken over his sanity? That question will go unanswered.
Excerpted from IL MONDO by Tony Bond Copyright © 2012 by Tony Bond. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
The Haunted Soul....................19
The Cuckoo Nest....................49
The Detective and Pierre....................85
A New Star is Born....................109
The Dole Dilemma....................191
Long Live the King....................211
A Child at Heart....................281