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Travels in Y'Town
January 15, 2008 - Joe Gorman
Greetings, and welcome to my blog.
I have always liked this way of communicating and reporting because of the different things you can do in this medium. And I had a lot of fun on my election night blog as well as the Friday Night Fan football blog I did during the high school football season.
-- It's weird having Tuesday being your first day of the work week. I've been doing it this way for about a year and a half now, after my wife went back to work following the birth of our third child because staying home Monday and working Saturday helps with the child care arrangements. That being said, I still fall under the assumption that my first day back is Monday, and it takes half the morning before I wake up and smell the proverbial coffee.
-- Covered the Damon Clark sentencing today and I was still struck by his trial last week and the trial for Shon Rankin, who was acquitted Friday of a murder in 2001 outside a South Side bar.
If they say the clothes make the man, maybe they help in his criminal defense case. In Rankin's case, most of the people in the audience were dressed like they were going to church; the men wore coats and ties and the women wore dresses. Contrast that with the Clark trial, where it was a crowd of mostly jeans and t-shirts. As our entertainment editor said, maybe there's a reason why Rankin was acquitted -- that and the fact that jurors were given evidence from a case that was over six years old.
-- By the way, the testimony in the Clark case of the first officer on the scene in the shooting and subsquent death of 3-year-old Cherish Moreland May 5 was some of the most emotional I have heard in more than 15 years of plying this trade. Patrolman Phil Chance testified how he cradled the young girl in his arms and tried to stop the blood from gushing out of her head while also marveling at the fact she was still able to talk; Chance testified the baby (to me, they are babies until they start school) was able to talk and cry. We are supposed to be emotionless, but I find that hard to carry out at times and Chance's frank admission that he was emotional that evening was something I carried with me the rest of the day. You know that he will remember that evening for the rest of his life, and I will probably remember his testimony as well.
-- Drove up Fifth Avenue today for an assignment and the old, historic homes covered with a freshly fallen snow almost makes for a postcard. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to live in one of those homes, and I still can if I work three jobs to pay the gas bill in one of them.
-- Ran into a YSU assistant football coach and former classmate at St. Brendan's during lunch and a local attorney we both know was castigating both of us for our West Side ties when I reminded the lawyer I had spent the first eight years of my life on the East Side. Youngstown is one of the few places around where people still take stock in what part of town they grew up in, which leads for some good natured joshing unless you happen to be in some gang and decide to go to the matteresses for your part of town.
But on my ride back to the paper after lunch, I thought about my East Side roots. Before I moved, my great grandmother lived next to us on Jackson Street and three houses down from that was my Grandmother, my father's mother. Now, my house and my great grandmother's home have both burned to the ground after they were vacated and turned into crack houses, but my Grandma Gorman's house actually looks good. Whoever lives there obviously takes care of it.
When I moved to Pennsylvania after I got married in the mid 90s, I remember Jackson Street was not a place I wanted to be; it looked run down and deserted. But after I came back, it looked like it is back on the ascent, or at least there are some neighbors there who care enough about their properties to keep them up. The city has helped by tearing down the old boarding house near Roosevelt School that was an eyesore even when I was a kid, but it's getting people who care enough to stay and take care of their property who will make or break their neighborhood -- and the city.
-- Speaking of property, the house I grew up in on the West Side on Dunlap has been vacant for more than two years. There is a tag in the window that tells people there is no water and if you are caught you will be charged with trespassing. Is this part of a trend in my life? Stay tuned.
-- I am a big reader, and last night, at the McKinley Library in Niles (which is the BEST library in the area, by the way) a plain black book with the title MAFIA on the spine intrigued me. I picked it up and read that it was a file made for Bobby Kennedy in the '60s of major figures in The Outfit in America. There are 800 names in the file, with mug shots of each individual listed, along with their descriptions, aliases, ``localities frequented' and criminal histories, among other subjects. The names are grouped by state, and there are four names for Youngstown, but the only one I ever heard of was Cadillac Charlie Cavallaro, who was killed in a car bomb in the driveway of his North Side home in 1962.
According to the file (because that's what it is) the leader of the mob in Youngstown at the time was a man named Calogero Vizzinni, who was born in Sicily and had arrests for armed robbery, murder and counterfeiting. It also listed his address: Fifth Avenue. I'll bet he could afford to pay his gas bill. That is, if anyone had the nerve to bill him.
-- I'll try and be back tomorrow with some insights on the first City Council meeting of the year, where six of seven members are new.
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