Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Married A Mobster: Recap Of “The Grim Reaper”

Recap of Episode 3: The title of last night’s episode says it all, “The Grim Reaper.” The title is the name that was given to Greg Scarpa, a mafia capo who was known for his countless, violent murders. Linda Schiro was his mistress for decades and this was her story.

Linda Schiro grew up around mobsters. Her grandmother ran crap and numbers games from her house. It was part of her childhood and all she knew.

When Linda was 17, she was having an affair with Larry Pistone, a made member of the Gambino crime family. One night, while she was out, Greg Scarpa asked her to dance. He complimented her eyes saying, they were black, like olives. He asks for her number, but she tells him she will call him. She doesn’t. Instead, two days later she has a big argument with Larry and goes straight to Greg. Larry is outside blowing the horn and telling her to get in the car. Greg tells him she is going with him. Greg reaches for something under his seat. Linda gets scared and gets in the car with Larry and they drive off. Linda had just saved Larry’s life.

Greg was a huge money maker for the Colombo crime family and he was a notorious hit man. Both Greg and Larry wanted Linda so the two families had a sit down. Greg came out the winner. He treated her like a queen and she became his mob mistress. They celebrated her birthday at the Copacabana. She got a lot of gifts. In the mob, the girlfriends get everything and the wives, not so much. Linda describes him as caring and giving, but do him wrong and he will kill you.

One night Greg gets out of his car to go speak to a guy in another car, leaving Linda to wait across the street. Greg shoots the guy and this was the first mob hit that Linda witnessed. Then Greg tells her he has a secret, he is working for the FBI. After he was arrested in 1962 for armed robbery, he became an informant to avoid going to jail. She asks if he is a “rat.” He says no, he just does jobs for the FBI.

One day, in 1964, the FBI asks him to go to Mississippi where three civil rights workers had disappeared. Hoover and the FBI knew Scarpa would do anything and was afraid of nothing. They needed him to talk to the KKK and find out where he bodies were. An FBI agent gives him a gun. Greg handles it. He kidnaps one of the klansmen and tortures him for the information and he gets it. The FBI pays him money for a job well done.

After four years of being with Greg, Linda wants to get married and have children. Greg cannot leave his wife, it’s not what mobsters do. Linda marries a guy named Charlie, who worked with insurance, but she still went out with Greg every night and sometimes didn’t come home. Charlie never said anything. Then she got pregnant and had her daughter, Linda. Linda is Greg’s daughter. Greg has it all. He has two families, he is well respected in the mob and he works for the FBI so he can rest assured he will not go to jail.

Linda is Greg’s partner in crime. Mistresses know far more than the wives and Greg shared everything with Linda. When Linda gets pregnant with Greg’s son, Charlie leaves and Greg moves in. Linda was very happy.

Then, Greg becomes ill with a bleeding ulcer. He needs massive blood transfusions. At the time AIDS was a huge problem, so he got his friends to donate the blood for him. One of his friends was HIV positive, but his blood had never been tested. Greg gets AIDS. Orena and Scarpa were at war to get control of the family. One day while he was pulling out of his driveway with his daughter Linda and her baby in the car behind him, they are shot at, it’s a mob hit. Linda runs screaming back into the house thinking her father was hit. Greg soon follows, no one was hurt. But now, the war was personal. Linda says there were 5 holes in her car where the baby was sitting. Greg goes out every night looking for Orena’s crew. He went out himself, with his health declining, to get them all. He is arrested and the judge sentences him to house arrest because he is so ill.

One day Joey, their son, gets into trouble on the streets. They hide it from Greg. Someone had pulled a gun on Joey, Greg finds out. Greg goes out and starts shooting punks on the street. He drives back home. He is shot through his nose and his eye was out. He doesn’t even realize it. They take him to the hospital where he is arrested by US Marshals. Linda wants to take him home to die. They want to know if his trigger finger still works? As long as it does, they are taking him to jail. Greg died two days later, in prison at the age of 68.

Greg’s sonJoey rips off a drug dealer who was protected by a made guy. Linda is worried sick, but Joey tells her Vinnie’s dad has it under control. Linda knows what that means, she has been part of the mob lifestyle for decades. She tells him that mean they are going to kill you. Joey doesn’t believe it. But, the next day, Joey is killed. He didn’t have his father’s protection any more.

Linda says of Greg, “he was my life.”

In my opinion, there is so much to Linda’s story that 30 minutes could not do it justice. They just scratched the surface of her life with Greg Scarpa. She spent decades with the man and knew all his business. They did mange to get quite a bit of information into the episode. It was very well executed and the story was coherent. I felt the same way about last week’s episode with Andrea Giovino. Both of these women had much more to their stories, they filled up books, and what we got was the condensed “Reader’s Digest” version. Still they were fascinating and left me wanting to know and see more.

In both episodes, they show the lavish lifestyle side by side with violent murder as part of the woman’s daily routine. It’s impossible to even imagine greeting your significant other at the door, knowing that he may very well have committed murder that day or having to wash out his blood stained clothes. I don’t know how they dealt with it, accepted it, and went about their business. I wish someone would do a psychological study on the mindset of mob wives and mistresses.

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