In memory of Shay Addeo and Guido Marengo
This is a story about good kids growing up with fine parents in a great neighborhood and with the knowledge of knowing right from wrong.
It was July 1955 and two friends – George Faeth and Guido Marengo – were going into the armed service. A going away party was given in their honor at the Jewish Center (Danziger House) at 73-25 67th Road.
Many participants of the party had left to go home. The only ones left were the cleaning crew who set the party up. Upon leaving the Center, two of N.Y.C. police officers stopped to question the boys. What occurred in the next twenty minutes was mind boggling.
First, Middle Village was one of the finest areas in New York City, having very little crime. The Officers were very bored and were very drunk. You know what they say: idle time is the work of the devil. For the police, they had a lot of time on their hands.
Good kids are taught: don’t lie, don’t run and always tell the truth. Many of these boys could have just walked away when the trouble started, but chose to stay and see it out. Needless to say, we were locked up overnight and appeared in Ridgewood Felony Court the next morning. We were charged with disorderly conduct and various other crimes. The boys could have pleaded guilty, having to pay a ten dollar fine for disorderly conduct and walk away, but chose to plead not guilty and to have their say in court. In court, the boys represented themselves (no lawyers). A couple of the boys, under oath, told the Judge what had occurred. The police officers were drunk and out of control. The question arose, why did the police stop the boys in the first place. The police officer answered, “there was a complaint of a disturbance call.” Upon this answer, Judge Livoti took a fifteen minute recess.
On Judge Livoti’s return, he spoke to the D. A. After finishing speaking to the D.A., Judge Livoti then dismissed all charges against the boys. You see all calls to police stations are a matter of record and filed and includes time of call, dates and information of the event. There was no complaint on file of any disturbance. You see, being brought up to tell the truth, does pay off. Someone may be listening. In this case, Judge Livoti was listening.
This could have escalated into a damaging incident, if the boys had cut and ran, leaving a few to take the fall. The consequence would have been disastrous.
You see, when the boys were stopped, the question was asked: “Why? What have we done?” The police, in their drunken condition, took this to be an act of indifference. Also, a few neighbors were beginning to assemble and also questioned the police, also adding more fuel to the fire. When one of the men in the group questioned the reason for stoppage, he was pushed to the ground and was hit with a flashlight across his head. Then the boys intervened, to try to subside the problem. The police again took it as a hostile act and started to pull their guns. Thank God, they were quickly disarmed and the guns were quickly put out of harms way.
Still, with all this happening, the boys refused to leave, waiting for police to come. You see the two officers were completely out of it.
Thanks to great parents, who trusted and believed in their children, this was a happy ending. By the way, the story of the “Middle Village Nine” appeared in most of the newspapers across the country, including the Italian paper. Mike D’Angelo read the newspaper story while serving in the Army, in Texas.
After we were cleared of all the charges, it took weeks of telephone calls to the newspapers to write a retraction. Only the Daily News and the Long Island Press printed the outcome.
The “9” were: Guido Marengo (deceased), Ralph Vaiano, Joseph Calabrese, Jack Marichionde, John Bruno, Rocco Dubatto, Salvatore Noto, Richard Wagner & Shay Addeo (deceased).
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James Kelly – Apr 14, 2007
Although I was not in attendance at this affair, I recall being in the 79th Street park the next day, talking with a few friends about what had happened the previous night. A police car stopped and one of the officers came over and questioned us about the where-abouts of Richie Wagner. He told us that Richie better turn himself in or when they catch him, they will beat him to a pulp.
Most cops were tough during those years and they didn’t think twice about giving you a swat on the behind with the night stick if you didn’t move fast enough when they told you to move. They were always chasing us off the street corners. Maybe that’s why we were always on a park bench.
John Bruno – Apr 15, 2007
Richie and Shay were also Cleared of all charges, “Our Legal System at work”. The “Larceny” charge was a simple case of mistaken Identity, which was also thrown out of court after the facts were put before the judge. This incident was finished and over before the Middle Village”9″ episode even took place.
Another example of “Our Legal System”.
Vincent Esposito – Apr 15, 2007
Really enjoyed that memoir Sal. Well written; it took a point of view of how things were 50 years ago and presented it in entertaining fashion. I wish some of your English teachers at Grover Cleveland HS could have read this; they would have been very proud. Well done. Vinnie
John Bruno – Apr 17, 2007
Vinnie, I have to agree with you, Sal did an excelent job on his memoir of the past. Sal, Remember the coffee and hamburgers they gave us?
Salvatore Noto – Apr 17, 2007
Knowing my father, I was wishing they would feed me for a month. John, do you remember we had to pay for the food>?!
We met at Applebee yesterday; Ralph Viano and George Faeth came. You would think, by looking at them, that they were preserved in alcohol. They looked great.
John Bruno – Apr 17, 2007
I remember. Good thing we had money with us. The nice thing was they sent out for the food.