BY LUIS GRONDA
A Forest Hills-based author tells his story about what it was like growing up in a neighborhood run by mobsters.
Joseph Trigoboff’s “Rumble in Brooklyn” gives readers a peak into the tough neighborhood of the East New York section in Brooklyn and how it shaped his life.
The book focuses on him and his six friends who lived on the same block, Sheppard Avenue, and his relationship with his father, Leo Trigoboff.
He said that he felt bewildered to be growing up in one of the most violent slums in the country at the time.
“It’s really a book about survival, how smart you have to be on the street and how different reality is from the movies that were made about the guys I knew and grew up with,” he said.
Some of the members of the gang featured in the book, the New Lots Boys, were featured in the Martin Scorsese classic “Goodfellas.” A storefront, that is now a beauty salon, in East New York was also used in the movie as a cab stand for the mobsters.
The group of seven were Jewish boys living in a neighborhood where gangs practically ran the neighborhood, Trigoboff said.
Trigoboff was friendly with one of the most well-known gangs in that area during that time, the New Lots Boys, named after the East New York street, New Lots Avenue.
Although he was not an official member of the gang, he hung out around them enough to know what they were like and their daily activities.
Trigoboff said these gangsters were not the ones you rooted for like in your typical mobster movies. Instead, he said the more time he spent with them, the more contempt he developed for the gang.
“They were evil people,” Trigoboff said.
They would describe them as “bigoted” and would perform hits, or killing people, in broad daylight and at night because the gang thought they could get away with almost anything, Trigoboff said.
Any inkling he had to participate in anything like that quickly dissipated when he saw how evil these men were, the author said. Trigoboff singled out one member, Tommy DiSimone, describing him as “pure animal” and that he was hated by members of other gangs in the same area.
Discussing the close group of friends, he said they were the most important people in his life other than his father. Trigoboff said the group, led by Ira Fleck, stuck together through the tribulations of growing up in East New York.
He described Fleck as having a lot charisma and he was their leader because of that. The group was always together and did activities like go to Yankees games.
“We fought together, we robbed together, we rumbled with other guys together,” he said.
The book is available as a print-on-demand or an e-book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.