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baby Tom with dad

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Saddle River NJ, Childhood memories of spring are usually happy and bright: Icicles dripping, chocolate Easter bunnies, putting your sneakers on after a long, Jersey winter.

For local anti-hero, Thomas Giacomaro, spring reminds him of the day he saw his father almost kill two men. 

He was 5 and it was a beautiful spring afternoon, Giacomaro writes in his memoir, The King of Con: How a Smooth-Talking Jersey Boy Made and Lost Billions, Baffled the FBI, Eluded the Mob, and Lived to Tell the Crooked Tale.

He and his parents were driving home from visiting family–Tom was looking at comic books in the back seat–when the car next to them swerved and cut off Tom’s dad.

“My father wasn’t big, but he could fight,” says Tom, “and if he got worked up, he was a f***ing madman.”

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tom dad uniform

Tom’s father, Joe, had been a technical sergeant in the US Marine Corps and saw combat in both WWII and Korea. One of his prized mementos was a menacing, black-handle bayonet with a ten-inch blade.

“He was a trained expert in hand-to-hand combat,” says Tom.

Which was not good news for the guy who cut him off that day—or his passenger.

Joe honked his horn and yelled out the window for the two men to pull over. When they reached a red light, “two huge, very angry-looking black guys climbed out of the car and started walking toward us,” Tom remembers.

“Before they had a chance to say or do anything, my father had grabbed a Louisville Slugger from the back seat and was on top of them. He lunged and poked and jabbed the two men all over their bodies—in their stomachs, their chests, their faces, and then the back of their heads after they crumpled to the ground, begging him to stop.”

Tom’s mother screamed from the front seat and Tom trembled in back. 

When Joe was finished using the bat as a bayonet, “he calmly walked back to the

car and dropped the blood-streaked bat on the floor beside my feet,” says Tom. “I have no

idea if those two men lived or died.”


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