Sunday, August 15, 2021

IL Mezzano Part 1

August 9, 1956. 

Exactly thirteen years to the day before Leno and Rosemary LaBianca tragically met their ends over a little black book (possibly), and weird, angry girls mutilated corpses (surely), the following article appeared in The Long Beach Independent in Long Beach, California. 

At first, I thought that was two separate pieces until Mr. Lopez showed up in both. Terse title, confusing writing, even more confusing asterisks breaks, and a completely scary story. Whatever was going on was enough for local legislators to want to close the US/Mexico border every night. I don't know what your definition of big time is but that fits mine. 

While he is probably the most gangster of all the folks in this charming, mid-century tale of human trafficking, let's part from Mr. Lopez and move on to today's subject, Peter J. Dileo.

As you saw above, our man Pete was slapped with the Mann Act in early August of 1956. Readers of this blog know the Mann Act inside and out, but just in case someone is new, the Mann Act basically says you can't drive women around for the purpose of pimping them out. Later, language was added forbidding adults from doing the same thing with children. Progress. 

I'm decently sure I know Pete's backstory. War hero if I have the right guy. A hero depending on which side you were on, of course. Regardless, Pete's not hard to find if you go looking. I've been wrong on genealogy before and I don't want to hurt anyone's descendants who may stumble upon this in the future if my research is bad so I'm leaving all that out. 

Our story might start on a ship from Sicily before the long trip to the San Joaquin Valley in central California. He might've had a beautiful sister. And been in clubs at school. But at some point, Pete did federal time for being a pimp. 

By 1963, a completely reformed Pete was back in the mix and bartending in Sacramento, California, at a place called the Achilles Heel. He was possibly on his second wife. Pete liked them much younger, but was, as far as I can tell, staying off the radar. Imagine soft, harmless elevator music playing in the background as we bob along our sun-drenched timeline to 1967 and the arrival of Charlie, Mary, Patty, and author Lynette Fromme at Pete's front door. 

*I'm using the Kindle version of Fromme's Reflexion for my simplified citations. The number after the author's name refers to the page number. 

"Pete lived in middleclass (sic) suburbia, but had a full bar in his living room, and a big, shiny, well-equipped kitchen. He had grapes growing in his back yard, and lots of business visitors." (Fromme, 89) 

"Straight up, Pete was a high-end bartender and a professional pimp, unlike anyone I had ever met and a lot like gangsters in old movies." (Fromme, 89)

I found it interesting that Fromme chose the scene where she introduces Pete the Pimp for his first of four scenes to also present the Mann Act to us. 

"I didn't know what the Mann Act was, but the charges were on his (Charlie's) rap sheet. He explained that in his early twenties, while on parole, he'd taken the first job he could get. It was at a hot dog stand. Among the conditions of parole, he was not to associate with ex-felons. He said he didn't know anyone but ex-felons, and that the hot dog job put him to sleep. When an old-school con offered an alternative, he'd accepted training and went on to manage three women in L.A. who worked hotels and bars." (Fromme, 89)

Was "the old-school con" none other than Pete Delio, himself eleven years Charlie's senior AND a fellow Mann Act indictment recipient who listed a Hollywood home and work address at the time of his arrest? Did Fromme lump that stuff together by chance? 

"Later, Charlie told me that Pete was old fashioned, but meant well and had done him right in the past." (Fromme, 89)

Moreover, rumors have circulated for more than half a century that the witches were selling more than LSD in Mendocino. And like I mentioned before, Pete shows up in no less than four scenes throughout Fromme's well-written memoire. Why? 

Author's note: I know lots of people say lots of things in their books and etc but I wanted to keep it simple and only study this text for this topic. I don't see Lynette on CNN or FOX or anywhere else shilling for something or pretending to be an expert on any other topic of the day, and that leads me to believe what she says about her life. One thing that bothers me about Bible scholarship, for example, is someone will say, "Oh, look. This and that happens here and if you look back to here in the Old Testament you will see the one thing supports the other." 

Not so much when nothing is verified. 

To that, I didn't want to say, "And erm okay over here in Lake's book she says Charlie took her and Brenda to turn tricks in a motel in Vegas so clearly that shows he was their pimp." I don't trust her. You don't trust her. What are we supposed to do with her words? 

I originally started research on prostitution in the time of sexual liberation in California for this article. But Pete's name kept popping up and I wondered if the author was "dry snitching" or even possibly trying to tell us a bit more than the codes of her world allow? What do you think?

Long time lurker. First time poster.