I first “ran into” Babette Hughes when I made reply to her article in the Huffington Post and we corresponded and I asked her to write an article for Family Arrested, and here it is. Babette is a talented author and has recently published her fourth novel drawing on her life as the daughter of a man who was murdered by the mob when she was a child. Her father was a bootlegger and his murder, though denied by her mother, haunted her until she could put the story together.
Here is Babette’s web site http://www.amazon.com/Babette-Hughes/e/B001K8I026
Here’s Babette’s story:
“Aren’t you that Rosen girl?” Mary Ann’s mother said. Mary Ann Halloway was my new best friend in second grade and we were sitting in her kitchen drinking milk and eating coconut cookies. The cookies were delicious and something nice-smelling was cooking away on the stove. It was Saturday afternoon and her father was there, too. “The one whose father got murdered?’
“No,” I said, chewing. “My daddy died of pneumonia.”
“It was about five years ago,” she went on, “some kind of bootlegging business. Let me think.” She narrowed her eyes. “His name was Lester. Or Leon. No, wait a minute. Louis. That’s it, Louis. Louis Rosen. And there was another one murdered—a brother, I think. It was in all the papers.”
She turned to her husband. “I remember the name because it’s Jewish. Most of those people who go around killing each other are Italian, but this was a Jew.”
“Yeah,” her husband said, “I remember reading that he went to jail for killing a scab in a union fight.”
She looked at me, got hold of her husband’s hand, and pulled herself back as if I had the measles or something.
The coconut cookies on my stomach were suddenly on the way up. I stood, knocking over my milk. “I have to go home now.”
“Yes, run along,” Mrs. Halloway said, handing me my coat.
I got out of there just in time to throw up on Ms. Halloway’s azaleas. I was not invited there again.
Although that was decades ago, nothing has changed regarding the lack of attention paid to the families of criminals. In the hundreds of thousands of books and movies and newspaper articles and TV programs about members of murderers, their families are either ignored or marginalized. Aaron Alexis, Adam Lanza, Ariel Castro, Whitey Bulger—all have wives and girlfriends and children and mothers.
Who are these women? What is their background? Do they like the danger? Or hate it? Stay or leave? How are their lives affected?
My mother met my father in 1912 when she was 15, after graduating from the Jewish Orphan Home in Cleveland, Ohio. He was considered a catch for an orphan girl— good looking, with money in his pocket and a shiny Winton automobile. They were married in 1915, and when Prohibition became law in 1919, he found the career he was born to—bootlegging. She was the window of a criminal in her early 20s.
When I discovered the family secret, I was ashamed of her for staying. I was proud of her for moving on with her life when her husband died. But I didn’t know what I had learned from her. That is, until my divorce. Needing independence and courage, I discovered it within myself, put there by her spirit, from watching her struggle with the effects of the double murders in her life, not to mention the challenge of raising two children during The Great Depression under an umbrella of secrecy.
Stuck in trauma, she was unable to talk about the killings or even mention her husband’s name for the rest of her life.
Thanks to Family Arrested, family members of criminals are able to speak out and support one another.