Remember New Ken nightlife
Frank Phillips

Bowie, MD

#943 Feb 8, 2009
I believe my father and grandfather, both named Frank Phillips, owned the Laetus club and the Batchelor's club. They also owned the Aluminum City Club. Mostly bars with card gambling in the back room. As a child we would visit them at work. The Laetus club was near the KenMar hotel. I also remember constantly hearing the names: Sonny, Red, Speedo, Kelly, Willy Sams, Abe Zeid, Joe Merola. These were mafia guys. Merola served time for running guns to Cuba, as he was a pilot. Abe was killed allegedly for trying to blackmail higher up mafia guys. Kelly Mannarino was the accepted boss of NewKen from what I understand
Olderndirt

Kittanning, PA

#944 Feb 9, 2009
Frank Phillips wrote:
I believe my father and grandfather, both named Frank Phillips, owned the Laetus club and the Batchelor's club. They also owned the Aluminum City Club. Mostly bars with card gambling in the back room. As a child we would visit them at work. The Laetus club was near the KenMar hotel. I also remember constantly hearing the names: Sonny, Red, Speedo, Kelly, Willy Sams, Abe Zeid, Joe Merola. These were mafia guys. Merola served time for running guns to Cuba, as he was a pilot. Abe was killed allegedly for trying to blackmail higher up mafia guys. Kelly Mannarino was the accepted boss of NewKen from what I understand
Interesting post Frank. It filled some gaps that I had about that era. I think though that Pittsburgh law enforcement was instrumental in having Zeid killed. I think I posted some of it on this thread. I think too that Kelly was boss of much more than the New Ken area.

“Ken Hi and Springdale Hi”

Since: Jul 08

Glendale CA,

#945 Feb 9, 2009
Frank Phillips wrote:
I believe my father and grandfather, both named Frank Phillips, owned the Laetus club and the Batchelor's club. They also owned the Aluminum City Club. Mostly bars with card gambling in the back room. As a child we would visit them at work. The Laetus club was near the KenMar hotel. I also remember constantly hearing the names: Sonny, Red, Speedo, Kelly, Willy Sams, Abe Zeid, Joe Merola. These were mafia guys. Merola served time for running guns to Cuba, as he was a pilot. Abe was killed allegedly for trying to blackmail higher up mafia guys. Kelly Mannarino was the accepted boss of NewKen from what I understand
Very interesting. I knew a Chuck Phillips very well in the late forties and early fifties. He ran all of the slots in town. Many times I rode with him while he made collections. Chuck, Frank Bordinaro and my Dad were members of the Elks Club's. When I was living in Miami, they came down for an Elk's Convention and we all partied. I heard much later that chuck was in a hospital in New Mexico. I don't think Chuck was related to Frank, maybe you know.
Frank Phillips

Bowie, MD

#946 Feb 10, 2009
Olderndirt wrote:
<quoted text>
Interesting post Frank. It filled some gaps that I had about that era. I think though that Pittsburgh law enforcement was instrumental in having Zeid killed. I think I posted some of it on this thread. I think too that Kelly was boss of much more than the New Ken area.
I had not heard that. He was killed "gangland style"-- Shot, stabbed, and burnt. Doesn't seem the police would do this. He and his wife Norma were my parents best friends growing up, so we were completely shocked. Norma, btw, was Abe's wife and Merola's girlfriend. We knew Abe as Al Ross. I may be mistaken at my father owning the bachelor's club, but the Laetus (Latin for joy) Club he definitely owned, and before that the City Club. My grandfather ran a gambling operation in the Garibaldi building. As kids, my brother and I would go to this place we called the green door. It seemed cool when we pushed the button and someone peeked out the one way glass and would let us in to see our grandfather, who they called Frinkie. At some point the Feds busted the place, and did actual battle with the patrons, many of whom were off duty Nuken cops. My grandfather spent a few years in jail for his part. This was in the early 60s. I am 56. My dad's friends were Red Giordano, Sunny Cincuiti, Johnny Fee, John McGafferty (McGaff), Abe Zeid, Joe Merola, and others. It was crazy growing up in Nuken, because people would come up to me on the street and say, "Aren't you Frankie Phillips kid?" I never knew how they knew, not realizing that my father and grandfather were notorious. I lived in NuKen from 1953 to 1966. On my mother's side, there were no gangsters, just Tony, Rose and Francis DeMarco, and my mother Vivian. Sad little town--especially after Alcoa left. I visited a few years ago--to find my elementary school (Third Ward) had disappeared, as well as Ridge Avenue. The two houses my father built are still standing though. One on Constitution Blvd, still owned by Mary Flocker. Those were the days.
Tom R

Medina, OH

#947 Feb 10, 2009
Somebody should put these New Ken mafia posts into a book or something.
NKoldtimes

Hummelstown, PA

#948 Feb 10, 2009
Frank Phillips wrote:
<quoted text>
I had not heard that. He was killed "gangland style"-- Shot, stabbed, and burnt. Doesn't seem the police would do this. He and his wife Norma were my parents best friends growing up, so we were completely shocked. Norma, btw, was Abe's wife and Merola's girlfriend. We knew Abe as Al Ross. I may be mistaken at my father owning the bachelor's club, but the Laetus (Latin for joy) Club he definitely owned, and before that the City Club. My grandfather ran a gambling operation in the Garibaldi building. As kids, my brother and I would go to this place we called the green door. It seemed cool when we pushed the button and someone peeked out the one way glass and would let us in to see our grandfather, who they called Frinkie. At some point the Feds busted the place, and did actual battle with the patrons, many of whom were off duty Nuken cops. My grandfather spent a few years in jail for his part. This was in the early 60s. I am 56. My dad's friends were Red Giordano, Sunny Cincuiti, Johnny Fee, John McGafferty (McGaff), Abe Zeid, Joe Merola, and others. It was crazy growing up in Nuken, because people would come up to me on the street and say, "Aren't you Frankie Phillips kid?" I never knew how they knew, not realizing that my father and grandfather were notorious. I lived in NuKen from 1953 to 1966. On my mother's side, there were no gangsters, just Tony, Rose and Francis DeMarco, and my mother Vivian. Sad little town--especially after Alcoa left. I visited a few years ago--to find my elementary school (Third Ward) had disappeared, as well as Ridge Avenue. The two houses my father built are still standing though. One on Constitution Blvd, still owned by Mary Flocker. Those were the days.
My Dad and Al were friends. I remember a federal grand jury and that Al was subpoened to testify. Al told my Dad he would never live to testify. I once googled some federal records and did come up with some information about the grand jury. It appeared that Al was an illegal alien and the feds seemed to be holding deporation over his head.
Frank Phillips

Bowie, MD

#949 Feb 10, 2009
>>>My Dad and Al were friends. I remember a federal grand jury and that Al was subpoened to testify.<<<<

Wow! What is/was your dad's name? Al was a Russian Jew and had the mildest disposition of anyone I've known. He kinda reminded me of Perry Como. Imagine my horror to find out many years later he was allegedly a hit man. Seems weird to be talking about these things online

“Ken Hi and Springdale Hi”

Since: Jul 08

Glendale CA,

#950 Feb 10, 2009
Memories wrote:
I guess I have as many memories of NK as anyone from the time I was a kid until I was in my early 20ís. My Dad and Sam were good friends for a long time, since they were very young men..........
I remember St. Anthonyís, the Laetus Club and the Bachelors Club. I rarely went to any of them. Dad didnít allow and would have found out if I went.
What memories of the old days!
Memories: Seems like you were around at about the same time I was in New Ken. I was in the eighth grade at Ken Hi in 1942. Got to know some of the people you talk about. Wonder if we knew each other.
Olderndirt

Kittanning, PA

#951 Feb 11, 2009
Frank Phillips wrote:
<quoted text>
I had not heard that. He was killed "gangland style"-- Shot, stabbed, and burnt. Doesn't seem the police would do this. He and his wife Norma were my parents best friends growing up, so we were completely shocked. Norma, btw, was Abe's wife and Merola's girlfriend. We knew Abe as Al Ross. I may be mistaken at my father owning the bachelor's club, but the Laetus (Latin for joy) Club he definitely owned, and before that the City Club. My grandfather ran a gambling operation in the Garibaldi building. As kids, my brother and I would go to this place we called the green door. It seemed cool when we pushed the button and someone peeked out the one way glass and would let us in to see our grandfather, who they called Frinkie. At some point the Feds busted the place, and did actual battle with the patrons, many of whom were off duty Nuken cops. My grandfather spent a few years in jail for his part. This was in the early 60s. I am 56. My dad's friends were Red Giordano, Sunny Cincuiti, Johnny Fee, John McGafferty (McGaff), Abe Zeid, Joe Merola, and others. It was crazy growing up in Nuken, because people would come up to me on the street and say, "Aren't you Frankie Phillips kid?" I never knew how they knew, not realizing that my father and grandfather were notorious. I lived in NuKen from 1953 to 1966. On my mother's side, there were no gangsters, just Tony, Rose and Francis DeMarco, and my mother Vivian. Sad little town--especially after Alcoa left. I visited a few years ago--to find my elementary school (Third Ward) had disappeared, as well as Ridge Avenue. The two houses my father built are still standing though. One on Constitution Blvd, still owned by Mary Flocker. Those were the days.
Morning Frank, I posted a few months ago, what I recall regarding Abe's murder. Abe was driving the Pgh law enforcement crazy. He'd get arrested but had some judges in his pocket, so I was told by a detective at the time. He'd be out on the street and bragging about how the law couldn't hold him. He was in the Pgh papers numerous times. The DA(Duggan) at the time, called Miami, complained and was told Miami would handle it. The same detective that I was friendly with, was supposedly in Duggan's office when the call was made and told me about the call before Abe's death which occurred within a couple of weeks.
After hearing about Duggan's call to Miami I mentioned it to a Jewish engineer that I was working with at the time. A day or two later, Abe's body was found. He thought I was deep into the mafia after that, in spite of my telling him how I got my info.
There's disagreement on this thread about where Abe's body was found. I contend he was found in the trunk of a car at the Pgh airport parking lot. The papers mentioned that he was killed gangland style.
I often carried envelopes to your grandfather Frinkie from Vic Carlucci in 59, 60 and knew most of the guys you mentioned.
I'm an alumnus of Third Ward too.

“Ken Hi and Springdale Hi”

Since: Jul 08

Glendale CA,

#952 Feb 11, 2009
Olderndirt wrote:
<quoted text>
Morning Frank,.........
I'm an alumnus of Third Ward too.
Morning Bob: Me too! from second grade (1935/36)to fifth grade, then to Springdale for sixth grade and back to Ken Hi for seventh and eighth grade. It was a great school with trees all around it and a little market on the corner. It was between my home and downtown. I often walked to downtown to hit a movie (The Circle, The Ritz for a double feature, the Kent (across the street from the Paramount?) There was the Paramount, The Boom Boom(.05 tickets - old old westerns), the Dattola (It came later, I think it replaced the Paramount) and the best, The Liberty.) Did I forget any?
NKoldtimes

Hummelstown, PA

#953 Feb 11, 2009
Frank Phillips wrote:
>>>My Dad and Al were friends. I remember a federal grand jury and that Al was subpoened to testify.<<<<
Wow! What is/was your dad's name? Al was a Russian Jew and had the mildest disposition of anyone I've known. He kinda reminded me of Perry Como. Imagine my horror to find out many years later he was allegedly a hit man. Seems weird to be talking about these things online
My family would go to Al's house in Lower Burrell and visit. His son Frankie was a nice young boy and Norma was an attractive woman. Al took me and my brother and his son to Kennywood and we had a great time. I never heard my Dad saying anything about what happened to Norma and Frankie after Al's death. Many years later my Dad told me Al was a "collector" and enforcer and would go to Vegas and Cuba to and enforcer.
exnewken

AOL

#954 Feb 12, 2009
Hey Dirt - you mention the body of Abe was found at the airport.I recall a body being found in the trunk of a car in Universal outside of a nightspot that can be seen from the P.A turnpike.I recall going by there from a trip to Monroeville & seeing a variety of police vehicles there.I didn't know until later in the evening while watching the news that a body was found in the trunk of a car there. Rumor had it that it was a mob hit.I think it was in the 70's.Do you recall any of that?
linda booth

High Springs, FL

#955 Feb 12, 2009
hey, i am having the best time reading all this info about NK - I left there in 1961 0r 62. I have brothers & cousins that lived in that area. My brothers are Bil & Cliff Booth & I have cousins Chuck & Bob Booth. I knew Georgianne Manarrino - I used to teach dancing at Caputo's dance school & she was there
Keep up the good work - this is awesome!
Frank Phillips

Bowie, MD

#956 Feb 12, 2009
NKoldtimes writes

>>>My family would go to Al's house in Lower Burrell and visit. His son Frankie was a nice young boy and Norma was an attractive woman. Al took me and my brother and his son to Kennywood and we had a great time. I never heard my Dad saying anything about what happened to Norma and Frankie after Al's death. Many years later my Dad told me Al was a "collector" and enforcer and would go to Vegas and Cuba to and enforcer.<<<

Let me ask again, what is your name, I may know you. Frankie was actually my best friend growing up. He was semi-adopted by Al but his father was named Frank Tallarico. Yes, Norma was a very attractive woman. I also remember their house in Lower Burrel, on Paige street (how's that for memory?)It was a fairly ordinary house, not nearly as nice as Mannarino's stone house on Highland. My family actually lived with Norma and Frankie after Al's death, for a year in Boca Raton, before we bought our own house there in 1967. I haven't been able to find Frankie online. He was last living in Miami.He should be 57, just one year older than me. I tend to doubt Norma is still alive. She sent Frankie to Miami military academy where he graduated.

Now regarding Al's demise: I still remember the Pittsburgh newspaper, which had a large article with photos about his death. Shot, stabbed, burnt, and stuffed in a hollowed out tree trunk somewhere in the woods near Pittsburgh. It shocked the hell out of us. I had no idea what mild mannered Al was up to, until much later. In Florida, Norma dated the married Joe Merola--who was also a gangster, pilot, gun runner, and CIA informant, and friend of Al's. I even found a picture of him somewhere on the internet.

If anyone is interested, I can provide a few details about the Laetus club.
Frank Phillips

Bowie, MD

#957 Feb 12, 2009
linda booth writes: >>>...hey, i am having the best time reading all this info about NK - I left there in 1961 0r 62. I have brothers & cousins that lived in that area. My brothers are Bil & Cliff Booth & I have cousins Chuck & Bob Booth.<<<

Are you related to the Booth's who owned Burrel construction? I remember visiting the Booth's mansion (one of the few in New Ken)and listening to Charlie Booth (now 56 or 57)try to play electric guitar. The Beatles had just come out and everyone wanted to be a rock star. Fortunately for Charlie, he's was one of the few kids who could afford an electric guitar.
Frank Phillips

Bowie, MD

#958 Feb 12, 2009
olderndirt writes, >>>I often carried envelopes to your grandfather Frinkie from Vic Carlucci in 59, 60 and knew most of the guys you mentioned.
I'm an alumnus of Third Ward too.<<<

Wow, again. I do remember the name Vic Carlucci, but not sure who he was. Say, what was in those envelopes delivered to my grandfather Frinkie, who we called Pup? I'm pretty sure he was well liked. Not sure he would be considered a gangster. Of course us kids were not told much about our parents business. I've been piecing it together ever since, so I find this site very informative.
Frank Phillips

Bowie, MD

#959 Feb 12, 2009
For those interested, you can do an online walking tour of New Kensington. On Google Earth there is a function called "street view" that lets you stroll down streets. NK has this feature because in is near Pittsburgh. Google Earth is by no means complete in offering this view.

Not related to the gangster discussion: Does anyone know the Fredericks? My friend Arthur lived on Kenneth Avenue and went to 3rd Ward as well. Arthur's father owned Frederick and Purdom--the Wise potato chip distributor for the area.
linda booth8071

High Springs, FL

#960 Feb 12, 2009
Frank Phillips wrote:
linda booth writes: >>>...hey, i am having the best time reading all this info about NK - I left there in 1961 0r 62. I have brothers & cousins that lived in that area. My brothers are Bil & Cliff Booth & I have cousins Chuck & Bob Booth.<<<
Are you related to the Booth's who owned Burrel construction? I remember visiting the Booth's mansion (one of the few in New Ken)and listening to Charlie Booth (now 56 or 57)try to play
electric guitar. The Beatles had just come out and everyone wanted to be a rock star. Fortunately for Charlie, he's was one of the few kids who could afford an electric guitar. bo
boy I wish I was related to them but I remember their mansion - i also used to go to the bachelors club - i worked in the mellon bank bldg. for urban renewal & lived up across from the nurses home, but I can't remember the name of the street. did you know Tom & Ray Lubresky?
valley camper

Loma Linda, CA

#961 Feb 12, 2009
Parsec Sam wrote:
<quoted text>
Morning Bob: Me too! from second grade (1935/36)to fifth grade, then to Springdale for sixth grade and back to Ken Hi for seventh and eighth grade. It was a great school with trees all around it and a little market on the corner. It was between my home and downtown. I often walked to downtown to hit a movie (The Circle, The Ritz for a double feature, the Kent (across the street from the Paramount?) There was the Paramount, The Boom Boom(.05 tickets - old old westerns), the Dattola (It came later, I think it replaced the Paramount) and the best, The Liberty.) Did I forget any?
You got most of the names correct but let me correct you on the locations.
The Kent was on 5th ave in Arnold. Closed in the late 50's or early 60's. On Saturdays they had Westerns for 9 cents admission. My mother also played bingo there after some movies.
The Datola was across the street from the Paramount.
The Paramount closed in the early 50's and I believe it was not replaced by another theater. My grandmother use to go there and she talked about the rats that ran around in the theater.
The Ritz and Liberty had balconies that us kids would sneak up there and smoke.
linda booth8071

High Springs, FL

#962 Feb 12, 2009
talk about dating yourself - i remember going to the Liberty theater seeing Hopalong Cassidy & Tex Ritter.

Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

New Kensington Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
Wanted: Ken Penn Amusements Memorabilia, Info,... (Aug '15) 9 hr valley heights girl 2
"A Good Solid Place To Live In This World" (Oct '13) Sat Richard 26
News Clinton's sandwich policy: yes on fries, at lea... Apr 23 kim 9
Martin School (Oct '09) Apr 19 Dennis C 8
Memorial Park (Jul '09) Apr 18 Richard 10
Murphy's Five and Dime 1929 (Aug '09) Apr 11 Darby Diana Beattie 20
News Donations replace New Kensington toddler's stol... (Jul '09) Apr 10 Richard 2
More from around the web

Personal Finance

New Kensington Mortgages