Silicon Valley Circa 1956 – A Valley That is No More

What was it like in Silicon Valley in 1956?

Back then, the Valley lay in the shadow of San Francisco. If you wanted culture, glamor, or riches, you headed to the City. If you wanted farm life, you headed to San Jose. I exaggerate, but not by much. Hard as it is to imagine today, the Valley then was still tied closely to the soil. People knew how to grow things. Things like fruit. Not just as a hobby but as way of life. Above all, they knew how to can and pack that fruit. Not as home preserves but on a large, industrial scale. Before WWII, San Jose had fewer than 100,000 people. Yet no fewer than 18 canneries and 13 packing houses could be found in the Valley. This was then the largest canning and dried fruit packing center in the world. By 1956, this farm-based culture was still largely intact. Today, it is almost entirely gone.

Those of us who have been here awhile may have caught fragments of the old life. I remember doing a summer stint as a student at the Del Monte Cannery off Auzerais Avenue, circa 1970, in which my fingers turned prune-like as I stood there for endless hours throughout each shift “guiding” grapes to the center of a conveyor belt at its drop-off point by repeatedly reaching my arms out as if doing a butterfly stroke and pulling the grapes inward as my arms would pull together. Shifting to the “dry” side later that summer, my brother and I would do the graveyard shift standing at the bottom of a massive slide and scrambling like mad to stack pallets manually with some really heavy boxes whenever the automatic pallet-stacker at the top malfunctioned and some faceless person would switch the boxes to come zinging downward non-stop and with a great force — we felt like Lucy and Ethel trying frantically to handle all the chocolates as the sheer number and frequency of the boxes would overwhelm our ability to stack them. I can assure you that whatever talent we displayed that summer went entirely unrecognized.

But back to life in 1956. Cali Mill sat at the corner of De Anza and Stevens Creek Boulevard. Monte Bello Vineyards quietly grew its grapes in the Cupertino foothills, soon about to realize great harvests that would lead it to become Ridge Vineyards. Paul Masson was even then a Valley winery that would “sell no wine before its time,” as Orson Welles would later put it. Cupertino had just incorporated as a city in 1955, becoming the 13th city in the Valley (Sunnyvale had voted to incorporate in 1912). Cupertino High was about to form in 1958. De Anza College didn’t exist. Nor did El Camino Hospital. Both were about a decade or so off. Santa Clara’s law school was around, and it graduated exactly 13 students that year. Many at the time could remember just a couple of decades earlier when it took the equivalent of a short trip through the country to get from downtown San Jose to Willow Glen. Much of Mountain View remained agricultural not only as of 1956 but even throughout most of the 1960s — during this era, there was still open space between Mountain View and Palo Alto, with row crops and orchards filling in the gap. Moffett Field with its huge hangars filled the Valley with the noise of monster-sized military planes droning continuously as they took off and landed throughout the day.

Prosperity was afoot, however, wholly apart from the agricultural sector. Santa Clara Valley had a massive postwar population explosion and chaotic growth to accompany it. By the mid-1950s, San Jose was well on its way to having over 200,000 people, more than doubling its population within the decade. Electronics companies began to flourish, spurred on initially by WWII. Prominent among these was Hewlett Packard, which in 1956 did $20 million in revenues and employed 900 people while selling test and measurement equipment. By the following year, it would go public and double the number of its employees while doing something very unusual — it gave stock grants and options to all employees with at least six months of service, an almost unheard-of practice at the time.

Shopping malls sprang up as well, even as Woolworth’s and other five-and-ten-cent stores started to falter. In the summer of 1956, one of the first and most notable, Macy’s Valley Fair, opened as a 39-store retail center. Macy’s had wanted to open in downtown San Jose but got stiffed on price. It therefore bought several acres of land along San Jose’s unincorporated Stevens Creek Road and built the center there, amidst a wide open area consisting of orchards and an Emporium department store. When it opened, it had only one floor and a roof deck that was accessible to shoppers by elevator. Macy’s planned to add a second floor. So what did it do in the interim? It did what any good promoter of a new concept would do (and as many other centers of that day did) to attract shoppers — it set up a carnival! Yes, right on the roof deck of its shopping mall, it put not just one but seven carnival rides. It had a merry-go-round and a small train and even a 40-foot ferris wheel! It also had a cafe so that parents could relax and eat as their kids enjoyed the rides. It seems that fast-shuffle types were busy long before startups came along. If it sparkles, they will come!

While Cupertino lagged in seeing its first significant shopping center open, 17 of its largest landowners shortly thereafter sold out to Varian Associates, another thriving electronics firm, which (along with the Leonard, Lester, Craft and Orlando families) developed the center that took as its name an acronym composed of the first initials of each participant: Vallco Park. Vallco, however, did not open until the early 1960s. In 1956, the large tracts of land were entirely undeveloped except for agricultural purposes.

Meanwhile, we had the Dow at about 500. People made just under $5,000 per year on average and paid about $12,000 if they wanted to buy a brand new home. No sticker shock in those days for those moving in from the Midwest.

The Korean War had ended three years earlier and the McCarthy hearings a couple of years before. The shock of Sputnik was still a year away. The Cold War was in full sway, however, and was not helped by the crushing of the Hungarian uprising by Soviet tanks in 1956. Memorable among the oddities of the day were the atomic bomb drills by which school kids would attain assured safety from any nearby neutron blast by being taught to crawl under their desks (confirming that the leaders then were about like those we have today).

Eisenhower was President and Nixon Vice President, re-elected as a team for a second term. Congress adopted “In God We Trust” as the national motto, officially supplanting its unofficial predecessor, E Pluribus Unum. In one of the great ideological misfires of all time, Ike appointed William J. Brennan as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court at the time included not only Justice Brennan but also Earl Warren, Felix Frankfurter, John Harlan, Hugo Black, and William O. Douglas.

Drugs were clearly a problem in metropolitan areas but had not spread as yet to the larger society. In response, Congress held marathon hearings on the issue and passed the Narcotic Control Act of 1956. Prescription drugs and packaged food items, meanwhile, did not have safety caps or seals, and the Tylenol poisoner who brought that constant headache upon us had not yet begun to serve his just judgment of everlasting torture in the lowest of the lowest of the lowest regions of Hades specifically reserved for him, where (I hope) it is EXTRA, EXTRA HOT!

Smoking was cool, however, really cool; so too was drinking (remember the “highball”). Garbage was garbage and weather was weather, since Rachel Carson had not yet had her way. Wonder Bread made up for any nutritional deficit incurred through all that smoking and drinking, or at least that is the conclusion I would have come to as a 5-year old boy at the time had I thought about it (only weird people didn’t like Wonder Bread).

Fireworks were everywhere on the Fourth of July, and there were no forbidden zones. Many an anthill served as a proving ground for mischievous boys in training for the demolition corps. What was done with cherry bombs will be passed over in silence.

Ma Bell introduced three-slot pay phones (for nickel, dime, and quarter) that year. She would lease you a home phone as well but not sell you one. You could, however, listen in for free on someone else’s party-line conversation, and you could make crank calls at will without fear that caller ID would expose you for being the lewd person that you were.

’56 Chevys, costing about $2,000, symbolized the oligopoly (composed of GM, U.S. Steel, and a few others) that John Kenneth Galbraith assured us would forever dominate a new industrial state and crush all future competition. “Made in Japan” meant junk, and Sony took this to heart by shipping its first transistor radio to Canada that year, perhaps sensing that it might ultimately have the last laugh.

Dairy Queens proliferated, having just introduced dilly bars to complement the banana splits they had been serving up for five years, but no trace could yet be found of McDonald’s (nor of the infamously-named and now near-defunct Sambo’s Restaurant which some of us may remember while eating those awful 3:00 a.m. fries in student mode during the 1960s and 1970s).

Gas stations were full service and gas was priced at about $.22 per gallon. The road culture ala Jack Kerouac held sway. Drive-in theaters flourished as part of a nationwide phenomenon which saw them quintuple in number from 1948 until they hit their peak by 1958 even as indoor theaters shrank by one-quarter during that same period. President Eisenhower signed the Federal Highway Act that gave impetus to the federal interstate system we know so well today. Commercial flying had gone mainstream, was highly regulated and expensive, and enabled you to get a hot meal with your flight.

Kodak dominated film. Polaroid was in its third decade of existence and had managed to sell its one millionth camera that year, though the Instamatic was still well off into the future. IBM had invented the world’s first hard disk (5 MB storage) for use on mainframes. Of course, the people of that day could scarcely dream of personal computers or hand-held digital devices or email or the Internet.

TVs were in about half of all households and had become the center of family activity, having supplanted radio and undercut the cinema. Almost all were black and white, as color sets did not catch on until the early ’60s. It took a U.S Supreme Court decision in 1955 to pave the way, but TV quiz shows were held not to constitute illegal gambling and so the $64,000 Question was eagerly watched to see if contestants could win individual prizes of as much as $100. Also eagerly watched were Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, who premiered their hugely popular Huntley-Brinkley Report on NBC in October, 1956, bumping Douglas Edwards of CBS from the top spot in ratings for television news. TV poured forth a wealth of wholesome family entertainment, with Father Knows Best, the Danny Thomas Show, the Phil Silvers Show, the Loretta Young Show, Playhouse 90, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Caesar’s Hour coming to mind as standouts among the offerings. No VHS to record any of it with, however, and no TiVo either.

Hollywood released Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, with its nearly 4-hour runtime, whose very ponderousness is rumored to have prompted a prominent Jewish wag of the time to stand up in the middle of the screening and cry out, “Cecil, let my people go.” While it no doubt went unnoticed here in the Valley, Ed Wood also produced what is reputed to be the worst movie ever made, Plan 9 from Outer Space, whose star (Bela Lugosi), having died after only four days of shooting, was represented by a double through most of the movie! More likely to be found at the local Odeon were Bus Stop (Marilyn Monroe), Picnic (William Holden), The Searchers (John Wayne), Giant (Rock Hudson), Moby Dick (Gregory Peck), The Solid Gold Cadillac (Judy Holliday), Forbidden Planet (Walter Pidgeon), Anastasia (Ingrid Bergman), Friendly Persuasion (Gary Cooper), Around the World in 80 Days (David Niven and about 100,000 other stars in cameo appearances), Patterns (Van Heflin), and (my favorite) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Kevin McCarthy). All in all, an OK but not a great year for Hollywood, as the great stars of the 1930s and 1940s had either retired or were past their prime and as the film noir fashion had pretty much reached the end of its tether, yielding place, on the one hand, to Doris Day fluff films and, on the other, to hothouse films of the William Faulkner variety featuring sweaty male leads and ever sultry and much abused ladies. Arghhh! No wonder the cinema was in decline.

The “beat” movement was in full swing, Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, and the movie “Rock Around the Clock” was released, causing rock-and-roll riots, of all things, throughout much of Europe. The vinyl LP had been around just shy of a decade and was hugely popular. Hugh Hefner had begun his mischief, and Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando each were promoting their own versions of sex appeal. Grace Kelly caused the nation to swoon with her marriage to Prince Rainier in Monaco. And Pete Seeger protested and sang folk songs. Kids played Monopoly and rode Schwinn bikes. The Yankees won the World Series, beating the Dodgers (the Brooklyn Dodgers, that is), with Don Larsen pitching a perfect game and with such stalwarts as Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Jackie Robinson, and Pee Wee Reese gracing the field. Professional basketball remained largely segregated, though amazing players did some incredible things in what were then known as the Negro Colleges and a certain Bill Russell had led the University of San Francisco to the NCAA championships that year for the second time running; today the ratio of white to black players in the NBA has shifted, to put it mildly. Martin Luther King’s Montgomery bus boycotts had just come to a successful conclusion, spurred by a post-Brown v. Board of Education decision of the U.S. Supreme Court brought about by a legal team led by Thurgood Marshall.

Schools had discipline, and prayer. Knuckle-rapping with rulers was OK. Girls were of the marrying kind or of the “other” kind. Boys were the same drips then as they are today. Latin was still taught as a required language, though Greek had been routed by well-meaning but thoroughly befuddled language latitudinarians. Grade inflation had not yet taken hold, and the dread of flunking out remained very real for those who didn’t meet standards.

Perhaps the greatest news of 1956 came with the discovery of a vaccine for the prevention of polio — one of the great medical breakthroughs ever. The Valley, and the nation, gave a huge sigh of relief.

Law practice was characterized by mostly male lawyers who never touched a typewriter and who dictated profusely, wore suits and ties, and addressed one another as Mr. or Mrs. or Miss (no Ms. at the time and no casual first-name familiarity). Typewriters abounded. Plain paper photocopying was still several years off, but law firms could still use cruder mechanisms for making copies. Lawyers will be lawyers, after all. Early fax machines existed but were few and far between and very expensive. An “express message” meant a telegram from the one company that then held a monopoly over that mode of communication. Literal cut-and-paste constituted the editing process. Manual redlining was laboriously done in larger firms but not much elsewhere. Even “large” firms were midgets compared to today’s giants (even as of the early 1960s, the then 80-year-old firm I began with in 1980, McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, had just 20 or so lawyers!). Lawyers did not advertise, and collegial relationships tended to characterize what were then true partnerships where lawyers, once established, planned to spend their entire working careers.

“Silicon Valley” did not then exist, but all that was about to change. It began quietly enough and many did not notice. In the late 1930s, a pointy-headed Englishman named Alan Turing had taken his vast knowledge of high-level mathematics, had assumed infinite resources, and had set about to develop a logical model of incredible theoretical power that he called his “universal computing machine.” He saw that a vast number of complex functions could be mimicked and processed through logical representations contained in simple “on” and “off” states. Thus was born the digital model (or at least its modern and truly effective incarnation). But a small problem remained: what to do about those “infinite resources” that higher mathematicians could take for granted in their theorems but that did not in fact exist. The analog world was one of heavy machinery, the bigger and more powerful the better. And yet, and yet . . . Maybe with the right materials, the power of electricity could be harnessed to give us real-world computers as so envisioned.

Enter William Shockley. The date: February 13, 1956. The place: 391 South San Antonio Road, Mountain View. The goal: to make the world’s first semiconductors. Yes, right at the time the Valley struggled to retain some semblance of its agricultural roots, Shockley announced the formation of Shockley Labs. While really a division of a larger enterprise, this little outfit ultimately set the model for many startups that would follow. How? Well, in spite of all-pervasive genius, it never made a dime of profit. Only red ink. A true model for the Valley!

What is more, it became a prototype of a startup that is begun, controlled, and dominated by an engineering genius who proceeds to suffocate the life out of it. Today such engineers are kept caged in a back room, carefully guarded, and periodically fed big helpings of stock options to keep them tamed. Back then people didn’t know any better. And so William Shockley ultimately destroyed the company of which he was the brainchild. And brainchild he was — the Nobel-Prize-winning inventor of the world’s first transistor, a key foundational piece upon which the digital model could be built. A man with enough stature to assemble what was perhaps the world’s most famous founding team. But it all came to naught, and Shockley took his Nobel Prize and moved to Stanford to expound upon wild racial theories.

But what a founding team he had assembled! Gordon Moore. Robert Noyce. The founders of Fairchild Semiconductor and, ultimately, Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, and all the “fairchildren” that eventually came to the fore. From failure came spectacular success. Thus, the great companies of the Valley were poised to come into existence and realize the great digital vision of Alan Turing. The world of startups, venture capital, and explosive growth was about to begin. And Santa Clara Valley was never to be the same again. Silicon Valley was born.

The Friends of Tony Veranis

If edgy and nourish crime is your thing, then the short and violent lives of Boston boxer Anthony “Tony” Veranis and his friends just might fill the bill. Veranis was a tough Dorchester, Massachusetts kid who was born in 1938 to first generation Italian immigrants from Sardinia. Tony was in and out of trouble for most of his short life, as he alternated between professional boxing and low-level crime. He had “Tony” tattooed on the fingers of one hand and “Luck” tattooed on the other, but he didn’t have much of the latter.

Labeled a “persistent delinquent,” Tony was incarcerated in 1950 at Lyman Correctional School for Boys in Westborough, 30 miles west of Boston. It was the first reform school in the United States and it was where he was anonymously involved in the Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency (UJD) study conducted by Harvard University professors in an effort to discover the causes of juvenile delinquency and assess the overall effectiveness of correctional treatment in controlling criminal careers. If the study led to any positive results, Tony clearly was not included in the academic largess.

While at Lyman, Tony joined the school’s boxing team, and after being spotted by the savvy and acclaimed Boston fight trainer Clem Crowley, he began fighting as an amateur. Tony’s amateur career culminated when he won the Massachusetts State Amateur Welterweight Title in 1956. That same year, at age 18, Veranis turned professional in Portland, Maine under the alias “Mickey White” and won his first pro bout with a fifth round TKO over one Al Pepin. Tony then launched an astounding run of victories, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Tony often sparred with Joe “The Baron” Barboza, Eddie “Bulldog” Connors, Jimmy Connors (Eddie’s brother), Rocco “Rocky” DiSiglio, George Holden, and Americo “Rico” Sacramone. Southie’s Tommy Sullivan also found his way into this mix. The thing about these guys was that in addition to being well known Boston area boxers, each was brutally murdered between 1966 and 1976.

Joe Barboza (1932-1976)

“The Baron” was his boxing moniker and he ran up a modest record of 8-5 before taking on a far more lucrative and violent line of work. It was once rumored that a sparring mate had done a number on Joe, and The Baron responded by grabbing a gun out of his locker and chasing the pug out of the gym and down the street.

Joe would later assume other nicknames like “The Animal” and “The Wild Thing,” as he became one of the most feared and vicious hit men of his era. He dreamed of becoming the first Portuguese-American inducted into La Cosa Nostra, but never was because he was not of Italian extraction. Fact is, LCR members called him derogatory names-but always, of course, behind his back.

Employed by the Patriarca crime family of Providence, Rhode Island, Barboza, while operating out of East Boston, allegedly murdered between seven and 26 victims, depending on different sources, but given his methodologies and the amount of fear he generated it’s safe to err on the higher side.

Eventually, Barboza flipped and would become the “Joe Valachi” (aka snitch) of the New England Mafia. The circumstances leading up to that eventuality are grist for a lengthy and intriguing tale featuring, among other sordid elements, corruption, deception, triple-crosses, murder, false imprisonment, and the worse scandal in FBI history. Suffice it to say that his testimony helped change the criminal landscape in Boston. For his reward, there was nothing a grateful FBI would not do, so Joe became the first man in the Witness Protection Program and was sent to Santa Rosa, California, but he soon reverted to form and killed one Clay Wilson for which he served only five years. Upon his release and using the name Joe Donali, he was resettled to San Francisco, but the LCN rarely forgets or gives up, and Joe was soon murdered by four shotgun blasts in 1976. The hit was reputedly carried out by the bespectacled Mafia captain, Joseph “J.R.” Russo.

Joe Barboza was a complex individual whose violent life story begged for a book to be written-and it was by crime author Hank Messick. Titled Barboza, it is difficult, if not impossible to find, but is as compelling a true crime story as you could imagine-and if you are a boxing fan, all the better.

Tommy Sullivan (1922-1957)

Irish Tommy, as he was known in South Boston, may have been the best boxer of the bunch as he finished with a 21-2-0-1 mark. Tommy went undefeated in his first 17 pro outings until he lost to Al Priest (25-1) in 1946 and then again in 1947 when Priest was 33-2. Among Sullivan’s victims were Eddie Boden (18-0-1), Coley Welch (90-16-5) and “Mad Anthony” Jones (41-13-4) who Tommy stopped twice. Fighting before monster crowds of up to 13,000 customers, Sullivan engaged in a number of “”savage brawls” that are still talked about by Boston area aficionados. They include his brutal beatings of John Henry Eskew and George Kochan. Tommy had a knack of coming back after he had been dropped and snatching victory from apparent defeat with a “hurricane attack” in the style of later warriors Danny “Little Red” Lopez and Arturo Gatti. Boston fans loved him for the excitement he brought to the ring.

In January 1949, his relatively brief professional boxing career inexplicitly ended and he began working as a longshoreman at Boston Harbor. While at the docks, he struck up friendly relationships with fellow-longshoremen Thomas J. Ballou Jr. (barroom brawler extraordinaire) and the more infamous Barboza. According to author Howie Carr, Ballou had an unusual style of fighting. It seems he always carried a grappling hook and a $100 bill. If Ballou wanted to attack someone, he’d throw the $100 dollar bill on the ground. The unsuspecting and greedy adversary would bend over to grab it, and then Tommy would plunge the grappling hook into the guy’s back.

Tommy resented gang leader George McLaughlin of Charlestown who had attempted to extort money from one of Tommy’s close friends. For the record, the famous Boston Irish Gang War started in 1961 and lasted until 1967. It was fought between the McLaughlin Gang of Charlestown and the Winter Hill Gang of Somerville led by James “Buddy” McLean, but that’s another long and violent story for another day.

Sullivan made the strategic error of getting into a vicious barroom brawl with Edward “Punchy” McLaughlin and proceeded to give McLaughlin, also an ex-boxer, a vicious beating that could not possibly have been duplicated in Hollywood. Beginning in a bar and then moving outside into the street, the two went at each other on reasonably even terms until McLaughlin finally could take no more punishment and rolled under a parked car to escape. But Sullivan, the enraged Southie native, wanted more and he lifted up one end of the car and propped one of the wheels up on the curb allowing him to get at McLaughlin so that he could continue the beatdown. The throng of onlookers, including Barboza, was amazed at this feat of adrenalized strength that would have made a Hollywood stuntman blink.

Deadly payback was swift in coming. Two weeks later, Tommy was called to the side of a car that was idling in the street near his East Fifth Street home and he was promptly shot five times. Seven years later in1965, Sullivan’s brawling foe, McLaughlin, was shot nine times at a West Roxbury bus stop. Some suspected Barboza as the triggerman for this execution.

Although he was never put under serious scrutiny for criminal activity, many viewed Tommy within the context of where there is smoke, there likely must be fire

Rocco DiSiglio (1939-1966)

This former Newton welterweight with a modest record was found shot to death in 1966. Before he turned professional, he trained and/or spared with Veranis, Barboza, Eddie Connors, Sacramone, George Holden, Tom Sullivan, and the legendary Joe DeNucci. He was also a criminal associate of Barboza and Joe would later lead police to the site of Rocky’s corpse in Danvers. It was believed that Rocky was murdered by the mob for sticking up their dice and card games, most of which were overseen by Gennaro Angiulo, the feared gambling czar for the Patriarca crime family.

In retaliation for his brazen, maverick, and foolhardy action, DiSiglio was set up in a Machiavellian-like scheme and eventually shot to death in the driver’s seat of his Thunderbird by the same men with whom he had robbed the card games. He was hit three times at close range with one bullet reportedly tearing off part of his face and another going through his head and out an eye socket. His two killers were later murdered at different times as more loose ends were tied. The entire affair had about it the foul stench of the North End’s Angiulo, and further enraged Rocky’s friend, Joe Barboza, who soon would turn stool pigeon against the LCR.

Meanwhile, still another of Tony Veranis’s friends had died a violent death at a young age.

George Holden (1948-1973)

George, known as “Medford Irisher,” fought mostly out of Portland, Maine as a heavyweight and chalked up a less-than-glorious record of 14-26-3. He went 9-3-3 in his first 15, but then the losses came in bunches and he would lose nine of his last 10. In his last bout against Jimmy McDermott (51-15-3), Holden disgraced himself by showing up drunk for which he was indefinitely suspended. He never fought again.

Like DiSiglio, little is known about Holden’s personal life except that he was a low level operative in organized crime. Holden trained with the usual suspects and met a similar fate. On August 23, 1973, his body was found washed up along the mucky shoreline of the Mystic River in Charlestown, Mass. He had been executed gangland style with a gunshot to the head. George was 25 years old. His killers were never found. Holden’s murder was the 82nd homicide in the city of Boston in 1973.

Eddie Connors (1933-1975)

As a youth, Connors was a regular at the L Street Curley Gym and Bathhouse located in South Boston (i.e. Southie) where future gang leaders Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, James “Whitey” Bulger, and Frank “Cadillac Frank” Salemme hung out.

Eddie, nicknamed “Bulldog,” was a respected heavy-handed middleweight who fought like a bulldog during the ’50s and ran up a slate of 22-7-1 with 18 KOs against tough opposition. His last three fights-all losses by decision-were against Willie Green (27-4), Joe DeNucci (20-2 coming in), and former world champion Tony DeMarco (55-11-1). He also held the very capable George Monroe (39-13-3) to a draw. His brother James Connors (not to be confused with Jimmy Connors who fought out of New Bedford from 1957 to 1963 and who was trained by Clem Crowley) fought between 1959 and 1961 and retired with a 13-0-1 record.

Eddie would later use his boxing experience to handle drunk and disorderly customers in his notorious Bulldog Tavern in the edgy Savin Hill area of Dorchester where he acted as both bartender and fearsome bouncer, and which he also used as his criminal headquarters for illegal gambling, drug dealing, loan sharking, and planned armed robberies with his associates.

Later, because Connors was bragging too much about a murder he had helped orchestrate (of one James “Spike” O’Toole), the Bulldog had become a dangerous loose end. As such, he was set up for an ambush in Dorchester. When Eddie arrived at a service station on Morrissey Blvd. on June 12, 1975, to make a pre-arranged phone call, a young Whitey Bulger, John “The Basin Street Butcher” Martorano, and Stephen Flemmi were waiting armed to the teeth. Connors was nearly cut in half in the phone booth by the hail of heavy artillery and the loose end was tied. Curiously, the deadly Martorano was the one who had machine gunned O’Toole in 1973.

Americo Sacramone (1937-1976)

When he finished his brief boxing career with a 5-1 record, Rico, from Everett, entered the rackets as member of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang. After being wounded in the hit on Buddy McLean in 1965, Rico went back to prison on a parole violation. In 1976, he was gunned down-this time for good by parties unknown.

During his boxing days, Sacramone would often spar with the great Joe DeNucci (54-15-4), who later became the longstanding State Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Tommy Tibbs (1934-1975)

While probably not a friend of Tony Veranis, Tommy (60-74-4) did fight George Monroe three times in 1953-and just about everyone else including Willie Pep whom he beat in 1958-and since Monroe fought to a draw against Eddie Connors in 1955, at least the possibility of a dotted line connection exists. Monroe was from Worcester and Tibbs made his residence in Boston. However, where Tommy warrants an honorable mention is the fact that he was shot and killed in a dispute in a Roxbury bar in 1975-one of the seminal years of living dangerously in Boston.

Back to Tony (1938-1966)

Meanwhile, after beating Al Pepin in his pro debut, Veranis continued his attention-grabbing run as a professional. He was described as “one tough SOB; a Wildman who was courageous in the ring.” Other said he was well-trained and “a great prospect and that his boxing style was one of a slugger.”

In 1957, Tony fought an astonishing 26 times (the majority at the Rollway Arena in Revere). Tony’s best win may have been on December 3, 1957, when he stopped-and retired-the talented Bobby Murphy (19-3-1). Bobby, a former USA New England welterweight titleholder, had impressive wins over Vic Cardell (65-25-7), Fitzie Pruden (50-21), Rocky Sullivan (66-43-12) and Jackie O’Brien (65-17-9), as well as a draw with top contender Chico Vejar (63-5-1). A win over Murphy meant something.

Tony’s last fight in 1957 was against rugged Barry Allison on December 17 against whom he fought to an admirable draw. Allison (40-19-2) was at the center of New England boxing during the 1950s but was never able to reach world championship level though many think he should have gotten the nod against Johnny Saxon in 1958. As for Tony, he slaughtered Silby Ford in a bloody encounter in February 1958, one that had blood-splattered ringsiders aghast as Silby’s teeth and mouthpiece were knocked out. This moved Tony’s record to 25-0-2 before dropping back-to-back fights to Allison in a rematch for Allison’s USA New England middleweight title and to undefeated Joe Devlin at the Boston Garden.

Tony’s loss to Allison was one in which he took a terrible beating and one that undoubtedly rendered him damaged goods going into the Devlin bout-not taking anything away from the Crafty Joe who himself retired undefeated. These two fights occurred within a 16-day span in March 1958. After his brutal knockout defeat to Devlin in which he was decked in every round, he was taken to Boston City Hospital in bad shape and remained in a coma before recovering some three month later. But his boxing days were over.

After boxing, Tony reportedly suffered from severe migraine headaches, nausea, temporary mood swings, and blackouts-maladies that apparently were not treated and pointed to brain damage. When combined with heavy drinking and depression, this lethal mix could only spell major trouble for an ex-boxer. Tony was arrested for an unidentified crime on December 23, 1963, and sent to prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts.

While incarcerated he supposedly became an altar boy to serve at prison mass, prompting the prison chaplain Father John Fitzgerald to say, “He wanted to get straightened out, and I think he did. He was a wonderful boy who’d run with a bad crowd. He frequently stopped in to see me… after he got out, and everything seemed to be all right. He took me to the fights, and he was with respectable fellows.” Some portrayed him as a friendly and quiet guy who was the victim of circumstances beyond his control, but other saw him as a small-time hoodlum and mean drinker with a bad personality change who was more brawn than brain. Street lore and my own in-depth research clearly support the later depiction.

Tony soon found himself in debt to South Boston loan sharks and being overdue to such types was hardly conducive to one’s well being since examples had to be made. Tommy DePrisco, a Barboza associate, attempted to collect from Tony in a South Boston bar but was embarrassed, maybe even punched, and forced to leave as this was Tony’s hangout. The following night, John “The Basin Street Butcher” Martorano was at Billy O’s tavern in Dorchester when Veranis braced him and reportedly slurred, “I’m Tony Veranis, you know who I am. I just had a beef with your friend [DePrisco]. I kicked him outta Southie with his tail between his legs, fuck him and fuck you, too.”

As Tony allegedly reached for his gun, the taller Butcher beat him to the punch and fired down into Tony’s skull twice-blowing what was left of his already damaged brains all over the place. His body was dumped in the Blue Hills wooded area off Route 28 near where Milton and Dedham meet. He had $2.83 in his pocket. This was the end result when two former altar boys met up at the wrong time in the wrong place. One was 27, the other 26. Tony may have been tougher with his fists, but the Butcher was faster with his gun.

John Martorano: Last Man Standing

Many claimed credit for the hit on Tony Veranis and a few even suggested that Barboza was involved, but the most reliable accounting is that Martorano (also known as “The Executioner” among other aliases) was responsible. Early on, Martorano, who also was an altar boy, a good athlete, and well-educated in private schools, showed a marked proclivity for conflict resolution. He eventually became the chief enforcer for the Whitey Bulger gang running up an astounding tally of 20 confirmed hits (all carried out in a cold, detached, so-called “professional” manner).

One of John’s familial Old World core values was that of loyalty, and when he later learned that Bulger and Flemmi were FBI informants who leaked useful information, some of it even accusatory against John, he became enraged. The fact is, he flipped out and then proceeded to flip on the flippers, becoming a key government witness and in the process exposing the links between the Bulger gang and the FBI’s Boston office. In return for his “cooperation” and confession to 20 murders, he served only 12 years and received $20,000 gate money upon his release. Said U.S. Attorney Donald Stern, “The only thing worse than this deal was not doing this deal.”

Of the murders, Martorano incredibly and calmly stated, “I always felt like I was doing the right thing. Even if it was wrong, I always tried to do the right thing.”

Today, while the mother of all rats, Whitey Bulger, spends the rest of his life in prison, John Martorano and Kevin Weeks (another deadly Bulger enforcer and righteous snitch who wrote the compelling “Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger’s Irish Mob,” are free to walk the streets of Quincy, Dorchester, and South Boston having done their time and having made their deals. Unlike Joe Barboza, they don’t need any witness protection because there is no one left from whom to be protected.

Red Shea

There was another ex-boxer, but he chose another, more difficult path. His name was John “Red” Shea and he traded an exceptionally promising boxing career for a more lucrative life as an important operative and enforcer for the Bulger gang. But the thing about Red was that when he was finally caught, he didn’t flip, but held fast to the Irish code of silence. The 47-year-old Red served out his 12 years in prison without ratting out and is now considered a rare man of honor in the Boston area. He went on to write the hot selling Rat Bastards: The Life and Times of South Boston’s Most Honorable Irish Mobster. Red is now enjoying his freedom and the secrets of his life of crime most likely will be taken to the grave with him. His second book, A Kid from Southie has now been published amid solid reviews.

Joe DeNucci and Clem Crowley went on to live extremely honorable and even celebrated lives, as did Joe Devlin, New Bedford’s Jimmy Connors, and Barry Allison. However, Eddie Connors, Rocky DiSiglio, Rico Sacramone, Joe Barboza, George Holden, and Tommy Sullivan-all fighters in the Boston area who were connected to one another in one way or another-were each murdered at a young age.

Corn Sugar and Blood And the Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia

Chapter I

“Big Ange” and the Death of the Cleveland Mafia

In 1983, Angelo Lonardo, 72, one-time Cleveland Mafia boss, turned government informant. He shocked family, friends, law enforcement officers and particularly, criminal associates with his decision which was made after being sentenced to life plus 103 years for drug and racketeering convictions. The sentence came after a monumental investigation by local, state and federal agencies had all but wiped out the Cleveland Mafia.

“Big Ange” as he was called, was the highest ranking mafioso to defect. He testified in 1985 at the Las Vegas casino “skimming” trials in Kansas City and in 1986 at the New York Mafia “ruling commission” trials. Many of the nation’s biggest mob leaders were convicted as a result of these trials.

During his testimony, Lonardo told how at age 18, he avenged his father’s murder by killing the man believed to be responsible. He further testified that after that murder, he was responsible for the killings of several of the Porrello brothers, business rivals of his father during Prohibition.

Chapter II

Birth of the Cleveland Mafia

During the late eighteen hundreds, the four Lonardo brothers and seven Porrello brothers were boyhood friends and fellow sulphur mine workers in their hometown of Licata, Sicily. They came to America in the early nineteen hundreds and eventually settled in the Woodland district of Cleveland. They remained close friends. Several of the Porrello and Lonardo brothers worked together in small businesses.

Lonardo clan leader “Big Joe” became a successful businessman and community leader in the lower Woodland Avenue area. During Prohibition, he became successful as a dealer in corn sugar which was used by bootleggers to make corn liquor. “Big Joe” provided stills and raw materials to the poor Italian district residents. They would make the booze and “Big Joe” would buy it back giving them a commission. He was respected and feared as a “padrone” or godfather. “Big Joe” became the leader of a powerful and vicious gang and was known as the corn sugar “baron.” Joe Porrello was one of his corporals.

Chapter III

The First Bloody Corner

With the advent of Prohibition, Cleveland, like other big cities, experienced a wave of bootleg-related murders. The murders of Louis Rosen, Salvatore Vella, August Rini and several others produced the same suspects, but no indictments. These suspects were members of the Lonardo gang. Several of the murders occurred at the corner of E. 25th and Woodland Ave. This intersection became known as the “bloody corner.”

By this time, Joe Porrello had left the employ of the Lonardos to start his own sugar wholesaling business.

Porrello and his six brothers pooled their money and eventually became successful corn sugar dealers headquartered in the upper Woodland Avenue area around E. 110th Street.

With small competitors, sugar dealers and bootleggers, mysteriously dying violent deaths, the Lonardos’ business flourished as they gained a near monopoly on the corn sugar business. Their main competitors were their old friends the Porrellos.

Raymond Porrello, youngest of his brothers was arrested by undercover federal agents for arranging a sale of 100 gallons of whiskey at the Porrello-owned barbershop at E. 110th and Woodland. He was sentenced to the Dayton, Oh. Workhouse.

The Porrello brothers paid the influential “Big Joe” Lonardo $5,000 to get Raymond out of prison. “Big Joe”

failed in his attempt but never returned the $5,000.

Meanwhile, Ernest Yorkell and Jack Brownstein, small-time self-proclaimed “tough guys” from Philadelphia arrived in Cleveland. Yorkell and Brownstein were shakedown artists, and their intended victims were Cleveland bootleggers, who got a chuckle out of how the two felt it necessary to explain that they were tough. Real tough guys didn’t need to tell people that they were tough. After providing Cleveland gangsters with a laugh, Yorkell and Brownstein were taken on a “one-way ride.”

Chapter IV

Corn Sugar and Blood

“Big Joe” Lonardo in 1926, now at the height of his wealth and power left for Sicily to visit his mother and

relatives. He left his closest brother and business partner John in charge.

During “Big Joe’s” six-month absence, he lost much of his $5,000 a week profits to the Porrellos who took advantage of John Lonardo’s lack of business skills and the assistance of a disgruntled Lonardo employee. “Big Joe” returned and business talks between the Porrellos and Lonardos began.

They “urged” the Porrellos to return their lost clientele.

On Oct. 13th, 1927 “Big Joe” and John Lonardo went to the Porrello barbershop to play cards and talk business with Angelo Porrello as they had been doing for the past week. As the Lonardos entered the rear room of the shop, two gunmen opened fire. Angelo Porrello ducked under a table.

Cleveland’s underworld lost its’ first boss as “Big Joe” went down with three bullets in his head. John Lonardo was shot in the chest and groin but drew his gun and managed to pursue the attackers through the barbershop. He dropped his gun in the shop but continued chasing the gunmen into the street where one of them turned, and out of bullets, struck Lonardo in the head several times with the butt of his gun. John fell unconscious and bled to death.

The Porrello brothers were arrested. Angelo was charged with the Lonardo brothers’ murders. The charges were later dropped for lack of evidence. Joe Porrello succeeded the Lonardos as corn sugar “baron” and later appointed himself “capo” of the Cleveland Mafia.

Chapter V

The Cleveland Meeting

The trail of bootleg blood continued to flow with numerous murders stemming from the Porrello-Lonardo conflict.

Lawrence Lupo, a former Lonardo bodyguard was killed after he let it be known that he wanted to take over the Lonardos’ corn sugar business.

Anthony Caruso, a butcher who saw the Lonardos’ killers escape was shot and killed. It was believed that he knew the identities of the gunmen and was going to reveal them to police.

On Dec. 5th, 1928, Joe Porrello and his lieutenant and bodyguard Sam Tilocco hosted the first known major meeting of the Mafia at Cleveland’s Hotel Statler. Many major Mafia leaders from Chicago to New York to Florida were invited. The meeting was raided before it actually began.

Joe Profaci, leader of a Brooklyn, N.Y. Mafia family was the most well-known of the gangsters arrested. Within a few hours, to the astonishment of police and court officials, Joe Porrello gathered thirty family members and friends who put up their houses as collateral for the gangsters’ bonds. Profaci was bailed out personally by Porrello. A great controversy over the validity of the bonds followed.

Several theories have been given as to why the meeting was called. First, it was thought that the gangsters, local presidents of the Unione Siciliane, an immigrant aid society infiltrated by the Mafia, were there to elect a new national president. Their previous president, Frankie Yale had been recently killed by order of Chicago’s notorious Al Capone. Second, it was believed that the meeting may have been called

to organize the highly lucrative corn sugar industry. It was also said that the men were there to “confirm” Joe Porrello as “capo” of Cleveland.

Capone, a non-Sicilian was reported to be in Cleveland for the meeting. He left soon after his arrival at the

advice of associates who said that the Sicilians did not want him there.

Chapter VI

The Second Bloody Corner

As Joe Porrello’s power and wealth grew, heirs and close associates to the Lonardo brothers grew hot for revenge.

Angelo Lonardo, “Big Joe’s” 18-year-old son along with his mother and his cousin, drove to the corner of E. 110th and Woodland, the Porrello stronghold. There Angelo sent word that his mother wanted to speak to Salvatore “Black Sam” Todaro. Todaro, now a Porrello lieutenant, had worked for Angelo’s father and was believed to be responsible for his murder. In later years it was believed that he was actually one of the gunmen.

As Todaro approached to speak with Mrs. Lonardo whom he respected, Angelo pulled out a gun and emptied it into “Black Sam’s stocky frame. Todaro crumpled to the sidewalk and died.

Angelo and his cousin disappeared for several months reportedly being hid in Chicago courtesy of Lonardo friend Al Capone. Later it was believed that Angelo spent time in California with his uncle Dominick, fourth Lonardo brother who fled west when indicted for a payroll robbery murder in 1921.

Eventually Angelo and his cousin were arrested and charged with “Black Sam’s” murder. For the first time in Cleveland’s bootleg murder history justice was served as both young men were convicted and sentenced to life. Justice although served would be shortlived as they would be released only a year and a half later after winning a new trial.

Chapter VII

Rise of the Mayfield Road Mob

On October 20th, 1929, Frank Lonardo, brother to “Big Joe” and John was shot to death while playing cards. Two theories were given for his death; that it was in revenge for the murder of “Black Sam” Todaro and, that he was killed for not paying gambling debts. Mrs. Frank Lonardo, when told of

her husband’s murder screamed, “I’ll get them. I’ll get them myself if I have to kill a whole regiment!”

By 1929, Little Italy crime boss Frank Milano had risen to power as leader of his own gang, “The Mayfield Road Mob.” Milano’s group was made up in part of remnants of the Lonardo gang and was also associated with the powerful “Cleveland Syndicate,” Morrie Kleinman, Moe Dalitz, Sam Tucker and Louis Rothkopf. The Cleveland Syndicate was responsible for most of the Canadian booze imported via Lake Erie. In later years they got into the casino business. One of the their largest and most profitable enterprises was construction of the Desert Inn Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas. Dalitz would become known as the “Godfather of Las Vegas.”

Joe Porrello admired Milano’s political organization, the East End Bi-Partisan Political Club and, seeing the value in such influence, wanted to ally himself with the group. Milano refused. Later, Porrello was reported to have affiliated himself with the newly formed 21st District Republican Club. He hoped to organize the Woodland Avenue voters as Milano was doing on Mayfield road.

Chapter VIII

More Corn Sugar and Blood

By 1930, Milano had grown quite powerful. He had gone so far as to demand a piece of the lucrative Porrello corn sugar business. On July 5th, 1930, Porrello received a phonecall from Milano who had requested a conference at his Venetian Restaurant on Mayfield Road. Sam Tilocco and Joe Porrello’s brother Raymond urged him not to go.

At about 2:00 p.m., Joe Porrello and Sam Tilocco arrived at Milano’s restaurant and speakeasy. Porrello, Tilocco, and Frank Milano sat down in the restaurant and discussed business. Several of Milano’s henchmen sat nearby. The atmosphere was tense as Porrello refused to accede to Milano’s demands.

Porrello reached into his pocket for his watch to check the time. Two of Milano’s men, possibly believing that Porrello was reaching for his gun opened fire. Porrello died instantly woth three bullets in his head Simultaneously, a third member of Milano’s gang fired at Tilocco who was struck three times but managed to stagger out the door toward his new Cadillac. He fell to the ground as the gunmen pursued him, finishing him off with another six bullets.

Frank Milano and several of his restaurant employees were arrested but only charged with being suspicious persons. The gunmen were never actually identified. Only one witness was present in the saloon when the shooting started. He was Frank Joiner, a slot machine distributor whose only testimony was that he “thought” he saw Frank Milano in the restaurant during the murders.

Cleveland’s aggressive and outspoken Safety Director Edwin Barry, frustrated by the continually rising number of bootleg murders, ordered all known sugar warehouses to be padlocked. He ordered a policeman to be detailed at each one to make sure that no sugar was brought in or removed.

Meanwhile, the six Porrello brothers donned black silk shirts and ties and buried their most successful brother. The showy double gangster funeral was one the largest Cleveland had ever seen. Two bands and thirty-three cars overloaded with flowers led the procession of the slain don and his bodyguard. Over two hundred fifty automobiles containing family and friends followed. Thousands of mourners and curious on-lookers lined the sidewalks.

Cleveland’s underworld was tense with rumors of imminent warfare. Porrello brother Vincente-James spoke openly of wiping out everyone responsible for his brother’s murder.

Three weeks after his brother’s murder, Jim Porrello still wore a black shirt as he entered the I & A grocery and meat market at E. 110th Street and Woodland. As he picked out lamb chops at the meat counter, a Ford touring car, its’ curtains tightly drawn, cruised slowly past the store. A couple of shotguns poked out and two lasts of buckshot were fired, one through the front window of the store and one through the front screen door.

The amateur gunmen got lucky. Two pellets found the back of Porrello’s head and entered his brain. He was rushed to the hospital.

Chapter IX

“I think maybe they’ll kill all us Porrellos”

“I think maybe they’ll kill all us Porrellos. I think maybe they will kill all of us except Rosario. They can’t

kill him – he’s in jail.” Thus Ottavio Porrello grimly but calmly predicted the probable fate of he and his brothers as he waited outside Jim’s hospital room. Jim Porrello died at 5:55 p.m.

Two local petty gangsters were arrested and charged with murder. One was discharged by directed verdict and the other was acquitted. Like almost all of Cleveland’s bootleg related murders, the killers never saw justice.

About this time, it was rumored that the Porrello brothers were marked for extermination. The surviving

brothers went into hiding. Raymond, known for his cocky attitude and hot temper spoke like his brother James did of seeking revenge. Raymond was smarter though, he took active measures to protect himself.

On August 15th, 1930, three weeks after James Porrello’s murder, Raymond Porrello’s house was leveled in a violent explosion. He was not home at the time since he had taken his family and abandoned his home in anticipation of the attack.

Four days later Frank Alessi, a witness to the murder of “Big Joe” Lonardo’s brother Frank, was gunned down. From his death bed, he identified Frank Brancato as his assailant. Brancato was known mainly as a Lonardo supporter and suspect in several murders. Brancato was acquitted of Alessi’s murder.

Chapter X

In March of 1931, Rosario Porrello was paroled from Ohio’s London Prison Farm where he had served one year for carrying a gun in his car.

In mid-1931, National Mafia “capo di tutti capi” (boss of all bosses) Salvatore Maranzano was killed. His murder set in motion the formation of the first Mafia National Ruling Commission created to stop the numerous murders resulting from conflicts between and within Mafia families and to promote application of modern business practices to crime.

Charles “Lucky” Luciano was the main developer of the commission and was named chairman. Also named to the commission were Al Capone of Chicago, Joe Profaci of Brooklyn and Frank Milano of Cleveland.

In Dec. of 1931, Angelo Lonardo and his cousin Dominic Suspirato were released from prison after being acquitted of “Black Sam” Todaro’s murder during a second trial. Because he had avenged his father’s death and (for the most part) gotten away with it, he became a respected member of Frank Milano’s Mayfield Road Mob.

The thirst for revenge had not been satisfied for members of the Lonardo family. It was generally believed

that “Black Sam” Todaro instigated and perhaps took part in the murders of “Big Joe” and John Lonardo. However it was believed by members of the Lonardo family that the remaining Porrello brothers, particularly the volatile John and Raymond and eldest brother Rosario still posed a threat because of

the murders of Joe and James Porrello.

On Feb. 25th, 1932 Raymond Porrello, his brother Rosario and their bodyguard Dominic Gulino (known also by several aliases) were playing cards near E. 110th and Woodland Avenue. The front door burst open and in a hail of bullets the Porrello brothers, their bodyguard and a bystander went down. The Porrellos died at the scene. Gulino died a couple of hours later. The bystander eventually recovered from his

wounds.

Several hours after the murders, Frank Brancato, with a bullet in his stomach, dragged himself into St. John’s hospital on Cleveland’s west side. He claimed he was shot in a street fight on the west side. A few days later, tests on the bullet taken from Brancato revealed that it came from a gun found at the Porrello brothers murder scene. Although never convicted of either of the murders, Brancato was convicted of perjury for lying to a Grand Jury about his whereabouts during the murder. He served four years after a one to ten year sentence was commuted by Governor Martin L. Davey.

In 1933, Prohibition was repealed. The bootleg murders mostly stopped as organized crime moved into other enterprises. Angelo Lonardo continued his crime career as a respected member of the Cleveland family eventually rising through the ranks to run the northeast Ohio rackets in 1980.

In early 1933, in a sequel to the tragedy of the large Porrello family, Rosario’s son Angelo, 21, was killed in a fight over a pool game in Buffalo. It was said that he and his Uncle John were there trying to muscle in on the corn liquor business.

******

Books Set in Australia – Five Novels to Read Before You Travel

A trip to Australia is one that offers endless variety — you could spend your time partying in Sydney, you could make an adventurous journey to the Outback, or you could wallow in the many wineries on offer in several Australian states. Australia is a big country and unless you have months to spend there, you are going to have to make some decisions on how best to spend you time. To help you do that, here are some books set in Australia — five novels portraying different aspects of Australian life and history.

‘The Secret River’ by Kate Grenville

A story of Australia’s beginnings, William Thornbill and his wife Sal are sent from London to the fledgling colony of New South Wales in the early 1800’s. After some time in Sydney (very different from the Sydney of today!) they decide to try their luck on some land Will has set his eye on along the Hawkesbury River. The challenges they face from their environment, the local Aborigines and fellow settlers reminds us of how harsh the country was for those who decided to make it their home. There are some magnificent descriptions of the landscape as seen by an outsider, and the books gives a ‘warts and all’ look at the impact of settlement on Australia’s indigenous peoples.

‘A Town Like Alice’ by Neville Shute

While the first part of this novel is set in the Malayan jungle during WWII, what follows is a story that brings you to rugged, country Australia. If you want to know what life was like in a small outback town (more of a hamlet really) in the 1940’s and 50’s then this novel gives you a good idea. You are subject to the harshness of the landscape and the incredible distances involved, as Englishwoman Jean Paget travels to the heart of Australia to find a man she met whilst captured by the Japanese in Malaya. The language and attitudes, particularly in relation to Australia’s Aborigines, are true to their time and should be taken as such. But it gives a good indication of the realities of life in rural Australia, something which is still a strong cultural influence on Australians today.

‘Breath’ by Tim Winton

From the desert to the sea now in this novel by one of Australia’s most respected writers. This novel is set in Australia’s south-west corner, at a time when the area was more of a home for the logging industry than for the tourists and vineyards of today. Set mainly in the 70’s, this is a coming-of-age story about teenager Bruce as he seeks to overcome the boredom of country life with some high risk activities — like surfing off what can be a dangerous and deadly coastline, and developing a dark friendship with an older woman. As Bruce begins to grow up, both emotionally and sexually, we are treated to some of the most poetic and exhilarating descriptions you will ever find of the ‘religion’ that is surfing. And you too, will feel as if you have explored the rugged and beautiful coastline of this part of the country.

‘Bad Debts’ by Peter Temple

Peter Temple is one of Australia’s leading crime writers, and this novel is our introduction to his hero Jack Irish. — an inner-city Melbourne solicitor with a love of Australian Rules Football, gambling, and part time cabinet-making. This is Melbourne in winter, complete with its rain, pubs and shady underworld. Irish has barely been sober for a number of years after one of his dodgy clients murdered his wife, and now Danny, another former client, needs his help. But when Danny is killed, Irish discovers there are plenty of the city’s political elite who would like the past to remain undisturbed, and he is determined to get to the truth. Temple’s novels may not give you ‘sun and sand’, but you will be treated to as much genuine Australian vocabulary and city sub-culture as you can handle.

‘Summerland’ by Malcolm Knox

And finally to Sydney, and a novel that explores the life of the city’s idle rich. Four young Sydneysiders have been friends since they were teenagers, and living around the city’s northern beaches they have the world at their feet. They form two couples and spend every Christmas at Palm Beach, a popular holiday location for the affluent. But despite all this, their friendship is based on lies, as Richard finds out when he learns of the long-running affair between his wife and his best friend. If you’d like an insight into a live of the privileged few in Sydney, then this novel will take you there.

These novels are just a taste of many books set in Australia, but they are well worth reading in the lead-up to your travels or on the plane. Immersing yourself in a novel about the place you are going to will not only give you an insight into the place itself, but it will whet your appetite for your travels ahead, making it far more enjoyable once you get there.

WoW Hunter 2v2 Arena Guide – Strategies and Best Combos

In World of Warcraft, the Hunter is one of the best classes to use in arenas. In this article, I will discuss the best specs, best partners, and PvP strategies that you can use to rank up in arena.

2v2 WoW Hunter Arena Specs

There are two choices for spec when it comes to using a Hunter in 2v2 arena. You can either spec Beast Mastery with a few points in Marksmanship or Survival with a few points in Marksmanship. No matter what spec you choose or class you pair up with, you will always need to put enough points in Marksmanship to get Aimed Shot. The -50% healing debuff is a key ability which you should try to keep active on your target at all times.

If your partner is a DPS class and you are running a double DPS team, you will want to spec into Beast Mastery. This way, you can use The Beast Within and Bestial Wrath to burst down an enemy player. The advantage of the double DPS team is that it is very easy to play. With decent skill, gear, and partner, you can rank in the 1800s to 1900s with little effort. It is a great way to get some points for the week so you can get some easy arena gear.

The downside to this team is that it just does not have front page potential. If you are an excellent player with top-notch gear, this team is not for you. If your partner is a healer, you will want to spec into Survival without a doubt. Explosive Shot and Lock and Load do tremendous amounts of sustained damage and can be used to slowly drain an enemy’s mana pool and eventually score a kill.

This team is a little harder to play and the success of the team is very dependent upon the skill of the Hunter. With that said, you certainly do not have to be a pro to rank highly and can even make gladiator if your gear is up to par.

Best Partners

If you are playing as a Beast Mastery Hunter on a 2 DPS team, you definitely want your second DPS player to be a caster. Casters are great because they can deal damage through abilities like Blessing of Protection, which typically wreck havoc on Beast Hunters.

An AP Frost Mage or a Shadow Priest are the best possible partners. AP/Frost is good since you can use Beast Mastery and Arcane Power to deal tons of spike damage in order to take out a player very quickly. Ice Block also helps mitigate enemy damage and increase the Mage’s survivability.

Shadow Priest makes a good combo because it can Dispel and use Mass Dispel. This is invaluable as the Shadow Priest thwarts crowd control attempts and can be get rid of Blessing of Protection and Divine Shield. If you are playing with a healer, the Paladin is the ultimate healer. Blessing of Freedom and the Paladin’s survivability and sustainability complement the Hunter very well. A Priest is also a good partner and Hunter and Priest combos make gladiator every single season.

I have seen Shaman and Hunter teams rank well, but I would not recommend this combination. The Hunter needs a partner that can dispel crowd control abilities. Otherwise, the Hunter will spend half the game in a Polymorph.

Strategies

In a 2 DPS team, the strategy is very simple. After engaging the enemy, use all your timers and attack an enemy player with everything you have (preferably attack a DPS class). Use crowd control abilities on the other player and try to kill the enemy outright. Do not use your timers before going in as you do not want your enemy to simply avoid you while your abilities are running

In a Hunter and healer team, the strategy is to outlast the enemy. Constantly use Viper Sting on the enemy’s healer and put out steady damage. It does not matter if you attack the healer or the DPS player, just make sure you put out steady damage to drain the enemy healer’s mana. Use your pet to keep the enemy healer in combat if he tries to drink water for mana. Eventually, you will run the enemy out of mana and be able to kill one of the players.