West Asheville. Hank Williams, Jr., David Allen Coe and Waylon Jennings.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Watt Espy Gets "Lucky"

A baby-faced Watt Espy serving in the United States Navy

  The USS Adirondack took Watt and his Navy squadron to Naples, Italy. 
Notice Watt's signature.

Charles "Lucky" Luciano (born Salvatore Lucania) and Bambi

The year was 1952. WWII had ended and the American military was operating permanent bases in Southern Europe.  Not quite twenty years old, Watt Espy, from Headland, Alabama, was stationed in Naples, Italy.

Even at this age, Watt was already fascinated with crime stories. This fascination enticed him into going to Hotel Turistico in Naples, where he had heard that the notorious mafia gangster, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, owned the hotel and had rented out rooms to the US Air Force.  He simply wanted to meet Luciano, who was unofficially retired from organized crime, and was living in Naples under terms (in exile, really) agreed to by the US Government, who had prosecuted and jailed Luciano for crimes in the '30s.

Watt Espy entered Hotel Turistico with the hope of just spotting "Lucky" Luciano.  Sure enough, as the Mafia gods would have it, Luciano was indeed in the building.  In fact, he was soon walking down the main stairs to the lobby. Watt eagerly strolled over and introduced himself to the exiled mobster. "Lucky", with his legendary charm, shook Watt's hand and asked him to have a seat.  "He was accompanied by his very good-looking, blonde girlfriend, his cute Chihuahua, Bambi, and his short, dumpy, pistol-toting bodyguard. Lucky was wearing a Smoky jacket, tie and pants, and was very nice and engaging."

"Lucky" Luciano truly enjoyed talking and interacting with the young American sailors in Naples.  He took many out to dinner, including an impressionable Watt Espy.  The Zi TERESA was one place where Watt said they dined. 

The story above is based on conversations I had with Uncle Watty.  Once I wrote it, I called Watty and ran the information by him for his approval.  If you need more evidence, check out the biography that was among Watty's hundreds of books.  If you click on the pages I've posted, you can see where Uncle Watty underlined bits and made notes in the margins.   Pretty compelling.

Click here for a blog by Lucky Luciano's great-great-granddaughter.
You will see where I made a comment on a blog post.

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