In a small suburban town in Northern New Jersey lived an invisible man who had no bank accounts, no property, and no assets but was an elite power player in the underworld of the New York/New Jersey Organized crime world known as the Mafia. Lorenzo Martino was a second generation Italian who was extraordinarily intelligent but had no time for legitimate work. His Intelligence served him well as he became a Unicorn in the American Mafia, that unheard of entity inside this dark criminal world, that person who could navigate between the tribal world of the Five Families of New York allowing a loose alliance with everyone, that is everyone who had the desire to earn money.
The Mafia generally refers to an underworld organization of Italians who were started out of the need for immigrants to ask for assistance in matters where the Police and officials could not help. Being invisible is the mythology that the Mafia operates upon. The Italian American Mafia or La Cosa Nostra (Italian for “our Thing”) emerged in the lower income neighborhoods of New York City in the late 19th and early 20th century. Growing stronger as the need for less than legal services were needed for marginalized Italian immigrants trying to take a slice of the American Dream. With the opportunity for extreme financial gain, many Italians aspired to become these “men of respect”. As you see too often in the movies, there are usually two ways that an American Mafioso ends their life, either by the bullet or in jail.
Lorenzo Martino had the swagger of a Hollywood movie star. Always dressing to impress, Lorenzo americanized his name to Larry Martin. Early on in his life he had the foresight to become invisible. His parents were hard working immigrants commonly known as “greenhorns” who came to this country for a better life not only for them but for their children. The Martino’s wanted their children to be upstanding and legitimate, respectable citizens of the new world. Larry had other aspirations. Starting in the boxing ring, a common training ground for many men in the American Mafia, Larry always made money, which in the Mafia means you are more valuable. His business acumen only landed him one short term prison sentence in the 1940’s for the counterfeiting of ration stamps.
This confidence that Larry embodied landed him the most beautiful woman in the neighborhood, Mafalda Masone otherwise known as Mitzie. Mitzie saw this man and instantly fell in love. There is always an obstacle in life and for Mitzie and Larry, it was that the day they met, Larry was getting married in a couple of days. Regardless of this obstacle it was not strong enough to separate love. Mitzie and Larry became a couple and stayed together for the rest of their lives. Finally marrying after Larry chose to divorce his first wife. Mitzie saw this man as more than a Mobster, she saw his potential as a good man who happened to be in a different situation. After their marriage, their daughter Angela was born.
Angela Martin was born into a world that a young child could hardly comprehend. Her parents were just a loving and caring mother and father. There was nothing strange about her father going to work at night and coming home at 5am. Angela had a legitimate mother and an illegitimate father. She was a product of a connection that transcended people from different walks of life.
Angela breaks the common misconceptions about those involved in organized crime by saying “The mafia has killers and psychopaths, they then have earners. My Father (Larry Martin) was not a psychopath although he had to deal with them from time to time.
The veil of secrecy that Angela had to carry caused the often bout of anxiety although she could not understand why until being much older. When the FBI burst into the door as she was getting ready for school to question her father or the Special Agent calling her name as she walked into high school was just a normal occurrence that had to be dealt with. Angela, like her father, was a duck on a pond. If you look at a duck on a pond it will seem serene and peaceful, but look underneath the water and the duck’s feet are moving a mile a minute.
Angela navigated this life with grace all because she had two parents who protected her from this life. Meeting her husband Joe Pisano and finally letting him know that Larry Martin was a high level associate in the Italian American Mafia would have sent most running. Joe settled in to accept that his new father in law was the invisible guy who was always watching.
Larry is one of the few people who get the chance to retire from the gangster lifestyle. During the late 70’s, Larry was an associate of Benjamin “Lefty two-guns” Ruggerio and noticed that he had been hanging around with a jewel thief named Donnie. Larry’s success in the mafia was due to his instinctual ability to smell when something isn’t right. He was correct when he told Angela “things are getting tight, it’s time to start pulling out”. Finally by 1980, Larry was retired and soon after that suspicious character Donnie was unveiled to be Special Agent Joe Pistone under the alias Donnie Brasco.
Larry lived the remainder of his years being that loving father and doting grandfather. Maintaining his invisibility until the end passing at the ripe old age of 99 in 2014. Angela remembers her father with loving affection. A man who provided for his family by any means he thought necessary.
When someone dies, a library burns to the ground. For this reason, Angela chose to bring what little of Larry Martin’s life to the page in her new book due out in early 2024 “Welcome To The Family”. While a man can be involved in the underworld that does not mean that he doesn’t love his children or love his wife. It simply means that an individual chose a path not often taken. Angela maintains the truth about her father, that to her he was simply DAD.
Welcome to the Family: My Life as A Mob Daughter” offers a riveting and candid glimpse into the extraordinary life of Angela Pisano, who grew up in the seemingly ordinary suburbs while harboring a remarkable secret.The story is unlike any other as Angela unveils the hidden layers of her upbringing, where her father, Larry Martin, operated in the shadows of organized crime. Despite the clandestine world surrounding her, Angela paints a vivid picture of a family striving to maintain the illusion of normalcy. As she navigates the challenges of adolescence and adulthood, readers are taken on a rollercoaster journey filled with suspense, loyalty, and unexpected twists.
“Welcome to the Family” is a true story that explores the complexities of identity, family ties, and the delicate balance between the allure of the underworld and the desire for a ‘normal’ life. Angela’s narrative is both poignant and gripping, offering readers an intimate view into the often-hidden lives of those connected to the mob.
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