After Bugsy died, my father never had another chance at the big time, but he was still in the thick of things, so much so that he attracted the interest of Senator Estes Kevfauver’s Senate Crime Committee when he was head cashier at the California Club. He came home all excited about a free trip to New Orleans courtesy of the US government—a vacation, he called it. Some vacation. Two tough guys in suits greeted him at the airport and led him onto the plane in handcuffs. In New Orleans, he was blindfolded, taken to a bare room, cuffed to a chair, a bright light shining in his eyes, and grilled all night. “They treated me like a criminal.” Even so, he found time to buy me a pale blue cashmere sweater. Guess being handcuffed brought out his sentimental side.

Post Bugsy, the only real contact I had with “mobsters” was through the Las Vegas Jewish Community Center. Even though I wasn’t really part of their crowd, I was occasionally invited to birthday parties. Ruby Kolod was part owner of the Desert Inn, one of my favorite hotels. He had a big family—four or five kids. His daughter’s party wasn’t a fancy hotel shindig like many of the others I’d heard about. It was a barbeque at his lovely, unpretentious ranch-style home, and he was the cook. I will always remember Mr. Kolod serving up hotdogs, covered with kids, laughing and tickling and having a grand time—a real teddy bear. I wished he were my father! My mother claimed he murdered half of Chicago. The Green Felt Jungle wasn’t especially kind to him, either.  In my mind, he was a mench.

There’s a tendency to think the worst of anyone even remotely connected to the mob. In high school, one of my friends dated Toby Gordon, whose father was rumored to have been a hit man in Miami.  He said every time Mr. Gordon looked at him he felt he was being sized up for a coffin. Obviously, an over-reaction. One of my old boyfriends told me about a job he’d had as an elevator operator at the Riviera. He recognized a couple of the mobsters as they got on. Not the nice guys, like Ruby Kolod. The ones with ice in their eyes who never smiled. Occasionally, they’d say something to him. “What’s your name, kid?” His dad, who worked in the casino, told him, “Don’t let them know who you are.” He quit the job.

On the other hand, living in Las Vegas can give you a distorted view of reality. I never questioned why people had names like “Bugsy,” and “Three fingers,” until I went away to college and it dawned on me that these were not normal people! My dad was so immersed in his own little world that he had completely lost touch with reality. I took a course in criminology in college and brought home a list of America’s ten most wanted. My dad saw it on the coffee table and picked it up.  Not only did he know all of them, he knew where they were! “Oh, yeah, I seen him at the Nugget the other day. Nice guy.” 

8/3/2011

Dear Marilyn, I saw Mike today and he told me all the astoundingly great news about Neon Dreams! I am so happy for you, I have some idea of how hard you have worked and how long it's taken for you to get the recognition you deserve! God Bless Kirkus--what a coup for you, Maryilyn! I've ordered Neon Dreams from Amazon. I tried to become a follower on "Mormons, Mobsters" but they wanted all but my first born child. (My blog has within two days become private because I was being harrassed) How great for you. I can't wait to read it!! All my best wishes, Melissa Green

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8/3/2011

Dear Marilyn, I hate to ask this--I tried to be a follower of Mormons, Mobsters, but they wanted more info than I wanted to give them, but I think they got me and all my friends anyway--is there anyway you can block me to see if that will stop the network invasion which I don't like---I'd love to follow your blog, but I'm a bit gunshy after serious harassment at Blogger. xox

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8/6/2011

Melissa, thank you so much for your interest in my book. I love and admire your work, and am flattered that someone as accomplished as you would read my book, and blog. I know very little about blog protocol, but I will ask savvy family members about blocking. I think you can follow it without divulging any information just by googling neondreamsthebook and opening up the blog. I'll get back to you about stopping the network invasion. Thanks again - I'm eager hear your response to my memories. Marilyn

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Todd Kolod
1/22/2014

Marilyn, I was born in 1955. I missed a lot of the action. Your description of my grandfather's backyard barbeque seemed spot on.

Todd Kolod

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1/23/2014

Hi Todd,
Great to hear from you! I remember your grandfather vividly, though I only saw him that once. He seemed like a sweetheart. I received a comment from one of your relatives. I'll see if I can find her name for you. I'd love to hear more about the Kolod family.
Thanks for your comment. Marilyn







1/23/2014

Todd: I found the name - She's Wendy Hess. Ruby Kolod was her great uncle by marriage to her grandfather's sister, Esther. She said her family used to talk about how good your grandfather was to their family, and how much fun they had with him. She also said he loved dogs and always had at least two.

Todd Kolod
1/23/2014

Marilyn...my email is toddkolod@gmail.com I am happy to share some stories. I have one cousin who is a walking historian about Ruby. I have reached out to Ruby's entire extended family. Everyone confirms that he was the classic generous patriarch, having risen from slums of the Lower East Side. My father was killed in a boating accident in Lake Mead in 1958. This shaped Ruby's and my trajectory in life.

Todd Kolod
1/23/2014

I wasn't sure if my last message went through. You can reach me at toddkolod@gmail.com.

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Carol Strear
10/31/2012

Do you have a name for Ben Siegel's accountant in Los Angeles, in the late 1930-early 1940's? A local new paper reported that they went to Del Mar racetrack together.
Thanking you in advance,
Carol Strear

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10/31/2012

Carol - I wouldn't be surprised if my father was Siegel's accountant at that time. I know for sure that my dad worked at the Del Mar racetrack, but I couldn't tell you when. I was born in l939, and my dad moved to Las Vegas around then to work for Siegel. According to relatives, my dad was Siegel's personal accountant. After the Flamingo opened in l947 my father was put in charge of skimming!
What is your connection to Siegel?

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Carol Strear
11/4/2012

Many years ago, My father and his brother were discussing an article in a Los Angeles newspaper which stated that Bugsy Siegel and his account were going to the Del Mar racetrack. Dad and uncle claimed the accountant as a cousin. I have forgotten the name they mentioned, and am doing genealogical research for the S











STREAR family from Russia.




















Strear

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larry lichterman
7/5/2014

Marilyn, Mr. Go r don you are referring to is George Gordon, my family grew up with their family in Cleveland an Las vegas. His daughter Toby taught me how to swim, I grew up around his son Bobby and his d a ughter Sherry. I think he died in 1962 to 64. A very powerful and generous man,

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