From Here To Fourteenth Street

Book One of the New York Saga

The Wild Rose Press

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      FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET is the love story of Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo. On the Lower East Side, immigrants were forced to suffer in crowded tenements with unsanitary conditions amidst hardships and prejudices. But Vita fights her way out of the slums to become a successful reformer and emerges as an admirable romantic heroine.
         
The conflicts arise out of Tom and Vita’s different upbringings and values. Vita advances from a sweatshop laborer to a clerk in the respected New York Bank & Trust, and becomes active in local politics, helping William Strong get elected mayor and beat the Tammany machine.

          Through these ordeals, Tom and Vita know that their love can survive poverty, hatred, prejudice, and corruption.

          Tom and Vita become embroiled in a murder mystery that nearly tears them apart. Tom's cousin Mike, a fellow cop who is closer than a brother, is shot and left for dead—in front of 124 Mott Street, Vita's tenement. Vita’s father and brother are arrested for the murder. In the Caputos' tenement, the police find Mike's shoes, jacket and nightstick. They conclude that the Caputos killed Mike out of revenge. Vita is convinced it's a setup. But he takes her to the station for questioning. Tom’s heart is torn; he has to do his job, yet he wants to support Vita every way he can. As far as the police are concerned, it's a closed case and the Caputos are the accused. If the cops aren't going to do anything to find the real killers, he is. If they really are innocent, the killers are still out there. So he's going to try and find them.

In the heat of summer, he and Vita do the necessary detective work to find his cousin’s real killer and clear the Caputos.

          Vita is based on my great grandmother, who left third grade to become a self-made businesswoman and politician, wife and mother.

          This is the first of a trilogy about the McGlory family. The second book, Bootleg Broadway, is set during Prohibition, and the third, From Here to Camelot, centers on the assassination plot of President Kennedy. However, each book stands alone.

 

Excerpt:

As Vita gathered her soap and towel, Madame Branchard tapped on her door. "You have a gentleman caller, Vita. A policeman."

"Tom?" His name lingered on her lips as she repeated it. She dropped her things and crossed the room.

"No, hon, not him. Another policeman. Theodore something, I think he said."

No. There can't be anything wrong. "Thanks," she whispered,  nudging Madame Branchard aside. She descended the steps, gripping the banister to support her wobbly legs. Stay calm! she warned herself. But of course it was no use; staying calm just wasn't her nature.

“Theodore something” stood before the closed parlor door. He’s a policeman? She looked him up and down with curious intent. Tall and hefty, a bold pink shirt peeking out of a buttoned waistcoat and fitted jacket, he looked way out of place against the dainty patterned wallpaper.

He removed his hat. "Miss Caputo." He strained to keep his voice soft as he held out a piece of paper. “I’m police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt.”

"Yes?" Her voice shook.

"I have a summons for you, Miss Caputo." He held it out to her. But she stood rooted to that spot.

He stepped closer and she took it from him, unfolding it with icy fingers. Why would she be served with a summons? Was someone arresting her now for something she didn't do?

A shot of anger tore through her at this system, at everything she wanted to change. It eclipsed her fear, making her blood boil. She flipped it open and saw the word "Summons" in fancy script at the top. Her eyes widened with each sentence as she read. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”

I hereby order Miss Vita Caputo to enter into holy matrimony with Mr. Thomas McGlory immediately following service of this summons.

Signed and witnessed, it looked very official. She looked up at Theodore. He flashed her a toothy smile.

"He's pazzo, he's just nuts!" She read it again and again, laughing, her eyes filled with tears of relief and happiness.

“Deeee-lightful, isn’t it, Miss Caputo?” The door opened and he stepped aside. There stood Tom in the doorway. Teddy Roosevelt cuffed him on the chin and vanished.

"I would have arrested you, but I was afraid you would resist." He gave her a playful grin.

She leapt forward and embraced him with every bit of strength she had left, crushing the paper between them.

"You are just crazy!" was all she could think to say. Still dizzy from the shock, the fright, and the anger that blanketed it all, she juggled a new jumble of titillating emotions.

"You're the one who should be crazy, crazy enough to marry me, that is."

All her doubts vanished at that instant. “Oh, yes, together we are stronger than any force that would dare keep us apart.” 

In a guarded tone she asked, "You don't mean tonight, do you?" Jadwiga's one-word suggestion flashed through her mind. “Elope.” She wondered if the two of them had planned a slick coup. Was a priest in the parlor waiting to officiate?

He laughed, a halo around his head from the lamp’s glow. "Any night you want. Tonight, tomorrow, next week, just don't make me wait too long."

"How long were you sitting in there?"

"A few hours. I figured you were with your family. Your landlady was nice enough to let me wait. I told her I wanted to surprise you, and I think she figured out what it was. So she didn't interfere. Teddy there, who considerately left us alone, is our commish, and the jokester on the force. He'd have to be, to have gone along with this!"

They went into the parlor and she closed the door, quivering in naughty delight. As she sat on the sofa, he dropped to one knee. He slid his hand into his pocket and brought out a sparkling ring, took her hand and slipped it onto the third finger of her left hand. “Vita, will you marry me?”

“Oh, Tom…” She held it at arm's length, turning her hand this way and that. It glittered in the lamp’s glow.

She would have eloped with him at this minute if he’d asked. If a priest stood in this room, they would have been married by now. She threw her arms around his neck, dizzy with happiness, dizzily in love. “Of course I’ll marry you! Tonight, tomorrow, whenever you want! Oh, how I love you!” 

He sat beside her and she pulled the pins from her bun. Her hair tumbled to her waist, and he stroked it lovingly as she nestled against his chest. Their lips met and parted. Her mind raced . . . we need to set a date!

Diana Rubino  •  Email: diana@dianarubino.com