Scott M. Hoffman, Author-Episode #296

May 21, 2024 | 0 comments

“Find something that you find interesting that will challenge you to keep going. Never get discouraged. I had 20 rejections. And if your dream is to be a writer, chase that dream. Don’t stop. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s over…Like a boxing match, when you get knocked down, you get right up. At the count of nine. Don’t let the referee count to ten.”
~Scott Hoffman

Author Scott M. Hoffman was a witness to historical events concerning major mob families. His book, Inside, tells the eye-opening tale of the son of a mobster growing up learning the harrowing life within a ruthless crime family. Scott absorbed the inner workings of the mob from his dad, who loyally served The Chicago Outfit for over 55 years –never spending a day in prison.

Now 74, Scott is a graduate of Long Island University-Brooklyn with a B.A. in Journalism. For 35 years he worked for the City of Chicago in the Departments of Purchasing and Finance.

I’ve read Inside and can tell you, it’s a beautifully written, fascinating, and sometimes disturbing insider’s look at what it’s like to grow up as a mobster’s son.




Read the Podcast Transcript

Steve Cuden: On today’s StoryBeat: 

Scott M. Hoffman: Basically find something that you find interesting that will challenge you to keep going. Never get discouraged. I had 20 rejections. And if your dream is to be a writer, chase that dream. Don’t stop. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s over. Because as my father would say, it’s never over. You look at every option. And even after you used up every option, you look and see, how can I recreate an option that maybe I can help me? Always get up. Like a boxing match, when you get knocked down, you get right up. At the count of nine. Don’t let the referee count to ten. 

Announcer: This is StoryBeat with Steve Cuden a podcast for the creative mind. StoryBeat explores how masters of creativity develop and produce brilliant works that people everywhere love and admire. So join us as we discover how talented creators find success in the worlds of imagination and entertainment. Here now is your host, Steve Cuden. 

Steve Cuden: Thanks for joining us on StoryBeat. We’re coming to you from the Steel City, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My guest today, author Scott M. Hoffman, was a witness to historical events concerning major mob families. His book Inside tells the eye opening tale of the son of a mobster who grows up learning firsthand the ins and outs of a major crime family. Scott absorbed the inner workings of the mob from his dad, who loyally served the Chicago outfit for over 55 years, never spending a day in prison. Now 74, Scott is a graduate of Long Island University, Brooklyn, with a BA in journalism. For 35 years, he worked for the city of Chicago in the departments of purchasing and finance. I’ve read inside and can tell you it’s a beautifully written, fascinating, and sometimes disturbing insider’s look at what it’s like to grow up as a mobster’s son. So for all those reasons and many more, it’s my distinct privilege to welcome the brilliant novelist Scott M. Hoffman to StoryBeat today. Scott, welcome to the show. 

Scott M. Hoffman: Thank you. And it’s nice to meet you, Steve, and thank you for having me on. And when you talk about Pittsburgh, I’m very familiar with the Pittsburgh mob family, very. 

Steve Cuden: Oh, is that right? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Exactly. Exactly. 

Steve Cuden: Have you spent time here? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yes, I have, many years ago, but I spent time. 

Steve Cuden: This is a whole range of things I know absolutely zero about. 

Scott M. Hoffman: No, I’m familiar with them. 

Steve Cuden: All right, let’s go back in time a little bit. When you were a boy, did you start thinking about being a writer back then? Were you writing? 

Scott M. Hoffman: No, not, you know what, it was kind of strange when someone’s birthday came up. My mother would say, scott, you always know what to say in a card and how to write it. So say something nice in the card about the purpose. Even if the person’s not a nice person, you know how to say something nice. I got to say, in a way, kind of the writing career kind of started at that point, you know, just writing birthday cards and greeting cards and everything. 

Steve Cuden: Were you a reader as a kid? Did you read a lot? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yeah. Well, a lot of times I would go to the library and read a lot to try and get away from what I was seeing. Okay, right. Because obviously, I was having two educations. I was having a street education, and then I had to try and balance that against my formal education with kids in my neighborhood, in my grammar school, high school, I’m leading, like, two different lives. And it, was a lot of pressure, especially what I was seeing, not only criminal activities, but the violent activities and everything else. I didn’t have a child’s life. I didn’t have a bicycle. I didn’t have birthday parties. Okay, in mob life, there’s only one free day. One free day on thanksgiving. About 01:00, I’d be with my father, and we’re going out to collect juice money, which is interest on gambling and also interest on loans from loan sharks. We do that, and, we maybe come home about 08:00 at night. This was thanksgiving. On Christmas, Christmas day, my father would wait till 01:00 and he’d say, let’s let the kids open up their gifts. And at 01:00 we would start going around, and same thing, get home. 8830. The only free day. Only free day in mob life is Mother’s Day. 

Steve Cuden: Mother’s Day. 

Scott M. Hoffman: Everybody goes to see mom. I’ll never forget my father. He’d buy candy during the week, and then on Sunday, he’d go to a florist and get the flowers, and we would start going around the houses where either the husbands were away or the sons were away, you know, in a federal facility. But nothing happened. No one got killed. No one got beat. Nothing happened on Mother’s Day. Okay. But at, 12:01 a.m., Monday, the action started again. Bell boy was out there at times, seeing things happen, shootings, beatings. But Mother’s Day, nothing happened. You were safe on Mother’s Day. 

Steve Cuden: The character that you use as your protagonist in the story is Bobby. And he’s, what, eight or nine years old in the book? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Correct. Eight years old. I started going to Las Vegas with my father when I was eight because he had the plan for seven hotels seven casinos. 

Steve Cuden: So this was your story that you told, really? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Correct. Just the book is fictional, but it’s composites of real people and real events. 

Steve Cuden: Was there anything in the book that was fictionalized at all, or was it all based on reality? 

Scott M. Hoffman: There was some things that were fictionalized, especially the part about Bobby getting married, because I’ve never been married. that was fictionalized. 

Steve Cuden: So when you were a kid, you had to keep this all inside of you. You couldn’t tell your friends, could you? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Correct. Because my father would always say, if you tell one person, that one person can burn you. So you got to keep it to yourself. And he said, don’t be a radio. Don’t broadcast. Just keep it to yourself. You’ll never get hurt. 

Steve Cuden: How did that, make you feel as a kid that you had to keep this secret from all these other friends? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Well, it was very difficult because the kids were talking about what kids would talk about at eight, nine. And I had to just sit there and listen, and I had to keep everything to myself. And I’m thinking to myself, if you kid saw what I was seeing, you’d be having some very severe psychological problems, okay? Because in the life, you develop psychological scars. That’s why it was easy for me to write the book. Once I started writing, everything started flowing, and I was going back 50, 55 years, maybe, in writing, but everything came back to me. I don’t forget, you know, what you. 

Steve Cuden: See, you remember, and so you’re still remembering it. You still have flashbacks from back then? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Oh, yeah. Things come up today in mob life. I’ll, flash back to what was done 50 years ago, 60 years ago. Oh, yeah, sure. Absolutely. Absolutely. 

Steve Cuden: Even though you were unable to tell your friends this, somehow, you are, in your heart, a storyteller. You told this big story. 

Scott M. Hoffman: Oh, sure. 

Steve Cuden: And was that part of your upbringing? Did you tell fictional stories or read fictional stories or love fictional stories? I’m trying to get inside how you got to the point of being a writer. 

Scott M. Hoffman: Well, the point I got to being a writer, really, was after I retired from the city of Chicago, which was June 30, 2012. You know, they always tell you when you retire, you got to keep your mind active. You know, you got to, you know, keep your mind active and also do, exercising for the body, you know, kind of a combination. You know, I felt I wanted to write. Then I said to myself, I looked in the mirror and I said, self, what do you know? And self said, mob life. So it really started on, like, July 2, that Monday. I put myself on a writing schedule. Every morning at 730, I would start to write at m least five days a week. But in my case, since I didn’t know how to do it on the computer, my final manuscript was 880 handwritten pages. 

Steve Cuden: Handwritten? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Handwritten, yes. 

Steve Cuden: And how did you get that typed up then? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Well, I eventually had to have it digitalized, okay. Because I would copy it and send it out and, no one was looking at it. And it was Dorns Publishing company in Pittsburgh, right where you’re located, said to me, if you can digitize it, we’re willing to at least take a look at it. Well, they did more than that because once I had someone digitalize it for me and I sent it to them, you know, through the system, because I had geek squad help me. Right. Company here. And, within less than a week, they offered me a contract for the book. 

Steve Cuden: The book is very unique. It’s unique in several ways. First of all, it’s the story of a young boy talking about the mob, which is all by itself unique. And then on top of it, you write it in a way that I’ve not. I don’t think I’ve ever read another book that was not broken up at all. There’s no chapters in your book. It’s one long stream of consciousness. Was that intentional on your part? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yes. Yes, it was. I wanted to leave the, reader to make the decision when they wanted to stop. And I’ve had people tell me that they would get the book on Friday. They say, scott, I couldn’t put it down. And that’s what I wanted, really, that I couldn’t put it down. I wanted them to keep on going, keep on going and let them make the break, let them make the decision. But it was hard for people, you know, when they were reading it. 

Steve Cuden: It’s a very, very challenging book to read from the violence that’s in it. For me, it was challenging. Even though I like violence in movies. I love James Bond and all those kinds of movies. I love Scorsese and all his mob movies. 

Scott M. Hoffman: They’re not true, but. 

Steve Cuden: Well, right, of course they’re not true. 

Scott M. Hoffman: But entertainment, yeah, they are entertainment. 

Steve Cuden: And they have to be to a certain extent, because I think the reality would either be too boring or way too violent. Does that make sense? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yes, it does. Especially because people ask me, what did you leave out of your book? Or did you water anything down in your book? And yes, I did what I saw. What happened to dogs? 

Steve Cuden: What happened to dogs? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yeah, what happened? 

Steve Cuden: Should we? Dare I ask? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yeah, sure. See, what it would be was, with juice collectors. See juice collectors and street enforcers. And the street enforcers were guys who would collect business tax from businesses. They get half the money, okay? They get 50%. Just like when, you know, you’ll see a movie, they’ll say, oh, they’re putting a contract on somebody unless there’s a number put on a guy’s head. That’s part of their job, okay? They don’t get paid extra for contract killing unless there’s a number on a guy’s head. Otherwise, it’s in the job spec. Okay, so what happens with juice collectors? They try and get a little bit friendly with the guys. They’ll look at a picture of the wife and the daughters and the sons, and then they’ll say, oh, you have a dog. Oh, yeah, we have a dog. I have a dog. You know, it’s the guy who owes money, but if he’s slow on the money, what’ll happen is he’ll do something to the dog. I said to myself, with all these people who have dogs, you know, I have pets. Nah, this would upset him. so I left that out. I never. There was nothing mentioned about dogs. 

Steve Cuden: Do you know, in the making of movies and tv shows, it’s a well known fact that the studios, generally speaking, dogs are something that you just don’t hurt in a movie. If, unless you’re taking a big risk somehow you can kill all the people you want in a movie, but not dogs. So I guess that was probably a smart play on your part, not to put that in. 

Scott M. Hoffman: Well, that was, I figured, because especially people who really love their dogs, and the reason why this was done was the next move would be, well, if you didn’t like what we did to your dog, what do you think we’re going to do to your kid? 

Steve Cuden: Well, that’s the message. 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yeah. It was the message of, look, we want the money, give us the money, or else there’s going to be something, you know, because, you know, accidents can happen. It was always, accidents can happen. So, they’d scare people, and people would right away, you know, look to come up with the money, whether their father gave him the money or somebody gave him the money, come up with the juice money. 

Steve Cuden: Was that the phrase that paid something else could happen? 

Scott M. Hoffman: That would be it. You know, they’d always say, you know, there’s accidents, that people get hurt. And, when I was 14 years old, my father explained to me, he waited till I was 14. He felt I was a little more mature. He probably could have done it when I was ten, after what I was seeing. But he explained to me what a, sociopathic behavior was and what a psychotic behavior was. And the difference really is that a sociopathic behavior is someone who doesn’t care about anybody and will do whatever that takes. A psychotic person is someone who has a violent temper, a violent nature, and it’s like, turning on a light switch. Something can just trigger it and they go. And until it gets out of their system, they won’t stop. In other words, a lot of times I would ask wise guys when they were kids, what was their life like when they were a kid? And they would tell me, oh, they were in a lot of fights and everything. So they were violent kids who needed help in those days. But in those days, the parents, they weren’t going to do anything. I understood because I always knew the guys were crazy, but I never knew the medical terms of, what the difference was. 

Steve Cuden: And how many people did you know that had those tendencies? Many. 

Scott M. Hoffman: Oh, yeah. Oh, sure. Because you have to remember to do what they did, you have to have that personality. Not everybody can pull a trigger on a gun. Not everybody can beat everybody. That’s why even with the outfit, we had guys that did different things. For example, in the book, I talk about the actor, okay? The guy who’s the setup man on, collecting, on collecting juice or street money. And that would be the guy that would talk nice to the victim. And, and then he would say, you see that guy standing out by the car? That’d be the muscle guy. You know, if you don’t give me any money today at all, something that I can go back and tell the boss, okay, I got some money. I’ll go back next week. This guy that you’re seeing, he’s going to come back, but he’s not going to talk to you. Everything’s going to be physical, you understand? Physical. And that’d be the truth. That would be the truth. They would come right after him. 

Steve Cuden: So for the listeners that might be wondering, Scott’s book inside is filled with stories that are similar to this, one long stream of consciousness about what goes on in the outfit. And your father was an expert then in that world, wasn’t he? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yes, he was. That was one of the things. When I graduated college, my father reported to Tony Accardo. Besides, he was, originally a manager for Paul Rica. It was a consigliere for Sam Giancana. And he reported Tony Accardo, who’s like the CEO and in 1973, reported as a consigliere to Joey Iupo, who took over day to day operations. And Sam Giancana was a protege of Paul Rica. And that’s. He introduced my father to Paul Rica. And the thing is, Tony Accardo, after I graduated college in June of 1971, Long Island University, or Liu is the natives call it, in New York. Tony Accardo says to me, I like, Scott, why don’t you come over? So I thought he wanted me to come with my father or something. He says, no, you come over for lunch. Let’s talk. And he’s talking to me. So, Scott, you’re as good as your father. You’re as smart as your father. I says, I can’t be my father. I said, no son can be their father. And he says, well, how do you figure that? And I said to him, you know, when I told my father that I was wanting to further my education, I went to a junior college first, and I talked to him, and I said to him, dad, I’ve got the application. I’m sending the application in. I’m not going to be out. I’m, only going to be an observer of mob life, not a participant. And people say to me, what’s the difference? I said, when you’re a participant, that’s when you can get indicted for doing things. When you’re an observer, you’re on the outside just looking in, and they have no evidence against you. There’s nothing they can charge you with because you’re not involved. And he said to me, scott, he said, the worst thing that a parent can do is force a son or a daughter into something they really don’t like, because 30 or 40 years later, they’re going to come back and say, you forced me into this. You made me do this. He said, scott, what your father’s telling you is really right. If that’s how you feel and you just want to be an observer, that’s great. But you got the ability. You could do it. I said, thank you very much, but I could never be him. 

Steve Cuden: So, with everything that you knew from growing up in that, why did they let you go? Why didn’t they force you into it? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Well, here’s the story. Every mob family follows this rule that cops and kids are off limits, right? Okay, but, now you say to yourself, well, why did this all happen to Scott? Well, it happened to Scott because my father. The seven hotels and seven casinos, the outfit, at its height, was bringing in $200 million a year in all criminal activities. And that’s a lot of them. 100 million was coming from Las Vegas. Okay, so the first conversation in mob life is about money. The last conversation of the day is about money. So the rules didn’t apply to Scott because Scott’s father was bringing in this type of money. So it was okay for Scott to do, you know, because Scott was always a quiet kid. Very quiet. I was very quiet, very shy. My father would say, don’t ever worry, he’ll never talk. And when guys would take me out, they’d always tell my father, yeah, we can see he’s quiet. We’re not worried. He’s not about going to rat us out. So the rules didn’t apply to me, okay? They didn’t apply. They should have applied because I was a kid, but, they didn’t apply because of the money. That was the whole thing. 

Steve Cuden: Did you wind up needing to do research for the book beyond your own experiences? 

Scott M. Hoffman: No. Enough knowledge. I remember not only with the outfit, but I, was dealing with, other mob families. Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City, who reported to Chicago. Okay. And 2022, the outfit, which is still around, there’s four street crews. Kansas City and Philadelphia formed a partnership. Okay? So things are still flying, they’re still active. And I got some opinions on that Super bowl, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about. Okay. 

Steve Cuden: We’re definitely not here to talk about the Super bowl, that’s for sure. 

Scott M. Hoffman: That’s something else. No. So I had a lot of experience. I mean, I knew a lot. I know a lot. I know how things started between the Kennedys and the outfit, how, it went. Started and how it went bad, and then went real bad. Okay. I met Marilyn Monroe, okay. When I was almost twelve and a half years old. 

Steve Cuden: Tell us what that was like. 

Scott M. Hoffman: Well, she had just finished her last movie, the Misfits, with Clark Gable was in it. 

Steve Cuden: Clark Gable, yeah. 

Scott M. Hoffman: And in fact, the guy who wrote it was really a surprise to me was Arthur Miller, who was her husband. He was a playwright, right? He was not a screenwriter, but he wrote it. And John Huston was the director. I saw of. I met her in March of 1961, and in January 25 of 1961, her and Miller got divorced in Juarez, Mexico. So her and Clark Gable were supposed to go out and do promotional work because the premiere of the movie was in, New York in 1961, in February. But Clark Gable died shortly after the filming, so he was all on her. So she came to Chicago, to the Blackstone Hotel. They had her at the Blackstone because they didn’t want her at the Conrad Hilton because of security and all. But the Blackstone Hotel is still open today. I’m sure the owners would love to know that on Saturday nights, that was mob prostitution there. Okay? Saturday night. So I’m sure they like to know that because the downtown mob prostitution was in hotels and, brought in $12 million a year. A million dollars a month was coming in from that. So when I met her, the, first thing I said to her is, my grandfather shot you for the Hugh Hefner, July 1953, Playboy magazine, his first edition, the COVID shot. And she said, what? You know? And I told her, she says, oh, yeah, your grandfather. Yeah. And she started to smile. Yeah, he was tough. He was tough. What happened was he had set her up for 730 in the morning in the studio, and she didn’t show up till 1230. And he had somebody coming in at 01:00, a young couple who’s getting married, because that’s what my grandfather was, a portrait photographer. But the reason Hugh Hefner wanted to use him in those days, they didn’t have the airbrush. And by hand, my grandfather could put in the flesh tones on the negatives. so if you even go online and look at that 1953 cover of Marilyn Monroe showing her arms and part of her breast that she shows in her legs, it all looks natural because that was his skill. He could do it by hand. So Hefner, he had heard about him, that he wanted to do it. So when she came at 1230 with her entourage, my grandfather says, you were supposed to be here at 730. And the reason he likes 730, because people were fresh at that time. They weren’t tired. They hadn’t, you know, you got them right in the morning when they were just out of bed type of thing. And they were fresh. And she said, well, I came and he said, so what? He told her, get the hell out. That’s how he talked to her. Get the hell out of here. her manager, road manager, calls you. Hefner calls my grandfather about 04:00 in the afternoon at the studio and says, look, I’ll have her there tomorrow, 730. Is that okay? Is that okay? And, my grandfather says, okay, if you have her here, I’ll give her one more chance. But after that, don’t call me and I’ll give you back your $50. He got the money. His father, Glenn, was an accountant and gave him the $50 and gave it to my grandfather, which in 1953 was a lot of money. 

Steve Cuden: Sure. 

Scott M. Hoffman: So after I was telling that she was laughing. She says, yeah, you know, your grandfather was something. So then I told her, I says, my father said, told the girls in the hotels and casinos that the ones that with the free drinks, that if they do a Maryland, they’ll double, triple, quadruple their tips. So she said, what do you mean, a Maryland? And I said, well, remember when you dyed your hair before? Gentlemen prefer blondes. That movie? She said, yeah. She said, you mean like this? And she took her wig off. She came in as a brunette. She took her wig off and fluffed her hair and was blonde. And I said, yeah. That’s what he told her. So she said, well, did they do it? I said, yeah. And their tips doubled, tripled, and quadrupled. She said to me, she says, I got to talk to your father. He knows how to do it. 

Steve Cuden: What did your dad do that kept him safe and sound and not in trouble? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Well, I think, you know, it’s kind of funny, because I think he understood how the game was played. He’d always tell me, if you know the rules, you know how to play the game. If you don’t know the rules, learn the rules before you try and play the game. And he was. He was very talented at that. He knew how to navigate, you know, when he became, a manager for Paul Rica, the big concern, even when Tony Accardo took over in 1943, the big concern was the black hands. And Big Al, as he referred to Al Capone, was a black hand in Brooklyn. But they were the big concern. the reason they were the big concern was that black hands, they were not american born. They came from Sicily. As far as they were concerned, in mob life, they would accept someone who was from northern Italy. They would accept them, but never in leadership capacity at all. Never. And they wouldn’t take anybody else. Now, my father played cards with these guys, so they trusted him. And the first thing he asked them when he took over, and he was maybe 23 when he took over, these guys were late thirties, early forties. They were a lot older. He says, what’s your beef? What’s bothering you? In mob life, you never know when you’re going to get paid. You never know. And they said, look, can we get paid every Friday? My father said, look, if you go out in the street and hustle and you bring in the money, I’ll talk with Paul, because you’re going to have to pay him tribute. Tribute is what you have to kick up to the boss, okay? That’s what it’s called. Tribute. When you kick up to the boss. And you have to kick up maybe 1015 percent. That would be determined. So the first Friday, they’re hustling on the street, okay? They’re really hustling on the street. And the reason they were called black hands was that they would come into your store and say, you know, the neighborhood is changing and there’s things happening and we can protect you. It was a form of protection. And if you said, get out of here, I don’t need you guys, there’s nothing wrong with the neighborhood. What they would do is they put a picture of a black hand on the door and they’d come back the next day and they’d say, you know, we’re hearing down the block that somebody had trouble. The guy said, I don’t know any guy having trouble. Get out of here. And that night they would start breaking the windows. That’s how it would start, okay? And then they come back, the next day, the windows would, you know, be broken. And they said, looks like you had trouble here. What happened? What happened? And the guy says, well, my windows got broken. He said, see, we’re telling you there’s problems. If the guy didn’t start paying, the next thing they did was burn his store down. That’d be the next thing. And then the third thing would be to go after the guy, physically go after him. See, in mob life, there’s what’s known as, okay, rough a guy up or beat a guy. And to rough a guy up would be maybe you give him a couple of slaps, you push him against the wall, punch in the stomach. To beat a guy would mean, start kicking him in the ribs, break. See how many ribs you could break. Use a small blackjack where it has these leather hand holders. You’ll physically do some real serious damage to somebody. So by that time, the guys, in the stores got the message and they started paying street money, street extortion money. Okay, so these guys were really hustling on the street. My father talked with Paul Rica. He said, paul, they’re willing to give you ten to 15%. He said, okay, we’ll pay them every Friday as long as they’re bringing the money in. So they liked that very, very much. They liked that very much. 

Steve Cuden: So your dad knew how to talk to people in a way that made them comfortable in some fashion. 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yeah. He could have been a salesman for IBM, probably. 

Steve Cuden: How did he get into the outfit in the first place? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Well, what happened was my father was actually born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when he was two years old. His brother was six months old. Their father died, and the mother had relatives in Chicago, on the west side on Taylor street, which was pretty much an italian neighborhood, and some jewish people lived there also. And, what happened was how he met Sam Giancar really was, while he was in high school. My father was a very good student, okay? Very, very good student. In fact, he would work in the cafeteria to get a free meal for lunch. And he met an assistant principal. This was maybe near the end of his junior year. So when senior year came, assistant principal said to my father, what do you want to do after you graduate high school? My father really wanted to be a doctor. He wanted to be a surgeon, general surgeon. That’s what he really wanted to do. And so the principal, vice principal said, well, let me see what I can do. And he had a friend who worked in the admissions office at the University of Chicago. And he comes back and he tells my father maybe a month, month and a half later, two months later, that he can get him an academic scholarship. He showed him my father’s grades, get him an academic scholarship at the University of Chicago, and you could be a pre med nature. So my father was real excited. He goes home, tells his mother, his mother says, that’s great. You got to go to work. And that ended that. But how we met Sam Giancar was when he was in high school, he was a member of the, swimming team. The JPI was a jewish community center. Was across Taylor street. You had to cross Taylor street. And Sam Jean Connor was there with his 42s. Now, the 42s used to hang out at a cafe called the 42nd street cafe, which I think was a play on Broadway. You know 42nd street? sure. And, Sam Jean Connor says, it’s going to cost you, like, two or three pennies. A lot of money in those days to cross the street. My father says, I don’t have two or three pennies. He said, well, you’re not going across the street. And so Sam Ginger takes a little knife and sticks it in my father’s hand. So my father leaves, he pulls the knife out and maybe puts some soap on it, and the next day, he goes back and same thing. Sam Giancar says, well, you got it. You know, two or three pennies. That’s what it’ll cost you to go across the street to this place you want to go. And so my father says, well, I got. Okay, here’s. Here’s what I’ll give you. And he punched him and knocked him down. And the 42 start moving up on my father and Sam Jane Connor gets up and says, wait a minute to these guys. He says, what’s so important across the street? And he says, well, I’m on the swim team. I’m going to practice. And he said, what’s your name? Father told him, and he said, well, can you teach me how to swim? I don’t know how to swim. So my father says, yes, I can, but we got to change your name from Sam Giancon. Sam Rosenberg. You okay with that? Okay, yeah. He said, I’m fine with Sam Rosenberg. Let’s do it. So I’d asked my father in later years, because when I’d see pictures of Sam Giancana in the water, he was always floating on his back. I never saw him like, do the crawl or the backstroke or, you know, actually swim. I said to my father, how come, you know, you were a good swimmer, you couldn’t teach him? He said, no, wasn’t. I couldn’t teach him. He was so tense in the water. I thought he was going to pull out a. 38 and shoot the waves. Very tense. He said, all he could do is, you know, on his back float. But he was very tense in the water. It was like he was trying to strangle the waves. So he said, I, I knew what. All I could do was get him to float on his back. And he was happy with it. It was okay. And from that point on, they became close. My father told him that he would need a job. He said, can you drive a beer truck? My father said, yes. I don’t know if he could or he couldn’t, but he said, yes, I can, because they had to make the beer runs up to Milwaukee. And he said, I’ll be the shotgun. And he says, I’m going to be carrying a shotgun. And he would. Sam Jim kind of carried the shotgun because what would happen is other robbers would try and hijack the beer. In those days, this is before prohibition and everything, so they had some interesting runs going up to Milwaukee, and Milwaukee, eventually, their mob family reported to Chicago. Okay, so it’s kind of strange, but that’s how it all started. And the more Sam Jim kind of talked with my father, he would tell Paul Rica, he said, Dave Hoffman is a smart guy. He’s a young guy, but don’t let the age fool you. He’s a smart guy. He knows how to do things, and he can really help us. And so they offered my father position, you know, as the manager. But my father always worked legit jobs he never worked mob jobs, okay? He never worked no show jobs. And people would say to me, well, how could he do that if he’s running Las Vegas? And I said, well, this is where the movie casino was not straight, okay? Because what it was was to get a license in Nevada, you had to be legit, okay, when you applied for that application. But he would talk with, business people. That’s where I’d be going. And he’d get business people that he knew and met and who were successful in their business and wanted to open up a casino. And he said, fine. But he said, the thing is, you have to bring in hotel people. He said, do you understand? He said, you might be good in your profession, but you don’t know the hotel business. We don’t want any problems. So they agreed fine. Sure, they would do it. Now, as far as the casino, again, the movie didn’t really play it out right. I mean, they made it look like, oh, the outfit, random movie, you know? Cause it was about the outfit casino. I know. But what really, how he worked the casino was he knew Mayor Lansky, what Lansky was doing with Batista after World war two in Havana. And basically in Havana, what Lansky set up was like a minor Las Vegas. But in 1957, when Castro came, everything became naturalized nationals. And my father said Lansky shouldn’t have fought it. He wasted too much time because all the american businesses left Havana. They left Cuba because they weren’t going to let Castro, the state, take them over. They’d make no money, so they left. So what happened was, guys who worked for Lansky, who ran the casinos in these, like, four small hotels in Havana, my father got in touch with them, and he brought them in to run the casinos. He would stay in touch with them, and he’d talk to them, you know, about, revenue, what’s going on? But they actually ran the casinos. So that’s why the Nevada Gaming commission never knew who my father was. And my father never wound up in the black book. Okay, if you wound up in the black book, like Sam Giancana, Tony Spilatro, a lot of other names, you couldn’t go into a casino. If you went into a casino and got caught, the casino lost their license. There was no suspension. There was no fang. The license was pulled from them, so they would lose the casino. So since my father ran it that way, and that’s how he would always run it, he’d always say to me, scott, look, you, go to the library, you read a lot of books about people Henry Ford. I know you read books about these people, which I did. Biographies. You know why they were successful? Because they brought people in that knew what they were doing. They didn’t. Weren’t micromanaged. He said, you don’t micromanage someone who knows what he’s doing. Like you’re an expert in computers. If I wanted to use you in a bank, robbery going into computers, I would turn it over to you. And I would not micromanage you because you know what you’re doing. And that’s why he was successful in Las Vegas. That’s why. Because my father would always say, you want to be three steps ahead of everybody. And I’d say, dad isn’t the same two steps. He said, if you’re two steps and you lose a step, that means they’re an arm length away from you. And he said, scott, in life you always want to be the hunter. You never want to be the game, never the game, always the hunter. 

Steve Cuden: That’s very profound. I, want to ask you about the book. Back to the book for a moment. Yeah, in inside. How long did it take you to write the book? 

Scott M. Hoffman: About two years. 

Steve Cuden: Two years. And were you working on it every day? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yeah, except the weekends. I would take the weekend off. 

Steve Cuden: Take the weekends off. And about how many pages would you write a day? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Well, it all varied because I had to be careful because I didn’t want my hand to get sore. Okay. That could become an issue that if your hand gets sore, you can’t write. Okay. I wrote time. In other words, I wrote from 730 to 830. And then I would stop. 

Steve Cuden: And did you then revise the book or is the book pretty much as you wrote it? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Oh, yeah. No. no, that’s why it took longer, because I would write a rough draft. Basically it was a draft first. And then I went back and rewrote it and changed some things, you know, after reading it the second time, I wrote it, you know, wrote different things. In changed things, did you use an. 

Steve Cuden: Outline or did you just write. 

Scott M. Hoffman: No, I just wrote because I knew the subject. 

Steve Cuden: And then how did you develop the characters? Did you just base all the characters on real people? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yes. 

Steve Cuden: And then you made up the wife and the family? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yeah, that was later on. Near the end of the book. 

Steve Cuden: Near the end of the book, yeah. No, that’s right. And did you find anything that really made it very challenging for you to finish? Was there anything that happened during the writing process over two years that you then thought to yourself, wow, this is really too hard to do or anything like that. 

Scott M. Hoffman: No, never. 

Steve Cuden: Never. You just kept going. And of course, you have a degree in journalism, right? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Correct. 

Steve Cuden: did you treat it like you were writing a report, like, a, you know, a journalistic report? 

Scott M. Hoffman: No, I wrote it in the sense as if somebody asked me, what was mob life about? Tell us some stories about what Mob life was about. And that’s what it is. I’m telling stories about what Mob life was about. 

Steve Cuden: Well, that’s for sure. 

Scott M. Hoffman: That’s the approach I took. 

Steve Cuden: It’s one long series of very compelling stories about what life was. Life. And as you were writing this, again, stream of consciousness that has no breaks in it, no chapter headings, nothing like that. It just keeps going. Was there ever a point where you thought to yourself, I don’t know which direction to go, or was it always obvious to you? 

Scott M. Hoffman: No, it was always obvious to me because my experience, I knew where things were going. I knew what direction was going. I knew how the characters were going to go. I knew everything was going to happen. 

Steve Cuden: What would you say you’ve done over the years to deal with pressure? I know you had pressure as a kid. There’s pressure in turning out whatever you’re doing for the city of Chicago and so on. How do you handle pressure? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Well, how I handle pressure, I always say to myself, is this the worst it could be? If there’s something worse, let’s think about what is worse than this. It’s like if you ask a doctor, you ask any doctor whether it’s your private physician, your audience, their primary care doctor, besides death, what is the next worst thing that you wouldn’t want happen to you? And you know what they would tell you? To lose my mind. That’s the next thing a doctor is going to say, dying is the worst. But to lose my mind, because a lot of these doctors have had a mom and a dad who’ve had Alzheimer’s, dementia, you know, however, whatever you want to call. Not every one of them, of course, but that’s what they would say. To lose my mind. Okay. 

Steve Cuden: Unfortunately, I’ve seen that in my life, and I would not want to lose my mind either. 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yeah. So you know what I’m talking about. 

Steve Cuden: I do. 

Scott M. Hoffman: So that’s why when I’d say, I’d always look at, well, how bad is it? How bad is it that what I’m doing now? Is this the worst it’s going to be? Okay, if this is the worst, now we can work around it. We know how to move things. We know what to do. 

Steve Cuden: So I’ve been having one of the most intriguing and fascinating conversations I’ve had in quite some time with Scott Hoffman, especially about his book inside, which, by the way, you can find@Amazon.com as both a, paper book and also in Kindle. I’m wondering, in all these experiences that you shared with us, do you have any experiences that you can share that are either weird, quirky, offbeat, strange, or just plain funny? Even more so than what you’ve told us? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Yeah, you know, it’d be funny. I remember when I was about nine years old, this guy is mobster. And he says to me, you know, you know, Scott, if you move out of the neighborhood, three things can happen, and four of them are bad. And I said, wait a minute. If you move out of the neighborhood and three things are bad, wouldn’t three things be bad? He said, no, because there’s always something around the corner that you don’t know that’s coming. Well, then I said, what are the odds are there? So you think the odds would be 60 40, right? Or 90 ten? He tells me it’s 60 50. I said, wait a -60 50 60. That’s 110. He says, scott, always remember, you want the edge. You always want the edge. You want the home court advantage. And he’s serious. You look at his face, he was just as serious as could be. Just as serious. Yeah. So, I mean, things would happen and they would be funny, but they weren’t supposed to be funny, but they happened, and they were funny. I’ll never forget, I asked big Louie for tires for my car, right? So he brings me four tires. No air in the tires. I said, big Louie, I needed four tires. And he says, scott, here’s the four tires, okay? They were off the truck. He was selling stuff. They were hot. The tires were hot. And, I said, louie, where’s the air? And he said, scott, you never asked about air. You just said four tires. So, I mean, guys would say stuff and do stuff that was funny, but, you know, it was part of life. But, I mean, he was serious. He said, all right, I’ll get the air. But he said, next time, tell me you want air in the tires. I said, okay, big Louie, I’ll tell you next time I want tires. I’ll tell you air in the tires, okay? He says, yeah, okay, this is what would happen. 

Steve Cuden: You gotta have air in the tires. There’s no doubt about it. All right, so last question for you today, Scott, you’ve already given us all kinds of interesting things to think about and chew on. But I’m wondering, do you have a solid piece of advice for writers who are maybe trying to figure out how to write their first book or get into the business a little bit or maybe someone who’s in a little bit trying to get to the next level? 

Scott M. Hoffman: Well, I would tell some, a beginner this, that write something, you know about if that’s the direction you want to go, if you want to be historian and write other things. But, basically try and find something that you maybe while you don’t have the personal experience, but something you like, something you enjoy, because it’s always easier to write something you like, you enjoy, than just to constantly do research on something. That’s fine if you want to be that type of a writer. Sure, you can be that type of a writer. I mean, but basically find something that you find interesting, that will challenge you to keep going. And that’s what I would tell people, never get discouraged. I had 20 rejections. 18 times it came back in the same FedEx box I sent. It was never open. The other two times, I got a letter saying that they only. They don’t deal with unsolicited work or that they only deal with, literary agents. So, you know, if you have a dream, and if your dream is to be a writer, chase that dream, don’t stop. Chase that dream. And don’t let anybody tell you it’s over. Because as my father would say, it’s never over. You look at every option, and even after you’ve used up every option, you look and see, how can I recreate an option that maybe I can help me. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. You’d always say, never concede, always get up. Like a boxing match, when you get knocked down, you get right up at the count of nine. Don’t let the referee count ten. And that’s what I would tell a writer because I went through it. Okay. I’ll never forget one day. That’s temperature in Chicago. The high temperature was four below zero. I go out to dinner. I’m listening on the radio, it’s eight below zero. I come home, and there’s a FedEx box. There it is, of my manuscript that came back, wasn’t open. Nobody looked at. Sent it right back to me. And the next day, I’m at FedEx, and the lady, her name was Katherine. Middle, aged lady, maybe close to 60. So, Scott, you got something here. Don’t give up. keep going. Keep going. Don’t be discouraged. Keep going. And that’s what I would tell a writer. As far as the next level, you have to find someone, as I did, who, is a book blogger, book promoter, someone who has the contacts that can get a hold of people like yourself and others to get the saturation to get out there. So you can talk about what your work is. But always keep, be positive. Even the rejections you get, you’ll get rejections. But never, ever stop chasing your dream. To chase a dream, you have to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, it’s going to be difficult to be a writer, because the rejections, I would tell people, oh, I got this number of rejections, and they would tell me, this is when I do the in person presentation. They’d say to me, scott, you know, if I got one or two rejections, I would have stopped. I said, I got 20, and I didn’t stop. I kept going and going and going, because that was a dream I had. Because once I started writing, I realized that I had something to tell. I had a story to tell. Okay? Just like, I have knowledge of so many other things that, yeah, if I can find someone that’s willing to do a movie of the book, yeah, I can make a lot of money then, because I got a lot of things to tell them beyond this. 

Steve Cuden: Well, I think that, this book should be a movie. It would make a very good movie, and hopefully that it will get there someday. Scott Hoffman, this has been an absolute wonderful hour on StoryBeat, and I can’t thank you enough for your time and certainly all of your great energy and the wisdom that you shared with us today about stuff that I knew very little about. Thank you so much for your time. 

Scott M. Hoffman: And thank you very much for having me on your podcast. 

Steve Cuden: and so we’ve come to the end of today’s StoryBeat If you like this episode, won’t you please take a moment to give us a comment, rating, or review on what app or platform you’re listening to? Your support helps us bring more great StoryBeat episodes to you. StoryBeat is available on all major podcast apps and platforms, including Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify, iHeartRadio, tunein, and many others. Until next time, I’m Steve Cuden, and may all your stories be unforgettable. 

Executive Producer: Steve Cuden, Producer: Casey Georgi, Announcer: Javier Grajeda
Social Media: Mina Hoffman, Design & Marketing: Holly Reed, Reed Creative Group


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