Friday, April 29, 2022

7 Questions With Scott Deitche, Author and Organized Crime Historian

Scott M. Deitche is an author who specializes in organized crime and other topics of interest. He is the author of 7 books on the mob, including Cigar City Mafia and The Silent Don: The Criminal Underworld of Santo Trafficante Jr. For more, go to , and if you're in Tampa, take a walking tour with him.

  1. How and when did you get  hooked on history?

My parents, especially my Mom, always loved history so I grew up enjoying it as well. I was in AP history in high school and ended up with a minor in history in college (majored in marine science, my primary career). I clearly recall some of the earliest non-fiction books I read- one was about the seven wonders of the ancient world. I remember that book distinctly and can recite passages from memory. 

I can’t find my sunglasses almost daily, but I remember a book I read in 1981.

  1. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

Well, with the writing I do, part of my spare time, which fishing used to fully occupy, has been replaced by digging into old court records or FBI files. With the opening up of so many more avenues to access primary source material and law enforcement/curt records, it’s been a boon for Mafia researchers ( mobologists in our science parlance) and writers.

The other area is personal family history. My paternal grandfather was a small time bookie who was arrested in 1970 in New Jersey for bookmaking and did a short prison stint. It’s become a great family story and I actually tell it in the introduction to my book Garden State Gangland: The Rise of the Mob in New Jersey.

  1. How does history play  a part of your professional life/career?

So, even though I was always generally interested in history, around 1990, after seeing Goodfellas in the movies, I really started becoming more interested in organized crime history.  I grew up in New Jersey, so the mob was always around. My mom loved old mob movies and we would get NYC TV, so obviously stories about gangsters were common fodder on the local news. I clearly remember eating dinner and seeing the breaking news that Paul Castellano had been killed, in December 1985.  But after seeing Goodfellas, I really started diving into the available Mafia books at the time. In the mid-1990s I started getting into more of the research and digging up newspaper articles, and law enforcement reports. IN 1995, back when the web was very primitive, I met a historian from England, David Critchley, on an old text website about the Mafia (long since gone). He had a copy of the Kefauver hearings from Tampa (I had relocated to the Tampa Bay area by that time). After reading those, I became really hooked and started diving into the Tampa Mafia as well as some of the other families. 

I started writing short articles for web sites like That Life (also long gone) and Rick Porello’s And started writing my first book, Cigar City Mafia. I found an agent and sold the book in 2003. It was released in January of 2004, and my writing career began.

I also run the Tampa Mafia walking tours (, which I have been doing for a little over 10 years now.

So another part of this is my primary career. As an environmental professional for a private engineering consulting firm, business development is a core part of my job. We have taken clients out on the walking tour (just last week in fact). And I lean into my love of history and the mob stuff many times while networking. It definitely sets a conversation apart from the usual small talk!

  1. Why is studying/knowing history important?

History is the glue that holds our collective experience together, both good and bad. Certainly recent efforts against the teaching of true history, because it highlights some of the less than glamorous aspects of this country’s founding, is a testament to how important it is to preserve and teach history, especially forgotten and “uncomfortable” topics. 

Crime history, especially when dealing with a subject like the Mafia, gives surprising windows in general American 20th century history. The Mafia are intertwined with various important subjects, from the labor movement in America, to World War II and the European campaign, the founding of one of our most popular cities (Vegas baby, Vegas!) to Cold War geopolitics, to maybe even (ok, getting a bit conspiratorial here) the assassination of a President. But even taking that last one off. Mafia history is truly American history.

5.          What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

I like the 1950s/60s era, especially in relation to Mafia-adjacent topics like pre-Castro Cuba, Las Vegas, and the Cold War. That interest seeps out in to my admiration for mid-century. Google architecture and cocktails of that era. Oh, and you can’t really be a mobologist, or mob author, without some love for the Rat Pack.

6.        Why did Tampa become a center of organized crime activity?

Tampa was a thriving port City with a significant industry- cigar making. By the early 1900s it had attracted various ethnic groups to the Ybor City area- primarily Cuban, Spanish, and Sicilian immigrants (there was a small German and Jewish population as well) Like many immigrant communities at that time, there was a certain level of intra-community crime, especially related to extortion and Black Hand activities. We see the emergence of a Mafia organization in the early 1900s in Tampa with tie to Mafia groups in New Orleans, New York, and other cities. 

Prohibition really kickstarts the underworld in Tampa, Port Tampa Bay becomes a hotbed for rumrunners, illegal immigrant smugglers, and narcotics traffickers. By then the Mafia was coalescing as a hierarchal group in Tampa.

But the first significant crime boss was not a Mafioso. He was the son of one of the most prominent families in Tampa. His name was Charlie Wall. By the 1920s, he was in charge of most of the local rackets. Eventually he loses ground to the Mafia and steps aside. But he made many enemies along the way and was found dea din his house, throat cut and head bashed in with a blackjack, in April 1955.

7.     How did organized crime shape Tampa in particular and Florida in general?


One of the most prominent ways it shaped the City was through political corruption. By the 1920s organized crime had already started to infiltrate the political sphere of the City, as well as corrupting law enforcement. Underworld figures were pouring money into political campaigns ranging from local offices, all the way up to gubernatorial races. This started under the reign of Charlie Wall and continued through the ascension of the Mafia. Things came to a head in 1950 when the Kefauver Commission chose Tampa as one of the sites to hold their hearings. In December 1950, Tampa citizens (called Tampans or Tampanians, though Tampenos is a term that is becoming increasingly popular of late) finally were able to see just how deeply organized crime had infiltrated City and county political offices, the police departments, and the Sheriff’s department. 


Friday, April 22, 2022

7 Questions with Donald L. Dowridge, Jr, AKA "Frederick Douglass"


Donald L. Dowridge, Jr., Celebrating 30 years as the founder and CEO of DLD (Determined to Learn and Develop) Enterprises established in 1992. After serving Five & a Half Years in the US Army as a Sargent and transitioning to become the first African American Manager of the OCR/BCS department within the Tampa, Florida U.S. Post Office, Dowridge retired after eleven and half years. DLD is ambitious in creating new dimensions of motivation for those who seek achievement by focusing energy in areas of obtaining positive outcomes despite life obstacles. “Dreams to Reality” that’s DLD’s Motto! His inspiring messages deliver feasible avenues allowing opportunities to be present. The DLD (as he’s referred to) has carved out a blazing path of Mentoring, Facilitating, Keynote Speaking & Empowerment throughout America.

Donald venture as “FREDERICK DOUGLASS” began in February 2009. He had no idea it would transform him into the 21st century “FREDERICK DOUGLASS!” As Mr. Douglass, DLD has appeared and performed before packed arenas, schools, churches & etc. Each appearance has garnered standing ovations and cheers from the respective audience.

To Schedule or Book Donald L. Dowridge, Jr. as “FREDERICK DOUGLASS,” contact his office directly at (813) 394-5875 or email us at:, also go to our New website; 

Join up with DLD on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Clubhouse & YouTube for updates and latest videos

1)  How and when did you get hooked on history?

      The story must be told, in the first grade and on a field trip to the White House I was fortunate

     to meet President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Though that historical moment accrued I was not 

     in tune to our history. The 70’s as a teen began the discovering of my history, American 

     History and World History. During those early years, it was fulfilling to learn and be 

     knowledgeable of History.

 2) What role does history play or has played in your personal life?

      History especially Black History has assisted me in becoming the man of Integrity, Respect,

     Self-Esteem and being in position to be an example for other to see as a leader. Taking ques 

     from the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, JFK, RFK, & 

     various other sources have groomed me to be able to face and overcome adversity throughout 


  3) How does history play a part of your professional life / career?

      As a Motivational Guru, Keynote Speaker, engaging young people, it is very important to

      relay information within the presentations that is laced with historical moments from our

      past. History also plays a very vital role through the “DLD TRAVELING BLACK HISTORY 

      MUSEUM” that was created in 2010 to Teach Youth and Adults of days of past. Also, to 

      inform as the saying goes: “Don’t know history, don’t know your future!” 

 4) Why is studying / knowing history important?

      The studying / knowing of history is very important because our past whether on this 

     American Soil or in other counties, our history was made by immigrants who migrated to this

     country. Our ancestors paved the way for us in this day and time. It is the study of them and 

     knowing we are walking and living on their shoulders, their sweat, and their tears. It is having 

     the education of certain events of our past that allow us and generations to understand the 

     importance of history and the role it continues to play. 

5)  What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

    Great question, my favorite period of history is in several areas of time. Starting with the 

     19th Century which represents the years of Mr. Frederick Douglass. Since he is my Role 

      Model & Mentor, I began studying his life, how he emerged from years of slavery to a 

      Stateman and other professional achievements during his lifetime. 20th Century brought us 

      Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the mark he made, what he stood and “I HAVE A DREAM 

      / FREE AT LAST!” It is noted; after the MARCH ON WASHINGTON in 1963, 1964 the 

     black elementary school I attended was one of the First Black schools shut down and we were 

     bused to Dundalk Elementary School bringing Integration to the forefront in my native city of 

     Baltimore, Md.

6)  How did you come to portray Frederick Douglass and how did you prepare?

     Believe it or not the journey began one morning in February of 2009. Getting prepared for my 

     day and brushing my teeth, I heard Three (3) Times, “FREDERICK DOUGLASS,” 


      After the third time I proceeded to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (now known as 

      the Straz Theater) and reserved the TECO Theater where the first performance took place. 

      That performance with lack of knowledge of Mr. Douglass and with family and close friends 

      as the audience happened with me standing before a podium and a copy of “The Narrative 

      and Life Frederick Douglass in which I read the entire book. 

      The second to the thirteenth year I constantly read his books and other authors who have 

      written best sellers. Also, I use YouTube to gather more information including style of 

      delivery, speaking, vocal control and natural acting skills to make the portrayal not 

       just educational, but entertaining.

  7) Why is Frederick Douglass such an important and relevant figure in American history, 

       even for us in the 21st Century?

      Not to deduct from any other black historical figure who put their life on the line for the 

       freedom enjoyed by me and many like me, but it must be stated if there was no 

       “FREDERICK DOUGLASS” who broke through many racial barriers not just for his 

       people, how about Women Rights and having the gall to stand toe to toe with several 

       presidents of these United States for the sake of Freedom. Not being afraid to author three 

       books that surely could have had him hanging from the gallows. The chances and risks he 

       took sure enlighten and raise the hopes of slaves, women, and black serving in the military 

       to name a few. Mr. Douglass is very prevalent in this 21st century as witness on February 

       2nd, 2017, when then President Trump mentioned the importance of  Mr. Douglass. He is

       also referred to and read in the U. S. Capital by Our Congressman & women. Lastly, a few 

       schools’ system throughout America has instituted the reading of Frederick Douglass. He is 

       Very Relevant 127 years after his demise.

Friday, April 15, 2022

7 Questions With Kendra Reid-Bossig, @patriotdame


Kendra Reid-Bossig has been volunteering at the 45th Infantry Division Museum located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for just shy of 3 years. She predominantly works with the museum's uniforms and personal equipment collection, which includes items from the Spanish American War to modern times. Her educational background is a mixture of American History and Art History. She is currently in her last year of graduate school at the University of Oklahoma, working towards a MA in museum studies. She has recently gotten into WW2 reenacting, which is a great way to make new connections, promote my work at the museum, and adds another exciting layer of content for her Instagram account.

1. How and when did you get hooked on history?

I have been a fan of history since elementary school. I grew up in Texas, and it has a mythos and history, unlike any other state. I just fell in love with history the more I read and the more classes I took.

2. What role does history play, or has it played in your personal life?

History has played a considerable role in my personal life; I have to thank/blame my family for that. Both of my grandfathers were veterans, and I loved looking at pictures of their time in the service and listening to their stories. While other kids were going to theme parks on vacation, we visited countless museums, historic sites, and battlefields. All of that historical goodness directly lead me down a rabbit hole that I am still gladly falling down.

3. How does history play a part in your professional life/career?

History is at the very center of my professional life right now. Honestly, I can not imagine working at any other type of museum. People view volunteer positions within museums as "not a real job," but I would argue differently. Many small museums rely heavily on volunteers. Volunteers provide crucial staffing and resources, and I like to think I am giving back to the community. I am so grateful that I can use my background and skills to help the museum. It's a win-win!

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?

I am not a fan of the phrase "you need to learn history, so it does not repeat itself!"; events unfold for various reasons. Yes, things can be cyclical, but there is much more to history than just events. History comprises of people, relationships, movement, and many other things. It is essential to study history to understand more about our personal and societal identities. The "who, why, and what" are just as important as the "where and when."

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about, and why?

My favorite period of history is the late 18th to early 20th century. It is a time of rapid modernization and seismic societal shifts. Think about how far we have come in the relatively short time since the American Civil War; it's incredible! There are so many new perspectives finally being discussed from this period; I think it is fascinating.

6. How did you become PatriotDame?

 PatriotDame came about very early in my time volunteering at the museum. I wanted to highlight all of the incredible things we have on display, things that have been recently donated, or items that are not currently on the floor. I like to think I offer a backstage pass to the 45th.

7. What do you hope your social media followers take away from your posts?

My account is a fun and light-hearted way to engage a broader audience about the museum's collections and mission. That is the beauty of Instagram; it allows me to post images with a quick bite of information. I want people to take away that museums are not dusty, boring places that warehouse objects for posterity but are actually vital partners in their community.

Friday, April 8, 2022

7 Questions With Gracia Rich, @historywithher


When it comes to @historywithher, books and history go hand in hand.  A South Carolina native, and lover of both State and American History, Gracia believes that books are the greatest way to share history with those who are interested, and ones who never knew they were.  It is her goal to bring a combination of historical fact and viable resources into one place, opening the doorway into an all-inclusive history. 

1. How and when did you get hooked on history?

My father actually got me hooked on history when I was around 7 or 8 years old.  He loved American History, especially anything regarding Black History (which in my house we learned early on was American History) the West or Military History.  He would share stories and books with me, and I fell in love.  Throughout his life, this was something we always had in common and always talked about when I’d see him. 

2. What role does history play or has played in your personal life?

History has played a MAJOR part in my personal life.  I have always been a seeker of the “WHY?” in everything and when it comes to America I’ve always been curious to why we are as we are as a Nation.  So, I began reading everything that I could find on what I believe to be the Founding times of our Country, which for me is Pre-Revolution to Reconstruction.  I feel that it is during the 17th-19th Centuries America became what we know as America.  As an avid reader, I mostly read Historical Nonfiction because I love to find out everything I can regarding American History.  I also take these books and the knowledge that I have learned from them and post on my IG page (@historywithher) that is devoted solely to history and books.  It’s a personal pleasure of mine to share everything I can about history, plus make it accessible and interesting to other people who may be put off by it otherwise. 

3. How does history play a part of your professional life/career?

I’m a paralegal, so history is a great part of my research process.  I spend much time looking up case law which all goes back to different legal precedents and statutes which stem from cases in both state and federal courts.  All of this is history.  I love this side of the legal profession.  Sometimes I run across cases that interest me outside of work and this research causes me to really invest time in studying these cases to find out what made them “precedent-setting” worthy. 

4. Why is studying/knowing history important? 

I feel that studying/knowing history is important because if gives a clearer picture of things as a whole.  We tend to know some historical facts out of context, or there are the facts that have been left out on purpose.  If we don’t study for ourselves, we never get the whole story-or the true one.  Believe me, I know that even with the resources we have we may never know the full story of so many historic events because those resources can also be flawed.  However, I believe in putting in the work and finding out all you can with what you’ve got.  To paraphrase, a known historical sentiment, “to know better is to do better.” Even if you don’t agree with this, to know better is to be informed which I think we all should be. 

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why? 

For me, my favorite time is 17th-19th century American History.  I love this time period because here is where we get the birthing pains of the Nation.  Here is where we get everything from Jamestown to Reconstruction. We move from colonies and territories to states. We have a war that essentially forges the Nation and another one that almost destroys it.  Here we see America at it’s best, but also it’s worse and I am interested in all of it.  I also have an extreme interest in Founding documents, constitutional law and the United States Supreme Court 

6. How did you decide to begin “@historywithher”?

I started @historywithher first as just a regular bookstagram page, but then I noticed that most of my books were either historical nonfiction or historical fiction. I saw this as an opportunity to give small tidbits of history while also providing a viable resource for my followers if they wanted to do any in-depth study.  I really didn’t think that it would take off because I don’t personally know many people who love history like I do, but to my genuine surprise, I began to get followers.  And not only followers, but people with comments regarding both history and the posted book.  That was a win-win for me. 

7. What do you hope people take away from your social media?

I want people to show people that History isn’t boring.  It’s so much more that what we were taught in school.  There are several different avenues of study and it all doesn’t have to begin with George Washington. I really want people to find something that interests them on my page and take a deep dive.  No matter what it is, I’m certain it will lead them to information they never dreamed of.