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The Secret Casino at Red Men’s HallThe Secret Casino at Red Men’s Hall

The Secret Casino at Red Men’s Hall tells of author Sam W. Valenza Jr’s experiences growing up in  the sleepy town of Mt. Holly, New Jersey, which  was more than it seemed. In the unsettled years following the Great Depression, it hosted the Secret Casino at Red Men’s Hall, an underground playground that attracted Mafia bosses and players alike. Under the watchful and protective eye of Samuel Valenza Jr.’s father, the casino was a thriving den for craps, roulette, poker, and slots players. The continuing cooperation of local law enforcement was assured each Saturday morning, when Officer Bucky Squires made his pickup of payoff money from an icebox.

Growing up in this environment, Sam’s young life was scarred with violence, fear, hunger, betrayal, and homelessness, while his father enjoyed the high life with his powerful gangster associates. Sam was just six years old when Frank “Paulie” Carbo, a prolific Murder, Inc. assassin, raided the casino and slaughtered his godfather—as a warning. The murder was the beginning of the end at Red Men’s Hall, which fell under intense scrutiny from the authorities. Using the narrative style of a crime novel, Valenza recalls the intimate and often dangerous days of a life lived in the shadow of the Mafia.