Oh my gosh! I’m in shock. My best friend, Barbi, who waitressed with me in Sammy’s East Side (Miami Beach) over 40 years ago, just found me on http://www.discomusic.com/clubs-more/12891_0_6_0_C/ ~ a website loaded with classic music and all the clubs from back in the day. I also reconnected with a friend who once managed Sammy’s, as well as one of my regular old-time mob patrons (who has reformed). Both are now my FaceBook friends.
Barbi said it well when she wrote in her response: “Those days would give Goodfellas a run for their money.” I worked there after I left my first husband (I was rescued from traffickers when I was 21 and married at 23). I was a dreamer and even though I mistrusted all men, I wound up married anyway. It didn’t work out.
After I left him, I moved from Queens to Miami Beach and landed in Sammy’s East Side (the only after-hours club in Miami). As a single mom and unskilled for any other job, waitressing graveyard and making a lucrative living seemed a perfect fit for me.
The clientele consisted of a sprinkling of celebrities; drug dealers from South America and Cuba; well-known Italian and Jewish gangsters, dressed in pricey trendy suits; and dozens of discothèque aficionados showing off their latest fashions, each trying to out-dress the other. By 3 a.m., the lounge was smoky, swarming, and reeked from a mixture of strong colognes and sweat.
And the money was crazy! Sometimes I received $100 tips simply for buying a guy cigarettes from the machine in the back of the disco.
I worked there from 1977 until 1986. Those were “not so much” the days. Scary stuff. Murders weekly outside the club. Guns lying on cocktail tables and on the bar. No one cared. Anything went, even snorting cocaine out in the open.
I am so thrilled to be in touch with Barbi . . . she identifies with me like no one else can. We spoke on the phone today. During our conversation she mentioned that she noticed that I had a death wish. She was right. As a traumatized young woman, I always struggled, battling with suicidal thoughts. An burning ember of hope and my love for my children kept me alive.