Davy the Punk: A Story of Bookies, Toronto the Good, the Mob and My Dad
In the first half of the 20th century, Toronto prided itself on being ‘Toronto the Good’. But Davy the Punk’s Toronto was tantalizingly bad.
In the 1930s Davy Bossin was known in the gambling underworld as ‘Davy the Punk’. He was the city’s top layoff man, the ‘bookies’ bookie’ who connected Toronto to the continental betting racket. Later he ran the Toronto terminus of the notorious race wire, the underground information network essential to the gambling industry. By the 1940s, that put Davy in the crosshairs of the law’s efforts to quash organized crime.
To see Davy Bossin, you would never have guessed it. Outwardly, he was so taciturn that some thought him mute. (‘What you don’t say can’t be used against you,’ he taught his son.) But at the right time, among ‘right’ guys, Davy was a consummate storyteller, regaling his pals with outrageous tales of horse-race gambling, the mob and the underside of show biz. Eagerly taking it all in was his son, Bobby, who would grow up to be Canadian indie music pioneer Bob Bossin, a revered storyteller in his own right.
Now 70 years after his father’s precedent-setting legal battle, Bob tells the story of Davy the Punk. By turns funny, maddening, insightful and moving, it is both a memoir of father and son and an eye-opening reconsideration of law-breakers and lawmen, of the Great Migration, and of the distressingly anti-Semitic Canada left out of the history books.
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