Davy the Punk: A Story of Bookies, Toronto the Good, the Mob and My Dad

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The Porcupine's Quill, Mar 1, 2014 - Biography & Autobiography - 192 pages
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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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Contents

The best way to not get hit by a baseball
9
Sweet Lilies advice
15
A gold coin
31
Mister Orpen
37
Sacks two dollars
47
The layoff man
56
Outward order and decency
65
The race wire
70
Costello
109
The only game in town
127
Gentlemens agreement
131
Omnia praesumuntur rite
139
Big Gangy Cohen gets out
143
ShBoom
153
We may be related
161
Portraits by Marci
163

Annenberg
75
An expert on horses
91
Marci
97
Heaven
173
Afterword Acknowledgements Credits
179
Copyright

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About the author (2014)

Born in Toronto in 1946, Bob Bossin has spent 40 years writing and performing music and stories, including as the founder of the legendary Canadian folk group, Stringband. Called "funny, informative and inspiring at the same time" by Pete Seeger, Bossin has recorded a dozen albums, performed all over the world and added a number of songs to the Canadian folk canon. His essays and journalism have appeared in many major Canadian newspapers and magazines. He has also written several plays and poems. Concurrent with the release of Davy the Punk, Bossin will be touring a live one-man musical about his father. He lives on Gabriola Island B.C. with his son, Davy, and his partner, visual artist Sima Elizabeth Shefrin.

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