There is nothing more depressing than spending the holidays in jail. Inmates locked up in Otisville try to make the best of a bad situation.
Last year the Italians got together and put together a spaghetti dinner for Xmas Eve. They chipped in and bought food on the commissary and tried to spice it up with whatever spices are available. Parmesan and provolone cheese is available on the commissary. They throw in a few olives, bologna, pepperoni, and olive oil, spice it up, and make a toast to the holidays. An older Jewish inmate joined the Italians, a guy who claims to have “connections” with the Italian mob. He claims he did hard time with a “made” guy. He calls himself “Neighborhood Mitch.” He watched one too many Godfather movies.
The Romano brothers were at the Xmas Eve party, a case that got four guys in the same family locked up. An Italian guy who once owned a cheese company was there, Mark Cucciola. A Jewish guy by the name of Moskowitz was there. He married an Italian woman. His son, a half-Jew, half-Italian was also there. Big Joe Benedetto didn’t make it, even though he claims to be the only authentic Italian in the prison. Everyone else is an “effing wanna-be mother bleeper.” Big Joe is too angry to socialize with anyone. Big Joe spends most of his time sitting outside on a picnic table cursing and complaining. He also claims to have mob connections. Of course. Some guys think that having an Italian sounding name and claiming to be connected to the mob will give them street cred. It takes more than that to get street cred. The bad guy mobsters in all the new movies are usually Russian.
There are stories of a number of real Italian mobsters who were locked up in Otisville back in the 1980’s. Guys say that they had the run of the prison. They brought an RV into the parking lot and had parties every night with prostitutes in the RV. Not sure how much is true and how much is legend.
Older inmates tell stories about how they used to visit Otisville twenty years ago and deliver food to the inmates. The rules have tightened up since then. Getting caught with smuggled food could get you thrown in the SHU. Its not that the food poses a danger to anyone. The problem arises when one inmate sees another inmate eating better food than the rationed dog food that inmates are forced to eat by the prison.
There are no events arranged by the blueboyz for the inmates for Xmas eve. No midnight mass. Just be happy that you are not locked up in the SHU (solitary) next door. I do recall getting a single bottle of egg nog from the blueboyz last year. The eggnog was counted and closely guarded. The blueboyz wouldn’t even let the warehouse workers, which included me, get an extra bottle when we unloaded them off the milk truck. Nothing “fell off the truck.” If you got caught by the redneck warehouse blueboy taking an extra bottle he would take the rifle off his rack in his pickup truck and shoot you.
On Xmas Eve Jews on the outside to go out to a Chinese restaurant and then hit a movie theater, For Hasidic Jews Xmas eve is known as “Nittle Nacht.” During times of Christian persecution Jews were especially vulnerable at this time of year. Xmas eve was observed as a day of mourning. Some Hasidim still keep the custom of Nittle Nacht, which has its own peculiar rules. One such rule is to refrain from having sex. There are no women inmates in Otisville to have sex with. But there is always the risk of a bluegirl falling in love with you, like the female guard in Dannemora, NY, who helped two guys escape. There have been a few cases in Otisville in the past where female guards were busted for having sex with male inmates. I don’t know all of the details, but it was common knowledge in the prison. Its a Federal crime to have sex with an inmate. You don’t “just get fired.” You go to jail. There is also a rule that Jews refrain from learning Torah on Xmas eve. There is a custom to stay up late at night playing cards or other board games. In Otisville cards, chess, and backgammon are the three most popular games.
Xmas Day is very busy in the visitors room. Crowded and noisy. The best time to visit an inmate in Otisville is a Friday afternoon, as the Hasidim cannot drive on the Sabbath, so there are very few visitors on Friday afternoon and Saturday.
The bluboyz are happy when they work on Xmas, they get paid double time. The inmates don’t have to work on Xmas in their prison jobs, which can be bad for some. Work can pass the time and take your mind off the fact that you are stuck in prison for the holidays. If you have no visitors it can be very depressing.
How do the inmates get fed on Xmas if they are not working in the kitchen? They get bagged meals that are prepared before the holiday, containing a hamburger or some fried chicken. Just pop the food into the microwave and you are all set for your festive holiday meal… In the hoosegow it feels like the holidays don’t exist. Just another day. Every day is the same. No constant stream of holiday music, no frantic shoppers, no traffic jams, no holiday dispays, no flashing lights. A few wooden reindeers and soldiers scattered around the prison grounds. That’s it. We get to watch revelers on television making toasts of champagne, which makes it that much more depressing.