Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The owner of the station hired Sammy as a manager of sorts. When the owner bought other out-of-business stations, Sammy and I would take a U-Haul and clean out all the tires and batteries and oil and belts and other merchandise and take it to a warehouse. Sammy took me under his wing in a way. We stopped for cheesesteaks at Chink's in South Philly and had a cold beer or two on Oregon avenue at the Fireside tavern. We worked together many long nights at the station and he told me stories of fixed horse races and how the street "number" worked and how to watch for signs a poker dealer was cheating when dealing in a neighborhood game...stuff a kid from the Main Line had no access to.
One day at work I got a call from a girl I was dating. 10th grade...early Spring. She had been arrested for shoplifting at a local department store and needed to be bailed out. I was visibly upset when I hung up the phone in the gas station office. Sammy asked: "Hey kid, what's eating you?" I confided in my older buddy that my girlfriend had been "pinched" and he smiled when I used the wise-guy vernacular. "How much?" asked Sammy. "I need five hundred." Sammy reached into his oil stained blue khaki uniform pants and pulled out a massive roll of bills. He shucked off five one hundred dollar bills and said: " Go spring your squeeze."
Not long after that Sammy stopped coming around the station. The owner said he found a better position at a Sunoco in the City. Sammy still called me once in a while and I saw him at the casino not long before I left for college.
In the Fall of my Junior year at Lehigh I was walking back to our off-campus house. I would routinely stop in at Pat's News stand to get the Philadelphia papers. As I stood at the rack of papers, I leafed through The Daily News. There on the page was a story recounting how Salvatore "Sammy" Tamburrino had been murdered by members of the Scarfo mob. Little Nicky, the ultra-violent head of the Philly Mafia is pictured above. He had sent Nick Milano and Phil Narducci in search of members of the Riccobene family to hunt them and kill them.Sammy was gunned down in a candy store he owned while his horrified mother watched.The account in the paper read as follows:
NOV. 3, 1983: SALVATORE 'SAMMY' TAMBURRINO
Tamburrino, 35, a member of the Riccobene faction, was shot to death in his variety store in Southwest Philadelphia. According to informant DelGiorno, the murder was committed by Frank Iannarella, Philip Narducci and Nicholas Milano on orders from Philip Leonetti.
I was stunned. I stood there with my text book under my arm and nearly got choked up. I paid for the papers and walked out, heading for Adams street on the South side of Bethlehem. I remembered his offer of the bail money and how I felt mature and tough having cold beers in South Philly with Sammy as a 10th grade kid. Sammy was gambler and loved to bet on nearly anything. As I turned right off New street, I thought to myself: "It's a safe bet nobody else at Lehigh has had a buddy clipped in a Mob feud." Sammy would have made book on that bet.