Prodigal Father, Pagan Son: Growing up in the Dangerous World of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, by Kerrie Droban, is a two-time winner of the USA News National Book Award for Best Memoir/Autobiography and Best True Crime. Set in the working class neighborhood of Upper Darby, Philadelphia, one block south of Linden Avenue, Anthony’s life was ruled by the Pagans Motorcycle Club, a group once closely associated with La Cosa Nostra and described in the media as “the fiercest of the outlaw biker gangs.”
As the son of the Pagan’s most notorious power broker, Anthony was born into the shocking and hypnotic underworld of organized crime and, after his father betrayed the Pagans to join its rival, the Hells Angels, Anthony was recruited by his father’s nemesis to murder him. While navigating the violent inner workings of the Club and his own survival, Anthony took time to cool off with some simple Philadelphia staples like “Water ice” (pronounced “wooder ice”), the city’s version of Italian Ice, and “Little Debbie’s” “Nutty Buddy Bars.” Other guilty pleasures included Entenmanns pastries and multi-layered ‘Moon Pies” with the fluffy marshmallow centers. Juicy cheesesteak sandwiches smothered with Cheese Whiz on a crusty roll were also regulars in Anthony’s diet in addition to meat packed hoagies, fried bologna sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly and soft, salty pretzels dipped in mustard from the local street vendor. But more commonly, as he met with club members, he shared camaraderie over large “tomato pies” made with thick, focaccia-like dough, fresh tomato sauce and grated Parmesan or oregano.
Philadelphia’s traditional food classics were the perfect palate cleanser to the graphic violence depicted in Prodigal Father, Pagan Son effectively transporting the reader into Anthony’s brutal reality. More of Philadelphia’s underworld and Kerrie Droban’s reporting can be seen in the series, Homicide City, on Investigation ID, episodes 8 & 10, November 10 and 24 at 9:00PM EST. For the full, 4-D experience, might want to order a hoagie and stock up on Cheese Whiz.