When Joe "Torchy" Torchia, the last of Sacramento's legendary great gamblers, died in a hail of bullets in 1970, an era died with him. In his day, "The Torch" was many things to many people.To the denizens of the back rooms and back alleys of Sacramento, he was a shrewd bet maker and bookie. To the tax collectors, he was a scofflaw who perpetually evaded their grasp. To the casino owners of Lake Tahoe, he was a high roller to be put up in high style. To patrons of his Buggy Whip Restaurant, he was an affable host who knew good food and good times. To his female admirers, he was a smooth-talking sharp dresser with looks to die for. To his children and step-children, he was an affectionate and indulgent father. To many observers, he was an embodiment of the American dream-a son of Italian immigrants who ended up in a manor house, complete with acreage and horse stables. To scores of Sacremento's social throw-aways, he was a generous benefactor whose anonymous gifts always came at unexpected times and places.To the police, he was-and is-a cold case file. But to Tony Tripodi, Joe Torchia was only one thing: his big brother. Here, in a unique blend of childhood adoration tempered with adult perspective, the author tells the story of Torchy's life and death. It is the story of a man who defied simplistic characterization-a man the likes of which Sacramento will not see again.
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Published January 20, 2003
Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment.