Benedetto Carlo Peruzzi, son of Carlo Benedetto Peruzzi, worked in his dad’s fruit business on the Avenue in Brooklyn. It seemed a natural profession for a Sicilian peasant who had grown up tending his father’s lemon groves in the old country. At age 18, Benny married Concetta Lopresti, whose family immigrated to America along with his little group of Sicilian Mafiosi.
They all banded together in a tight-knit group to survive in this new land. They worked together in little stores on The Avenue. They saved their money to buy land in the same Brooklyn neighborhood. They were dressmakers, bakers, butchers, merchants and their places of business lined the busy Avenue. Horse drawn wagons moved merchandise from supply to distribution to consumers.
Kids delivered products to neighbors for a penny tip. They brought home fresh loaves of Italian bread by five pm when families ate dinner together. Their whole family enjoyed a great life in America.
As landowners, and businessmen, they thrived in the land of opportunity despite small tributes that must be paid to The Black Hand. The gangsters called it their tax to do business. Since the amount was small and they enjoyed the bounty a free enterprise system afforded, the merchants found it simpler to pay and keep the peace.
Ultimately, their protection lay in their numbers since they had banded together in unity. The Black Hand accepted their small donations realizing it might not be healthy to fight the whole group. Deep down all thugs are cowards.
Brooklyn NY 1925 Their oldest, Carlo Benedetto Peruzzi, turned 18. He was now a man. His brother, Eduardo Joseph, recently turned 15. On April 6, 1917, Congress declared War on Germany. Their father, Benedetto Carlo, tried to enlist, but at age 35, he was too old. Thank God his kids were not yet old enough for war.
His brother, Eduardo Joseph, two years his junior, looked up to his older brother, as all younger brothers do. They had a happy childhood in the Italian neighborhood and they thrived. They went to school in Brooklyn and learned perfect English so no trace of any Italian accent remained in either boy’s vocabulary, even though Italian was spoken at home.
Thank God he and his wife had waited to start a family until financially secure here in this new land. As patriotic as all the other Sicilian Americans, Benny and Concetta were secretly thankful their kids would not be exposed to the savageries of a world war.
They did their part for the war effort by donating all their unsold fruit to the troops. His wife, a talented seamstress, repaired clothing without charge for policemen and the clergy. They donated what they could to The USO.
Determined their kids would be educated professionals who would not have to sell anything on the Avenue, Benedetto and Concetta raised two young sons to manhood.
Even as a youth, Carlo was always the smooth talking diplomat of the neighborhood, settling disputes among the young men without bloodshed. The boys and even their elders sought out his advice and compromise to keep the peace. He was a natural born leader and was smart and tough.
He reasoned with the neighborhood thugs that it was better to accept their small tributes than to die. Before long both sides accepted Carlo as their leader or Don. His reputation was golden. He settled all sorts of disputes among Mafiosi Sicilians of all ages, as a mediator and a judge, if necessary. Despite his youth, Carlo’s wisdom and wit usually prevented bloodshed with honor on both sides.
The Mafiosi could go on with their goals, without wasting lives and time in needless wars amongst themselves. As time went on, all The Sicilian Mafiosi immigrants prospered together. Young Don Carlo and his brother, Eduardo, realized the opportunities this power presented to them.
The Mafiosi trusted Don Carlo with their lives, why not their money? They made the right decision. Carlo and Eduardo pooled their family’s money into vast business opportunities.
His younger brother, Eduardo Joseph Peruzzi, was the Einstein of the family. Always reading and studying, he become a brilliant designer and architect. Eduardo was a genius at designing and planning. Carlo oversaw the construction and provided financing. Together they started and grew Baron Construction Company. Carlo and Eduardo would merge their talents into very prosperous real estate and construction enterprises that flourish to this very day.
Carlo, Eduardo, and other Mafiosi sons pooled their savings together into land holding corporations they set up throughout New York City. Every immigrant wanted to own land. Acreage in this new land was plentiful and dirt cheap during and after World War I. Their group bought vacant land for cash throughout all five boroughs of New York City.
Even WWI Veterans invested a portion of their GI severance pay upon returning back home into one of their financial holding companies. Together these financial corporations leveraged all that cash and developed that land in all five boroughs of The City.
Then, with all this developed land at their disposal, the brothers planned, approved, and built residential communities, shopping centers, schools, and commercial buildings with the financing from the companies they controlled.
In their families’ own neighborhood, Carlo and Eduardo planned and built a row of residences in Brooklyn. The Sicilian outpost was formed with numbered streets and avenues in parallel that formed a grid. Homes were built on the streets; and businesses flourished on The Avenues.
They named their community after their father, Benedetto, and themselves. Since they were Ben’s sons, they called it Bensonhurst. The Mafiosi immigrants shared in the wealth. They all lived and worked together, very happy to be part of The Peruzzi family.
Baron Construction Company, owned by Carlo and Eduardo, built the multi-story residences from street to street in Bensonhurst. They used brown stones they acquired in a brick factory foreclosure. The three story Brownstones, as they became known, fronted on cobblestone even numbered streets.
They brownstone occupied all the land 40’ wide back to the odd numbered street where the carriage houses fronted out. Horse thoroughfares were kept only on the dirt, odd number streets while private residences fronted out on cobblestone paved even numbered streets.
Benedetto and Concetta were very proud of their sons’ success, especially, when Carlo and Eduardo deeded over their model home to their parents. Their end unit 3-family Brownstone home fronted on 68th Street, and had an adjacent alley to the next building, a backyard for planting a garden, and killing a live chicken for dinner.
Behind the yard a large carriage house fronted on 69th Street where the young Mafiosi’s kept their horse and carriage or their horseless carriage: Easy access to travel on odd numbered streets, and on to The Avenues for business.
The parents, Benedetto and Concetta, lived on the first floor. They walked to 17th Avenue to work. Carlo lived on the second floor. Eduardo, after University, returned home, and lived on the third floor. Families lived and worked together in 1925 Bensonhurst on land they owned. They did indeed have their slice of The American Dream!
Between their real estate and construction holdings the brothers made big advances from their initial holdings in Brooklyn. As they acquired more land their wealth grew exponentially with increasing real estate values. They prospered beyond their wildest imagination, expanding their real estate holdings and architectural enterprises throughout all of New York City. And they shared their success with those “family members” who stuck with them from the beginning.