About Captain Tony

Tarracino Family

Tarracino Family (Photo courtesy of Terri Brentnall)

Anthony “Tony” Tarracino, a colorful man in his own right, was born 1916 in Elizabeth,
New Jersey. His father was a bootlegger and as a youngster, he helped his father make bootleg whiskey.

Tony loved to gamble and with his brother, concocted a scheme to beat the bookies.
From a TV in his home, he was able to receive the signals from a New Jersey racetrack. They heard the race results before anyone else, so they were able to place bets moments before the results were in and win.

Photographed near a “family tree” at Higgs Beach were these members of the extended family of the late Mayor and Captain Anthony “Tony” Tarracino:  left to right, front, Louie Tarracino (son), Todd Oropeza (son-in-law), Peggy Tarracino (sister-in-law), Nathaniel Moore (in arms), Alexandra Naranjo, Coral Tarracino (daughter), Samantha Gonzalez; middle left, Brooke Oropeza, center, Martha Tarracino (widow); back, left to right, Alexis Corpion, Alicia Oropeza (daughter), Tom Yeatts, T.J. Moore, Toni Tarracino (daughter) and Terrance Moore.  Photo by Terri Brentnall.

They won so much that they ran out of bookies. Finally the scheme was found out and one of the bookies arranged his demise. He was carried to a dump (where Newark Airport is now) and severely beaten, left for dead. Two days later he woke up and headed for Florida.

In 1948 Tony found his way to Hialeah to bet at Tropical Park racetrack, in a pink Cadillac with a girlfriend from home. He gambled away all his money, so he sent his girlfriend back home, giving her the car. With $18 in his pocket, he hitched a ride to Key West on a milk truck.

In 1958 Captain TOny bought 428 Greene St. from David Wolkowsky and Captain Tony’s Saloon was born.

Captain Tony, father of thirteen children by three wives, has been a Charter Boat Captain, and a Gun Runner for Cuban mercenaries during the Bay of Pigs (a “B” grade movie called “The Cuba Crossing” staring Stewart Whitman as Captain Tony was shot on location in Key West at Captain Tony’s Saloon).

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