Local author talks about his grandfather, a Cleveland Mafia street boss

Frank Brancato was a mainstay of the Cleveland mafia for almost 50 years. His grandson, Frank Monastra, has written the book "Mafia Street Boss" about him.

Frank Brancato was a mainstay of the Cleveland mafia for almost 50 years. His grandson, Frank Monastra, has written the book “Mafia Street Boss” about him.

Though it seems like a bygone era, we are not far removed from the heyday of the Cleveland Mafia. Less than a century ago, the Porrello and Lonardo families fought for bootleg liquor profits during the Corn Sugar War; and the mafia’s battles with Danny Greene’s Celtic Club were more recent than that.

One man—Frank Brancato, a mainstay of the Cleveland mafia for almost 50 years—bridged both the Corn Sugar and Celtic Club eras. (In fact, Brancato’s credited with introducing Greene to the Cleveland underworld.) In his lifetime, Brancato went from gambler to capo to consgliore.

Now, a family member of Brancato is talking about his time in the famiglia.

His grandson, Frank Monastra, has written a book, Brancato: Mafia Street Boss, about Brancato’s mafia tenure and will talk about it 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2, at Mentor Public Library’s Main Branch. The talk is free and open to everybody. You can register for the program here.

So learn more about the man the FBI investigated for years—under J. Edgar Hoover’s direct orders, no less—and his role in Cleveland’s organized-crime scene.

(For more information on Cleveland’s mafioso history, you may enjoy Rick Porrello’s The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia and To Kill the Irishman.)

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We’re all a little mad at the Wonderland Tea Party

Alice reads her story to the children during the Wonderland Tea Party at Mentor Library's Headlands Branch.

Alice reads her story to the children during the Wonderland Tea Party at Mentor Library’s Headlands Branch.

Want to visit Wonderland?

That’s impossible, you say. Wonderland is a nonsense place.

Nonsense? Impossible? Why we do six impossible things before breakfast over at the Mentor Headlands Library.

And a trip to Wonderland—that’s as easy as opening as book. In fact, we didn’t just go to Wonderland on Saturday; we threw a tea party there.

Kylie enjoys a sip of tea during the Wonderland Tea Party.

Kylie enjoys a cup of tea during the Wonderland Tea Party.

Kids decorated their own tea cups and top hats—in deference to the Mad Hatter—played games, listened to stories (read by Alice, herself) and, of course, enjoyed tea and cookies.

After all, there are few things we love more than a good tea party at Mentor Library. And, sure, we may get a little crazy sometimes; but that’s all right. All the best people (and parties) are a little mad.

Lilly paints her top hat. (The Mad Hatter would be impressed.)

Lilly paints her top hat. (The Mad Hatter would be impressed.)

For more photos from our Wonderland Tea Party and other programs at our Headland’s Branch, visit Mentor Library’s Facebook page.

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Paws to Read: The Difference a Dog Makes

Taylor reads to a pair of therapy dogs—Honey (on the left) and Hannah—during Paws to Read at Mentor Library.

Taylor reads to a pair of therapy dogs—Honey (on the left) and Hannah—during Paws to Read at Mentor Library.

Taylor didn’t like reading in front of people. She could read the words as well as any kindergartener, but it made her nervous when someone listened, her mother Donna explained.

Then Donna found the least judgmental audience in the world —the therapy dogs at Mentor Library’s Paws to Read.

So Taylor started reading to the dogs, and they never corrected her pronunciation or narrowed their eyes if she didn’t know a word. They just rested their heads next to her and occasionally angled for a belly scratch.

Soon Taylor enjoyed reading so much that she didn’t care who listened.

Taylor’s in second grade now and reads at a 3.4 Level. She still goes to Paws to Read, but now it’s just for the fun of it.

Her mother Donna was so impressed that she got her dog, Jazzy, registered as a therapy dog; and now Jazzy helps young readers get over their worries, just like other canines did for Taylor.

Elizabeth multitasks, scratching Jazzy's ear without losing her page.

Elizabeth multitasks, scratching Jazzy’s ear without losing her page.

Paws to Read is for readers between the ages of six and 12 years old. Mentor Library hosts it on the third Wednesday of the month at either its Main or Mentor-on-the-Lake Branch.

If your child can read independently but doesn’t like to do it in front of other people, you might try signing them up for Paws to Read. The program works well for dog lovers, but it’s also helped some kids who are scared of dogs get over their phobia.

The next session is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 18, at Mentor Library’s Main Branch.

Registration fills up quickly, so contact the children’s department at Mentor Public Library soon if you think you child could benefit from Paws to Read. (There is often a waiting list for the program once registration begins.)

For more information on Paws to Read and other children’s programs at Mentor Public Library call (440) 255-8811 ext. 221.

Between books, Nathan scratches behind Fragg's ear.

Between books, Nathan scratches behind Fragg’s ear.

For more photos from Paws to Read, visit Mentor Library’s Facebook page.

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Teen Project gives teens a place to be themselves at our Lake Branch

Roast your friends during the first meeting of The Teen Project on Feb. 9 at Mentor Library's Lake Branch.

Roast your friends during the first meeting of The Teen Project on Feb. 9 at Mentor Library’s Lake Branch.

Ready to get messy? Get busy? Get wired? Then you’re ready for The Teen Project at our Lake Branch.

The Teen Project has one mission: to give teens a fun place where they can be themselves at the library.

It starts at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 9 with a Super Smash Bros tournament. (Register for it here.) Any teen who wants to play is invited. There will also be pizza and pop.

After that, The Teen Project will meet the second Monday of every month at our Lake Branch.

Video game tournaments are just the beginning. Teens will paint, compete in trivia contests, customize coffee mugs and more. The teens will be able to suggest their own ideas for The Teen Project, as well.

“In the digital age, ‘hanging out’ can mean four teens talking over Twitter or Snapchat—each from their own homes,” said Ariel Johnson, the manager at our Lake Branch. ”We want to bring the hangout back with video games and pizza and people actually in the same room.”

For more information on The Teen Project or to register for the Super Smash Bros tournament call the Lake Branch at 440-257-2512.

Mentor Library also has book and writing clubs specifically for teens. The Teen Book Club meets at 2 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month at the Lake Branch. Their discussion book on Feb. 7 is Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher. Any teen who wants to join the club can pick up a copy of Ketchup Clouds at the Lake Branch.

Meanwhile, the Teen Writing Club meets 4:30 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at our Main Branch. During each meeting, they hone their writing by using a different story prompt. On Feb. 16, the story prompt will be “from a rock’s perspective…”

Teens can register for either or both clubs by calling Mentor Library or signing up on our online event calendar.

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Studio MPL makes cartouches and you can too

Help your kid turn his or her name into a cartouche like Ruthie did.

Help your kid turn his or her name into a cartouche like Ruthie did.

Studio MPL—our art club for kids in first through fifth grade—turned their names into colorful cartouches on Monday.

A cartouche was a designation for a royal name written in hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt. Some pharaohs would even have their names inscribed into amulets and wear them. (So cartouches are sort of like those bracelets with names on them—except for Egyptian rulers, and in hieroglyphics.)

Even if you missed Monday’s Studio MPL get-together, you and your kids (or grandkids or nieces or nephews or whatever) can still make your own cartouches.

It’s a fun art project and also allows you to teach (and learn) a bit about ancient Egypt.

You can get as creative with your cartouche as you want.

You can get as creative with your cartouche as you want.

You can use the Virtual-Egypt website to get a translation of your or anyone else’s name into hieroglyphs. (No, these aren’t exact translations. They’re the closest possible phonetic translations for each alphabetic character. It’s about as close as you can get without hiring a papyrologist.)

Once you’ve got your translated name, you can draw and decorate it anyway you want!

Payton favors a psychedelic backgrounds.

Payton favors a psychedelic background.

If your kid enjoys the cartouche craft or has an artistic bent, they may like our Studio MPL art club.

Every month, they try a different art project. They’ve made sun catcherspainted sunsetsweaved and even garnered inspiration from Jackson Pollock.

Studio MPL meets on the third Monday of each month. Our next session is Feb. 16 at our Main Branch. You can register for it here.

For more photos from our Studio MPL session, check out our Facebook page. For more information on programs and events for children, teens and adults at Mentor Public Library, visit www.mentorpl.org.

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