Henry [Hill]: I’m walking along the street near the pizzeria when Paul pulls up and Karen comes charging out the car door. It was like a hit. She’s really steamed. She comes running right up to me and yelling that nobody stands her up. “Nobody does that to me!” she’s screaming on the street. I mean, she’s loud. I put up my hands to calm her down. I told her that I didn’t show because I was sure she was going to stand me up. I said I’d make it up to her. I said that I thought Diane and Paul wanted to go out without us. Anyway, by the time she finished screaming, we had made a date. That time I went.
Karen [Hill]: He took me to a Chinese restaurant in the Greenacres shopping mall on Long Island. This time he was really nice. He was an exciting guy. He seemed a lot older than his age, and he seemed to know more than the other boys I’d been out with. When I asked what he did, he said he was a bricklayer, and he even showed me his union card. He said he’d had a job as a manager at the Azores, which I already knew was a very good place in Lido Beach. We had a nice leisurely dinner. Then we got into his car, which was brand new, and we went to some Long Island nightclubs and listened to music. We danced. Everybody knew him. When I walked into these places with Henry everyone came over. He introduced me to everyone. Everybody wanted to be nice to him. And he knew how to handle it all. It was so different from the other boys I went out with. They all seemed like kids. They used to take me to movies, bowling, the kinds of things you do when you’re eighteen and your boyfriend is twenty-two.
Henry: Karen turned out to be a lot of fun. She was very lively. She liked going to the places, and she was great-looking. She had violet eyes, just like Elizabeth Taylor — or that’s what everybody said. We started going out to some of the clubs I knew. We’d go to the 52/52 Club, in Long Beach, near Philly Basile’s Rumors Disco. We went to piano bars I knew. Places I had been to with Paulie. Places where I knew the owners and bartenders and managers and they knew me. The first time I went to pick her up at her parents’ house for a night at the Palm Shore Club, I got all dressed up. I wanted to make a good impression. I felt great, but as soon as she opened the door, instead of being happy to see me, she screamed. Her eyes bulged out of her head like a monster movie. I looked around. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then she pointed at my neck. “Turn it around! Turn it around!” she says, really scared. When I looked down I saw that she was pointing at my medal. I had a gold chain my mother gave me and on it was a tiny gold cross.
Karen: He was going to meet my parents. They knew I had been seeing him, and they didn’t like it that he wasn’t Jewish. I told them that he was half Jewish. I told them that his mother was Jewish. They still weren’t happy, but what could they do? So here he comes to meet them for the first time. The bell rings. I’m so excited. My grandmother is there. She was really Orthodox. When she died they brought the Torah to her house. I was already a little nervous. I go to the door and there he is wearing black silk slacks, a white shirt opened down to his belly, and a powder blue sport jacket. But what I see first is this huge gold cross. I mean it was hanging around his neck. It went from his neck to his rib cage. I closed the door to a crack so nobody could see him and told him to turn the cross around so my family wouldn’t see it. When he did, we walked inside, but by then I was in a cold sweat. I mean, they weren’t even crazy about him being just half Jewish. And his family wasn’t too happy either. He had a sister, Elizabeth, who was studying to be a nun, who really didn’t like me. One day when I went to call at his house, she opened the door. Her hair was in curlers. She was kind of stuck-up, and she hadn’t expected me. I never saw anybody so angry.
Henry: Once she took me to her parents’ country club. The place had its own nine-hole golf course and tennis courts and swimming pool, and all those rich people walking around and diving off boards, smashing tennis balls, and swimming lap after lap with rubber caps and goggles. I never saw so many rich people jumping around so much for nothing. And then, as I looked around, I realized that there wasn’t one thing these people were doing that I knew how to do. Nothing. I couldn’t dive. I couldn’t swim. I couldn’t play tennis. I couldn’t play golf. I couldn’t do shit.
Karen: I started going out to places with Henry I had never been before. I’m eighteen. I’m really dazzled. We went to the Empire Room to hear Shirley Bassey. We went to the Copa. The kids I knew went there once, maybe, on their prom night. Henry went there all the time. He was known there. He knew everybody. We always sat up close to the stage, and one night Sammy Davis Jr. sent us champagne. On crowded nights, when people were lined up outside and couldn’t get in, the doormen used to let Henry and our party in through the kitchen, which was filled with Chinese cooks, and we’d go upstairs and sit down immediately. There was nothing like it. I didn’t think that there was anything strange in any of this — you know, a twenty-two-year-old with such connections. I didn’t know from anything. I just thought he knew these people.
Henry: We were going out every night, Karen had a job working as a dental assistant during the day, but every night we were together. I mean we were really close. I was having a great time with her. I think I loved the idea that she was not from the neighborhood. That she was used to fine things. That she was a very classy girl. We started going to weddings. Some of the Vario kids were getting married at the time, and that sort of threw us together even more closely. In my upbringing, if you took a girl to a wedding it was important. Soon we started to sneak away for weekends on our own. Karen used to tell her parents she was going to Fire Island with some girlfriends, and her parents would drop her at the Valley Stream station. Then I’d pick her up. — Nicholas Pileggi, in his book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family (read for free)