Fio’s Antics: Fact or Fiction?

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One of the questions I get the most frequently, is if Fiorello LaGuardia, New York City’s ninety-ninth mayor, was in real life as lively and outrageous as he is in my books. The answer is most definitely, YES.

In The Art Deco Mysteries, Fiorello LaGuardia is one of the main characters and I’m sure it’s clear that I personally adore him. I’ve romanticized him a little bit – but I feel that his character is true to form. I have also put in real things that he actually did in the books. In fact, people are often surprised that the most sensational antics are actually the real ones.

There is a scene where Lane and Valerie see Fio bound down the steps of City Hall, then look wildly around for his car and driver. Not seeing them and yet needing to get to a fire (he made it a habit to be at the scene of every major fire, car crash, and crime), he pounced on the nearest form of conveyance: a policeman on a motorcycle with a sidecar. As they drive off, he yells to the stunned and chuckling onlookers, “I am not a sissy!” Totally true. It really happened. And it still cracks me up as I’m writing this.

He also was a big-time bellower with his unique and screechy voice. He did create an office in his car complete with police radio, desk, and gun compartment. The Fire Chief gave him an honorary fire coat. And he was a lover of art and music. He often guest-conducted at symphonies around the city. He played the coronet and yes, he did stop the Artichoke King’s monopoly on artichokes complete with police escort, a lordly scroll, and two trumpeters.

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Fiorello was a five-foot-two firecracker of a guy. He was a fighter pilot in WWI, he was a congressman, and then the ninety-ninth mayor of New York City. He was a minority on both sides: half-Jewish, half-Italian. I love the tension of Fio. He was loud, abrasive and rude, yet he was a total romantic, loved music and art dearly, and always fought for the little guy.

Fiorello really did see in-person each and every petitioner in his office at the beginning of the work day. He was indeed rude and brash, yet he had an incredibly dear heart and fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. A lot of people remember him and his voice. His most memorable moment for my dad is when Fiorello read the funny papers over the radio for the kids when the newspapers went on strike.

Be sure to read the Author notes at the beginning and end of all my books for the fun details, where reality is often stranger than fiction.