You never know what goes on behind closed doors - especially in these families. Here, 19 people share the moment they realized they were born into a criminal family.
1/19. When I was little my parents grew tomatoes, we had several long green houses full of tomato plants behind our house. It wasn't until a few years ago I was talking to my sister and she asked me if I could remember ever eating or even seeing a tomato come from those plants. Ohhhhh.......
2/19. When I was a teenager a group of my uncles pulled me aside and told me that if I went on any dates with boys, and the boys weren't nice to me, they would have them "looked after".
I thought it was a joke and laughingly mentioned it to my parents; my parents just went white and looked at each other and I didn't see the uncles much after that.
3/19. My father was a highly respected businessman, had a great six figure job, and had authority in the workplace. I was a freshman in high school just snooping around the attic for no good reason before I left the house to hang out with some friends. I stumbled across this kind of hidden door so I opened it. There was pounds upon pounds of marijuana and cocaine. I asked my father about it, thinking it was there before we moved in or something. He just said with a stupid grin on his face, "Yeah, I sell that stuff son." My jaw hit the floor.
4/19. I was about 8 years old. ATF agents kicked in the door of my house, put me, my mother, and my grandmother face down on the floor, and then went into her bedroom, threw everything out of her closet, busted a hole in the wall of the back of her closet, removed...something...and then left.
I have no idea, but my grandmother was into something. Seriously, no idea if those guys were even really ATF or not, but there was something there. They took it, and nothing more was ever said about it.
Also, back when you used to have to pay for long distance, there were multiple calls to Germany on the phone bill every month. Asking about them would be met with, "That's grown up business child. Don't stick your nose in unless you want it chopped off."
Every other Saturday, a man would come over and give me eclairs, and then he and my grandmother would go to the kitchen and talk. On several occasions, he would come with gifts for me, but I was never allowed to actually have them.
Usually it was a doll or stuffed animal of some sort, and even though they were supposedly mine, my grandmother would take them into her room, take the stuffing out and put new stuffing in before giving them to me. Questions about the Eclair Man or the toys were also "adult business".
To this day, I don't know what the hell was going on.
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5/19. I probably knew something was up when my friend said he loved my moms new Jaguar and I replied, "Thanks, one of my step-dad's clients couldn't pay his bill so he just gave us his car", and my friend replied, "Dude, I don't think that's how it works".
6/19. My great gramps changed his last name to the one I have now due to a murder he committed way back. All his sons were the scariest old men I've ever been around. My mom has told me some vague stories about how they used to deal with people. Luckily my pops decided to play it straight but he had his psycho moments too. Hell, his own dad sent him to high school with a monkey wrench to deal with a particular bully. Destroyed this kids face I guess. To this day there are folks in town who call my dad "Wrench".
7/19. As a child I spent most of my time with my grandmother. Every day after a soccer game, all of us would go to my house and my grandma would cook up something for all of us. Even when I moved away for university, the guys would still come over and help my grandma do her groceries/ water her garden and help her around the house. Then one day my grandma called me and said that most of the guys are gone because the police were after them for drug trafficking and apparently one of the guys is actually the big boss of the region. All my grandma cared about at that point was how she was going to do grocery shopping from now on.
8/19. For all my life, I barely knew anyone on my dad's side of the family, which was very odd because we're from a relatively large family and all of us lived in the same area (as my parents alluded to at times). I had heard him make comments about his childhood (albeit very rarely) and when I visited his childhood home (of his side of the family, I only knew his mother) there were rooms set up for more than one child.
When I was thirteen, my parents told my brother and I that our uncle killed his youngest son (my cousin) in 2000, and that's why we never saw anyone. Also told us that my brother and I were possibly on a hit list from my uncle because he had expressed intent to kill everyone in the family. Apparently there were extra protections placed on my preschool class at the time because my dad and uncle look very similar and they didn't want him arriving at the school for me.
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9/19. Growing up I was told my dad was a construction worker that's why he's gone at night. He always counted a lot of money like several piles of hundreds. Once my dad gave me and my siblings like five hundred dollars each. I used to sit in my room for hours because my dad had 'friends' over. Sometimes we got to get pizza when he had friends over. I think I realized something was up when I learned what weed was and how much there was in my house(several gym bags worth at least). Now that I think about it there was a lot that should have tipped me off like, how I was never allowed to answer the door, the expensive gifts, the fights with people I didn't know, his arrest confirmed my suspicions though.
10/19. My dad came home with a pretty bad hole in his shoulder and told me to dump rubbing alcohol on it. He said he tripped, but the hospital was "too expensive".
That and I didn't recognize the truck he came home in.
11/19. My family fled from Ukraine right after World War II, across Europe and eventually to the US (my grandfather actually learned to speak English in Great Britain, where he worked in a coal mine). When I was kid, I asked why we came to the US and was simply told it was because of the war.
What I found out several years later goes a bit deeper. My great-grandfather spoke fluent German. When the Nazis made their push into the USSR, our ancestral homeland was one of the regions that they conquered. Once they'd put down stakes in my great-grandfather's village, they took stock of the town and found about him being bilingual. They realized that this was a real windfall--they'd have a local who could serve as an interpreter for the workers in the local factory and the German officer being put in charge of it. He was given the choice to serve in this function or, this being the Nazis, being taken outside and shot.
Given those choices, he served as the officer's interpreter. I wish that I could tell you that he did Hogan's Heroes style stuff, but I really don't know much about that time.
What I do know is that, a few years after the War, he was performing some sort of government-related function (I think he was turning some kind of census), when he was sent to the wrong room. By chance, he found a list of those in the village who were to be "purged," i.e. executed, by the order of the Soviet government. His name was on that list, where he was referred to as a Nazi collaborator.
He went straight home, the family packed their things, and they fled in the night.
12/19. When I realized how weird it was my family didn't have jobs, but we still had cash, our bills were paid, and we had food on the table.
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13/19. My father, whom I see about every 2-3 years used to visit and:
- Would bring ~5-6 green things in huge plastic wrapped squares.
- I was about 10 when he offered me $100 to help him clear out a warehouse with 100's of empty plant pots filled with dirt. The warehouse also had foil covered rooms.
- Then he started bringing in massive white bricks from his truck when he stayed the night.
- Overheard a family friend talk about him breaking someone's legs with a baseball bat because they owed him money, but was too scared to go to the police.
He stopped everything when he got busted and nearly went to prison until his girlfriend at the time took the fall for whatever he was nearly charged with. Now he is worth millions and owns a massive company solely funded by the drugs he used to sell.
14/19. I was born into a gang affiliated family. All of my aunts and uncles have the 3 dots tattoos on their wrist bones and I knew something was off when I asked what it meant and got awkward looks back. Also scary was when I was 3, my mom was watching America's Most Wanted and saw my uncle on the show.
15/19. My dad got out of his family in a pretty big way, but it still comes around in odd ways. The first inkling that I can remember being aware of that it wasn't all "old history" was when 13 members of his family dropped dead in rapid succession.
The next was the reveal that someone didn't just steal his car, but a week later delivered the stripped frame to his home. They didn't steal it from his home.
The next was when I learned there are three different birth certificates issued for me from the hospital at the time of my birth. one was used for court reasons, another was deliberately falsified at our behest, and the third is the one considered my 'true' birth cert.
The next was when I moved somewhere my dad wasn't too pleased I was moving to. I noticed some odd reactions to my last name around those parts. The distinct feeling of being unwelcome in a relatively large city like that gets ya.
I discovered my name causes certain... issues, when trying to enter Canada. I can, it just takes more time than it ought to.
The most recent reveal was the existence of false birth certs, ssns, passports, etc for myself and my parents. They haven't been used, but they exist; 'just in case'. My brother and sister do not have complimentary false docs since they are from my mom's prior marriage.
My dad has given little resistance to the idea of me changing my last name when it's been mentioned over the years; it's also something I learned a fair number of family members have done already. I think there's a conflict for him; being he and I are the last two of three males with the name alive; so he doesn't outwardly endorse the idea since I'm the youngest and only one likely to have children; If I change my name, the family name dies with me. (Well, our family, there's one other family in the US with the same last name; we've never looked in to any relationship.)
16/19. When I was a young child my brother, William, got convicted with murder. The police while looking for him woke our family up in the middle of the night kicking our door in and dragging him out. My mother woke me up pissed off because they broke out door. Not that he wouldn't be coming back for about 20 years but that our door was now broken. I remember thinking that night of how much was my family actually into if this could happen without batting an eye.
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17/19. When my mom had to go into prostitution to raise enough money to bail out my dad.
18/19. My dad took off when I was 4, met him again at 15, moved in with him. Turns out he was a massive drug lord using the guise of a "computer repair business". Huge mob ties. Had one of my exes tied up in his trunk after he punched me. Great family man, terrible human being.
19/19. Things were always a bit off. I noticed that my family stood out a lot in comparison to other families. I can't remember the moment when I knew though. I remember being a kid and thinking that my dad was really cool and brave for making it through prison. He was my hero and I looked up to him a lot. Sometime when I was a small kid he had this huge court case and was about to be locked away again, but he wasn't convicted. Throughout the years, he would brag about how he fooled them all. I was also impressed by him. As an adult, I've looked back and this and thought, "Damn, I almost lost my father that day and I didn't even realize".
When I was 12-13 I started getting more suspicious I suppose. What did he do for a living? I lost my parents at 15, and for the first year after that I was all about glorifying them. I still haven't wrapped my head around all of it. A year ago, I found my dad's fake passport.
It must've been expensive - I'm guessing $5000 to make? - and he must've used it for something important but I don't know what.