07 January, 2011

Taken

One of my very first memories in life is of the FBI searching our house in June of 1972. I was three years-old.

My eighteen year-old sister, Debbie, was there and my two year-old sister, Amie, was there. Our maternal grandmother, who helped raise us, was there. Her son, Chuck Mulligan, was part of my father's crew. He had already been arrested and was in the Los Angeles County Jail. My mother was in California with him. My father was a fugitive.

To my three year-old eyes, it seemed like a hundred federal agents swarmed my home. They weren't mean to us at all, but were very stern and made us all stay in one room. We all sat in the living room, speechless for the most part, and watched while every centimeter of our once secure home was invaded.

I don't know how long it took them to search the house, but it seemed like we sat in one spot all day.

When the search was over and the feds were leaving, they turned to my grandmother and told her they found a $20 bill from the burglarized United California Bank in her purse. She was silent.

The FBI left our home and my grandmother said, "I better go get dressed. They'll be back to arrest me."

Grandma wasn't quite ready when the feds were back with an arrest warrant for her. She asked them if she could put on her pantyhose, and they allowed her to go back to her room to accomplish that last detail.

She came back into the living room and said to the agents, "Okay, we can go now."

Then Amie started screaming. Grandma was her security, the person she loved most in the world, and she was afraid she would never see her again.

Debbie held Amie and tried to comfort her. Grandma, from across the room, explained to Amie that everything would be alright and that she would be back soon.

When Amie had calmed down, the two agents and my grandmother walked towards the front door. Before they walked out the door, Grandma turned, looked at Debbie, and said, "You tell everyone to keep their mouths shut because I can handle anything the FBI can do to me."

I sat on the couch, motionless and speechless, throughout the whole event, and just watched it unfold.

My mother called a few hours later and I answered the phone. The first words out of my three year-old mouth were, "Mommy, the FBI arrested Grandma."

My mother's response, like the rest of the day's events, is burned in my memory: "I know, Honey. We got her a bondsman and she'll be home tonight." I didn't know what a bondsman was, but I knew Grandma would be home.

And Grandma was home that night. Eventually, the charges against her were dismissed.

Grandma was an incredibly strong woman and her arrest and time spent in the holding cell of the Mahoning County Jail didn't upset her one bit. In fact, until the day Alzheimer's Disease took that memory from her, it remained one of the highlights of her life.

02 January, 2011

Normalcy

"Mommy, why are there men with guns on the roof over there?"

My mother pulled no punches with her answer, despite the fact that she was holding the hands of her just barely four and three year-old daughters: "They're for your father."

I remember the whole thing so clearly. We were entering the federal courthouse in Los Angeles when I looked up and saw the sharpshooters.

"Why are they going to shoot Daddy? Will he be dead?"

My mother answered just as calmly as I had asked my questions, "They're not going to shoot him. They're only there in case he tries to escape and he's not going to try to escape."

And that was it. There was no crying, no drama. Sharpshooters on rooftops with instructions to kill my father were just part of my four year-old life.

Everything was like that. Nothing was kept from my sister and me, despite our tender ages. My mother firmly believed that this was our life and we needed to learn to deal with it.

And we did deal with it. We thought everyone lived the way we did. Every child watched the nightly news and pointed to the television screen while excitedly shouting, "Look! There's Daddy!"

We knew we were in Los Angeles because the FBI said Daddy stole money from a bank. We knew that if a bunch of people said he did it, then he wouldn't be coming home. My sister, Amie, and I knew the words "guilty" and "not guilty", and we knew that "not guilty" was the good one.

But children, even those living in dysfunctional situations, are still children. We loved Daddy, but what we really cared about was when we would go to "Knott's Berry Farm" again.

01 January, 2011

Life

The FBI calls him the greatest bank burglar in American history. I just call him Dad.

According to the FBI, my father, Amil Dinsio, has committed hundreds of bank burglaries throughout the United States, beginning in the 1960's. The most popular of those bank burglaries was in 1972 at the United California Bank in Laguna Niguel, California. The burglary has achieved quite a bit of notoriety and is the subject of several books and television documentaries. The feds say the burglary netted 30 million dollars. My father says they're "full of shit" and it was one of his worst scores ever.

For as long as I can remember, people have been telling me I should write about him and my experiences as his daughter. So many people find it fascinating, but it's so hard for me to understand that anyone would find this interesting; it's just life to me.

So, at forty-two years old, I'm finally writing about my seventy-four year old thieving, sociopathic, loving father. I know "loving" doesn't seem to fit in with "thieving" and "sociopathic", but that's one of the reasons I started this blog. I want people to know about the REAL Amil Dinsio. Yes, he is a sociopath and a bank burglar; and yes, he is a loving, gentle, compassionate human being. The two concepts can, and do, exist in the same man.

In this blog, I intend to tell both sides of the character of the man who gave me life. I intend to write about our home life, his crimes, and the unique experience of being the daughter of one of America's most notorious burglars.