Yes, Neal Karlen, author of “Augie’s Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip” is quite the storyteller, as reviewed by Chuck Leddy in the April 14 edition of the Star Tribune.
As Augie’s wife of more than 20 years, I think the real mystery is why Karlen, in his “impressively researched account,” didn’t contact me to provide some factual information about the real Augie Ratner. I would have told Neal Karlen that Augie was not his uncle at all, but merely a distant cousin, and that Neal’s grandmother, who claims Augie was “shunned” by his family, was most certainly not Augie’s sister.
The Augie I was married to was never shunned by his family. In fact, he spent a lot of time with his two sisters, brother and their families. He also helped finance businesses for his brother and two nephews, and he remained close to his family until he died in 1979.
Neal Karlen did have a few things right about Augie. He was a leader in the community and a generous philanthropist who donated time and money to Variety Club Heart Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and other nonprofit organizations.
Above all, he loved his true family, and that’s why I felt compelled to write. I want to stand up for a man who can no longer speak for himself.
BETTY RATNER, Edina