Midget Molley: A Small Man With a Big Crown

November 7th, 2008


There was a time when Atlantic City was what Miami is today – the spot for sea, sun and fun on America’s East Coast. Along its boardwalk and beaches, families from New York, Philadelphia and throughout the Northeast came to see Sammy Davis, Jr. and the Rat Pack perform, and to crown Miss America. But Atlantic City began to collapse in the ’60s, and all that glamour went away. In a desperate attempt to revive its boardwalk, in the 1980s the state of New Jersey approved casino gambling at the hotels that lined that coast. The effort to revive the hotels was a success, but the gambling and hotel money didn’t trickle down to the city. In fact the multi-million-dollar casinos that dominated the Atlantic City skyline actually destroyed the rest of the city. Visitors didn’t venture out of the hotel “safe zones” and spend money in the rest of the city. Nor did the hotel/casinos generate the number of jobs for residents needed to stem the rest of the city’s decline.

Into this vacuum stepped a short, native son with a big smile and a huge ego. He may have been nicknamed Midget Molley, but this man saw himself as an A.C. version of Harlem’s Nicky Barnes, a drug kingpin. Midget was so caught up in his own “largeness,” he even wore a crown around Atlantic City. His up-and-down career as a creator of a drug empire is the hook for the show, but there is more to Midget’s story.

Midget first came to my attention via MySpace, where he and his reps send info about the work he does today protecting the rights of prisoners within the correctional system. He saw much brutality and injustice when he was incarcerated. Now he works to aid those, like himself, who while serving time are beaten by the authorities. He doesn’t seek sympathy, but fair and honest treatment under the law. You see the arc of Molley’s life is rich and sad, a story that began before his criminal career and continues on well after it. Today, he walks the boardwalk of his hometown, haunted by his past and the history of Atlantic City, seeking a way to find hope and meaning in the present.

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