On the Atlantic City Boardwalk, Other Stories Remain to Be Told

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You can’t be an Atlantic City historian these days without a Nucky Johnson experience, so both Allen Pergament and Ralph E. Hunter Sr., retirees who became obsessive collectors of local artifacts and lore, come prepared with tales of the political boss, racketeer and kingmaker whose fictionalized spawn is at the heart of the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.”

At what he calls his “Booseum” — a phantasmagoria of 20,000 pictures, 10,000 postcards, the lost world of Miss Americas, diving horses, men in suits on a packed Boardwalk — Mr. Pergament, known as Boo, recalled the time his father, the chief clerk for the county board of elections, took him along when he visited the great man after Mr. Johnson’s release from prison in 1945.

Sure, Mr. Johnson, fictionalized as Nucky Thompson in the series, took bribes, flouted Prohibition and went to prison for tax evasion, but in real life he was far more charming and less menacing than the Sopranoesque figure in the HBO series, Mr. Pergament said....

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