It’s said that everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame. If there’s a similar fate for towns, Apalachin’s “15 minutes of fame” came on a cloudy, rainy Thursday afternoon fifty years ago.
It was in Apalachin on November 14, 1957, that two New York State Troopers interrupted the best-known Mafia gathering in the United States. Although 63 people were questioned, no arrests were made. But, the Apalachin raid proved - for the first time - that an organized crime syndicate did exist. “Before that,” Investigator Vincent Vasisko was quoted as saying in 1989, “people thought there was no such thing as organized crime.”
According to Joseph F. O’Brien and Andris Kurins, authors of “Boss of Bosses,” the Apalachin summit became the “dividing line between the “old” Mafia of Al Capone and Salvatore Maranzano and the “new” Mafia that would eventually be headed by Paul Castellano.”
At 12:40 pm on Thursday, November 14, 1957, Sgt. Croswell, Investigator Vasisko, and two Treasury agents, Arthur Huston and Kenneth Brown, were in an unmarked car outside Barbara’s large, stone house on his 53-acre estate on McFall Road in Apalachin. More than 30 large, expensive cars - some with out-of-state plates - were on Barbara’s property. A large party was in progress out by the barbecue pit.
One unidentified mobster upon seeing the police, stopped at a nearby house and asked to use their phone. He called Barbara’s and warned them of the police in the area. The homeowner later found a $100 bill by the phone.
After being tipped off, Barbara’s guests fled into the woods, creating the bizarre sight of city slickers in silk suits and expensive shoes slipping on wet autumn leaves, tearing coats on barbed wire and brambles. Now, 50 years later area residents still talk about the day Apalachin made history.
50th Anniversary of the Apalachin Raid