by Ron Craig
who knows anything about Apalachin is aware of the
fact that it is the 50th anniversary of the infamous
1957 Mafia Meeting at the home of Joe Barbara. I
guess you could say it's Apalachin`s claim to fame.
Since I was only five years old at the time I don't remember much about what happened on that November day. As the years went by I learned more about it. My father (Glenn Craig) picked up two of the men that had left the meeting to give them a ride. After being stopped at a road block he learned that the two men he picked up were the crime bosses of a New Jersey crime family. I don't know the exact details but I heard that he had to undergo some questioning to convince the authorities that he wasn't one of "them".
I recall seeing pictures in the newspaper showing some of the participants in their cars. Not necessarily at the meeting itself but rather in file photos. Chrysler Imperials, Cadillacs, and Lincolns were the cars of choice. If you ever get an opportunity to ride in a late fifties luxury car, jump at the chance. These cars were HUGE!. Even with bias ply tires the ride was outstanding. They had good power and at 60 mph
they were as smooth as any newer car out there. However, don't try to turn or stop too quickly because 4500 pounds of sedan is a handful. And if you do hit anything, there is no airbag, just a very large metal dashboard with little if any padding. A lot of the cars in that era also had the rear view mirror mounted on the dashboard.
At one time I had a 1959 Chrysler Imperial. I called it my "land yacht". I eventually put it in a demolition derby. I would love to have it now.
At the "raid", the State Troopers were driving 1957 Plymouth sedans. By today's standards they were large cars but didn't compare to the luxury cars of the day. If I were a crime boss and wanted to have a meeting at my mansion, I would tell all the invited guests not to drive their Lincolns and Cadillacs. That would create too much suspicion. Especially in a small town. Instead I would tell everyone to rent a Nash Rambler or a Hudson Hornet. Would anyone give the place a second look?
It's funny how times change. Its not uncommon to see a $75,000 car cruising down Route 17 now and then. I never really gave it a thought until now, but I wonder what the vehicle of choice is for Mafia "dons" these days?
I don't know if the raid in 1957 is something to be proud of or ashamed of. It was probably the world's most famous barbecue. It did put Apalachin on the map. Since I was born and raised here, I can still remember when this was just a sleepy little town where everybody knew everybody and in some ways it still is. Although it has grown and changed over the years it is still a nice little town. Many have left
for better things but a lot have returned because the grass wasn't greener on the other side.
One thing that will never change is the legacy of the house on the hill that made Apalachin famous if only for a short time. For us who have lived here all our lives, it will be forever a part of Apalachin folklore.