On November 14, 1957 this happened:
… State troopers raided an estate in Apalachin, New York, and arrested 59 affluent men, with nearly as many more escaping through the surrounding woods. The next morning’s headlines hailed the gathering as a summit meeting of organized crime, alerting America to the reality of a national Mafia whose existence had been hotly debated. This first in-depth study of that historic meeting chronicles how it changed the course of American history by inspiring federal legislation to crack down on labor racketeering; forcing drastic policy revisions within the U.S. Department of Justice; and prompting charges of criminal fraud in one of America’s most heatedly contested presidential elections. By explaining the context and consequences of the raid, this volume establishes the gathering at Apalachin as a pivotal event in the history of syndicated crime and of the government’s response to the Mafia.
That is the plot synopsis to Michael Newton’s book The Mafia at Apalachin, 1957.
It serves as a good thumbnail sketch for what is generally believed to have went down at the home of Joseph “Joe the Barber” Barbara on that day. Myths, legends and conspiracy theories have proliferated in the intervening years since the meeting. One of the biggest is that it was at this meeting that the Kennedys were targeted as RFK was leading the McClellan Commission (also known as the Valachi Hearings) and JFK was looking towards the White House.
Some theories even think the Kennedys might have attended the meeting.
The Wikipedia page has loads of interesting tidbits and links to many of these.
Whatever you believe or want to believe, one thing is certain – something went down at Apalachin and the mafia & America was never the same.
There’s a reference to this meeting in Scorsese’s 1990 mobster gem Goodfellas when the narrator says “It was a glorious time, before Apalachin, before Crazy Joe…”
This needs to be turned into a movie, what with America’s enduring fascination with mobsters (Sopranos anyone?) and the Kennedys.