I write about the Colombo family often, but how many know how it all started?
It came about after prohibition-era gangster Frankie Uale was murdered and his rackets were divided up between men in Brooklyn. Giuseppe Profaci was granted the largest piece of the rackets. One of those who also received a piece was a man named Anthony Colombo who had a son named Joseph who would one day head the family.
Anthony would be garroted and found in a car on a Bay Ridge Brooklyn street when Joe was high school. Joe’s mother was afraid gangsters would kill him or his family so she decided to move the family to California.
Joe decided to stay in Brooklyn. He was hooked up with jobs through Carlo Gambino and he started hustling on the side.
He was a hard worker and he was pulling down cash by having craps games. Then came World War Two and one year into the war he volunteered for the Coast Guard.
He was assigned to the Falgout which was on escort duty for convoys. He saw combat when German planes and submarines attacked the convoys.
Joe ended up in trouble for being AWOL when his ship was in New York. He had to spend 7 months in the brig on Hart's Island. He did receive an honorable discharge and was offered disability checks for his shock but he decided not to take them.
He started working on the Brooklyn docks that were run by Albert Anastasia, who at the time was head of the family. Soon it would become the Gambino Family after Albert was gunned down while getting a shave in the city.
When the police and the FBI started putting the heat on the Brooklyn docks he decided on a new line of work. He soon started to work for Peter Castellano in the meat business as a salesman.
He opened a social club and it soon became a hub for various gambling ventures.
Joe was working hard moving up in the life when Joey Gallo and his crew on President Street carried out a hit on Frank “Shots” Abbatemarco for Giuseppe Profaci the boss of the family.
They thought they would receive a piece of Shots’ gambling action in their neighborhood. Profaci decided not to give them anything and that started a war.
The Gallos started kidnapping members of Profaci’s inner circle. Larry Gallo was lured to a lounge where an assassin tried to strangle him. He was unconscious when a policeman stumbled in on the whole thing and saw his feet as he lay on the ground.
That scene and another incident from the Gallo war would become part of popular culture when they were played out out on the big screen. The Gallo’s would get a package with a fish and clothes that belonged to their toughest enforcer Joe Jelly. The message was clear Joe Jelly slept with the fish and he would not be seen again.
Next week Joe Colombo ascends to the top spot and joins The Italian American Civil Rights league.