Aaron and I interview Frank Calabrese Jr. and learn the inside story of what it is like to grow up in an Outfit family and then go into the family business. Frank Calabrese Sr. separated his work life from his family until he realized his namesake son, Frank Calabrese Jr., had the brains and fortitude to into his father’s business, loansharking, extortion and gambling. Frank Jr.’s first inkling that his father was different came when he had to do a school report about what his father did for a living. He asked Frank Sr. and the reply was to tell them that “I am an engineer.” Frank Jr. said, “You don’t drive a train” and his father said that he was an operating engineer. The Calabrese family started in the old Sicilian neighborhood known as the Patch and later moved to Elmwood Park, another Sicilian neighborhood, where many other Outfit families lived. Frank Senior moved much of extended family into a 3 story home. In the “Compound” Frank Senior’s word was the law. Frank Junior did all the normal high school activities and was a great football player but the lure of the streets got in the way. Frank tells how his father was “whistled in” and became a member of the Chinatown crew headed by Angelo “The Hook” LaPrietra.
Aaron and I have spoken with other men who lived the life, but Frank is one of the more introspective we have interviewed. He shares fascinating insights into the Outfit and the mind set of Outfit members.
Once Frank made the decision to get out, he had to make a terrible decision, he had to come to the “other side” if he wanted to live. Frank would in fact “wear a wire” and testify against his own father. He will eventually collaborate with another author and write his life story in the book Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster’s son and the FBI brought down Chicago’s Murderous Crime Family.
Frank tells how he did not go into the Witness Protection program but did move to the Southwest part of the United States and stayed out of the public view for almost 10 years. At the present time he feels comfortable enough to return to Chicago since his father has died and the rest of the folks he testified about are either dead or almost dead and in prison. Frank currently manages the Bella Luna restaurant and conducts the Family Secret Outfit Tours of well known crime scenes and other Outfit connected locations. Call him at 847-261-4435 or stop by the Bella Luna at 731 North Dearbon, Chicago, IL. the tour ends at the Bella Luna for dinner and more questions to Frank.
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