Frank’s First Taste of Crime

cullotta-cover-web.jpgExcerpted from CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness 

Frank’s disdain for authority, rules and regulations, became apparent early on. Going to school was problematic for him: he hated it. He considered the teachers to be a bunch of old biddies, most of whom were mean. There was another problem, too: Frank wore glasses. In those days kids who wore eyeglasses were looked on as freaks by some of their classmates. When nasty comments or dirty looks were directed at Frank because of his eyesight he responded with his fists. These conditions weren’t conducive to a good learning environment. Frank would have much preferred to be out of the classroom and do his learning on the streets. Some of his instructors and fellow students probably wished he had been.


Ongoing difficulties regarding Frank’s conduct resulted in his spending time in a variety of schools, including facilities specifically designed to handle kids with behavior problems. But none of those settings corrected the trouble.


Frank’s mother tried enrolling him in a Catholic school. The nuns were tough on him and routinely slapped his hands or knuckles with a ruler. On one such occasion Frank fought back; he took the ruler away from the nun and broke it over his knee. That incident resulted in expulsion and a return to the public school system.


The change of scenery didn’t improve Frank’s attitude toward school. When he acted up the teachers would punish him by making him sit behind the piano or putting him in the closet. This made him even more hateful and defiant. He started coming to school late or not showing up at all.


When Frank’s mother received calls or letters from the school about his behavior she did what most parents would do: she punished him. He had to come straight home from school in the afternoon and be in the house by a certain time at night. And then she took away his allowance. To compensate, while walking to school he started stealing the money out of the bags customers left out to pay for their newspaper. Eventually the paperboy got tired of finding the bags empty and began to keep an eye out for the thief. One day he spotted Frank in the act and the chase was on. Frank got away and started taking a different route to school.


Stealing the paper money had made Frank accustomed to having some cash in his pocket. It was a feeling he liked, and he knew he needed to find another source of income. By this time the Cullottas had moved to the west side. Like many other kids in his neighborhood, he decided to try his hand at shining shoes.


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