In the Woodland Avenue cigar shop, the flick of cards mingled with the flutter of wings. Underneath birdcages and a pinup calendar from the Italian Funeral Home, men passed the time in open-backed chairs. Among them sat two bootlegging brothers, Rosario and Raymond Porrello. Of the seven Porrello brothers, only five remained.
After years of war, the Porrellos were in retreat. They were winnowed down by the Mayfield Road gang, headed by Frank Milano and bolstered by the remnants of the Lonardo family. But by late February, the Porrellos were perhaps a little foolhardy. They had come out of hiding, according to the Feb. 26 Cleveland Press, after they "had effected a truce with the Mayfield Road gang and had become less fearful of their lives."
But as three men — one of them a known Lonardo gunman — stormed the shop, the brothers' miscalculation must have hit them like crushingly hot slugs from a .32 revolver. Seconds later, three bodies lay on the floor: two Porrellos and a bodyguard.
The remaining Porrellos held a lavish funeral at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in the Haymarket district. Three cars bore the coffins to the church, where the Press reported an attendance of 5,000. On its way to Calvary Cemetery, the funeral procession — featuring 100 marchers and five cars for floral arrangements — passed the cigar shop.
"That was the bloodiest day in Cleveland organized crime history," says Rick Porrello, author of The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia and grandson of Raymond. "That particular murder was the first one I looked up."