Tribute to Angelo Dominic Mistretta: If you do not give, then I will take
Holiday reunion with former clients and old friends. Most were first generation Italian Americans. They included attorneys, law officers, a judge or two of Angelo Mistretta’s caliber, union figures, entrepreneurs, etc. The conversation ranged across the spectrum of our Taylor Street memories—from Congressman Frank Annunzio, Victor Arrigo, Anthony Fornelli, those doing or had done life without the possibility of parole, notorious figures, athletes, and on, and on. The most memorable among the memories that surfaced was that od Angelo Mistretta. For those who were not fortunate enough to have known Angelo, I attach a brief profile he submitted to our Taylor Street Archives shortly before he passed on. This may be your last opportunity to get to connect with what most would agree represents that soul of our legendary Taylor Street experience. I give you the life and times of the honorably Angelo Dominic Mistretta.
Tribute to Angelo Dominic Mistretta:
If you do not give, then I will take*
Angelo Mistretta is the quintessential Taylor Street bred Italian American. The son of Italian immigrants who journeyed across the same ocean that Columbus, Caboti and Americus Vespucci had traveled, Angelo defied the profound failure predictions of our sociological soothsayers. Rather than remaining a servant to the dream, Angelo, like others of his Taylor Street vintage, defied all odds…grasping the dream for themselves and their posterity.
*Mario Puzo, The Godfather.
Angelo Mistretta Biography
February 13, 2010
I was born on February 16, 1925, in Chicago, Illinois at home by a mid-wife. My address was 560 West Gilpin Street (now called Cabrini Street). My siblings are as follows: Margaret (Maggie), Bella, Josephine, Salvatore (Sammy), & Jennie.
My parents came to Chicago in 1912, both are from Caltanisetta, Sicily.
At the age of 8 my brother and I sold newspapers on Canal and Madison Street. I began to shine shoes at the age of 10 along Madison Street in the skid-row area–this lasted until the age of 13.
We moved to 760 West Taylor Street around 1936. For the first time we had electricity and inside plumbing.
I graduated from Guardian Angel School in 1938. I have in my possession a photo of the1938 graduating class. I enrolled at St. Patrick Academy and quit high school after 1 ½ years. My work period consisted of dish washer and other menial jobs until I was drafted, in 1943, at the age of 18. I survived WWII.
After being discharged I worked with my brother in the bar business. At the age of 23 I decided to get an education and went to St. Patrick’s to get a letter from the principal so that I would be able to take the G.E.D. exam. The principal refused. However I persisted and he subsequently relented. This principal was the cause why I quit high school; as you can see we were not on friendly terms. I purchased a book took the test and passed.
During my teen years I went to Hull House frequently and during the summer my family went to the Bowen Country Club.
I enrolled at Wright Jr. College in 1948. In 1950 I attended Valparaiso University Law School and graduated in 1953. I was in private practice for a short while.
In 1957/58 I was an assistant Attorney General for Illinois. From 1958 to 1979, I had my own law firm.
On April 16, 1979 I became an Associate Judge. In 1984 I was elected as a full Circuit Court Judge.
I retired in 1993. Since my retirement I am involved in Arbitration/Mediation matters.
Epilogue: Angelo Dominic Mistretta died on April 11, 2011. Angelo, who lived the Taylor Street experience, was a frequent member of the Jane Addams’ Hull House and its summer camp. Taylor Street was the laboratory upon which Jane Addams tested her sociological theories and based her protests to the establishment.
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