Gotham Logo Gotham Logo  
 
Online Discussions

Announcement

Welcome to the Gotham Center discussion boards. These boards offer our users a safe, friendly environment for discussions about New York City history. Please note that you must register before posting to the site.

#76 2007-05-12 15:40:00

_kenbyrne
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

The Pizza Place massacre of 1966 on Knickerbocker

This happened in late July, or early August 1966.  It was a Saturday night, and totally unexpected.
There was a dance at St. Martin's school, in the basement, not the gym for some reason.  Perhaps a lot of kids were away during the summer.  Or it was cooler, since the gym had no AC.  This was on Knickerbocker, between Werefield and Hancock streets, two blocks away. 

The old guys who ran the pizza place seemed to be involved in some kind of funny business, but it had nothing to do with kids.  Perhaps numbers running, or book making?  Just one of those neighborhood things.  Nobody worried about that stuff.  And if anyone didn't like it, they kept their mouths shut.
They did make really good pizza.

There were a few guys who were friendly with the members of what was left of Halsey.  (No more Bops at that time.  It sounded so dated.  Too fifties! I mean, this was 1966, fer Pete's sake!) One of them was named Tommy L. They had just come from playing softball, or basketball somewhere, and stopped in for a slice.

There were also three guys in, or associated with Halsey: Joey B, Joe S, AKA Snoopy and a guy named Jimbo.  I don't remember his real name, if I ever knew it.  Joey B. was fifteen, Joe S. and Jimbo a year or two older.  Tommy was a bit older than that, I think.

There was also a kid named Bobby M.  He was new to the neighborhood, having recently arived from Williamsburg.  He was fifteen or sixteen.

About four or five African American kids came looking for another guy, a creep who shall remain nameless. I won't even write his stupid nickname.  No need for law suits these many years later.
Said creep had recently been released from King's County, or Creedmore.  They should have kept him, or better yet, sent him to Devil's Island.  Yeah, people, he was that bad!

The creep had grabbed a small black boy who had the temerity to walk his dog near Halsey Park.  He took the dog leash from the kid, and beat him soundly with it.  He also beat the dog.
I did not witness this, but I had it on good authority.  Knowing Creepo (Let's call him that!  If the shoe fits...), I believed it, and still do.  I had seen Creepo in action, and that was right up his alley.  A perfect sociopath, with a good helping of psychosis thrown in.  Not to mention a few quarts of evil.


The black kids picked out these guys who were entirely blamesless in the matter. Most of them probably had no idea it had even happened. (Isn't that usually the case in such matters?) 
According to reliable sources, Creepo saw the black kids approaching, and cut out like the pure punk he really was.  Beating on a nine year old with a dog chain, he could do.  Actually fighting with large negroes, armed and dangerous, was nothing he wanted any part of. 
He didn't even bother to try and warn any of the others of what was about to happen to them. 

Tommy L was stabbed in the stomach with a bayonet.  Snoopy had his throat slashed from ear to ear, but miraculously, it was only superficial wound, like a long paper cut. What are the odds?
Jimbo got his head cleaved with a machete, as did the new kid from Willimsburg.

According to some, the pizza place guys had pushed the kids out, and locked the door.  They closed down soon after.  Some kids had allegedly threatened to fire bomb the place.

Joey B. was stabbed in the stomach.  He ran to the dance at St. Martin's, said, "Help me!" Then he passed out.
There was a priest named Father Barry Frazita, who had to try and save Joey, and keep the kids inside.  He wasn't helped by some jerk grabbing one of the band's mics, and yelling "The shit's on!  We're all going down!"  Father grabbed him with one arm, and was yelling in the mic, telling everybody to stay put.

Jimbo ended up with a plate in his head, and was quite impaired.  I didn't see much of him after that.
Tommy L. and Joey B. survived, as did Snoopy.  About a year later, he was killed in Viet Nam. Ironic.
The new kid from Williamsburg died a few days later.  His parents had moved to get him out of the bad neighborhood they lived in. More irony.  I hate that stuff!

I don't know if anyone was ever arrested.  What I do remember was that the cops locked down the whole neighborhood for the rest of that summer.  There were fifteen or twenty of them on every corner.  Going from Eldert to the deli on Knickerbocker between Covert and Schaeffer streets, I'd get stopped and frisked five times, each way.

Then it got really, incredibly HOT.  So hot and muggy that everything was hazy.  No one had the energy to do anything, violent or otherwise.

I went to my last year of Boy Scout camp at Ten Mile River, for the last two weeks in August.  I was so damned glad get away from Bushwick!  I read C.S. Lewis's book Out Of The Silent Planet, and that helped.

The next year, my family moved to Woodhaven.  I'd just read The Lord of The Rings, and felt like I'd made it to Rivendell. 

Years later, I went to the Viet Nam Memorial, and made a rubbing of Snoopy's real name.  He was one of the best people I knew back then.  He barely made it to nineteen.

Anyone who remembers any of this sad tale is welcome to respond.  I think I told it straight, but it's beeen a long while.  Peace to all.

 

#77 2007-05-13 20:54:53

_hb1958-1962
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Pizza Parlor Massacre

    This massacre certainly is a sad story.Let me comment:
    The word "BOPS" was already outdated in the late 5o's and early 60's, yet it was kept to go along with "HALSEY" out of respect for those who coined the phrase Halsey Bops. Those who talked the talk and indeed did walk the walk.
    I guarantee this massacre would not of happened a few short years earlier. This in no way condones the action by the creep. Both his initial action and the action of leaving others to defend themselves for things he was responsible for. I hope he wasn't considered Halsey. He wouldn't have been a few short years earlier.
    Thanks for sharing.

 

#78 2007-05-14 10:35:41

_kenb
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Massacre

The previous posting was an attempt to clarify how awful the racial and economic situation had become by the mid sixties in the Halsey Park area.  Most of the streets between Wilson and Irving Aves. had become slowly integrated.  There was a tenuous respect between white and black folks.  Of course, there were a few exceptions by some stone bigots. But St. Martin's church and school  both taught that all were God's own children, and that any form of bigotry was a serious sin. 
There were a few incidents in the previous years, where stupid fights between kids turned ugly.  But that pizza place event just shook the neighborhood to its core.  It was so horrible and senseless.

Creepo was not really with Halsey.  Like all such riff raff, he was only out for himself.  He was a sick, dangerous little weasel.  Among other awful stunts he pulled, he once invited some boys to his basement to see a hunting rifle, then turned it on them, yelling "Hide, muthaf____rs!" Then he began blazing away, as they cowered in various  corners. 

When he had to reload, they all ran out.  As they were doing so, his mother came downstairs, and began screaming at him.  So he took a shotgun he also had, and blew out the cellar door leading to the yard.  Needless to say, no one ever accepted any more invitations to his house. 
Like I said, a real peach that guy was.  I never turned my back on him.

Dropping that lunatic into an already racially tense neighborhood was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I still mourn for all those involved in that violence, with the exception of Creepo.  You need to be Christ or Buddha to have that much compassion.  I can imagine Father DiBenedetto, or Father Doyer from St. Martin's saying, "Yeah, it's hard, kiddo.  But you have to try."  Maybe someday.

When I made the rubbing of Snoopy's real name on the Viet Nam Memorial in 1988, I realized that more years had passed since his death than he had spent alive. 

BTW, there was an article in the real estate section of the Sunday NYT about five years ago, describing the living space of this way cool African high end furniture designer.  He had studied his craft in Paris, and come to the US to work.  His pieces looked great, and were sold at very exclusive, and exxpensive stores in Manhattan, Plam Beach, etc.

He had married a nice girl from Wisconsin, and they were raising a family, living in a loft in a former knitting factory building on the corner of Eldert Street and Irving Avenue.  My old block.  I was amazed to see how far the outliers of the Williamsburg revival had reached. 
That story gave me just a little bit of joy. 

I drove to the old block, which is still something of a mess, down on the Knickerbocker Ave. end.  But I have seen much worse places, as I've wandered this world.  My old house (316) was still a burned out shell.  But I can't imagine it will be for too much longer.  Good luck to whoever fixes it up.  Just don't charge exhorbitant rents!   

 

#79 2007-06-02 16:11:26

_georgefehr
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Halsey Bops

Vic & Tony you are both right on target. It angers me when individuals make comments about topics they know nothing about. I am a CPA and CFO,hardly warrants only a double digit I.Q.

 

#80 2007-06-21 15:53:27

_vinnyfavara
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

club perisian

anyone remember club perisian on wilson and hancock st. franks candy store on wilson greens on central ave. where is sal ferrara we played together as kids and stayed frends during his hb days. baby grace, his girl jimmy ricca, vinny b. etc

 

#81 2007-06-21 22:22:39

_josephine
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

HI

HOW NICE TO SEE ALOT OF NAMES ..FROM THE 50...THEY WERE THE BOPS....I STILL TALK TO A FEW OF THEM...

JRUSSO

 

#82 2007-06-24 16:42:14

_georgefehr
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Respose to Vinny

Vinny F.
Your friend Sal must have been a Halsey Tot.Did he hang with Ralph Maresca(Gorilla),Tony Fontana, Malverti,Steve Marcopolis,Tommy Marcases,Harry Walbridge,Alan Weismeyer, Rabbit Frogge,Martinez, etc? These guys were a few years younger than me with the exception of Gorilla. What time period are you talking about? I left in 1962. There was also a dry cleaning store on Hancock & Wilson that I would frequent?

 

#83 2007-07-10 20:04:16

_georgefehr
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Tony Passimenti

All Halsey Bops,

On 7/9/07 at 5:30am Tony Passimenti passed away. I am grateful that I reunited with him this passed year. I will be attending his wake tomorrow on Cooper & Myrtle. He was a great guy and I will miss him.

 

#84 2007-07-27 10:55:59

_johnschmidt
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Junior Saints vs Halsey Tots

I hung with the Junior Saints for one summer in 1960 to try to get even with some Ellery Bops who had inflicted some serious injury to a friend of mine. Never did get to fight the Ellery Bops but there was a lot of activity between the Halsey Tots and Junior Saints. I remember the Hanf (sp?) brothers as being particularly worrisome to the Junior Saints. Also I recall Joe(?) Gerriputo as being rather good with a nail studded garrison belt. Anyone recall these guys?

 

#85 2007-07-29 19:19:29

_georgefehr
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

reply to John Schmidt

John,
Eddie & John Hanft were good friends of mine. We were all Halsey Bops.At the time we were enemies of the Saints, but looking back you had some good guys: Eddie Cheslack, Richie Winski, Al Myers, Denny Butler,etc.

 

#86 2007-08-24 21:21:33

_dennis
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

railroad boys

i came from ozone park and hung out mostly with  the saints but i went to bklyn tech and met a lot of "the enemy?" - east new oork - f&p etc-does anyone remember Barry Frick ? he was a railroad boy and one of the greatest peiple i ever met.he died of an od when he was 19 or 20 - rest his soul

 

#87 2007-09-25 18:09:08

_brother
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

south brooklyn boys

one of the largest,most well organized gangs of the late 50's and early 60's.don't hear much about them because our territory was rarely challenged.Except for the occasional run in with the BISHOPS or CHAPLINS.Baltic St. up to 10th street from 5th ave to Columbia was never encroached upon.SBB was actually a group of individual white,italian gangs that banded together whenever necessary.

 

#88 2007-10-04 13:47:08

_ralphie
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Ellery Bops [Bklyn]

The Ellery bops I remember were from between Tompkins
Ave and Marcy Ave. As a little boy I lived at 123 Ellery St, a
Puerto Rican born in 1957 on Flushing Ave. Very near the
Bklyn Pfizer plant then we move to Ellery st. From my
window on the 3rd floor I saw and came to idolized them.
Too young to be a part of I never forgot the way they
talked and the way the walked The ditty bop way or be-
bopping. They also had style in dress with stingy hats and
all. Were always groomed and clean and took pride in the
style. There was Ariel a good friend of mines today. There
was Blacky and Duke and others. They, believe it or not
kept the block safe for the little people, the elderly and
the coolies. But had a deadly rep always at war with the
Marcy Chaplains from the projects over there. I remember
on the side of one of the tenement building at the top, by
the roof written in big bold letters "ELLERY BOPS" I often
wondered how the did this. Well I couldn’t wait my turn.
But it was not to be so, the crime wave of juvenile
delinquents of the 50's and 60's bought down the law on
these inner city urban youth gangs. There were
sensational cases as "The Capeman and The Umbrella man
Murders" in 1959 Hells kitchen by the Vampires and the
fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Michael Farmer in
Washington Heights by the Egyptian Kings and Dragons,
Black and Puerto Rican gang members. All these  crimes
supposedly race related. Other gangs and older boys were
framed on charges by the NYPD in an effort to make the
street safe and put them away in prisons, the younger
ones to reform schools. And then there was the heroin
addiction of the sixties that did in the rest. However by
the early 70's I was a teenager and gangs reemerged. It
seems like every 20 years gangs come back. After the 50's
the gangs in the NYC 70's which I was a part of were of a
different sort in attitude and looks. They were more model
in appearance to biker gangs like the Hell Angels or MC
look. The gangs flew colors of their gangs names on the
back of cut-sleeves denim jackets. Heavy boots and jeans,
bandanas finished the look. Some of the language was
still the same like rumbles and tuff but these guys were
very different. Mostly Black gangs and Puerto Rican gangs
and fought each other in the burning ghetto’s of the
Bronx, Bklyn and Manhattan. Like the Cypress Bachelors,
The Dirty Ones, Savage Skulls, Devil Rebels, The Seven
Immortals, Majestic Founder, The Ghetto Brothers. My first
gang as a kid was a school and our block gang called The
Hellions on Pulaski St. Then I was a Bklyn Bachelors
affiliated with the Cypress Bachelors in the Bronx. My
brother Horse was a Imperial Bachelor and war counselor.
Our brother gang was a outfit in Bed-Stuy of black
bothers called The Hell Cats, Later to be rechristen The
Hell Cat Bachelor. Easter Sunday was a big day for all our
gangs. That day all gangs in NYC  would converge to
Coney Island for a day of showing off, stare downs,
making alliances and new enemies, resolve old disputes of
tuff, etc and Mayhem. The NYPD would be bugging out
that day. I’m very lucky to have survived that era, and
have made something of myself thru education and
profession. Then historically drugs came back again first
heroin then cocaine. Interesting isn’t it, see any pattern?
Every 20 years. In the 90’s the gangs to appear were The
Bloods, The Cripps and The Latin Kings which formed first
in the prison system then out to society. I can’t comment
on these cause I have no experience with them and was
spared prison. Now 50 years older I don’t regret any of my
experienced it makes me who I am. I’m grateful I never
really hurt someone seriously or was hurt myself. But
most of all I thankful to my mothers prayers that keep me
safe. –Ralphie

 

#89 2007-10-14 12:15:25

_bosco
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Tony Passimenti

I was saddened to hear of Tony's passing. I used to walk to Bushwick High with him in the mornings. I met with George F. and Donnie F. in February 2007 and we talked about a lot of things and people. Both George and Donnie overcame their past and are both successful people. It had been at least 40 years since I had seen them. George is full of stories and has a remarkable memory for detail. He could probably write a book on his life back then.

 

#90 2007-12-05 21:41:34

_georgefehr
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Tommy Murray

All Halsey Bops, I just located Tommy Murray. He was living in Spring Lake, N.J. Unfortunately he passed away in 1999. He was a great friend, and will be missed.

 

#91 2007-12-07 19:48:15

_dotty
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Halsey Bops

George this message is for u,  I read your post and the names of the guys ring a bell.  I'm 63 lived on Eldert between Wilson and Knickerbocker.

I remember that most of those guys were heavy in to drugs by 60 and a few of then even died from overdose.  I remember Larry Farrel well, his uncle owned a funeral home,

I was a Halsey girl but stopped hanging around in 58/59.

 

#92 2007-12-08 12:42:31

_donnief
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Halsey

  I remember you. Remember Larry Farrell as well. Where are you? How are you? If memory serves me right, your last name was Meyers.
I hope you respond!!

 

#93 2007-12-08 12:45:52

_donnie
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Halsey

  The above message is for Dotty Meyers

 

#94 2007-12-08 13:15:41

_dotty
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Where and when

Hi Donnie, yes I am Dorothy Meyer, but I really don't remember anyone named Donnie.  Perhaps you could give me some more info.  I am married w/ three grown kids, live on the island.  How about you?  Hope we didn't do anything I would now be ashamed of!  LOL.
You must have a great memory cause of all the names I read on this sight I only remember Larry.  I started going with Ronnie Weismuller around 57 I think. Last I heard he was in jail probably dead by now. Did you ever go to the dances at St. Martens?  By the time I was seventeen, I was engaged to Mickey Martino, it didn't last! by eighteen I was tooling in a 62 Chevy that my dad bought me brand new. When I hung in the park I had a friend named Marie Vigilante, do u remember her.

Loved those years

 

#95 2007-12-08 14:33:29

_donniefiore
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Halsey

    I know you from Kahlke's Ice Cream Parlor and the place that opened up for a while next to Kahlke's we called "The Hole In the Wall". We didn't know each other well, but well enough to say hello every time we would run into one another. I hung with George Fehr,the Zaia Brothers,knew Ronnie Weismeyer well. I knew Mickey and hung with his brother Ronnie(Mousy)Martino.There are others that we knew in common.
   Yes I knew Marie Vigilante. She married Tommy Murray, who George refers to above. I live in Central New Jersey, and although many of my old friends wouldn't believe it,I am a recently retired High School Principal. I am 63 years old. Still a youngster.Hope to talk to you again.

 

#96 2007-12-08 14:46:06

_georgiefehr
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Neighborhood

Hi Dotty,
Marie V.married Tommy Murray who I wrote about.John Hanft told me he saw Ronnie W. on the Bowery & he was homeless. His brother Allan lives in Ridgewood off of Myrtle Ave & according to Marie Poma, is doing well. There is a group of us who periodically meet for lunch at the Belmont Steaks on Myrtle Ave. There is about 9 of us. I am sure you remember me I lived on Halsey St. near Wilson & had a social club in my cellar. The last time I saw you was in Halsey Park about 3:00am. Donnie Fiore,myself,Marie V. & Maria Amandalare all live in central N.J. Donnie is a retired school principal. I am still working and I am the V.P. of Business & Finance & a CPA for a Community College in central N.J. Enough for now.

 

#97 2008-01-17 14:31:17

_bobconti
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Charlie / Halsey Bops

Sorry about that Charlie.. I did "read it wrong" .. Maybe "too
much cough syrup" in the 60s is catching up with me.. (I'm
fine now)  <img src="images/smile.gif">

b.c.

 

#98 2008-01-19 22:08:07

_jafar313
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Albany Chaplins and El Quintos

It's been so long ago but I rememmber a fight between the Albany Chaplins and El Quintos about 1954 in front of 193 Albany Ave. in Crown Heights.  I use to speak spanish back then, but about 3 am my mother and aunt got me and my brother up to watch these two gangs rumble.  One of the El Quintos was stabbed with a sword in the street saying "you Mother Fucker" and dropped dead. When I was 6 years old The older Chaplins took me under their wings and the rest is history.

 

#99 2008-01-19 22:23:58

_jafar313
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

Mambo

To Phil Halsey:  I think I remember a Muslim named Shamkhael who use to go by the name Mambo back in the days. Is this the same guy?

 

#100 2008-01-21 02:31:22

_n_dogg
Guest

Re: Street Gangs - late 50's

EAST NEW YORK GANGS OF THE 50S

I went to school in the ozone park area in the late 60s and used to hear storys about gangs such as the sutter lords already mentioned here.But has anyone ever heard of the"new lots" gang ? they were supposed to be number one.

 

Features:

Donate Now!
Help support the Gotham Center

Join Our Mailing List
Sign up for the latest news and updates from Gotham.

The Gotham History Blotter
Read new non-fiction essays about New York City History.


© 2004-2007 Gotham Center for New York City History. All Rights Reserved.

The Gotham Center for New York City History
The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, Room 6103
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309
Telephone: 212-817-8460
FAX: 212-817-1541
E-mail: gotham@gc.cuny.edu