Happy Monday. I hope this past week found you well and especially dry. There were some major storms in my neck of the woods and all over the mid-west. My heart goes out to those who suffered any loss due to the awful flooding that occurred. My wife and I live in a 3rd floor apartment so we were fine, although I recall when we were flooded during the 80’s. We owned a house on the south side of Milwaukee. The sewers backed up and 6 inches of stinky polluted stench filled the entire basement. Yuck!
Luckily our weather cleared over this weekend. We went down to the Lake Michigan shore to view the Air and Water show. This is becoming an annual event for us. Last year we took a mini-cruise from Navy Pier in Chicago to watch the flyers. It is always stunning, especially the Navy’s Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornets. The precision and chest pumping power is incredible.
Have you been reading my memoir, Pinky’s Drive-In. Things sure were, well, different in the 60’s and 70’s. I hope you aren’t getting a negative impression. My friends and I were just having fun. We weren’t a street gang, just a bunch of guys who started out as school mates and managed to stick together through thick and thin, and still are to this day.
So, how about a couple jokes;
There were a catholic priest, protestant minister, and a rabbi having dinner, and discussing the origin of life. The rabbi posed a question to both the priest and minister. “Gentlemen, when do you believe that human life begins?”
The priest said that life begins at conception, in the mother’s womb. The minister believed that life began at birth, when the child can breathe on its own. They turned to the rabbi and asked what he thought.
The rabbi put down his fork and looked solemnly at his learned dinner partners and said,
“I believe that real life begins when the kids move away and the dog dies.”
A fellow was sitting in a bar for several hours drinking and became quite tipsy. He finally left for home and was walking down the street, when two nuns of the same order, dressed in full habits came walking toward him.
As they got closer one nun passed him on the left and the other on the right. The man turned around stunned, and said, “How the hell did she do that?”
Here is your Chapter four of Pinky’s Drive-In:
(Back at the Bar)
I turned to face Shawn. “Did your mom ever find out who was on the roof that night,” I said.
“Sure, I told her all about it, but not until she was much older, and had mellowed a bit, so she wouldn’t kick my butt,” he said!
“She did have a bit of a temper, didn’t she, especially when she had a couple, medicinal shots of her Bushnell’s Irish whiskey, I said with a little smile. But, then, I have no doubt that it was you who drove her to have a nip every now and then. When I think back on all the crap we pulled as teenagers, I’m surprised all of our folks weren’t raging alcoholics.”
I often wonder what I would do to my son if he did what I did, but, then, things were much different in 1963. There was no such thing as, political correctness, and I didn’t worry about what was, socially acceptable. I was having way too much fun to even think about consequences.
There were some groundings, and punishments given out by my folks from time to time, but, thankfully, they weren’t into corporal punishment, like some families in those days, and I’m glad that my wife and I don’t believe in it either.
“I was sad to hear about your dad passing last year, Woody” Said Shawn.
“Your folks were the best. They always made the whole gang feel welcome when we hung out in your basement on Bell avenue, and I’ll never forget some of the wild parties we had at your new place, when your family moved to the west side of town.”
Jeff chimed in, “What do you mean you’ll never forget? You weren’t the one sleeping in Woody’s dad’s bed with a puke bucket on the floor, when his folks came home a day early from vacation. That was the worst!” Jeff exclaimed.
I laughed as I looked at Jeff. “I know! My poor dad hurt his back and just wanted to lie down in his own bed, but there you were, passed out in all your glory, not to mention all the other bodies lying everywhere from the upper bedrooms to the basement.
“We really knew how to party in those days,” added Pat. “I’ll never forget the time we got busted for drinking under age in the schoolyard. I think we were about seventeen at the time, and, of course, our mothers saved our sorry butts.”
It was a Friday evening in early October. The Chicago rush hour was over and, as usual, the boys were starting to show up at the gravel parking area behind Pinky’s to discuss the plans for the evening. This was our usual meeting place. We were all between the ages of 17 and 19 and always had to devise a new plan every weekend to score some beer. You would think that we would learn from week to week, but that would be planning way too far ahead. None of us were into drugs back then, at least yet. We were actually against it. That’s pretty amazing, considering that it was 1967. As I think back now, I’m amazed that we made it out of that crazy period at all.
It was one of those nights that you just had to be outside. The sky was clear and the night air was crisp, but not really cold, about 60 degrees. Everyone was ready to do something. We just didn’t know what. So, we started to plan.
“You wanna get some beer?” said Jeff.
One after the other, the bad clichés began to fly. “Pope Catholic? Does a bear shit in the woods? Does Tina have big tits?”
That last one about Tina is another story. She’ll show up later. We also had a few Pinky’s Girls.
“Where’s Arnie?” I asked. “He can buy beer at the Cullum Corner Tap. The guy there doesn’t card if you look older.”
“I don’t know, said Pat.” I hope he didn’t have to work tonight. I guess we can try to find that bum over at Paul Revere Park if we have to. He bought it for us last week. Or maybe one of the older guys is in the Cameo Club. Never mind. Here comes Arnie now.”
Arnie was 19, but he looked to be in his early twenties. He had a receding hairline and heavy beard. He was always one of the last to show up. I think he liked to make an entrance because we all needed him to buy the beer. There were about fifteen of us standing around by now and we still didn’t have a place to go.
“Hey, Jeff, is your Mom working tonight?” asked Shawn.
“No, she’s home,” said Jeff.
Jeff’s mom usually worked on Fridays and we would go to his house and drink. She always knew we had been there, even though we cleaned up like a maid service. She actually walked in on us a couple of times. I guess she felt that it was safer than drinking in the park or schoolyard.
“Why don’t we just go over to Paul Revere Park by the backstop?” asked Randy.
We called Randy “Myrat.” I think it was some combination of his last name, Meyer, and the fact that he always sniffed his food like a rodent before he would eat it. We agreed that Jeff would drive, Arnie would buy the beer, and we would all meet them at the park behind backstop number 3 in a half-hour. Life was good. We finally had a plan.
The beverage of choice in those days was Meister Brau in quart bottles. At only fifty cents apiece, it was a bargain. We were actually pretty good drinkers for that tender age. Those of us who could afford it ordered two or three quarts. Jeff was the only one with a car that night. Jeff was the only one with a car almost every night. His older brother was away in the U.S. Air Force and left his 1966 Dodge Polaris to Jeff until his return. The only other one of the boys with a car was Bugsy, but he had to work a shift at Pinky’s that night.
The rest of us walked the six blocks from Pinky’s to the park. We moved a few picnic tables to the area behind backstop 3. It was dark behind the backstops and #3 was the farthest from Irving Park Road, a four-lane, rather busy street. It was also closest to the park gate that emptied into the neighborhood. Why was this important? COPS, that’s why.
There was absolutely no Chicago cop that could catch a Pinky’s boy once he got into the neighborhood. The neighborhood was where we grew up. This was our turf, our territory, and our sanctuary. No one messed with you in your neighborhood. It was full of alleys, backyards, gangways, and more hiding places than Brar’ Rabbit’s briar patch!
By the time we arrived at the park, Jeff and Arnie already started in on their first quart.
“Who’s got the church key?” asked Spoolie.
“Here ya go,” said Ski as he handed the bottle opener to Spoolie.
One by one, we opened that golden nectar and proceeded to emit those wondrous ahs, oh yeas, belches and burps that always followed that first big gulp. This was turning into a great evening!
“Here come Paulie and Linda,” said Owen.
I mentioned earlier that there were also some Pinky’s Girls. You could count them on one hand and they all had their own unique qualities. Linda was definitely the Queen. She was a couple of years younger than most of us, and a stone fox. Linda was 5’ 5” and about 105 lbs. She had long dark brown hair, big brown eyes, and the cutest little ass you ever saw. She was true blue to Paulie and really put up with a lot of crap from the rest of the boys.
“How’re ya doin, Paulie?” said Myrat.
Paulie was the head of the Italian contingent of Pinky’s Boys and always dressed the part. He was a medium built 5’9” with jet black hair. His summer ensemble consisted of gray ‘Big Yank” work pants (baggie grays), a sleeveless undershirt, sometimes referred to as a wife-beater, but we called it a (dago tee), black suspenders, black combat boots and a black fedora worn back on his head. In the fall and winter, just add a V-neck sweater and black Cabretta leather coat. This was the look of the “greaser” in the 60’s.
The last to show up were Lovable Ken with his girlfriend, Kathy, and her friend Tina, Big Tits. Linda, Kathy and Tina sat together sharing their own quart as usual talking about whatever, as we boys went about discussing current affairs.
There were about twenty of us now and we were all in the mood for some beer drinking and heavy bullshit. Topics varied from how screwed up President “Tricky Dick” Nixon was to why we were old enough to die for our country, but not old enough to drink beer legally, to how the Cubs once again failed to make the playoffs. We were sure that during our summit meetings, we solved most of the world’s problems, at least the important ones.
Most of us just graduated from high school that past spring. The Viet Nam war was raging and just about all of us were eligible for the draft. We liked to think of ourselves as if we were the Cavalier Poets of the renaissance period. You know, the ones who said “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die”.
As the evening progressed, the conversations heightened in both content and volume. Owen, Arnie and Flesch were of German descent and got into an ethnic discussion with Jeff and Ski over which nationality had more amiable qualities, the Germans or the Poles. These types of intellectual exchanges were commonplace on drinking night. It was quite a sight. All five of them were standing on a picnic table, each with a quart of beer in their hand, pointing vigorously at one another as they chanted their refrains back and forth at the top of their lungs.
It went something like,
“Down with the Krauts!”
“Down with the Krauts!”
This was freedom of speech at its best.
Most of us finished our first quarts by now and we were all feeling free and loose. It was time for some entertainment. There was a talk show host called Les Crane who had a nightly show around that time. He interviewed guests and featured entertainers, usually singers or stand-up comedians. When the first quart or so of Meister Brau had been polished off by the boys, Ski would take center stage and perform a mock “Les Crack” show.
Ski was small and wiry and had the proverbial rather large pointy Polish nose. He used an empty beer bottle for his microphone, crossed his eyes and stumbled around clumsily like Jerry Lewis as the stooge partner of Dean Martin. Ski was a master of the put-down. None of us was spared from his non-stop antics. If you were fat, you were called tubby, fatty or Moby Dick. You were a giraffe or drink of water if tall, stumpy if short and so on. One of the guys who occasionally hung around with us was legally blind. His name was John and was with us that night.
This prompted Ski and Red to perform their infamous Blindy John Dance. Red was short and stocky with bright red hair and a red beard. He and Ski donned sunglasses, darted around in staccato fashion as they bumped into benches, tripped over their own feet and sang a Stevie Wonder song in high squeaky off-key voices. There was no room for political correctness on a Pinky’s drinking night.
After Ski did his opening act, he called up guests from the audience. None of us had any talent, but after a couple quarts, you’d be surprised what could happen. On this particular evening, Ski called on Spoolie.
“Hey, Spoolie, how about some Elvis?” shouted Ski.
Spoolie couldn’t stand the British music invasion. He was hardcore Elvis all the way.
“We want Elvis. We want Elvis. We want Elvis,” we all chanted in unison.
As Spoolie slowly stepped his foot onto the picnic table, he was hailed with a round of whistles and applause. From his staggered stance to his wavy, greasy hair, he was truly the king of rock and roll reincarnated.
“Elvis baby, do ‘Hound Dog,’ you stud!” shouted Linda.
Well, there’s one very important fact you should know about Spoolie. He could drink a quart of beer faster than any of us and always did. He would also drink one or two more quarts than we did. He didn’t say much. He just sat there and drank. He drank fast and he drank a lot. At that point in time, as most of us just finished our first quart, Spoolie was well into his third. He was also well on his way to becoming quite tipsy.
We didn’t get to see Spoolie do “Hound Dog” that night. We didn’t get to see Spoolie do any Elvis at all. Spoolie never even made it all the way onto the picnic table. Just as he started to lift his foot, he staggered backwards. His eyes became wide open like Marty Felden’s in ‘Young Frankenstein” when the monster was struck by lightning. He desperately started to grasp the air with his left hand as he held his quart of Meister Brau in his right. The last thing I saw before I heard the “Holy shit,” which by the way sounded exactly as if the king himself would have said it, was the soles of Spoolie’s boots and a stream of beer spilling out all over Linda’s new angora sweater.
I think the fact that he was so inebriated was the only thing that saved him from serious injury. He was so loose; he just toppled over into the bushes and lay there for a moment. He then got back onto his feet, staggered back to the picnic bench and sat down. “Screw the Beatles!” he said. “Who’s got the church key? I still have another quart to finish.”
We all proceeded to laugh our butts off. That is, all except for Linda. She was quite pissed off about her sweater.
“Spoolie, you asshole, look what you did to my sweater!” yelled Linda.
“Hold on there, little mama. You can’t talk to the king like that,” crooned Spoolie.
Linda turned to her boyfriend, Paulie. “Do something, Paulie! This is the sweater you bought me.”
Paulie was rolling around on the ground, holding his stomach with laughter. He stopped for a second, looked up at Linda and blurted out, “What do you want me to do? It ain’t my sweater.”
That, of course, was the wrong thing to say. The boys had their share of fights from time to time, but the best by far were between Paulie and Linda.
“Thanks a lot, you son of a bitch!” she shouted.
“Up yours,” screamed Paulie.
Several of the boys started to snicker at that remark.
“Stop laughing, it’s not funny.” Linda was embarrassed, so she looked to her girlfriends for support. “Come on, Kathy, you too, Tina. Let’s get the out of here, all these guys are jerk offs!” Linda shouted as she beckoned to her girlfriends.
Kathy and Tina really didn’t want to leave, but they thought they should stick together, so the three girls turned on their heels and stormed out of the park.
We all had another good laugh and returned to finish off the last of our beer and shoot the breeze a little while longer. The night was still young and most of us were feeling pretty mellow. We definitely needed to find something else to do. We needed a Plan B.
Always face the street
When the beer was gone, most of the boys went back to hang out behind Pinky’s or the bowling alley. There was only one car to go around for twenty plus guys which limited our activities, so most of us did a lot of hanging out in those days. This activity should not be taken lightly. There were some definite dos and don’ts that had to be adhered to when one was going to hang out.
It was very important to hang out at the right place at the right time and, of course, with the right people. You wouldn’t hang out in the library after school with your classmates, for example. That would not be cool at all. Everyone would think that you liked school. You could, however, hang out in the schoolyard on a Friday night with some of the boys and drink beer and get rowdy. You could also hang out in front of the bowling alley and check out the chicks that walked by, or across the street in the Clark gas station and try to score a free pack of smokes. Get the picture?
While we formulated Plan B, we strolled a block down to the schoolyard and sat on the steps of one the entrances. Bugsy pulled up in his Ford Falcon briefly to drop off his cousin Angie, who lived across the street from the yard. She saw us congregating, so decided to join us for a while, but Bugsy had other plans, so he just tooted his horn a couple times, and took off down the street.
All the Pinky’s Boys were secretly in love with Angie, but none of us knew it at the time. She was a couple years younger than most of us, and she was a true Italian beauty. Her black wavy hair, dark eyes and perfect petite body sent chills up our spines as she casually strode up to the group.
“Hi everyone,” she said.
“Hey, Angie, Yo, how you doin, Wazz up?” we replied.
Angie was shy and innocent. She was raised as a strict Catholic and obeyed all the rules. That may be what attracted her to all of us. The untouchable fruit is always the most desired. When she came by during one of the “Les Crack” shows, Ski would always find a way to get her up in front of the group for an embarrassing moment. We loved it.
So, there we sat. Fifteen slightly tipsy, testosterone filled teenage boys and Angie the beauty. It wasn’t like you may be thinking. Even though we would have liked to, we didn’t go there. Angie was one of us, just as Linda, Tina and the other few Pinky’s Girls. They were under our protection when they were with us. We treated them as one of the family.
After a while, things got a bit boring. Most of the boys decided to go over to Waveland Bowl across the street from Pinky’s to check out the hot lane waitress with the huge chest. We called her “Miss Jiggles.” It was a real treat to watch her carry a tray of drinks as she bounced her way past the booth we sat in. Friday was a league night so she’d be busy serving for at least another hour.
Pat, Shawn, Arnie and I jumped into Jeff’s car with him for a cruise. We invited Angie to join us, but as usual, she said she wasn’t allowed in cars with boys, so the other guys escorted her home. Rats! It was only about 9:00, so we took a spin around the neighborhood to see what was shaking.
We were hungry so we stopped at the sub shop a couple blocks away to get a sandwich. Hero’s was the original sub shop. It was a small white corner building with wall to ceiling windows and counters facing the street. It stood about a block south of Pinky’s across from Lane Tech, a gigantic public high school and stayed open until 10:00. They served humongous submarine sandwiches with three types of cold cuts, your choice of Swiss, American or Mozzarella cheese, shredded lettuce, tomatoes and onions, and then they drizzled some fabulous oily concoction over everything that gave it an Italian flavor. They called them Hero’s sandwiches back in the day, Yum.
The short cruise and snack killed about a half hour, but the night was still young. Pinky’s was closed and Miss Jiggles was off duty by now, so there was no reason to go to the bowling alley. Things were kind of quiet for a Friday night and Jeff was getting low on gas.
“Let’s get another quart apiece, head on over to the schoolyard and figure out something to do,” said Pat.
“Sounds like a plan,” added Shawn.
Ten minutes later we arrived at the Cullum Corner Tap. Arnie combed through his Brill-creamed wavy hair, put on his best, I’m over 21 look, on his face, and confidently strutted into the liquor store. He exited with five more quarts of Meister Brau. The evening was getting back on track.
The moon was full that night, so we knew we would have to be very careful as to go unnoticed. We approached Bell schoolyard slowly with the headlights off and quietly parked in the darkest spot on the street. Jeff turned off his dome light as he and Shawn silently opened their doors. We exited the car and stole into the schoolyard, each clutching our quart under our jacket. Staying low along the side of the building, we crept behind the tall bushes until we emerged at the darkest stairwell of the yard. One by one, we passed the church key down the line and, holding our hands over the top of our bottles, we ever so gingerly lifted off the tops. All that was heard was a muffled shush as we cupped the tops and placed them into our pockets.
The night air was starting to get a bit nippier, and the cement steps felt cold and hard on our backsides and we started to shiver as we held onto the chilled bottles. No one had any gloves, so as time passed, we grew colder and colder. It wasn’t long before that familiar urge started to stir in us. Jeff was the first to cave in.
“Goddammit! I can’t hold it anymore. I have to piss like a race horse!” he whispered.
That was all it took. We set down our beer; all rose in unison and crept back behind the bushes to relieve ourselves. There we stood, in a row facing the wall, letting it all hang out. It was quite a sight. Thinking back on it now, we should have turned around and watered the bushes that time. We would have had a clear look at the street and perhaps enough time to duck as the spotlight from the patrol car shone ever so brightly on our exposed images. OOPS, BUSTED!
“What the hell is that light?” Pat whispered as we all stopped in midstream.
“Don’t move! Put your hands behind your necks!” a voice boomed from behind us.
“Shit, shit, shit!” I said in a high whisper.
“I think we’re screwed!” added Jeff.
“So do I and I pissed all over myself, son of a bitch!” Shawn said as he zipped up.
Another squad pulled up and four cops were right behind us with flashlights.
“Now turn around slowly and show me your hands!” shouted the officer.
The four cops shined their flashlights in our eyes so we were blinded.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Taking a leak,” said Pat
“Taking a leak, eh,” said the lead officer. “Did you know that it’s illegal to expose yourself and to urinate in a public place?” he continued. “And I see you’ve got some beer too! Now isn’t that interesting. How old are you boys? Let me see some I.D.”
We pulled out our driver’s licenses and handed them to the officer. I remember my hand was shaking almost uncontrollably. I’m not sure if it was out of fear or caused by the cold, but I couldn’t make it stop for quite a while. We all knew that we were in big trouble. If they hauled us in and called our parents, we would be dead.
“Let’s see now,” said the officer as he put his light on our I.Ds. “As I recall, the legal drinking age in this state is 21 and all of you are under 21. This just ain’t your night, is it, boys.”
He and the other three cops put us in the squad cars and took us down to the police station. Things were starting to look bleak, as our night of fun turned into a real mess.
When we got to the police station, they didn’t put us in a cell as we thought they would. We were all gathered in a sort of meeting room with several chairs and a big table in the middle. We really didn’t know what to think.
A large sergeant entered after about fifteen minutes.
“Sit down gentlemen,” he said sternly. We all sat obediently in unison. “Now then, let’s start with you, blonde,” he said to Arnie. “Where did you get the beer?”
“We bought it from a bum in Paul Revere Park,” said Arnie.
“From a bum, what is the bum’s name and where can I find him?” asked the sergeant.
“I dunno,” said Arnie. Jeff started to smirk.
“What’s so funny, smiley,” said the cop to Jeff?
Maybe you can tell me where you really got the beer.”
“Like Arnie said, we got it from the bum in the park,” Jeff said in a shaky voice.
The sergeant took a long pause before he gave us the bad news. He pushed a blank piece of paper with a pencil across the table to us.
“I need each of you to write down your name and phone number on that piece of paper. I’m going to call your parents and get them all down here for a little come to Jesus meeting. Maybe then we’ll get some straight answers out of you.”
He left the room and slammed the door behind him.
We were screwed blue and tattooed! This was the end of our lives for sure! We looked at each other in silence as if saying goodbye for the last time. We all had a lump in our throats, our stomachs began to cramp and sweat started to stream down our foreheads as if we just ran the Boston marathon in 100-degree heat.
Arnie said that he would take the rap and tell the cop that he bought the beer. There was no way we could let him do that. The Cullum Corner Tap was the only bar that would serve him. That would be betraying all of the Pinky’s Boys. We just couldn’t let him do it. We decided to stick with the bum story. It was pretty lame, but there was no way the cops could prove otherwise. Besides, a life behind bars didn’t seem so bad, compared to what our parents were going to do to us! What did we have to lose?
Shawn’s mom was the first to show up. There she was, in all her glory. She was wearing a house dress and slippers with a green and orange floral patterned scarf pulled over her head to hide the curlers in her hair. She looked us up and down as if we were headed for the gallows and she was the chief hangman. Shawn turned pale as their eyes met. Mrs. Kelly stayed silent for a moment, and just glared at him.
“Well, ma’am, the sergeant began. “Which one of these belongs to you?”
“I like to think of all these fine lads as my own, officer,” Said Mrs. Kelly in a kind motherly way.” And I’ll be glad to take full responsibility for them, except for that one.” She pointed at Shawn. “You can let him rot in a cell until he’s learned his lesson.”
Shawn’s eyes widened, as he looked at his mother in disbelief. He knew she meant what she said, so, he just stood there and, resigned himself to the fact that he would be spending the night in jail.
She then produced a wad of money from her purse that could choke a horse.
“Where should I deposit the bail for the four boys?” she said turning to the sergeant.
The officer whispered something in her ear and left the room. The other four mothers arrived by then and entered the room one by one. We knew that the end was near. This was not going to be a good way to go out.
The interrogations began immediately. As each mother approached her son, each son caved in like a sheep to a lion. The look on my mom’s face was one of both anger and disappointment, and I could tell that she was also afraid of what might happen to me. I told her that Arnie bought the beer, but we couldn’t tell on him or he would get busted. The others said the same thing to their mothers.
Without realizing what was happening, we unwittingly put the ball in their court. What would they do with this incriminating information? If they told the sergeant the truth, Arnie would get busted. If they stuck with our story, they would be as bad as we were. What to do? What to do?
Arnie’s mom asked if we ever really had a bum buy us beer in the past. We confessed that we had. This was the way out of the dilemma. By saying that a bum bought the beer, it was a half-truth, and as we all know half the truth is better than a whole lie. Somehow, it was all justified in their minds, so they told the officer that they believed us. We were all released with a warning and vowed to go straight, at least until next Friday night.
I won’t go into any detail about the banning, grounding and punishing that went on when we got home. Let’s just say that we did live to tell the story and from that day forward there was a new rule among all Pinky’s Boys.
ALWAYS FACE THE STREET WHILE TAKING A LEAK IN THE SCHOOLYARD!