I must have been twelve or so. I was rummaging around in the storage space formed by the roof and the hip wall, behind the chimney in our old house on Billings Avenue.
Maybe I was going through an old suitcase, but I came across a threadbare black athletic shirt. Was it made out of jersey netting? On its front was a big graphic in white ink: a wicked looking dagger, impossibly jabbed through a pair of over-sized dice. Their may or may not have been a mean looking snake on there, and in a big arc over the graphic, the initials P. I. T. A. in big block letters.
P. I. T. A.
This strange piece of clothing was my dad’s. I asked him about it and got a great batch of stories of his high school days. As I remember it, he and a group of dudes that made mischief together dubbed themselves the Pain In The Asses. (Or Pains in the Ass?) I really wanted him to have stories of rumbles with rival gangs or at least a drag race or something. I think he told me all they did was organize tag football games. I really wanted that jersey to be a gang shirt.
Anyway, I got to thinking about all this because I came across this great site full of old greaser gang names and compliments cards. A real treasure trove.
These guys were the closest to where I’m living now:
COAL YARD GANG:
The Coal Yard Gang was at Lakewood and Wolfram, near Southport and Lincoln Avenue. Just a local white gang originating in the early 60′s. Mostly just taking care of local business. Our colors were Black and White. I was mostly a partier. I was too small, and often found myself in over my head way too many times. I remember Lennies across from Lane Tech. I can still taste that greasy bag of fries, ten cent pin-ball games. It was neat place. Everyone was safe there. Even girlfriends could meet you there. (Via Reddit)
Digging a little more, I found this little documentary on the Gaylords. Finding out that my dad wasn’t really a gangster was bad, but it’s even more disappointing to find out how hung up on race these dudes are.
My Uncle Dan gives a little background
P.I.T.A. well…. NOT a group of ‘gangbangers’ ! More like neighborhood guys in desperate need of a name for their floor hockey team. We used to all hang at da park. Every group (grade level) or age had a bench to sit on and to ease the tensions between us older, younger, really older (High School) kids. The Phs Ed. Instructor for the Park District created a hockey league for us to beat the shit out of each other in a organized way. It was fantastic! It had rules, and penalties, just like the BlackHawk games we loved to listen to on the radio. Because none of us could afford a game ticket or play on REAL ice cuz we were city kids. Middle class families living from paycheck to paycheck….and yah they were a real pain in the ass!