Friday, February 17, 2006
The Four Lads And Their Stories
When I was high school age in the mid-1960s, the small Honda motorcycles were in vogue. My job at The Pup In The Ruff, hot dog stand at Montrose and Broadway (It’s still there being run by my old boss Jake Siegel who looks younger than I do.) allowed me to have enough money to by a really nice 90 cc bike.
I knew some other lads my age with similar bikes and we hung out together hoping not to get into too much trouble with the cops. There were about a half dozen of us, younger versions of Marlin Brando or at least we thought so. Our clothes and haircuts were right out of West Side Story. We hung out around Nelson and Sheffield. The ones I remember were brothers, Tom and Jerry. One of the other guys was Jose, a Puerto Rican who had a way with the girls. Jose had a 90 cc bike and used it like a stealth fighter plane.
I remember Tom and Jerry’s dad telling Jose he was not going to live long because of his driving. That caused a macabre bet to be made. Tom and Jerry’s dad had a $50.00 bill in his wallet. He was by no means a rich man but he pulled it out and ripped it in half. He gave half to Jose and put the other half in his wallet. The bet was if Jose was still around in six months he could have the other half. The handshake was made. Jose was decapitated in a horrible accident within a month or two.
Tom, Jerry and myself became cops. Tom was hired by the CPD I went to the Sheriff’s Police (later to the CPD) and Jerry wound up as a uniformed, CTA policemen. I would not see much of Tom but Jerry would stop by and visit me at my part-time security job at the Trailways Bus depot downtown.
Jerry dropped a couple of bombs on me. One was to confess he was addicted to heroin and weeks later that he was arrested, got canned from the CTA and was facing a prison term. I begged Jerry to get help somewhere.
I can’t imagine what went wrong? Jerry had a brother and two married parents. A single, welfare mom raised me as an only child. I always thought Tom and Jerry were really lucky. So sadly, I watched Jerry fall apart. He was so upset that he disgraced his family. Soon I heard Jerry died from an overdose. I guess it was a way out of his problems. Jerry was in his mid-20s.
Tom went on to his way to a great career got married and became President of The German American Police Association. I’ve lost touch with him long ago.
Four lads and two of us died really young. I guess I should be grateful I did not have those demons to deal with. It must have been a roll of the dice.