Become a Fan
By Frank Mort Jr.
Monday, November 04, 2002
"Simon City, Chicago"copyright2002.FrankMortJr
Chapter 1 (Page 1)
It was an extremely hot and humid night on August 11th, 1965. I was at Whipple St. and Cortland Av., on Chicago’s near Northwest side. I was afoot transporting an ice cold, frosty 6 pack of beer in a brown paper bag that was too bantam for the severely saturated stout sum inside. The paper bag containing the beer was tight around the edges and corners, with slight tears. The beer was sweating with moisture more than I was.
There was a mayor’s complaint against our neighborhood. What we called turf, chiefly our corner. This provided the uniformed Gestapo (Chicago Police) and the KGB, the not in uniform (Chicago Police Detectives), the authorization to totally circumvent all of our civil rights in the appellation of justice. They did not observe laws against search and seizure or unlawful detention for that matter.
The pigs were continuously around harassing us for no reason at all. Sometimes they had a reason. We would drop a dime in the phone to inform the police that a fight between rival gang members was in progress on the corner of Whipple St. and Cortland Av. This is where we were hanging out. We hoped they would surface and chase us. We did this at that exact moment, because we were ennuyé with nothing to do and zero money for booze. This particular night we held money for aqua vitae. I was carrying the beer. Wouldn’t you know it, a squad roll (paddy wagon) was driving by and they seen me. They initiated to flash their lights, beep the horn robustly and vigorously, and sound the siren. I screamed to myself louder than the siren "big fucking deal, I will just swing this paper bag with the cold 6 pack inside, onto a nearby garage roof and bring into being the reality that they were tremendous dolts and corpulent overblown fat ass pigs." I gave it a couple of exemplary skillful swings. As you surmised on the 3rd and ultimate final swing, by virtue of the bag being so wet from the moisture of the beer within, the bag lacerated and each can jetted in different directions throughout the entire Epicurean expansive alley. This was extremely embarrassing for me and caused egg do-do all over my ego for many years.
They caused me to gather and harvest every can. Each and every time I hunched from higher to lower, to collect a beer can, they kicked me in my ass. Six separate and painful times this took place. They laughed so severely that they started to cry, tears rolled down their fat cheeks. The most titanic of the hogs pissed his pants. Officer Wetpant’s compatriot aggrandized his own chortle instantaneously when his comrade "Officer Drenched Drawers" conferred him with the enhanced evil eye stare.
These pigs said that they would allow me to slide on this and grant me the freedom to vacate the location for other premises on the premise of no real evidence. But they needed to confiscate the evidence (our beer) and dispose of it in the proper manner.
My opinion was that this was more than fair, as there would be no contact with my folks. At no time have I seen these guys that amiable!
Later, we procured more libations and went up on the railroad tracks on Bloomingdale Av., a beloved hang out of ours. Low and behold, who was up there celebrating with our grog and firing at the empty cans? The same pigs who kicked my ass. What bullshit! This was not Primer or Blatz beer; this was Michelob, the champagne of bottled beer. It was over $1.65 for a 6 pack. At least they sanctioned us the possession of our smokes. If they had swiped my Marlboros, another 35 cents would have been added to the tab and brought the total to two bucks.
Soon beer was not a powerful enough high for a majority of us. Beer did not get us stoned fast enough. We graduated to the same beverages the Madison Street Winos consumed; Muscatel wine, Dark Port wine, or Light Port wine with Kool-Aid grape powder inside. I cannot forget Richard’s Wild Irish Rose. A concoction that I want to forget is Clan-Dew. It is whiskey and wine mixed together. When we wanted a buzz at a breakneck pace, Clan-Dew was the brew for the Simon City crew.
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Sometimes 4 or 5 of the Simon City coterie would beg for money to purchase wine. A bottle of Muscatel was sixty-five cents. White Port and Dark Port gave a quicker and stronger jolt, though it had a much nastier taste. This is why we combined the powered ingredients from grape Kool-Aid with Light Port wine. We wanted to make it palatable in order that we could swallow it and not puke. Such wines were true rut gut. These wines gave such a terrible hangover that many kids did not go to school or work the next day. You were desert thirsty. Your tongue had a consistency similar to cardboard. You felt as if you had a sponge in your stomach all night. Your mouth tasted like a cat sat on your face for days. Friends ceased to work out with their weightlifting equipment. They would drink all night and sleep all day. Alcohol is a rampant addiction that runs through families from colossal cities to tiny towns.
In Simon City, Chicago the teenagers had 2 distinct classifications; Greasers and Dupers. I was 14 years callow & wore baggie blues or baggie gray pants, accompanied by a checkered hat. I was a Greaser not a Duper. A Greaser dressed cool, spoke cool, and since Greasers had many ladies for sex, a Greaser was cool. Dupers played sports and hung out with other guys, they did not have women. Dupers had their hand or each other for sex. Dupers were unconditionally not cool.
Greasers had Dobermans and German Shepherds for pets, with names like Killer or Homicide. If they had a cat for a pet, its name was Spike. Dupers kept parakeets and little yellow canaries named Tweety for pets. Dupers owned aquariums occupied with fish nearly as dumb as the Dupers themselves.
Greasers had photographs of naked women, drooling. Dupers carried pictures of Wilt the Stilt Chamberlain, dribbling. Greasers wore boxer shorts. Dupers had briefs. Dupers put Clearasil on their acne. Greasers squeezed their pimples in order to get scars and look bad like Charles Bronson and Jack Palance. Greasers had razor cut haircuts by the corner barber that would cost $1.75 on weekdays and $2.50 on Weekends or holidays.The barbershop had the candy cane design barber pole. Dupers had bawdy, baldy sours or hairstyles from Pierre’ or Andre’, that were priced at $20 bucks plus tip. The men’s barbershop had fantastic girlie calendars on the wall and Playboy Magazines on the table.
You could learn ancient wisdom and poignant sayings like "women you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them". What did the Dupers learn at Pierre’s? How to create the perfect quiche’.
Greasers played Del Shannon records. Dupers listened to the Beach Boys on the radio. Greasers liked the Beach Boys because of the fast Hot Rods and the hot fast bikini clad females. The men in the swimsuits surfing aroused Dupers.Dupers had dads that were office clerks or sold socks and ties. Greaser dads were mechanics like the Fonz or owned bars or beef stands. Dupers experimented with alternate lifestyles. Greasers wanted women and women only, the more women the better.
Dupers wanted to wrestle in a street fight. Greasers wanted to standup and box. The reason Dupers wanted to lie down and wrestle was to be able to rub their crotch on someone’s thigh or ass. Greasers found it to be essential to fight standing up, in order not to get their Banlon shirts soiled or Stacy Adams shoes scuffed.
Greasers pulled combs or condoms from their pockets. The only items a Duper yanked from his pocket was butterscotch candy or a key to get into his home. Greasers drove 1957 Chevy Nomads, while Dupers had Volkswagens. A Duper purchased a new bright orange VW Beetle. The first night he parked it in front of his house, without his knowledge, we filled his gas tank with gasoline. Every evening he parked his VW, we filled it with gasoline. We did this without exception each night, for 2 weeks. Starting on the 15th night, we begun to siphon gasoline from his newly acquired VW, again without him knowing. We did this for the following 2 weeks. After the entire month of our pranks was completed, we asked him "How was the gas mileage on his automobile? "His answer;" The first two weeks I was getting more than 85 miles to the gallon, it seemed like the gas tank could not go empty! Then something must have happened, because these last two weeks I am getting less than 8 miles to a gallon of gas. I brought it in to the dealership I purchased it from, but he could not locate anything in error."
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Us Greasers laughed and laughed until we wet our pants (which is the only none cool thing we ever did). We told him about this about a month after he traded his VW in on an American car, as he felt that he could not rely on that VW any longer.
Simon City teens actually liked the Police. Most of us had family on the force. Some had brothers, fathers or uncles on the Chicago Blues. We called them "pigs" because that is what cool people on TV and films called them. So we emulated these stars, as we wanted to be cool.
Years later the name "Fuzz" was added to our vocabulary. Fuzz was a new word meaning Police to us. Several of our group, joined the force after the military or school. We had a contradictory sorts of police staff in Simon City, Chicago, 97% were honest, hardworking officers whom upheld the law. One of the other 3% was a very bigoted African-American; his name was Darter, Sgt. Darter.
He stated publicly on many occasions that he hated all white people, that all white people are offspring of Satan. That is Satan as in Devil with a capital D. According to Darter this was not a coincidence that the same capital D; belonged to the group of people he hated the most, the Dago. Darter’s stepfather is Italian. Darter’s stepfather was abusive to him.
Why doesn’t the police department perform intensive psychological tests on their job applicants before full employment? Weed these characters out, this is an unsolved mystery to me?
A myriad of his fellow officers tried to convince Darter not to take it out on a whole group of people because of what his stepfather did to him, this fell upon Darter’s clogged ears. Because of Darter’s closed mind, officers did not know what to do.
Simon City possessed people of many ethnic persuasions. The group containing the largest number of people, were Italians. Many of the cops in Darter’s district grew up in Simon City and were Italian. These Italian cops knew that Darter detested Italians. They said if Sgt. Darter ever needed assistance that they would arrive late, if they arrived at all.
One cop had so many weapons on him that it was difficult for him to move. Officially cops are only to have one back-up gun. This guy had several pistols, knives and Mace. He made detective and begun to wear beaded lead lined leather gloves to beat confessions from guilty until proven innocent perpetrators. A bitch slap that he would give a person could slice a cavernous gash in their face and certainly have the ability to leave a scar.
He would beat his wife and girlfriends mercilessly. Frequent complaints were lodged against him, promoting investigations that were never substantiated. Eventually he divorced and went out mainly with prostitutes. He was of African-American & Italian-American descent and looked like the football player Franco Harris. He was Sgt. Darter’s best friend on the force. They resigned from the police department during the same week.
At Shakespeare police station there was a police officer that was the main turnkey. Turnkey is the jailer who turns the key to lock or unlock the lock to your cell. This Officer Turnkey collected automobiles. He had a Pontiac GTO Judge with a 428 engine with dual quad carburetors. The engine had a 3/4 racing camshaft. It had a 4.56 posi-traction rear-end with a limited slip differential. He purchased a Dodge Dart from Norm’s Grand-Spaulding Dodge in Chicago. It had a 440 V-8 engine with three deuces.
With the introduction of a motorcycle by Kawasaki, an H-3 model with a 3 cylinder, 2 stroke engine that was faster than any muscle car, he sold all his cars. He then began to accumulate motorcycles.
We had a pool shark cop. Several police officers bought businesses. A few owned a fabulous Italian beef stand on Armitage Av. They served Italian ices sherbets, and Lupini beans. The menu listed deep fried Calamari and Cavatelli. Simon City had an all around favorite cop. He was an Italian cop. His name was Frank Bernard Tocco. He tried to serve and protect. He attempted to point the boys in Simon City, Chicago away from joining with the broken noses. Simon City had an all around favorite cop. He was an Italian cop. His name was Frank Bernard Tocco. He tried to serve and protect. He attempted to point the boys in Simon City, Chicago away from joining with the broken noses.
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Because of this very hardworking, honest good Joe of a police officer, many teenage males did not hook up with the Mafia.
A Simon City son paid no attention at all, was Jack Sicily. Officer Tocco was a regular guy & a regular cop. He had a shoot out with bank robbers. He had an additional battle with home invaders. Officer Tocco got wounded several times in the line of duty and promoted many times. He was busted back down, as he refused to play the political games the department required.
He drove a black and white squad car in Simon City. These automobiles went from black and whites to white and blue in color. Daily, Tocco would park his squad car and walk a beat throughout Simon City territory. He would shake hands, wave hello, kiss babies and smile at everyone, especially women over 65 years of age. It seemed as if he was running for political office. He did not swipe apples from carts or fruit stores. He received dozens of offers every week to dine at many homes, which included open invitations. He enjoyed virtually a cornucopia of ambrosia delights. Though he loved Mexican and Italian food, his favorites were Polish and Soul food. They had many sausages and pork. He had a gargantuan appetite.
A problem he had, and would not allow demising; being he would not allow another officer, such as his superior Sgt. Darter, to be openly prejudice. Many meetings between Darter, Tocco and their superior Lt. Panowski took place. Nothing ever changed or got settled.
Panowski was 100% Polish but he looked 100% Italian. He had much in common with Tocco, mainly in the food category, both cherished Soul food. Jointly they would sojourn to the Soul Queen café on 22nd street or a place near Madison St. and Homan Av. The 1st few times they went to eat at these places, the other patrons looked worried. After several dining experiences, the owners and customary customers realized these two uniformed police were just light skinned brothers. These 2 olive colored police brothers could extraordinarily eat and devour a prodigal quantity of greens, grits and gizzards.
Panowski made District Commander, before retirement. Darter quit the police force, after he passed the bar exam on his 1st attempt, he joined the FBI. Darter was one of the men, involved in the Waco incident many years later. Tocco retired with over 20 years of distinguished service.
That night my beer was snatched from me, the year was 1965. The minimum wage was $1.65 an hour. You needed to be 21 years of age to vote. You could speak your mind. You were not required to be politically correct. You better not yell fire in a crowded theatre.
Life was much simpler, except for the draft. I do not mean the draft from Chicago’s bad, bitter, brittle winters. I do not mean draft beer. I am speaking about the selective service for males, aged 18 or over. 1A or 4F were 2 of the classifications, with all types of classifications and deferments in between. The draft was a non-voluntary method of building up the number of foot soldiers for branches of the military.
The majority of draftees were on the lower echelon of the American caste system. If your family had money you could attend college and obtain a deferment. If your family was in the cash, they may have known a politician or at least knew a businessman that maintained a connection with a politician. This might secure a deferment for you for the oddest of illogical reasons. Some honest, others illegal.
Many guys from the hood joined on account of their friends being drafted. It was 1969; I was a Marine in platoon 1028. We had 75 guys, 73 went to Viet Nam, and 69 did not come back. Not good odds. Most of them were wounded or died in the 1st 3 weeks upon arrival in Southeast Asia or the last 3 weeks, before leaving Nam. The 1st 3 weeks as they were green and did not know what to do to stay alive. The last 3 weeks, because it was difficult to keep your mind on what was happening and not to think about going home. Some fellows started to think they were invincible and could not die. A few, because of the drugs that gave illusions of grandeur. Others seemed to just miss the Angel of Death. One moonless and starless night in Nam, I was talking to Rudolph. He was from a gang located on 63rd & Wentworth in Chicago. Rudolph had frequent tiny skirmishes with the law, as most inner city teens
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Now the legal system decided "Rudolph passed the boundaries he was allowed". These imposed perimeters are not set in stone; they changed from moment to moment and for person to person. You never knew when you overstepped that fine line. Apparently, Rudolph crossed that imaginary, though very real border. A judge from 26th and California in Chicago told Rudolph "join the Marines or do not pass go and do not collect $200, just go to jail." He joined the Marines.
Rudolph reminded me of Fred Astaire. Rudolph loved dancing. His preferred dance was cheek to cheek, ballroom style with any lady he could find. His favorite comedians were Godfrey Cambridge and Lenny Bruce. Rudolph’s dream was to become a stand-up comedian and work nightclubs and eventually get an act in Las Vegas.
He was always worried about me as I was smart but he felt that I did not possess any street sense. I informed him that we were not on the street but in a fucking jungle with millions of mosquitoes, and what I really needed was insect repellant. He said that is why he smoked so much, as the smoke helped keep the bugs away. I asked him "if this was the type of bullshit he told that judge that gave him the choice of jail or the Marines?"
Anything this true buddy of mine got shipped to him from home, he shared with me. Candy, homemade cookies, some food that I had absolutely no idea what it was. He even shared dirty photographs of all of his women but one female, his "special lady".
One of his girlfriends, Daphne started to correspond with me. All the females I knew totally forgot about me. The only other letters I received were from family or buddies. Daphne sent me pictures of her. She was so gorgeous. I got one letter a week from her, sometimes more. I kept her letters in a cardboard box, that once upon a time housed quarts of Old Style beer. Any moment I was lonely or scared, I checked a dozen or so of her messages. This made me relax and frequently fall fast asleep and have terrific dreams.
She wanted to get an education and move out of her neighborhood. She told me to keep my head down and my chin up. Daphne was accepted into Northwestern University. She was enrolled full time as a Biology major. She wanted to become a doctor. Daphne was employed full time as an evening pharmacy assistant at Walgreens. One late Friday night while waiting for a bus to go home from work a drunken driver plowed into her. She was in a coma that she never recovered from. That drunk driver never served any time in jail for her murder.
My friends back home in the states acted as if I was some hero on the front line. On the front line you could not find any rank above a Captain. The majority of foot soldiers were inner city teenagers. Over 40% were African-American. The balance was composed of Whites and Hispanics with a High School education or less. I was not trying to be a hero. I was only trying to stay alive and help keep Rudolph alive for his ladies. We were back buddies. Back buddies have their backs, back to back when they sit or stand; while near the front line of combat. You can stand up lightning fast by using each other’s backs for leverage.
You kept your dog tags in your right boot. In the left boot you wrote your Social Security number in it, if either of your legs were blown off and on they were retrieved, they could identify them as yours and furthermore conceivably attach them. This is if you were alive and did not bleed to death or your body did not go into shock. Rudolph & I were in a ditch talking about women and playing some jive card game he taught me and was always cheating me at. Rudolph enjoyed painting black on me, by changing the rules of this game whenever it benefited him. After I ceased to pester him for about 10 minutes, I noticed him giving me a blank stare. Usually, he would insult me in return for over an hour and call me the N word. Finally, after a few seconds that seemed like hours I asked him what was wrong? Fearing and knowing the worst had happened. I shook him and his head practically fell off his shoulders. He was hit. I carried him over 2 miles (I think) where he was pronounced dead. He was closer than a brother.
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A millennia has begun, I will be 50 years of age. My preferred pastime is to experience coffee with whores in 24-hour greasy spoon restaurants. The finest time to imbibe coffee with these citizens of the twilight is between 3:30 am and 4:30 am. Starbucks is not open at that time and does not cater to whores. You cannot meet whores at Starbucks, not real whores. At least not whores that would admit or even knew that were whores. The foremost reason all whores have sex with men is for financial support, money.
I have hundreds possibly thousands of photographs of my whores. About 70% of these pictures are of my whores fully clothed. The other 30% have them in various costumes. I like how they look in a French maid’s uniform. I have had them in nurse uniforms and police attire. I especially enjoy it when they are dressed in leather, leather pants, short skirts, shoes, and boots. Anything leather, including any or all the accessories. Combine black leather and chrome or stainless steel, they look so great together.
Even when these earthy, musk scented females were not in an always-open establishment, I rather be there with the males that frequented these never close diners. These guys had the persona of an Ernest Borgnine or Lee Marvin type of character. Characters that seeped right out of a Robert Conrad novel. The type of real to life people protruding a John Steinbeck’s "Tortilla Flat". These people had actual problems.
24-hour grills are as American as apple pie, Chevrolet, Dinah Shore and Harley. Coffee for under a buck with 3 or 4 refills. Creatures of the night with all their pain and glory. Many are cab drivers, 2nd shift factory workers, janitors, waitresses and bartenders from neighborhood joints. No facades. Thoughts on reality, not up in the air like yuppies in a Starbucks. The names are not Biff or Brad or Babbs. Numbers of them had nicknames for haymakers or are named after their fathers or grandfathers. Names like Frank, Joe or Mike. These guys had sisters, moms, and wives named Linda, Mary or Janice. Females named after their Mothers or Grandmothers.
Those women never cheated on their men. Some of the men cheated on their women, so what, there wasn’t any herpes or Aids running rampant. If these women developed a smart mouth by reading those women magazines, these guys would give a light smack across the chops to straighten them out. Attitudes adjustments were far and few between, maybe 2 or 3 times a year. Those smacks combined with keeping these felines barefoot and pregnant kept marriages together at any expense. Mainly the expense was the poor woman’s. When a woman made a complaint to the police, most of the time a report wasn’t even filed. If it got before a judge, both of them were ordered to see a social worker. The man might show up for the 1st meeting. It might have been less than required for the male but it was mandatory for her. Astonishing though this was reality. The social worker would tell her to put up with these infrequent strikes for the sake of the marriage and the children.
These guys were only in a Taxi on the way to a downtown hotel because they were the cab driver, not a passenger. They ate oatmeal for breakfast since they have had it for breakfast since they were 2 years old, not because some phony actor portraying a nutritionist on television informed them to eat it. What is a bistro? A café? These are places to pay $25 for .50 cents worth of spaghetti, now that it was re-named pasta. A place to pay $8.00 for a glass of Chianti. These people I adored as they bought an entire bottle for $7.00 at Cardinal liquor stores. They would boil a few pounds of noodles at home and invite 6 or 7 friends to eat. The sauce they created was thicker and richer than any Italian eatery. In fact most Italian Bistros do not even have an Italian cook.These fellows were not ashamed of their callused hands. When my people ate out, they ate at places that gave you gas, real gas. They let loose of Los Alamos farts; explosions more deadly than an A- bomb. When they took a dump it was like chemical warfare. Without these people Pepto-Bismol and Tums would go out of business along with laxatives.These people actually hung out with their co-workers before and after work. People knew their neighbors and their neighbor’s kids. Guys married the sister of a boyhood friend. You were a Godfather of your best friend’s son or daughter, you were next in line. If anything happened to their parents, you were there to help out and take over if necessary, "let’s roll" were your words. Everyone was a hero, a warrior.
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