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Harpo's Story and How he Died

Rest in Peace Harpo

This is a story of the timeline leading up to Harpo's untimely death on December 26, 1972.

By Deadeye, Reinberg GL

Events leading up to Harpo's death

Two to three weeks before Harpo got killed was the first meeting with the punks that killed him.
We were at North & Lamon, at the Burger King. Four of us went up there looking for Woody, and the guys that he was starting the new section with. We didn't see Woody, or anybody else that we knew, but the punks were there!

We went into the Burger King to get something to eat. The place was crowded; none of the booths were open, so we had to sit on the round stools that ran along the front window counter. The older guys will remember this set up as they were eliminated over the years. Wop was with me, and two guys that he knew from Lennies, and maybe Bonehead. It was four or five guys thirty-five years ago. Some things you remember, others you forget.

I was a senior in high school, had a steady, part time job, and I was an Almighty Gaylord! Indestructible, top of the world, nobody could touch me. It was cold early that year, kind of like now. Army parkas were in, and I was wearing one over my sweater: my sweater, my Gaylord sweater, the sweater that had a history all of its own. It was a one of a kind, unlike anyone else's. I bought it from Lil Mike. He sold it to me because now that he was out of high school, and out of the house, working full time sweating rent, he said he wasn't going to be able to be an active participant in the club. He had got the sweater from the Palmer Gaylords who had burned it off a Pope. Yes, it started life as a Pope sweater! He took the sweater to Pops at the Chicago knitting Mills and had them put the three bands on the left arm. It was now A Gaylord sweater with both shoulder bands and the three traditional arm bands..........

I first noticed someone standing behind me in the reflection of the window. I had opened my parka when we sat down to eat but had not taken it off because we were right near the front door, and it was cold. He said, "What kind of sweater is that?" I turned to face him, taking in his size and demeanor, and felt no fear. He was just a little punk. I stood and opened my parka, letting it slide off my shoulders, so he could see my G/L patch, and bands. "It’s a Gaylord sweater, a Reinberg school Gaylord sweater!" He looked long and hard at it, and said "what’s with the shoulder bands?" I explained to him the history of the sweater. He looked confused then said "Yeah!! We are friends with the Popes!", as he pointed to his friends sitting in a booth. I said, "Well who the f_ck are you!"

He said, "We are the K-Town Lords!!..................."

The next thing out of his mouth was truly laughable, or so I thought at the time. "Give me your sweater!" I thought he was kidding. I laughed, and sat back down to finish eating. He didn't leave but just stood there in the aisle behind me. I was watching him in the reflection of the glass in front of me. He seemed perplexed. He didn't know what to do next. The other guys with me didn't hear the whole conversation so they didn't know what was going on either. I spun around in my chair, not even getting up, and told him, "Why don't you go back and sit down with your little friends before you get yourself in trouble!" I said this loud enough so that the guys with me heard it, and all turned to look at him. It was also said loud enough that the people he was with heard me. He looked at me, then at his friends who were not moving. Then he walked back to his booth and sat down. By then we had finished eating and started to leave. Wop asked me, as we walked out to the car, "What was that all about?" I told him, as I laughed, that he wanted me to give him my sweater, and that it would take a lot more then him and his friends to get this sweater.............

We got in the car, me in the back seat passenger side. The driver Fred B. backed out into exit lane. Looking backward, he said, "Hey, here comes your buddy!" I looked, and sure enough, the clown had followed us out. He came up to my window so I rolled it down, "What the f_ck do you want?" I said! He said, "I told you to give me your sweater!" His friends were still inside the Burger King. He had come out alone to confront us so I figured he was just f_cking around. So did everybody else in the car as we all laughed. At that point he did the unexpected. He reared back and punched me in the face through the open car window; Right in the nose. I saw stars! I hate getting punched in the nose as my nose had been broken twice before in the past. "This f_cker is going to pay for that!" I said as I exited the car!!.........

As I exited the car I was still seeing stars! I was also seeing red! I wanted that f_cker in the worse way. I ran at him, and he ran away. Running around cars making me chase him. I was getting angrier so I pulled out the knife that I always carried with me and ran after him. He saw the knife and ran to go back inside, but the manager had seen what was going on and locked the doors, His friends were inside, and he was locked out. I had him!!! I turned back to see where the rest of my crew were. Wop was out of the car, but he wasn't coming over to help, and the two guys from Lane/Lennies didn't even get out of the car. It was him and me! As I ran toward him he grabbed a garbage can lid and held it up like shield. I slashed at him, and he blocked the knife. With my free hand I tried to rip the shield from his hands, but he held on. I kept pushing him back towards the front of the Burger King slashing, kicking and pushing. My plan was to get him to the front window and trip him up in the bushes or knock him through the plate glass window. This seemed to last forever! The back and forth, the rage, the anger, I felt nothing else. In my fog I could hear someone from behind me yelling my name. It was Wop! I slowly was coming out of the fog! He was yelling, "The Cops are coming. Don't you hear the sirens?" I was totally out of the fog and heard the sound. I looked at the windows of the restaurant, and everyone in there was watching this whole thing unfold. I gave the punk a big push and knocked him down and decided to get out of there. As I walked away, he said, "you’re dead motherf_cker! I'm going to get you!" I turned and said, "F_ck You!" as I got in the car, and we got out of there............

We flew out of the parking lot and started driving down side streets. Zig zagging to make sure we were not going to be caught by the cops. I was fuming!! First of all, I didn't get the f_cker: and, secondly, because nobody backed me up. I started yelling at all of them telling them what pussies they were for not backing me up. They all had excuses as to why they didn't help. But, I wasn't buying any of them, and I told them just to get us back to the neighborhood. When we got back, I had them drop me off so I could find somebody with more balls to go back and look for these guys. Wop was ready to go back with me, but the other guys wanted no part of it and were anxious to leave. I told them not to come around anymore as I didn't consider them Gaylords, and they should stay the f_ck out of my neighborhood. These guys were from a different section and only recently started coming around and hanging at Manor Bowl, whose members we guys from Reinberg didn't think too highly of anyway.
After hitting all the usual hanging places around Belmont & Central, McDonalds,the two bowling alleys, Burger King, the park, and the school yard we didn't find anybody. So, we decided to call it a night and head home..............

The next day was back to school: me to Foreman, Wop to Lane. The word went out. Who are the K-Town Lords? No one knew.  Never heard of them. Other guys expanded the search: St Pats, Steinmetz, Schurz, Gordon, and other schools that were attended by guys from Reinberg. Other branches were asked: Kilbourn, and Palmer, other clubs: Jousters, C-Notes, Playboys and even the Popes. No one had ever heard of them. Must have just been a chance meeting with a bunch of no-name punks. After a few days, things returned to normal. Plans were being made with friends for holiday get together over the Christmas break. The punks were all but forgotten.........................

The next weekend a friend of mine was having a party for his eighteenth birthday. He wasn't a Gaylord, but he knew all of us. He asked me to come to the party because I had known him since freshman year, and we were friends. He also asked me not to bring everyone with me because he had a lot of people already coming, and there was not enough room. Also, his dad was a Chicago Cop and frowned upon my exploits even though he saved my ass a couple of times. The only one I brought to the party was Milton because, at the time, we were dating sisters. We couldn't pick up the girls at there house because their stepfather also did not like us. Well, before the girls left the house, they got into it with their parents and left without permission. They decided to run away from home. They came to the party and met us and told us what happened. Some people were staying overnight at the party so we decided we would all stay there. About half way through the party my friend’s mother called me upstairs to get a phone call. It was my mother saying that the girl’s mother had called her and that if I knew where they were I better call her, or she was going to call the police...........

I called the girls mother and made up a story that I had not seen her, but I thought some friend of hers was having a party and she might be there. She questioned me further but didn't get anymore info. The last thing she said was she was going to call the police; and if I knew where her daughters were, I better tell them to get home. We had left the party to make the call at a phone booth; and, as we were walking back to the party, a station wagon full of guys drove by and shouted some thing. We hurried back to the party because it was cold out, and we didn't know if the police were looking for us, or if the car load would come by again. The party was a blast and we stayed there all night, waking the next morning around 9:00. ................................

We walked to McDonalds at Central and Barry for breakfast. We ordered and hung around for a while waiting to see if anyone was around. We also tried to figure out he girl’s problem with returning home. No one showed up, and they didn't want to go home so we decided to check out our other hangouts for signs of life. The next stop was Manor Bowl which is about half a block north of McDonalds. My stepfather was on a league at Manor, and I had been bowling there since I was around seven or eight so everybody that worked there knew me. As soon as we walked in, the guy behind the desk, Danny, said "you were a popular guy last night!" "What do you mean?”I asked! He went on to explain that first some guys that he had never seen before came in there and were asking around about the Gaylords - and me specifically by name. He described them, and I didn't really seem to know who it was. Then he dropped the bombshell, and said the police were there looking for me later in the evening. We got out of there and headed to Milton’s house to figure the whole thing out!..........

We decided the girls had to go home and concocted a story for them. They had to tell their mother they were at a girlfriend’s house and had not seen us. This was because the guy at the bowling alley had told me the cops were looking for me for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and statutory rape because the girl was under sixteen by a month. We got them out of there and headed them home and headed out to the neighborhood to see if we could find anybody and find out who the guys were that were looking for the Gaylords and asking about me by my nickname........

From the description the guy at the bowling alley gave me about the guys that were looking for me, we determined it was the same ones that I had the altercation with at B.K. Again, the word went out "who are the K-Town Lords?" And, again no one knew. Monday was back to school for the last few days before Christmas break, and things settled back into the normal routine.

I met Milton that evening. We headed out for the night. Rican was having a family party at his house so he couldn't get out. He said we should stop by. We met up with Lil Mike and Monster on the way and all headed over there. Monster had a couple of beers and a half bottle of M.D 20/20 that we drank on the way there. When we got there the party was in full swing. There were a bunch of Rican’s relatives there, and we were usher through to the kitchen. We hung out for a couple of hours joking around, being glad to be out of the cold. We tried to sneak a few beers or drinks from the party but didn't have much luck so the four of us headed out leaving Rican behind.

The next stop was the Northwest Youth Outreach Center. It was open on Christmas Eve because they had a suicide prevention center, and this time of the year was one of their busiest.

Death of a greaser Harpo Reinberg Gaylords

R.I.P Harpo, December 26, 1972

We had our club meetings here when the youth councilors were there and they would let us have one of the meeting rooms. Tonight no one was there except the suicide guys so we couldn't stay. Besides, we wanted to get some more beer and have a few drinks before we headed home for the night. Monster thought he could get served at the pizza restaurant down the block at Cicero. It was right behind the gas station at the corner of Addison. We walked down there, but it was closed. While standing there deciding what to do next, I started looking through the cars parked at the gas station for loose change and cigarettes. I didn't find any, but the stations tow truck had the keys in the ignition. It started up, but there was a car parked in front of it and on all sides. Lil Mike checked the car in front and it was locked. So, I put the truck in gear and started pushing the car in front out of the way with Lil Mike in the passenger seat and Monster and Milton doing the look out work. The car wasn't moving so I backed up and rammed it a couple of times making a lot of noise. Just then someone in the apartment right behind the station raised the window and started yelling. We bailed out of there and started running north on Cicero. We got to Waveland and headed west through a used car lot checking that no one was following us. We got away clean, or so we thought...........

Just then an unmarked police car pulled into the alley blocking Milton, Lil Mike, and Monsters path. I was already across the alley and on the other side of the car. I was ready to split because there was only one cop in the car, and I was on the far side. When he rolled down the window and said, "Don't make me chase you. I already know where you live!" It was a G.I.U. Cop that we had numerous run-ins with, and he knew us all. Gagliano. He didn't even get out of the car right away, just asked us what we were doing. We said, "We are on our way to Midnight mass at St.Barts!" He looked at us like we were idiots, and asked, "I suppose you didn't have anything to do with the call I just heard on the radio about four guys trying to steal a truck about a block from here, right? "We denied the whole thing, and told him we were just walking from a party on our way to church. "Look, guys. It’s Christmas Eve, and my shift is just about over so I am going to cut you a break, "he responded. Just then a squad roll and a paddy wagon pulled up, and the officers piled out. Gagliano turned to the cops and told them we were not the guys from the incident at the corner, but we were causing mischief and to arrest us for disorderly conduct. Monster said to him, I thought you were going to cut us a break!" He got in Monsters face, "What do you think I just did dumb ass?" "Also, I just want you guys to know I won't be showing up in court tomorrow!" We were loaded into the squad roll and taken to the Sixteenth where we were processed and booked. None of us had bail on us nor did we want to call home. We figured spending a night in the cell at the Sixteenth wouldn't be so bad, and we could walk home from there in the morning. About four in the morning we were rudely awakened and told we were being transferred to Holiday Court lock up at 26th and California.............

They handcuffed us together along with a couple of other prisoners and loaded us onto a Cook Co. Sheriff’s police bus. The guard on the bus informed us that because of the holiday the only court in session was at 26th & Cal. "Gentlemen, enjoy the ride!" From there we headed out, making stops along the way at the 15th on Chicago Ave. Then, to Shakespeare station where we picked up more people. Then to Wood St., and one other station that I wasn't familiar with near Madison and Racine. On the ride there was an old man in the seat in front of us. A bum, or as referred to now a street person/homeless. I asked him what he did, he said, "I stole a salami from Goldblatts!" I told him I didn't think anybody would show up to press charges, and he would probably be let go. He said, “I hope not. I don't want to spend the holidays on the streets; and, besides, if they lock me up, I get three squares a day!"

When we arrived we were placed in a big holding cell behind the courtrooms. There was about thirty of us. They said court would begin at nine, and breakfast would be served soon. Coffee and bologna sandwiches was what we got. After being up most of the night, and coming down from my beer buzz, I wasn't very hungry so I gave mine to the bum. I don't remember if any of the other guys ate their's either. We were all concerned about other things: like how were we going to get home, and explaining where we were all night. The bum got called in to stand before the judge before we did. He came back after a while smiling. I asked "So did you get cut loose!" He answered "Something better, I got ninety days, so now I don't have to spend winter on the streets!"

We got called shortly after that. As we entered the court room, I knew we didn't have to worry about how we were getting home as Milton’s mother was in the courtroom. Apparently she had called the police station and was told where we could be picked up. The ride home was quiet as we were all tired and were trying to think up stories for when we got home. Milton’s mother bitched him out all the way home and included us. I had a story all planned out when Milton’s mother informed me she had already talked to my mother last night when she called my house looking for him. I was worried because my stepfather had been wanting to kick me out since I turned eighteen, and now he had me. He used to tell me the best part of me ran down your father’s leg, and other choice sayings. This was not going to be a Merry Christmas...................

I walked in expecting the worst, but all was pretty quiet. I had missed Christmas morning. The gifts were already opened except the two for me. I went to use the bathroom, and my mother cornered me. She told me I better start flying straight or things were going to change fast! Apparently, to avoid a big scene on Christmas morning in front of the whole family, including my Grand parents, she didn't tell my step father where I had spent he night. She told him that after I went to midnight we stopped back at Milton’s house and fell asleep. The fact that his mother drove me home and dropped me off in front of the house reinforced the story. Things were starting to look better.

The rest of the day went by uneventfully. I didn't go out that night. Not because of worry or fear, but because I had not slept much the night before. Also it was Christmas and all the usual hangouts were closed. The next day I slept late.

Dec 26th 1972! I got up around noon. No special plans for the day, just head out and see what happens. I headed to Milton’s house, since he lived closest to me, and we were tight at the time. I couldn't call from home because my stepfather had a lock on the phone when he wasn't home, and I didn't want to ask my Mom since she was still pissed at me!

Milton’s mother worked so we had the house to ourselves. He told me our girlfriends were on their way over. The two sisters we were dating. They got there around 1:30 and we paired off and went to separate rooms. This was the first time we had gotten together alone since the night at the party a few weeks ago, Because they had been grounded and could not get out. Things got hot and heavy. We snuck into the bathroom and locked the door! I got the Christmas present I had been waiting for. The girls were still grounded so they had to be home before their mother got home at 5:00.We left Milton”s to walk them home.

After walking the girls home we decided to head to the neighborhood. There was a U.F.O. meeting that night down at North and Paulina. We figured to hook up with some of the other guys and head down there. Lil Mike had a car so if we found him we could get a ride. It was now around 6:30 and people were starting to show up after dinner. I don't remember where we met, but it ended up me, Milton, Lil Mike, Woody, and Harpo together in Lil Mike’s car heading down to the meeting. There was also a bunch of other guys in another car heading down .We took the scenic route looking for sweaters or Cashmere overcoats to burn on the way. We had gotten one previously, and I was wearing it that night over my sweater. It was a dark brown double breasted wool/cashmere blend that went down to mid calf. We had got it off a guy in the alley behind the Mc Donald’s at Division and Grand.
We finally made it down to the U.F.O. meeting around eight and a couple of the guys went in to make sure it was safe. This was the beginning of the U.F.O. and we were not sure who to trust and who not to.Lil Mike and went in said some of the guys from Kilbourn were in there, but the meeting was breaking up. We went in and people were getting high, and drinking. We stayed a short while and decided to get out of there because we had just spent the night in jail and didn't want to take the chance getting busted again. Also, the other car full of our guys never showed up. as we found out later they lost us on the way; and, not knowing how to get there, they turned around and headed back.

We scouted the area on the way back to the neighborhood, but again had no luck. Driving through the neighborhood we spotted the other car that we had lost. The driver said he was heading home as he had to get his Dad’s car home, and that he had dropped the rest of the people off at McDonalds at Central and Barry. We headed over and went in. This was back when McDonalds just started with indoor seating. There were booths on the south side of the building with a door towards the back which we usually entered through so the manger wouldn't see us and throw us out if we didn't buy something. There were twelve to fifteen of us in three different booths. I was sitting in the middle seat with people on either side of me. This was in the last booth right next to the exit which was behind me. After a little while Wop said he had to get home because he was on his old man’s shit list, and Lil Mike said he had to get home also, because of the night in jail. So, him and Wop left at that time. The rest of us stayed but were planning to leave soon.

I heard the door behind me open and didn't even turn thinking it was somebody coming back that we knew. I heard movement behind me, then a loud click. The guy sitting across from me, I think it was Bonehead or Lil Dog turned real pail and slid down in his seat. I heard someone say, shit, behind me, and then heard the door opening and someone run out. The guy across from me said to the people on either side of him, "Did you see that!!!" I said, "See what!" He responded," a guy just walked in the back door, pulled out a gun, pointed it at the back of your head, and pulled the trigger! "The guys on either side of him said the same thing. We were frozen in disbelief. Then, somebody started laughing at the other table saying it had to be somebody pulling a joke on us.
We decided by then we had better check it out anyway so we ran out into the parking lot to have a look around. No cars making a fast get away, and nobody in any of the cars out there either. The parking lot was surrounded by a six foot high wooden fence except for one small area where you could get into the Goldblatt’s Tire Center parking lot where there was just a low guardrail.

Now, it was getting to be around nine thirty and everyone was getting ready to leave. Woody and Harpo were heading east, and they asked Rican if he wanted to go with them. He begged off because his current girlfriend was there, and he was going to walk her home which was north on Central the way the rest of us were going. Woody and Harpo left heading east on Barry while the rest of us headed north on Central..............

Woody and Harpo were attacked by a group of punks in a station wagon on their way home. Harpo was stabbed to death, December 26th. 1972.

From a Reinberg Gaylord who was with Harpo the night he was killed: HARPO wasn’t alone that night, I was with him. The neighborhood ( Belmont & Central ) had old ladies walking around at night, so the area was safe, all white except for the night of December 26th when these punks showed up. They were a bunch of nobody punk wanna bees – that’s all. I ran into one a year later at Madonna and beat the f_ck out of him, chased one through Prosser’s Gymnasium during a sock hop, left one for dead at Dons Burger joint on Belmont & Cicero at 2:00 a.m, after beating his skull in with a sugar shaker. Alone they were nothing but a bunch of punks. You see these wanna be bikers nowadays, same sh_t back then. They had the talking sh_t down pat and that was it. So f_ck them motherf_ckers, let them burn in hell.

Harpo Rest In Peace!! We will never forget you!!

Related Story Links:

Harpo's Death, and how it effected the neighborhood

Reinberg/Foreman Gaylords

Harpo is honorably mention in "Lords of Lawndale"