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Jackson Heights Gangs | Jackson Heights Queens

Jackson Heights Gangs

Barons Gang 1955

Barons Gang Fight Arrest 1955

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Jr Bachelors
Splendon Social Club
Splendon comes from the Beta Splendon Siamese fighting fish - a symbol of a fish with a top hat and cane was on the membership card.
Barons (Jr HS 145):
Originally formed at JH 145 in Jackson Heights in the mid-50s. Main hangout was Plagmann's candy store on Woodside Ave. & 69th Street on the Woodside/Elmhurst border and the school yard of PS 12, two blocks away. They also frequented a pocket park on Broadway & 76th Street. Members came from Woodside, Maspeth, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst. Their closest allies were the Gaylords, whose members included some older brothers of the Barons. The club lasted approximately from 1954 - 1958. Our main enemies were the Whippets, Gamblers, Northern Boulevard Boys, Brigands, and Knights.
The novel about the Vandals was written by an author from that era: The Vandals.
Anyone who remembers them and wants to contact this writer, please Email me at:
Gaylords: from Woodside

An ex-Baron, 62 years old, Vietnam Vet had this to say: I was in the Barons in Astoria Queens, a very big all over Queens gang numbering around 300. We had girls in our gang as well. We were in a lot of fights with rival gangs. You ever hear of the Parkside Gents in Astoria Queens? We had a gang war with them. I had my eye brow split open from a rock-is-a-sock. We never went anywhere unless there were a lot of us together; that was the way it was back then. We did have jackets, etc. But, when the cops saw the Baron’s jacket they would attack us, and take our jackets. Our jackets had a “B” in the front with a cross going through; it was really a nice jacket. The back said Barons S. C, for Barons Social Club. The cops still attacked the Barons even though it said Social Club. The cops in Astoria were after the Barons, not the Mafia. The cops on Astoria BLVD, next door to me, were arrested for being in the Mafia, one Captain and like 20 other cops.

When I joined the Navy in 1970, I was in in the Special Forces and I beat up a cop in Italy. He started it. They don’t like us. Keep in mind they were with Hitler. So I was in jail and this guy told me “I can beat everyone in your division!” I said, “Start with me!” Well, he went to the ER. I had blinded him. He got his vision back in a few months later. So after that I tried to stay out of trouble. I was out of the Navy and this big guy, like 6’7” and 250 lbs, (I am 6’4” Irish from the South Bronx) hit me in the temple. I did not feel thing. I knocked him out with one punch. So if it wasn’t for my time in the Barons, I would have never learned how to survive!

Jackson Heights Queens Gangs

One Jackson Heights man's view looking back on his old neighborhood and crew: I moved to Jackson Heights Queens from Williamsburg Brooklyn around 1952. I noticed no mention of the kids from 82nd street to 69th street (by the Woodside border) area of Jackson Heights. In the 50's there were the Jr Bachelors and Braghans (spelling not sure) who were one of the same and hung around PS 69 on 37th Ave and 78th Street. They pretty much controlled this half of Jackson Heights down to Woodside. Hangouts were Bill's Lunchenete and Newtown Bowling. Later in the mid 60's the Splendon Social Club was charted. Splendon comes from the Beta Splendon Siamese fighting fish - a symbol of a fish with a top hat and cane was on the membership card. The club on 71st street and 35th Ave consisted of mainly guys from Jackson Height and to a lessor degree Woodside. Less than half were ex gang members. I was a charter member at 21, I just finished a 3 year hitch in the army. In the 5-6 or so years the club existed, we never had a single incident where trouble walked in the door. We had a full service bar and excellent Juke Box, along with table and booths. Late night poker games were not unusual. The cops left us alone perhaps because at least 2 members were on the force, and also because they were happy we were all in one place. There were some fairly tough individuals within club, including non member neighborhood guys (regulars). One member for example was a jujitsu black belt ex Golder Gloves who was the only American to perform at the Japanese Pavellon at the 64 Worlds Fair at Willets Point near Flushing. All members were in the 18-30 year age bracket, some ex Army, Navy and Marines. The girls were all from the general area and a number of marriages occured over the years. Typical Fri-Sat nights ended in the wee hours of the morning. Drugs were becoming more wide spread around NY and the country during this time, and caused some issues within the club.

The Splendon died a slow death as married members had kids, and others moved out of Jackson Heights. Some other club names I recall that were not mentioned were the Barons (Jr HS 145) in Jackson Heights and the Gaylords from Woodside (unless they were part of the Gaylords that existed elsewhere). Two brothers (Frank and Arky) from the then defunct Gaylords were regulars who came to the club.

We also hung around the Woodside Projects for a couple years... We had periodic fights with the black kids from time to time. I was arrested for unlawful assembly with about 22 other guys during one such 'fight' (I was 14) The other kids had friends from gangs at the Queensbridge projects, names I don't know, but they all wore raincoats. We had help from the Saddletramps and some other older guys who I'm not sure of. We were in the front page of the Long Island Star Journal the next day.. my Dad didn't speak to me for 2 years. After that 'fight' we were loosely associated with the Gents from Astoria.. I remember their Jackets were black with white script.. the symbol on the front was a white top hat. gloves and cane.

Top gang - Corona Dukes

The top gang was probably the Corona Dukes, for sheer numbers, they had generations involved. I believe the way they operated was to get into the military when you were 18, basically learn to shoot and be a man, and upon discharge work on being selected up to another level. I remember a pair of brothers who were Dukes, went through this 'rite of passage' and later picked up numbers bets from some of the clubs in Jackson Heights. Jackson Heights had two key night clubs and many bars. The night clubs were the Blue Haven 37th Ave and 76th St and The Monclair Club between 74th and 75th steet on 37th Ave where artists like King Curtis used to play. A lot of us then hung out in Albee's Bowling alley right next to the Monclair, which thinking back was probably run by the Italian mob as was the Monclair. I was 13-15 then and knew the manager Frank. He always liked me, and would ask me to set pins when one of the drunk pinboys who they had working there failed to show up.

Jackson Height Changes

About a year joining the Army a guy from the Westside (Manhatten) moved into the neighborhood. A friendship formed and I was introduced to the 96th steet and Broadway, Amsterdam and Columbus Ave area where I met a whole different group of kids. This was a dying Irish neighborhood, turning Puerto Rican. A lot of these guys were living on the edge. We had a party there I recall to celebrate my going into the army, and my friends brother going to be sentenced to Rikers. This area was the homeland for heroin addicts. There was a pool room on 96th and Broadway where the locals hung out if they had money to play. Standing in front on the corner on a Friday night, some glazed junkie would be pass by virtually every minute. These kids would pull stuff like.. hail a cab... go to a short destination, and upon getting out would 'trip' and fall.. and lay on the street until an ambulance would come and head for a hospital. The cab company would then send a rep to see the 'victim' and pay an out of court settlement for typically $500. The kids would work their way through the various cab companies as you can only pull this off once. I recall a steet fight with kids from Harlem.. the violence blew me away... I learned what damage a car aerial could do, as my 'friends' ran to cars snapping off the aerials. They also hustled gays for money and in later years were hanging around the gay bars in Manhattens Westside I found this out when one of the guys from Jackson Heights who was selling 'downer's' begged me to drive him to 'the city'where he had a sale to make. This was when I was around 22 or so. I wound up in a gay bar on 72nd street while my friend unloaded bottles of pills. I was at the bar when I finally realized the good looking blonde next to me was a guy. At that moment a voice calls out 'Bob'.. I turn around and there's one of the street guys I knew from the West 90's years earlier... clearly gay and talking with a lisp. NY will always be an education in progress.

Newtown Bowling Alley

Newtown Bowling Alley in the early sixties

Big Irv Singing in the Fifties

Big Irv of the Newtown Bowling Alley in the fifties

I would be interested to hear from folks who bowled there in the fifties and early sixties.

Best regards
Karen Wilder