The Popes Gaylords War
The Pope/Gaylord's war of the early seventies divided the White greaser gangs in Chicago at a time when minority gang memberships were on the rise. The war between the Insane Popes and the Almighty Gaylord's (Chicago's largest White street gangs) caused a division that lasted into the People and Folk alliances, when the Gaylords joined the People and the Popes and the Simon City Royals joined the Folks.
These stories are told by former members of both gangs documenting the events leading up to the battles between the Popes (IP) and the Gaylords (GL).
IP: I recall when the trouble with the Gaylords and Popes began, not many of us felt good about it, especially the Popes that went to Lane Tech. There were only a handful of us there and many of them weren’t hardcore.
Once the trouble began there was a few of us on Milwaukee Avenue around the Portage Theater. A couple car loads of Gaylords pulled up and jumped out on us. Outnumbered badly, we all tore ass through the neighborhood over fences. Lil Larkin got caught and was picked up and put through a storefront window. By coincidence the store was a uniform or sewing store called Gaylords.
One night in the winter of 1973 we got tipped that we were going to get hit at Dickinson Park. Around that time the other white gangs formed UFO: United Five Organization. I always thought that’s who was involved, but Kilbourn G/L was calling the shots. There were 13 of us around the park with two guns. We dug in and waited. From the east a lot of guys were heading towards us. We all scattered and hid. I never realized that another group came at us from the south around Irving Park. I lived on Laverne just south of the park, and that’s where a lot of us converged. Some shots were fired and an ex C- note got shot. After scattering some of our guys just left the area; a wise move. Those that stayed met at my house. The neighborhood was swarming with guys with bad intentions. My own brother Lil Moe hid in a neighbor’s yard and covered himself up with snow to escape. I never hit anyone with my shots as I was too cold and scared to get off some well placed shots. I always wondered just how many guys came after us that night and which clubs were represented.
One time Larkin and C Kidd told a bunch of us (8 or 10) to meet them in the morning, cut school if needed but be there. When we were all ready, we were told we were going to wake up the Gaylords. They had an apartment just north of Kolmar Park on Montrose Avenue near the expressway. We were just crossing the expressway when we ran into Munchkin on his way to work. He had just left the apartment. We all slunk up the back stairs to the second or third floor and forced our way in. There was a refrigerator pushed up against the door from the inside, but it wasn't hard to get in .There were only two guys there that I can remember, a Playboy named Slinky with his sweater. The other was a passed out or sleeping Gaylord who was woken up at gunpoint. We told Slinky we had no beef with the Playboys and let him keep his sweater. I don’t recall what was said, but I don’t think the Gaylord was damaged. After we left on our way back I recall Larkin and C Kidd being disappointed that there wasn't any of the heavy, dangerous Gaylords there. I started missing more and more classes at Lane after that. I’m really glad now that no one was shot and killed on the way in or once we got in.
Once the hostilities started the Popes wanted to know who all was going to get in on open Pope season compliments of Larkin. We knew a C-note named Turk and he set up a meet down around Smiths Field with Pie the ranking Note at the time I guess. He took us up some alley and into a garage. Inside was Pie and a couple others. There was around 6 of us: Larkin, Chuck Kidd, Moe, Me and a couple others. So before we get talking one note leaves the garage, A little while later a pile of guys start filing in fully armed. Everyone was strapped: handguns, rifles and shotguns. I was hoping we weren’t going to get killed. They were just parading their hardware, which was impressive. Pie told us that he would tell those he had influence over not to come down on us.I don’t know if all the notes obeyed but it was something we didn’t worry about.
So the day after Joe L got shot up by Dickinson park I had to go back to Gaylord high school (Lane Tech).Popes not being welcome at Lennies, I stayed in the lunchroom. One of the hall guards at the main entrance was a G/L from St Gens named Squirrel. We were friends. I was talking with him and 3 other Popes. One of the bigger G/Ls named Thor came up to us and asked if I was there last night. I told him I was. He asked if I did the shooting that hit Joe, I told him I didn’t. He was really pissed off because he was standing next to Joe when he got hit and a bullet tore his coat at shoulder level where Joe got hit. He wanted to fight and wouldn't take no for an answer. He told Squirrel: come on! We got outside the lunchroom and Squirrel punches a Pope named Mike in the eye. Me and a big Pope named Rich jumped on Thor. Next thing I know Squirrel is on me from behind. Mike and another Pope named Gary were standing there, and I yelled to them to get Squirrel off of me. They were two pretty useless f_cks and I took on Squirrel myself till the hall guards and teachers broke us up. So Thor yells to us to come to Lennies after school to finish it. I wasn't about to offer myself up to a bunch of pissed off G/Ls after school and cut my last class. I was trying to make it out through the auditorium and I ran into one of the biggest Gaylords at Lane. A guy called Greek. He stepped on one of my feet and gave me a pretty good punch before I could avoid him. It was a real test to get out of school without getting caught from then on.
Pope Perspective continued..
We often talked about that night as we grew old and how we were all lucky as shit. But I’ve always been lucky. I knew we were out classed night. I’m glad Leone didn’t get killed that night over that dumb senseless shit.
If I look back on it, it seemed like it was all pretend up until that point. The next day we hear from RUA that rumor was we laid a trap for the Gaylords and had a bunch of soldiers waiting in the alley. We didn’t say anything to dispel that at that time.
None of the f_cking G/L/Pope trouble started at Lennies, A lot of it happened there but did not start there. Back in the old days we would be welcome at each other’s parks. Carloads would often visit .A few weeks before the war started there were a few times when a car full of G/L was at Kolmar hanging visiting. I can remember Larkin was upset because he thought The G/ls were disrespecting the Popes. I know a lot of it had to do with spray paint graffiti of ours being gone over by G/L. He would argue with a few of the G/Ls from time to time during these visits. What a dumb f_cking thing to fight about! Anyway, Larkin was upset and let the G/l know it one night.
There were around a dozen of us at Kolmar that night. I left with my girl and walked back to Dickinson Park. The G/L had enough of Larkin’s rant and left abruptly. Some guys left for parts unknown. The remaining Popes walked with Larkin down Irving Park. About the time they reached the Railroad tracks on Irving, a few cars loaded with G/L, one being Joe L's hearse full of guys, passed them and parked in the Sears lot. Larkin and a few others held their own, some took of running or got chased from the area. Some kicking and punching went on and it was over. The war had started. Outlaw, told me later that the few guys that were on him really weren't punching to do any real damage. I think a lot of the G/Ls that were recruited for the hit were unsure what was really happening and really didn't have their hearts into it. No one really got hurt.
Lil D Perspective
It's a bit complicated from my perspective. In the early to mid 70s, we hung with the SIMON CITY ROYALS’s on Leland and St. Louis, as did some of the Lawndale guys and Cleveland School GAYLORDSs. The Popes and Royals were cool, but we were not always cool with the Popes. Much of that was because of the on-going problems that the K/P/GAYLORDSs were having with the Popes. There was a short truce, with the GAYLORDS, Popes and Royals in that neighborhood, since we all shared the common enemy of the Kings. The Latin Kings were deep in that area and a constant threat. Bimbo, of the Simon City Royals, was very instrumental in creating the truce between the 3 gangs. I'm pretty certain that was a big reason the Latin King’s killed him in 1975.
GL: I had to be in on that shit but all the fights are jumbled into one. We did have plenty of opportunity to do real damage to a lot of you guys but we didn’t. Once we caught him and DAGO walking down Roscoe under the viaduct. SLY said "what kind of love is it!”, we could have stomped the shit out of both of them but we didn’t. Basically we just roughed them up a little and went about our business.