Chicago Gangs and Greaser Clubs
Kolmar Popes: Larry Larkin (Click Image)
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.
IP: After the war started we weren't sure who all was lining up against us. We had already arranged a peace with the C-notes. An old ex Simon’s park guy set up a meeting for us with the head guys of the SCR’s. A few of us met them in Koz Park one night. The guy who set it up introduced us and left. One of them covered us while we were frisked. The guy packing told us years before a F_cking Pope cut off his ear. We said we had nothing to do with it. I don’t know if it was true, but he did have one ear. That was the first time I felt a cold sweat. He said if we shared the name we shared the blame. He calmed down and we arranged a alliance with them. They even came with us to the G/L house on Montrose. A lot later we hung with the SCR’s now and then and went on raids with them. I was never really comfortable around them. Some of their guys were alright, but I always had an uneasy feeling with them. There was something that you couldn't quite trust about them. It ould have been because they were not all white or not really greasers in my opinion. It seemed like they were more criminally minded. They were also friendly with groups we were not friendly with.
IP: On day at Lane, Mick came and got me after someone at Lennies took his Pope sweater. We went into Lennies and the guy wearing the sweater was sitting in the middle of all the guys from Chi-West. All the Lane skunks and some unknown ones brought in for the occasion. Needless to say we didn't attempt to get it back then. I had a shop class with Zen, and he said the sweater was taken by some guys called the Roman Saints and told us where they were found in the city. I knew he was full of sh_t. The way it was at Lennies, no stranger could have ever come in and taken a guy’s sweater without someone backing his play. In this case it was Chi-West.
IP: After the sweater incident with Chi-West, a week or so later we had taken a fresh sweater from a Spanish Cobra or Cobra Stone I don't remember. It was purple and gold with two tone belts. I wore it to Lane one day. I had a two period shop class with Zen from Chi-West. He didn't stay for the second half of the class. One of the older respected C-notes came to see me and told me Zen was at Lennies with some others planning to take the sweater from me. He convinced me to let him wear the sweater and taunt Chi-West. He would meet me later that day and return it. Zen and the boys didn't try to take it from Mike A the C-note. There was a pretty good number of Notes at Lane. The C-note met me later and returned the sweater; he was quite pleased at spoiling Chi-West’s plans. Chi-West sure were sweater hounds, Zen one said to me there’s no use fighting a gang if they didn't have sweaters.
GL: You POPES might like this one. My oldest bro got married and after the reception we ended up in PATCH McGILLS up by Addison and Cicero. Blah blah blah, we all got busted for tearing up the bar. Spent the night in Albany, made bail from the county. Months go by, time for court. We had a date at Wood Street. We're sitting waiting our turn. Some one nudges my back. I turn around and LO AND BEHOLD it's Dago with a bench full of Greeks. I wrote somewhere I caught him once on Chicago and Bishop while Mom was shopping. SHE WAS HOT. I gave a ghetto pass. When he caught me in Wood St., I tried to cash in my pass but he said no way. Me and my Brothers were given a head start by the cops before they let the Lawrence and Rockwell Popes go.
The Day Larkin Died
GL: A few times when we were at war, alot of us would take to the tracks. The one I personally remember most was the LARKIN thing. After they caught DUSTER DAVE and busted his head, we had our younger guys do the tracks. Now when you're going north, when you get to Montrose, you got two choices: If you're going towards Jefferson Park, you stay on the tracks. But if you want to stay on the east side of the expressway, you gotta get off at Montrose and walk east till you're on the east side of the expressway. Don't know if that area was ever targeted but it would've been the best time to catch anyone of us. We had an apt. at Montrose and Kilbourn. If anyone had to go north without being seen, there's this one pass that runs along the east side of the expressway. You get on at Montrose just east and if you get to the corner, you went too far. It's perfect for safe traveling at war time. It goes all the way to Lawrence by Kilpatrick which you guys know is where LARKIN met his maker. SHIRTS took that route. When they came off the tracks that day, LARKIN and BRAZOO chased them. I'm sure they took that route. Shirts pulled a gun and they backed off. How do I know this? That's what Shirts told me when him and DINO walked up on me on Kilpatrick. We were gonna put the gun away in JOEYS basement. We were heading south when I heard screeching tires. I looked up and saw LARKIN and BRAZOO jump out of their car in front of me. Remember, we were walking south. That means they were going north down kilpatrick. Thats what I remember!
So many dreams over the years I had this recurring dream of me being on some street doing what I don't know. But it was always the same front porch etc. etc. It was Kilpatrick. JOEYS block. What happened was they were going south down Kilpatrick same direction we were walking. Smart move would of been jumping out of the car behind us. I would have been dead for sure. Same as SHIRTS, same as DINO.
Lawndale Chi-West Perspective
LA-GL: The Rumor of Larkin being stabbed by the Duece's was a old folk tale. This rumor went around after Kilbourn shot him. Us Lawndale Gaylord's tried to avoid this little war with the Royals and Popes, but the Popes attacked us at Lane looking for Kilbourn Gaylords. We couldn't allow that. We were going to let Kilbourn to deal with this problem on there own. We didn't want to be fighting any white clubs. A lot of us were friends with the Popes and Royals at school.
The big Dago’s that were North suburb Popes were some pretty big boys. I was with Chi West that day and we seen a sweater right by Lane. It was on this older dude working in this truck mechanic shop right by Lane. This dude was in his late 20's wearing a Pope looking sweater. If I recall it was a real dark purple with baby blue chops. We surrounded this guy and he came out with the sweater on carrying a large pipe. We though he was a Pope. He said he wasn't a Pope and represented Chi -Town lords to us. Brag, Bam Bam, Onion, and Babyface were with me.
We let the guy slide after a long talk with him. Brag was packing, so if we wanted that sweater, it would of been ours. We kind of like this Chi Town Lord name. We also liked the fact that this guy stood his ground and wasn't no punk. He would of had a bad time trying to take us on. Every guy with me was a serious hitter from West.
One thing about Chi West is they have no punks in there club. No one in that club will run and leave you in a fight. The Gaylords also had some serious hitter during my time and most of them would hang with Chi West. Moffat and Palmer did a lot of banging with West.
The UFO was really taking off in my time. I was in my main banging years and hanging with leaders of several white street gangs including several Gaylord corners. It didn't take us long to gather a hundred guys for a fight. For a very short time we had the Popes and Royals with us at Lane. We were all greasers back then and proud of it. Everyone was in uniform it seems. We all be wearing baggies and dago t's with combat boots. Everyone was flying colors and wearing sweaters at school and on the corners.
When the Gaylords went to war with the Royals and Popes so did Chi West. I remember Jack Farmer and the boys bringing some of the Royal leaders around. It didn't take long for Jack and the boys to want to start beating them. Jack Farmer and Tony Rome wanted to test there hearts. These guys were thinking about flipping to C/W. The lights went out at the party and these guys found themselves getting stomped.
Chi-West on the War
Zen: As far as I remember, the Gaylords didn't have one central location where they could call home in that area until they kicked the Popes out of K/P. Some hung at Athletic Park once & a while and the Addison & Pulaski area. Gossage Grill by Schurz, Foreman HS the area between Cicero & Central between Belmont & Addison. They'd bounce around from 20th Century to Manor Bowl. They needed a place to call home so they all got together and eventually drove the Popes out. If you could find Ol' Wess the hippie, he was large back in those days, before Monster, the Plumb brothers even Steve. You’ve also got to remember that a lot of the guys weren't Gaylords until they all got together to fight against the Popes who were kind of like the bullies who picked on anyone that wasn't a Pope so it unified all the guys who wanted to see them gone. That’s when the Gaylords started to get numbers; everybody wanted to be part of the "new thing".
Were the Popes the largest gang on the Northwest Side?
There were a lot of guys who hung at area parks who didn't have a name other then the name of the park they hung at ie: Wilson Park, Riis Park, etc. they fought together as a group against other corner boys, & parks. And like everywhere else, they had some tough guys. Portage Park had their guys, Blackhawk Park had theirs as well as Kos Park before they became affiliated but the Popes had a club name and structure before the Gaylords did on the NW side. But once the Gaylords got together and started recruiting and flexing, they grew like wild fire at Foreman, Schurz, Lane, Saint whatever, that's at Austin & Belmont (I can't remember) were all recruiting grounds for them. However, remember this, those types of groups were not like inner city gangs who were battling an epidemic of violence, crime and poverty round the clock 365. But in answer to your question, yes, the Popes had the numbers back then.
detail account of the day can be found in the book: