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Chicago Sawyer Boys | Southside Sawyer Boys

Chicago Sawyer Boys

The Sawyer School 'gang' was nothing but a handful of guys that hung around the 53rd Street side of the school starting about 1962. The leader of the group from day 1 was a guy by the name of John 'Jay' Ebert. I hung around with Jay for 3 years or so. He was always a little wild, but yet you had to like him. He was the first one in my age group to get a tattoo, a devil with 'Born To Raise Hell' under it. He led this small group of about 20 guys, but it grew quickly. He was a fearless guy who was afraid of nobody. He would challenge guys to a fight just to make sure everyone knew he was the leader. One Saturday I was delivering groceries for a local Midwest store and just left his grandmother’s house. Him and this other guy came across me in a alley and he said he 'wanted to beat me up because I was one of a handful he never fought'. Now to say I was not afraid would be a lie because there were two of them, and this guy he was with I could not stand and I knew he would get in it. I just walked up to him and said, 'Jay, I have known you since I moved in this neighborhood, I know your Mom, your aunts, cousins and your grandmother. If you feel you really need to do this, well go ahead. If it makes you feel bigger and better, go ahead. But you and me will no longer be friends." With that he smiled, gave me a light shot in the arm and said he was only kidding. Then he asked me why I don't hang at Sawyer School. I had too much going on at the time to just stand around with a bunch of people, half of that I didn't like. Anyway, one night in 1964 I believe a group of kids from Blue Island wandered in around there. How or why, I don't know, but words were said on both sides and they told the group at Sawyer that they would be back and deal with them the following week. They actually set a date and time at Sawyer. The group from Blue Island actually just figured the 25 guys or so was 'the' bunch that they would deal with. News of the big fight went through the neighborhood like a wildfire. To show you how good Jay was with getting ready for a fight, he started going to different groups of guys in surrounding neighborhoods and on 'fight night' he was ready. I went there just to watch, standing on a corner about a half block away. To my best memory, about 8 o'clock 12 to 14 cars pulled in front of Sawyer School on 53rd Street. Each car had a minimum of 6 guys, so they had over 70 people standing on 53rd.

Sawyer School Gang 1962

What they saw was about 25 guys from Sawyer, but what they didn't see was on the north and west side of the school was about 300 more. I'm not exaggerating that number, there was a boat load. A couple guys went after each other and then all of a sudden guys running from the both sides of the school came pouring out. They beat these kids with bats, chains, beat their cars headlamps, tail lights and glass out. Those guys took off running into a neighborhood they didn't know, into the apartment building across the street and where ever they could find safe shelter. Neighbors called the police, but by the time they got there it was over. And I do mean over. By the end of the night the police sent these kids limping out of the neighborhood, and they never returned again. The legend from that night really grew, and nobody messed with them. They just stood around every night doing the same stuff they always did which was basically nothing. After a couple years, guys were now in their 20 to 21 age group and started not showing up. It was almost pitiful to see, but in 1969 Jay was out there, at an age of 25 or so, with a following of 16 year Old’s. He finally he drifted away from them; it just wasn't the same anymore. Jay joined the Army in maybe 1965 or 66, but was told to leave. He couldn’t take orders. Then he moved to Michigan with his mother and was there for a year and a half, but came back to the neighborhood. Word is he got a girl pregnant and took off. That's our Jay. A interesting story from the early 1970's was that he was walking down Kedzie Avenue with a small group of his pals, and they were talking about the glass in business doors with the chicken wire in the middle of it. They were saying you can't break through it. Jay said he could with his fist. Well they bet $10 that he could not put his fist through the window at a realty office at 55th and Kedzie. Jay said get your money ready. He made a fist and popped it right through, shredding is skin to hanging bits and blood all over. He wrapped it in a towel, grabbed his $10 and went on his way. He is now inmate B51400 at the Menard Correctional Center for life due to a murder he did.