The Jesters were a notorious gang from Williamsburg area that while small in numbers made up for it with much “heart,” gang terminology for someone who was afraid of nothing and could be relied on in a fight. This small Puerto Rican gang was renowned for their fighting prowess and their willingness to fight “at the drop of a hat.” They had many enemies including the Phantom Lords, Hellburners, Roman Lords and Buccaneers. Tough Jesters such as “Papo,” “Pelu,” “Little Joe,” and “Black Patch,” also fought the Marcy Chaplains, a gang of boys who made their turf in the Marcy Projects not too far from where the Jesters hung out. Read more about the Marcy Chaplains here.
One spring day on June 4, 1959, a Jester by the name of Raymond (Jose) Cuadrado was attacked by Marcy Chaplains on the corner of Ellery Street and Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn. The Chaplains were looking to get even because of some prior fights earlier that spring between the two gangs. Falling on Raymond with vengeance, they hit him with their weapons and a garbage can, inflicting serious injury when he was struck in the eye. Raymond was taken to the Brooklyn Eye and Ear Hospital, but they could not salvage his left eye and had to take it out. From then on Cuadrado wore a patch over his eye and acquired a nickname of “Black Patch.” Remarkably, this wasn’t his first brush with serious injury. In 1956, Raymond was taken to Holy Family Hospital after being stabbed in the back, sustaining an injured kidney; he admitted he was in a gang at that time, so by 1959 he had already been involved in gang fighting for three years. Even after losing his left eye, Cuadrado continued to participate in gang fights and rumbles while in the Jesters, losing an eye apparently was not enough for him to quit.
At this time there was a pastor by the name of Santiago Mayol who shepherded a Pentecostal church at 212 Ellery Street, in the heart of the jungle where many different gangs including the Jesters, Ellery Bops, Buccaneers and Marcy Chaplains hung out. He took a special interest in the Jesters and knew most of them in his attempts to persuade them to quit the gang. Mayol described the Jesters to an authority as a “predatory, dangerous, nocturnally prowling group, making it unsafe for even adults to pass in the vicinity of Boerum Park at night.” In regards to “Black Patch,” Mayol had a dim outlook on his future prospects because his parents were not interested in helping their son overcome his problems in life.
I was able to find Santiago Mayol’s business card from 1959 pictured below.
Despite Mayol’s thoughts on Black Patch having a future, Raymond was able to make it, becoming a Christian and preacher. I wonder what Reverend Mayol – who is probably not with us today – would have thought of that. I assume he would have been ecstatic knowing that even the most hard-bitten gang members can change.
Raphael Nunez, a former member of the Phantom Lords and a pastor himself, knew the pastor and shared a few more details about him:
Pastor Santiago Mayol DeOsto was the District Superintendent of the “Assembly of Christian Churches” in New York. They bought and moved to a building on Bushwick Avenue that previously belonged to the Catholic Organization “Knights of Columbus”, then they realized that they could not make any changes to the building. They had their services on the second floor of the building and I preached there on many occasions. His son Santiago Jr. converted to the “Black Muslims” and was shot and killed by another Muslim Sect of Elijah Mohammed. The funeral services were held in the church, many of the Muslims spoke and prayed to Allah. The church people didn’t like that and I myself never preached there again.
If anyone knows the whereabouts of Raymond Cuadrado, it would be great to get in touch with him to see how his life turned out and get his perspective on his days of jitterbugging with the Jesters in the 1950s.