Before you get to the Guestbook…
On February 23, 2018, my book on the Mau Maus and Sand Street Angels, who were two Brooklyn youth gangs from the 1950s, has been completed. It took 15 years of research and writing to complete Brooklyn Rumble: Mau Maus, Sand Street Angels, and the End of an Era. This book is roughly 6″x9″ and has 370 pages and includes a look at the characters in the Mau Maus and the details of a gang killing that happened in February 1959 in front of the iconic Brooklyn Paramount Theater (now Long Island University). If you want to buy a copy, click here and this link will take you to an online ordering page.
This site is a great resource. Not only does it reflect deep research, it gives former gang members a chance to share their memories with each other and with younger people who want to understand New York's fighting gangs of the 1950s.
Although your focus is primarily on gangs, I thought you might be interested in a murder that was more traumatic to Heights residents than the killing of Michael Farmer. In March, 1948, as a group of students from Power Memorial HS were practicing for the St. Patrick's Day parade, a psycho shot several and killed Tommy Brady. Tommy was the older brother of some of my peers. The story is one of heroism and foolhardiness supplemented by the presence of a deranged individual who later died in an institution for the criminally insane. The newspapers had a circulation war over the gory details and repercussions upon the families.
I found your website on the Bronxboard and had also learned about your interest in the farmer case from my brother Ray. Although I have nothing to add about that specifically, I would like to mention a few incidents that are related to your generally topic. When the Daily News carried a series about violence in the city public high schools, my good friend Ken Fitzgerald (deceased) was perturbed that he found no mention of his school Haaren. He then broke open a firehouse and doused the school to bring attention and score points. Also, I used to await the delivery of the News and Mirror on 181st and Ft. Washington. I witnessed some interplay between a muscle man named McVey who was searching for one of the Diabolos named Bobolu. The cop on the beat named Silverstein summoned help. The Diabolos also threatened to toss a guy off the wall at the bottom of 181st and Riverside Drive. Silverstein summoned reinforcements fromt the phone in Geiger's drug store. Perhaps he wasn'[t the bravest cop on the beat, but he certainly prevented some violence on that occasion too.
Hi David, way to go my man. It appears that you have done an outstanding job to date on this very fascinating subject. Glad I coud be of some help....As for me, "Gang Banging" back in the 50's was for no different reason that it is now - trying to make "REP," seeking a reputation, and having a family for those who didn't really have any....I delve into this to some degree in my book: "Dancing With The Devil." Going from a tough street kid to becoming a renowned Federal Agent.
Nicw website David, looks good! Keep up the good work!!
Late '50s, early '60s, PS 167 school yard (Schenectady Ave & Lincoln Pl) is where a gang (?) called the Black Hawks hung out.
Hi David, since all of us are up there in age
this should be very interesting reading.
Good Luck to you,
I am a member of The Harlem Lords Seniors. The one that the so-called REV. Thomas Skinner claimed that he was the Leader of The Harlem Lords 'n was saved by Jesus. He lied 'n made Money, Fortune, 'n Fame off of our rep.
Rich - i was in the 1st street gang. it was cross/cultural including italians irish black jewish, etal
Hi David, looks good. The heroin epidemic of 1953 or thereabouts included the use of gangs to protect territory for business. Not altogether true that killings were not drug oriented. Also the barrels for zip-guns were made from cut car radio aeriels and wide rubber bands and flip locks mounted on wood stock. The Dragons were from Broome street.
"A Washington Heights Resource"
Small neighborhood gangs also existed, but were not involved with crime or violance.
can you send me he e-mail of the NYC gangs? Was from the Bronx in the 50"s. Couldn't retrieve it from friend who sent it.
Interesting stuff David, keep on the good work. And, are you still going to do a book as well?
Good job. I liked the way you laid it out. I hope the little I told you helped. Keep it going.
Fort Greene Rich here. Interesting and I still am waiting for the book.
Are you still going to write one or just add to this site?
I was at the Rosario funeral as the funeral parlor was around the corner’from where my cousin Bob lived on the lower east side. we were walking by when all of a sudden these cars pulled up with I am sure the gang members in their bright colored outfits which were the theme of the day, purple, gold, etc. suits.
Police all over etc. I still remember it vividly in my mind. The lower east side was
a world of its own. each block had its own club. my cousin’s were the 1st street boys, there were the 7th street boys. mostly Polish, Russian, Irish but they battled with the Puerto Rican gangs from down below 1st street. It is maybe silly to say it was a romantic kind of gang warfare ala West Side Story, but in comparison to today’s brutal vicious drug gangs like you said it was all about turf and actually race and indifference to other cultures.
Keep going Mr. David
Great site I look forward to reading your book someday. You must have spent many days working on it. So that is why when I stop by work your "Gone for the day". Anyway good job keep up the good work. Talk to you soon Take Care.
thanks for taking time to research and share this infowith the masses. I put my feelers out for more contributions to your website
David this is a fantastic website. The information you have here should be of great interest to anyone interested (or who 'bopped the streets') of Brooklyn, NY back 'in the day'.
I will add a few more facts.There was a stickball and stoopball club named the Bisons from 119st and pleasant ave .Many of big bettig games were played on pleasant ave between the PR beer cans i think that were there name's and other teams from the west side.I use to have a front row seat from my grandmoms house that looked at pleasant ave from the 1st floor window.Bisons had team jackets with a bison on the back and the name on the front.Not too many fights when they played one bounce stickball.more to come =====
FORT GREENE/BEDSTY...........NAVY ST BOYS,SAND STREET ANGELS,CHAPLINS,BISHOPS,JETS,
David Van Pelt, perusing your website was definitely like time travel for me. It provoked many memories about a difficult time in my life. thank you for all the research you have done. I hope we can get together in august when you say you will be in town.
Site looks great. Looking forward to browsing around. 🙂
The Braves and the Bravettes were a social group that used to hang out together in their club.
My friends and I were in a gang in the Dyckman Projects around 1964 - 1967. We called ourselves the "Lincolns" after my dad's powder blue car - what a beauty it was but our gang floundered terribly.
Chino/ Landy Nova Del Barrio ,, Pres, /Dragons Tots// To young Dragons/ Copasetic Dragons 1960 to 1967 , then from the Streets of East Harlem it was doo/woops , to Salsa music
Have not read the book yet but I will. I grew up in the East River Housing project , 102nd-105 Streets between East River Drive and First Avenue, during the 1940's ,1950's & 1960's. I went to James Otis ,PS 172 and Benjamin Franklin High School in East Harlem. Many of my friends were members of the "Red Wings" who were probably the largest gang in East Harlem. I loved growing up in East Harlem and the "street smarts" that we all learned. It was a wonderful experience and great teacher of life.. Would be wonderful if our children could receive the street education without all the turmoil associated with it.
Good hearing from you again. I enjoyed reading your website.
Looking forward to more information.
Hi David, I'm Dandy or Bamby from 166 and Amsterdam Ave. Would like to say hello to my friend Herman Santiago from "The Teenagers". Also Chicky, Wilson, Tommy Zampatis,David Diaz ane everybody else from the old crowd. I see my sister margie allready signed in. Hi sis.
It is a great website. David you did a great job. I was known as "The man with the gun" when I presided over the "Vikings" in Cambria Heights, Queens, therefore I know what I'm talking about when I say that your website is great.
I lived in east harlem.119th st pleasant and 1st went to PS78.only remember good times stick ball fire plugs open on hot days.doo wop on jukeboxes on the outside of gangster clubs.Al La Bronx Tail.
Hey David, I love your website and the information you have listed. On a side note I love how you had your brother stuck at a copier all day helping you copy any pertinent records for your upcoming book.
**A note to all those reading the Guestbook. Michael is my brother. A good one -- but long-suffering at that. He was with me when we went to NYC in June 2007 for a research trip. I never told him what that all entailed and he innocently went along. When we went to the Municipal Archives, the librarian brought out banker's boxes full of documents on the research I was looking into. I almost hyper-ventilated as a historian seeing all these source documents. I immediately started sorting through it to see what needed to be copied. I parked Michael at the copier and he literally photo-copied all day long for me. I was reluctant to let him take a lunch break but I relented in the end or I would have had a mutiny on my hands. Michael said the only thing that saved him from going mad from doing all that copying, was that the photocopier faced a window so he could look outside and see all the pretty ladies walking by on the street below. Michael and I are coming back to NYC this summer and he knows about the copying this time and is still coming. What a great brother! David**
Grew up in 50's early 60's- Pigtown neighborhood. Border Bed Sty, Crown Heights, Brownsville, Jamaica Queens. Considered East New York. Originally Italian immigrants and then mixed with Irish and Jewish. The gang took the name of the neighborhood Pigtown. Advisary gangs were the Black gangs Bishops & Chaplains.
Your project appears to be progressing very nicely, Dave, Glad I could contribute, albeit in a very small way. Sorry I still don't feel nostalgic about that period of time. Old wounds that never healed, I guess. Excellent website, though: very cool looking, easy to navigate and full of interesting material. Congratulations again, Please keep in touch.
I've been communicating with David for years now about my personal gang experiences. His curiosity and knowledge of the subject is amazing. The website looks great David, keep up the good work! David Van Pelt.... DTK... L.A.M.F.!
I remember the night of the Michael Farmer murder.
The Egyptian Kings were gathered on the island divider between the north and southbound Broadway traffic, between 152nd and 153rd street. Drinking wine and playing the drums, working themselves up. I went home early, work the next day, heard the news from a buddy of mine. I grew up in that neighborhood and never had a problem. The way I heard it was the gangs from around the pool didn't want people from outside their neighborhood using the pool. Whatever the reason, it was senseless and tragedy.
Well done. Loving the Guestbok comments.
Actually Joe Bataan, who I knew as Bataan Nitolano, lived East of me on 103rd. I lived at 22 East 103rd, between Madison and 5th. It was by Patrick Henry Jr. Hi. My Grandfather had a Bodega next to Patrick Henry. Bodega Nieves. I moved to 115 E. 116th between Lexington and park Ave Marqueta. My Grandfather moved his Bodega to 104th east of the elevated.
A wonderful site, talk about memories! Thanks..
I WAS A MEMBER OF WASHINGTON HTS GANG CALLED "THE FANWOODS"WHO TURF RAN FR 165ST TO 175ST. THERE WAS SENIOR AND JUNIOR MEMBERS..THERE WAS RI:VAL GROUP,CALLED THE"DEACONS" TO WHO AREA WAS FROM 176ST TO181ST.FARMER AND MCSHANE WERE BEST FRIENDS OF MY BROTHER,THEY WERE NOT GANG MEMBERS!JUST IN WRONG PLACE AT THE TIME..THE JESTERS WERE A MINOR GROUP.THE MEDIA MADE THEM .TO BE MORE THAN THEY WERE."RED
Nice job of research, David.
Thank you for the site....I grew up in the Heights during much of this activity... I received summer employment due to the Port Authority funding of programs following the Farmer incident..
Sunsequently I met many involved directly or indirectly while
a Patrolman on 135 St.......The Capeman's mans brother (Negron) strutted the neighborhood like a flea trying to be a
bumble bee......... Thank You
glad i ws some help to you good luck!!arnie
Great Website Dave, long-long time I didn't hear from. I went to NYC last year to visit my parents. I was with Dad and we past by Sand Street; then Dad says you remember? I said yes the old Sandstreet Angels turf. I was seeing New York in a whole different light. Reading on this era is so interesting. Being born in the 1970's and having Dad, uncles, cousins,in these gangs is very interesting. Dad (Assasins)-Westside 100 Street Manhattan, Uncle (The Roman Lords) Brownsville,etc. I learned a lot. Did anyone saved their Gang Sweaters from this era? For the Dave could post on this site.
GREAT SITE, KEEP IT GOING
the ditmas dukes & foster gents were two gangs in my neighborhood. long time ago
Wish you luck on this start up.
Hope it provides you with the information you need for you reseach.
It's a little spooky to go back to those times. I lived most of this history. As I have metioned before, "Someone had to do it first."" It's too much deja vous for me. Grátulalok (Hungarian for what it sounds like),CONGRATULATIONS! Lui
From time to time I wondered if you had given up on your gang project, From this site I see you didn't. Interesting site and I will put it in my favorite places, so I can come back to check what is new. Keep up the good work.
HI Daved WHATS UP,long time since i heard from you ,did you ever get down to red hook a take some pictures of the bullet hole that i put in the signs were i lived 50 years ago they are still there i was down the hook last year boy things are changeing down there ,lot of yuppies moved in and so called artis lol.if they only new what happened there .good luck on you book,later Herman Rivera
I grew up in the bushwick section of Brooklyn in the early 60's times were much different than but life was always moving.i joined a gang just for fun and for some protection agaunst the blacks at the time and there was a big influx of purto ricans why i do not know and they brought there own gangs with them.i really never got into many schoffels but there were some.I remember one of the gang members showed us what at the time was called a zip gun a crude home made weapon that fired a 22r round thats about the time i said good by to gangs it scared me too much.heto long after that the famly moved to n.j. and it was suburbia life for me lol!
Hi David, this is a great site. I am very interested in reading anything about New york City in the fifties. Best of luck with all your research. Margie.
There was a gang in Inwood called the Shamrocks. Leader was a guy named Rene something or other. Tiger Mahoney was one of them. Can't remember names of any others. Good luck with your research.
Great website Dave, will check it out more in detail at a later time
hi, DAVID, IT WAS NICE TO HEAR FROM YOU. IA'M GLAD YOU DOING FIND. ABOUT CARL CINTRON, I ASK KING. AND HE TOLT ME HE DOESN'T KNOW WERE CARL CINTRON IS. BOUT ASK HIM ANY WAY,. BETS REGARD'S ALWAYS, FROM CARLOS NIEVES,(LONDON)
Good Luck ... Much nostalgia!
Hi David Am very much enjoying your website, I wondered if :- "August 30, 1959 – Perhaps the most infamous of all gang killings in this era. Sal “Capeman” Agron, Louis “Umbrella Man” Hernandez and some others stab and kill Robert Young and Anthony Krzesinski. All were members of a gang called the Vampires." ..... might give the impression that Robert and Anthony were also members of the Vampires ( or even members of a gang)? all the best Karl
**Hi Karl, that is a very good point, thank-you for bringing that to my attention. You are correct, Young & Krzesinski were innocent victims who had the misfortune of being in the park when Agron and co. descended looking for a fight. I changed the wording to reflect this, thanks for the note. David**
i lived in brooklyn in the early 50's around st johns pl. and rochester ave. lincoln terrace park. we had two gangs, one called the black hawks, and the other the terrace kings. we stayed at the carroll theater.
Lived in ft greene during the mau mau killing....
great website , i will follow it, keep up the good work. Go Halsey.
Interesting site. Looking forward to reading more. I remember several gangs from Brooklyn, the largest being the Chaplains.
Dave, a great addition to gang research. Brings back memories of Bed-Stuy Brooklyn in the 1950s
This is a welcomed addition to research materials on gangs in NYC. David has done a magnificent job in naming and identifying what is known about gangs particularly those of the 1950s.A must website foe any researcher studying this era in youth violence.
I'm very much enjoying your website, and look forward to returning to it regularly, as it is a fascinating subject. Its also very relevant to today here in the UK and Europe which has seen a growth in gangs because of circumstances which are not entirely dissimiliar to those of 1940's / 50's New York.
Keep up the great work, there is very much an interested audience for your hard work and research.
I'm looking forward to reading about the Mau Maus, The Chaplins and the Bishops, as well as all the others. Any photos of the gang members in their 'colours' would be fascinating. Your photos and maps of locations etc are also very interesting as they give non New Yorkers an understanding of how the streets and buildings actually looked like, ie. a physical context.
All the best
Excellent work. As you know I was a friend of Vinny Pardon, we went to Yankee games to together as kids. He did time for the killing of Michael Farmer at the Otisville Correctional Facility,in upstate NY.
When I later became a police officer, my partner found him dead from an overdose on a rooftop in Harlem.
When I finish my book on police work in NYC, I will ask you to sing it also, good luck to you.
Great website David, Very fasinating time in our history
Jeremy Lin coulda been a great 50's gangster!
Great hearing from you.
I have often thought about the 50's. It was a fabulous era. Growing up in the East River Housing Projects was the most memorable. Remembering some of the greatest music that is still played today. A wardrobe that consisted of sneakers, Levis' and a T shirt. And in the winter a treasured leather motorcycle jacket.(you had to love Marlon Brando and James Dean) A building full of friends and people you knew by name.
And than there were the gangs. Most of them fairly quiet a few with their share of crazies.. Kind of reminds me of the movie City Across The River. True, we had our share of tragedies. The 50's was my inspiration for writing the novel, Forever Brothers. (all proceeds to St Jude Childrens Hospital)
I visited the old neighborhood a while back. I think Thomas Wolfe said it best, "You can never go home again" That may be so but how you can yearn. Maybe what Wolfe failed to realize is that some never really leave.
Back to gangs. I knew some Red Wings, Fordam Baldies, Royals, Latin Gents, Golden G's, Italian Dukes and others I have long forgotten. Most all were just everyday guys belonging to their local click. And at times it could be a jungle with its share of animals.
The younger generation may call it the dark ages because of its simplicity and they may be right. But still, it was the fabulous 50's.
Looks like an interesting website. Will be checking out more in depth.
Very interesting material. I have read some books on this time and find this information as a great historical review and study.
Yeah,I wuz around in dem daze,& knew many Gang members,but I wuz a`coolie'& nevah joined a(real)Gang,sure some of the gangs of today are more heavily armed than police!..but back then we respected their`turf' & any gang territories, I lived in Crown Heights,Brooklyn,home of several `fighting'gangs,& thru our`grapevine'Heard of some killings,& udda Crimes,ergo,earned a`fearful'respect of these gangs,&
had a real street`education'growing up in gang infested`turf',
& the gangs returned our respect,with a nod,wave,`low 5[handslap @ waist level]when in passing,or on line for a Rock & Roll/Rythm & Blues /Soul/show in downtown Brooklyn,or @ the Apollo in Harlem,thusly,I'm still here & have all my real teeth!..thanx,david..this is a `killah'site!
Memories of our youth, great research. I am sending some of my friends your site.
Very interesting info. Nice research. To see the evolution of the Gangs to what they became in later decades. WELL DONE!!!
Looks so interesting. Good luck with doing more research. I lived in NYC during the 50's, but wasn't in a gang, ha ha. Can't help you there.
Well laid-out. Very informative.
excellent work. well done.
Great website. Tons of detail. Do you plan on adding more?
**Tanya I do plan on adding more, keep the website under your favorite for updates David**
You have done an amazing job on this site - I can't wait to see more!
Great, great website! I have been looking for a site or any information source devoted to NYC fighting gangs for a long, long time. After reading the books, Run Baby Run and The Cross and the Switchblade in the 1970s, I became fascinated by this era in the NYC boroughs from the mid -1950s. I look forward to the expanded growth of this website with great anticipation. Hopefully, a wealth of information and photos from the fighting gang era will surface as a result.