Before you get to the article…
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.
“Nut,” was a member of the Chaplains. This could have meant any number of Chaplains gangs in Brooklyn, but if I were to guess which group it was, I would say he was a member of the Brevoort Chaplains. He lived only a block away from the Brevoort Housing Projects in Brooklyn which was the turf of the Brevoort Chaplains.
Only a few blocks from the Brevoort Houses were the Kingsborough Houses, home of the notorious Corsair Lords. The Corsair Lords and Chaplains were not friendly with each other. An example of this was when a rumble took place between the two gangs in May 1957 resulting in one victim being stabbed in the back, resulting in a severed spine. This very brief history points to the fact that the Corsair Lords and Brevoort Chaplains were active gangs in that part of Brooklyn. Nut, of the Brevoort Chaplains, was one of these members.
Nut had a hard life, his father was absent and his mother was an alcoholic, leaving him and his two brothers at home while she went bar hopping. She was nasty when drunk, beating her children mercilessly. As he grew up in a cold, loveless home, Nut became involved with the law and institutions in various incidents as follows:
12-21-1953 – tried to beat up a school guard and stole $12 from a teacher’s desk
9-16-1954 – fighting in the streets
12-22-1954 – trespassing in a school
1-6-1955 – assaulted a 12-year-old boy and attempted to steal his watch
3-8-1955 – beat subway fare
4-21-1955 – taken from mother and sent to state training school after the mother was found neglecting her children, beating them and leaving them home alone so she could go out drinking
5-4-1955 – with three other friends, they extorted money from another boy and then assaulted his mother when she pointed them out to police
10-26-1956 – truant from school
11-1-57 – along with two others, attempted to break into a radio and tv shop with a beer can opener
10-2-59 – threw mother to a couch and choked her after a fight over trying to get into his brother’s closet to borrow or take his clothing
Not on this list of infractions was when Nut got into a fight with his brother Denny in June 1959 in an struggle over a knife. Nut was on the wrong end of the fight, losing to his younger brother, sustaining injuries to both arms and his chest. He had to get 12 stitches.
For his assault on his mother, Nut was sent to Woodbourne Correctional Institute, an institution known for a high amount of gang members who took their arguments from the streets into the prison. While serving time there, another brother who had served time in Great Meadow Correctional Institution wrote him a letter giving him an update on the home life. His brother’s brief letter is a depressing and sad testament to the state of affairs in their family:
“Well Bro, things aren’t going to well out here everything is in a turmoil. First of all I’m still not working yet. Grandma has died. Uncle Hank and Aunt Buddy split up. Buzzy is A.W.O.L. and the worst thing is that the cops got Denny our brother down town on a homicide charge. They picked him up last Monday night. You might know this all ready because it was in all of the New York papers. So as you can see they have him up pretty tight…
I started back to school I am going to night-school. I am trying to win a scholarship by July so I can go study in a University in Africa…”
Denny was the brother that Nut lost to in a fight over the knife.
Later Nut got out on parole, but he figured that he wouldn’t be given a fair chance, so he didn’t bother reporting to his parole officer. The authorities searched for and found him, sending him back to prison where he probably served out the full length of his sentence.