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St. Nick's Outlaws

By Jim Colombo


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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo


Chapter 29


Two of San Francisco’s finest were Foxy Gannon and C.J. O’Gredy. They ruled


the golden triangle from Market and Van Ness to Geary Streets called the Tenderloin. 


Finnius "Foxie" Gannon was six feet tall, weighed about two hundred pounds, had a ruddy


complexion from high blood pressure, and had penetrating steel gray eyes. Foxy had


earned his nickname for being clever and quick thinking. He could talk his way out of any


situation. Clarence Joseph "C.J." O’Gredy was six foot two, weighed about two hundred


twenty pounds, and had short black hair that he cut with a comb and a razor. C.J. was


Marine during the war in the Pacific and was hit with grenade fragments. He had a jagged


scar on the right side of his face that ran from below his eye to his chin. Part of his right


eyebrow was missing, and his right arm had been peppered with fragments. When you


saw C.J. the first time, you never forgot his face. Before he joined the police department he


had been a guard at Alcatraz.


The boys were on the take, and squeezed every hooker, pimp, player, pusher, and


snitch that lived or crawled in the alleys, flophouses, and bars of the forgotten part of the


city. The good fathers looked the other way because it was a necessary evil for sailors and


the slime of society. It was the low rent district where alcoholics, addicts, and hooker


roamed a jungle of crime and filth, with forgotten people living in oblivion. The boys made


the rounds every Monday morning and collected payment for looking the other way.  The 


bribe was called juice and collecting the money was called leaning or putting the touch on


a mark, the person getting squeezed. The lads put the money in safe deposit boxes


for their retirement. If one died in the line of duty, the survivor took all. It would be difficult


explaining to the widow that it was a bonus, and the police department would question


the money. They planned to open a bar with the money to supplement their pensions when


they retired in their fifties.


Their sons were in Jim’s class. St. Nick’s was on the fringe of the Tenderloin


district.  Foxie and C.J. knew about Brother Joseph’s Friday night adventures as Joe the


English teacher. A couple of times the boys caught Joe before he fell into a compromising


position. Joe had a curiosity for black ladies. He would buy the ladies a few drinks, dance


and have a few laughs with them. One night a very attractive black lady entered the Blue


Note and sat alone. Joe was hypnotized. She smiled. He bought a drink and had the


bartender bring it to the lady. She smiled and offered a toast to him. He approached


her table. She smiled and offered Joe a seat. She said she was from Chicago, and her


name was Bobbie. She was a very feminine, had a nice figure, and beautiful eyes that


smiled. Joe bought a two rounds of drinks. The mysterious lady enjoyed his dancing and


his sense of humor. After a while Joe had had several drinks and was in overdrive. The


Queen of Spades invited Joe to her place, so they could get to know each other much


better.  They arrived at her apartment on O’ Farrell Street. Bobbie’s perfume and sexy


body were erotic. Joe’s excitement grew with great expectations. They had a few more


drinks, and after long passionate kissing and touching, Joe discovered that she had the


same equipment as he. He was romancing a transvestite called the African Queen form


Hollywood. Not only was Joe shocked that she was a he, but that he realize the


embarrassment that he had fallen into. He sobered up quickly and was gathering his


clothes.  He was about to leave the apartment when Foxie and C.J pounded on the door


and entered. They told Joe not to worry. The boys would take care of him and the black


fag. Foxie escorted Joe to the squad car. C.J. paid the queen fifty bucks and thanked her /


him for putting the hook in Joe. Their sons were getting by at school, and Brother Joseph


was an insurance policy if their sons had academic problems. They specialized in setting


up suckers.  Brother Joseph and others were a collection of cards that Foxie and C.J. 


arranged and played like their Saturday night poker games. They preyed on the weak.


Rich people owned most of the flophouses that the hookers used. A few were


owned by Judges.  Foxie and C.J. kept records of who frequented the hookers. There


were bath houses where gay men met and made loved. A prominent supervisor at City


Hall enjoyed young Asian boys. Heroine was the drug most used to escape reality.


Musicians, Blacks, and anyone who could afford the price for a ticket to escape shot up.


Marijuana was starting to become popular. Servicemen and musicians smoked Panama


Red or Acapulco Gold. The pimps were starting to grow the stuff in their backyards.  The


college crowd was discovering weed. It was an enterprising time for Foxie and C.J.. They


thought that if they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity someone else would. They


referred to it as ripe for the picking. Foxie always told the mark that his secret was safe


with them. It was comforting to know that the local police, who were stealing and extorting,


were honorable men.


Foxie was married, and his saintly Irish mother Colleen lived with him in the


basement of his house.  He took good care of his family and went to church on Sunday


when he could. Foxie never paid for sex. He believed that any hooker on his beat was his


personal property. This upset the pimps who had a john on hold while Foxie was


banging the trick.  Foxie enjoyed pissing off the pimps. There was a Black pimp who


was a weightlifter that Foxie called Hercules.  A Black baseball player for the San


Francisco Giants was fond of blondes, one in particular called Marilyn. Hercules had a


stable of fillies who were named after movie stars. Foxie was costing Hercules money


and pissing off the athlete who was getting impatient. Hercules threw Foxie out of the


flophouse half-naked. Foxie got the license plate number of the 1963 red El Dorado


Cadillac and dressed in the alley.


The next day Foxie went to visit the athlete. The following week Foxie had box


seats to opening day for the Giants baseball game. Foxie arranged for the athlete to


donate tickets for Saturday afternoon bleacher seats for the Boy’s Club on South of


Market. The Boy’s Club spent the summer watching ball games.


C.J. was married, and had a boy and a girl. His wife was Protestant and raised


her daughter as a Protestant. C.J. was Catholic and raised Ed as one, but never went to


church. Sundays were days to recuperate after a long Saturday night poker game with


the guys at Station Ten. They would play cards from six at night to sunrise on Sunday. The


local bar that they squeezed provided roast beef sandwiches, beer and cigars. The other


guys knew what Foxie and C.J. were doing. These Officers had squeezed a few marks as


well. The cops had a code of silence.  Most of these men had served in the Marine Corps


and considered themselves above the law. They performed a service protecting society


from the crud that lived down there.  C.J. despised the filth that he encountered. It


bothered him that Foxie frequented the hookers. Foxie was also a partner with some of the


drug lords in Chinatown, cultivating the new drug of choice, marijuana.


There was a vacant lot across the street from the police station that Foxie and the


drug lords used it to grow marijuana.  Most folks didn’t know about marijuana or what the


plant looked like. Foxie convinced the chief that poor Chinese were growing the plants for


herbal medicine. It was good community relations with Chinatown, and Foxie got a citation


for his community service. This made C.J. very uncomfortable. They had a good thing


going, and Foxie was getting sloppy. He told C.J. that he would be careful. Foxie visited


the baseball player again, and was able to get jobs for his son Ted and C.J.’s son Ed


selling programs at Candlestick Park when the baseball season began in April of 63. C.J.


no longer enjoyed a policeman’s adventurous life like Foxie. C.J. lived quietly and




Foxie enjoyed the good things in life. He was the first in the neighborhood to buy a


color television. Foxie drove a Buick when everyone else drove a Ford or Chevrolet. 


Ted and Ed always had money and nice clothes. During Ed’s first two years at St. Nick’s


he sold beer, cigarettes and firecrackers with John and Lonnie. Things always came easy


for Ted and Ed.  C.J bought a new set of Ludwig drums at Christmas for Ed. Ted, Ed, Mike


O’Brien and Jack Lawson started a band. Surfing music was popular in the early sixties.


The lads had dreams of being like the Beach Boys. Ed played drums, Ted played bass


guitar, Mike played rhythm guitar, and Jack  played lead guitar.  They couldn’t think of a


name for the band. Finally they agreed to call themselves "The Uncalled Four." They


started playing at the same time, but during the song Ed played faster, then slower. Jack


never played any song the same way twice.  After a month Foxie’s mother complained


about the noise in the basement. They started playing in Ed’s basement. C.J. did not


appreciate the noise on Sunday mornings while nursing a hangover. After two months the


band broke up because they had no place to practice, and they never agreed who was the


leader of the band. A five hundred dollar set of drums sat in Ed’s basement collecting dust.


Ed was a friend of Jim’s and hung out on 23rd Street. Ted hung out with the guys


at Upper Douglas and was a casual friend in Jim’s class. The Irish were close and didn’t


trust others. Jim always liked Foxie because he was friendly and looked out for the


neighborhood. He found lost bicycles, and always had extra tickets to baseball games. 


Foxie volunteered for church benefits and helped with the summer bazaar.  There was a


vacant lot behind the neighborhood homes. Sometime a neighbor had problems with


gophers in his backyard. Foxie would sit by the gopher hole with a beer and his 45-caliber


gun. He enjoyed the way the gopher’s head exploded when it was shot. C.J. spent most of


his time sitting alone in the living room watching television and drinking Coor’s beer. C.J.’s


wife and daughter spent little time with him. He never smiled and was comfortable by


himself with a Coors. When you looked as bad as he did it was hard to smile.


Most of Jim’s friends thought less of him because he had a Mexican girl friend. They


kept their distance from him at school and in the neighborhood. St. Philip’s parish was Irish


and Italian. St. James’ Parish was predominately Mexican. If Jim took Lupe to St. Philip’s


Church, she would notice the cold and unwelcome treatment by the others. Jim no longer


needed shallow friends. He considered Papas a good friend. He occasionally visited the


guys in the Alley. Most of his time was spent with Lupe.


He though that if he wrote a poem on parchment paper and gave it to her for


Valentine’s Day, she would appreciate the effort.  All he had to do was write a poem. He


needed help.  The next Monday Jim went to City of Paris to visit Mr. Crenshaw. He was


friendly and helpful to Jim.  He bought a fountain pen, a bottle of blue ink, and five sheets


of parchment paper. Mr. Crenshaw asked him to pick out a Valentine’s card. If the day


before Valentine’s Day he hadn’t written a poem, he could give Lupe the card. If Jim wrote


a poem, he could enclose it in the card. Those guys from UCLA were smart.


While Jim was at the City of Paris he noticed a new collection of cordial glasses


imported from Italy. They were tiny three ounce glasses made of lead crystal for after


dinner Liqueur. The glasses had long slender stems with round bottoms. They were


handmade and each was slightly different than the others. The tops of the glasses were


decorated in gold leaf. They were ornate and came in a set of six. Mr. Crenshaw bought


the glasses for Jim's mother’s birthday in April and saved twenty-five percent.  Mr.


Crenshaw offered to hold the glasses until the end of March.  Mary collected tiny cups


and saucers. The glasses would look good in her china cabinet. Jim bought Valentine’s


Day cards for his mother, Rosa, and Lupe just in case. All Jim needed was inspiration.





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