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St. Nick's Outlaws

By Jim Colombo


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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo


Chapter 35 


It was Thursday, March 30, 1963.  After school Jim went to City of Paris to pick up


the set of glasses that he had bought for his mother’s birthday on April 5th.  Mr. Crenshaw


asked, "Would you like to work here for the summer?"


"I have a chance to work on a fishing boat in Alaska. If that doesn’t work out, I’d


like to work here during the summer," said Jim.


Jim didn’t see Jacque, alias Rudy, the head tailor, and asked, "Where is Rudy?"


"One month ago Rudy and his partner were beaten up at a bar called Chucker’s in


the Tenderloin. Homosexual men go there looking for love, get picked up, and sometimes


they get robbed when they leave. Rudy has moved to the Castro district. He said they will


be safer there with a small group of men with the same lifestyle," said Mr. Crenshaw


Jim had heard stories of guys going to fag bars to hustle queers, and rob them in an


alley. They called it fag bashing. Some of the Courts rolled queers because it was easy


money. The fags never reported the crime. Foxie said it was like stealing from a thief. Jim


said good bye to Mr. Crenshaw, and picked up the set of glasses. Puff the magic dragon


wrapped the gift for Jim, and was able to light another cigarette while making bows.


Jim arrived at Lupe’s apartment and she greeted him at the door with her I missed


you hug. "How’s my cookie?" she asked while hugging him.


"I’m fine, Angel. How’s my girl?" asked Jim.


"What’s in the box?"


"It’s a gift for my mother’s birthday."


"Oh. When is her birthday?"


"Tuesday, April 5th. You are invited for dinner and cake."


"What should I bring?"


"Your beautiful smile, Angel."


"Seriously. What should I bring?"


"This gift is from both of us. We’ll buy a birthday card this weekend.  Can I leave the


gift here until Tuesday?"


"Sure. What should I wear?"


"The same as going to Sunday mass, Angel. Ah, Angel, what’s burning?"


"Oh no! I forgot about the hot chocolate."  Lupe ran into the kitchen. The


chocolate milk had boiled over on the electric elements on the stove. Jim followed her.


"It’s okay Angel. I’ll help you clean the stove."


"Thanks. I don’t burn things that often.  I’m sorry."


Jim gave Lupe a hug and said, "You never have to say sorry. I love you. I like my


chocolate well done any way."




"Yeah. I like dark chocolate."


"No. I don’t have to say sorry."


"You wouldn’t do anytime to hurt me. It was out of your control. I can replace any,


but your love. That’s all that I want from you. Your total love."


"It’s yours."


"And you have mine Angel."


They heard Rosa coming up the stairs, and the door opened. "What’s that


smell?" she asked.


"I burned some chocolate milk, mom."


"That’s okay. I thought Jim was cooking again." They laughed.


"Rosa I’ll cook dinner tonight," said Jim and went to get a pot.


"No. No. I’m sorry. Please don’t."


"You really know how to hurt a guy, Rosa." They laughed and Rosa started


preparing dinner.


"Can I chop the onions and garlic, Rosa?"  asked Jim.


"No. Each time you chop onions and garlic, I cry. I feel sorry for them."


Rosa knew that Jim had no intentions to cook in the kitchen. It was time for him


to go.


" Good bye, Rosa. I‘ll see you tomorrow, Angel."


"I love you Cookie."


"I love you, Angel."


Jim stopped by the Alley and visited the guys. Bordi and Baffi were sitting on


stools. Britski, Cowens and De Walt were sitting on an old sofa in the garage. They


were smoking and using an old hubcap as an ashtray.  Jim walked in and said hello. 


The guys replied, “How ya doing?”


Bordi said," The cops got the license plate of the car in the shooting at Pete’s


Smoke Shop. A lady across the street saw everything. She gave a description of the


car, the driver and the shooter."


"I never liked the Courts, but nobody deserves to die at seventeen," said Jim.


Bordi had replaced the famous tuck and roll upholstery with black seat covers.


For a month the coupe’ looked cherry. Now it looked plain. Cowens said, "It looks


like a hog with earrings." Bordi and Cowens were no longer talking to each other.


Whenever life got boring, Jim would visit the guys in the Alley. They were always good


for a laugh.





It was April 5th .  Joe took Mary, Lupe and Jim to a French Restaurant on Geary


Street in the Richmond district near Golden Gate Park. Mary always wanted to have dinner


at a French restaurant. The menu was in French with sub titles. The waiter was helpful


when ordering dinner. Jim’s parents had a variety of shellfish in a thick wine sauce. It was


like a fish stew with vegetables. Lupe and Jim had roast chicken breast with vegetables


and small red potatoes. The food was good, but compared to a seven course Italian meal


at Christmas, this was a warm up lap. They left the restaurant, and saw an ice cream store


on the corner. Jim’s parents had Strawberry. Lupe and Jim had Chocolate on sugar cones.


 When they came home Mary made coffee and served a white layer cake topped


with whip cream and sliced peaches. Lupe gave Mary the birthday card.  Jim gave her the


gift.  Mary was pleased with the card and liked the glasses very much.  She  gave Lupe


and Jim a hug, and said, "Thank you." Joe bought Mary a Sunbeam blender. She enjoyed


the blender more than the imported glasses, because she could use it everyday. Joe was


pleased that he had made Mary so happy. She said thanks to all and kissed Joe. He


blushed and was a little embarrassed that Mary was so affectionate in front of Jim and


Lupe. The glasses were a collectable that she would admire.


Later Jim walked Lupe home. He told her that he was able to get bleacher tickets


for the Dodger-Giants baseball game on Saturday April 21st. Lupe asked, "Are they





"No. Foxie gave me two free tickets. The game starts at one o’clock. We’ll leave


at ten and watch them warm up,"


"I’ll bring snacks. What should I bring?"


"Bring some fruit. This is your first game. You have to have a hot dog and peanuts."


"Okay. Can I get an autograph of Willie McCovey?"




They arrived home, Jim stayed a while then said good night to Lupe and Rosa. He


walked home and thought about his first baseball game as a varsity player. He was


excited. Friday St. Nick’s would begin the varsity baseball season and Jim was the starting


right fielder. Most of the players were back from the championship junior varsity team. St.


Nick’s should have a good season.


Finally, Friday one-thirty came and it was time for the players to go to the gym


and suit up for St. Nick’s first game against Balboa. Mr. Meyer was the varsity coach.


Duke, Brocker, Cain and all of the other guys were back. The players felt like a family.


They were twenty-four partners on a quest for a varsity championship. There are certain


relationships with brothers, families, and relatives. The relationship that Jim had with


Lupe was closer than family. The relationship with twenty-four guys for three months of


sacrifice, teamwork, joy, and sorrow was very unique.  Each player depended each other


to make a play or get a timely hit. They dedicated themselves to a goal. It was like Coach


Kepen said, ""The sum of all. Each player is a part of the equation to victory." Only one


team would be champion and experience an elusive moment of absolute exhilaration and


triumph, that few experience. The memory of that moment lives on though the intensity


may diminish over time. The feeling of last year’s championship still ran through Jim’s


body. It would always be part of him. Then guys like Duke would remind the team that it


was just a game. Duke would always say, "Let’s have some fun." It was time to get on the


bus and go to Balboa stadium.


Balboa stadium was built for soccer matches and football. The portable bleachers


were removed to open up right field. There were no fences in right, so a hard hit single that


got by the right fielder became a home run. It was a poor facility to play baseball. Games


ended with scores like 17-14. Pitchers hated Balboa stadium and hitters loved it. It was a


typical game. St. Nick’s won 22-16. Duke’s earn run average took a hit and jumped three




It was Saturday April 21st . Lupe and Jim left for Candlestick Park to watch the


Dodgers play the Giants. Don Drysdale and Jack Sanford would be the starting pitchers.


Jim bought Lupe a program. She was able to get Willie Mc Covey’s autograph and other


Giant’s players who she admired. They sat in the right field bleachers, and watched Willie


Mc Covey on first and Filipe Alou in right field. Lupe enjoyed the hot dog and peanuts. In


the ninth inning Maurie Wills walked, and stole second. Willie Davis bunted Wills to third,


and Wes Parker hit a sacrifice fly ball to right field. Wills ran home and slid under Tom


Haller’s tag. "Safe," said the umpire. The Giants failed to score in the bottom of the ninth


inning and the Dodger’s won 4-3.


"I hate Los Angeles. They always beat us in football and baseball," said Lupe


with frustration that only a San Franciscan could feel.


"Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you look when you are angry?"


"You’re teasing me"


"No. You are really beautiful. I am going to bring you to more games."




"You bet."


Lupe thought about what Jim said.  "Really? You really think that I am beautiful,"


asked Lupe.


"I really think you are beautiful when you are eating a hot dog or yelling at the


umpire."  He kissed her on the top of her head.  He bought her a Giants baseball cap.


She liked it, and wore it on the bus on the way home. They walked to her apartment.  Jim


stopped at the stairs so that Lupe was eye to eye with him and said, "Has anyone ever told


you how beautiful you look with a baseball cap?"


She laughed and said, "You're hopeless."


"No young lady, I am absolutely in love with you."


She hugged him and said, "Me to."


They went inside, sat in the kitchen, and drank coffee. They talked about the


game. Jim sat and admired Lupe as she told Rosa all of the details of the game. Since


Valentine’s Day he had felt more in love with her.  In the beginning she was the one


who smiled all of the time. Now it was him. He looked at her with the eyes of love. She


really was beautiful.


The next day was Easter Sunday and Jim’s birthday. His parents, Lupe and he


went to the St. Francis Hotel for Easter brunch. It was very fancy hotel with a large


ballroom, and a restaurant that had an indoor garden with displays of ice sculptures


surrounded with varieties of fruits, deserts, and entrees. Jim felt uncomfortable being


dressed up in fancy restaurant eating pancakes and ham. He sensed that Lupe felt the


same way. The cost of the dinner at the French restaurant and now brunch at the St.


Francis was starting to make Lupe uncomfortable. She and Jim were blue jeans, and


hot dog kind of people. Jim enjoyed relaxing with Rosa and Lupe eating pinto beans in a


chili sauce with rice. When Jim and Lupe left the hotel, she asked," Do rich people do


this every Sunday?"


"Some do. If we ever get rich, I won’t tell you."




After brunch Mary, Joe, Jim, and Lupe walked to City of Paris in Union Square.


They looked, touched, and dreamed about owning expensive clothes. After an hour


walk Joe drove everyone home and dropped off Jim and Lupe at her home. They sat in the


kitchen and listened to the Giants game on the radio. Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons


were very entertaining play by play announcers. Lupe cooked chicken fajittas for dinner.


Jim’s parents arrived at 5:00PM and they enjoyed having dinner with Lupe, Rosa and Jim.


Lupe baked a cake for Jim’s birthday. The stove was old and the back of the cake was


higher because there was more heat than the front. The cake was dry, but it was the best


birthday ever.  The cake had seventeen candles. Jim had told Lupe the day before, "The


last time I had a birthday party was when I was eight, the year we moved from Naglee to


Sanchez Streets.  I haven’t had a birthday party since then.  I guess my folks couldn’t


afford birthday days then.  It’s just lately since my dad got his promotion that we celebrate


birthdays "


Lupe gave Jim a birthday card that showed a couple walking along the shore.


Jim opened the card. Lupe wrote, "You are the happiness in my life. Thank you for


entering my world. I love you, Happy Birthday. Always, Lupe."


Later Jim and Lupe went for a walk and sat on a bench at Dolores Park. They


held each other and watched the stars sparkle. Every day with Lupe was special. Today


was very special. The fact that he hadn’t had a birthday party for nine years didn’t make


today special. What made today special was who Jim had shared the day with.






A few blocks south of the St. Francis Hotel is the City of Paris on Union Square.


A few blocks west of City of Paris on the fringe of the Tenderloin district is Blackie’s Bar


and Grill on Leavenworth Street. Foxie Gannon had Sunday breakfast there often, and


held court as "King of the Loin." Today’s breakfast guests were Brother Raymond and


Mr. Tillson from the Alumni Association. Blackie was an ex cop, who had deep black


circles under his eyes, and combed his black hair straight back with greasy hair cream. He


had a tattoo on his right arm of the Marine Corp insignia. Blackie was six feet tall and


weighed about two-sixty pounds. The bar was a dimly lit place that needed to be


disinfected with a blowtorch. There was dirt and cob webs everywhere. When you left


Blackie, you wanted to take a bath. The specialty of the house was chili that looked like it


crawled into the bowl. Foxie had a big bowl before Brother Raymond arrived. Mr. Tillson


arrived early, and had the dubious task of watching his friend from St. Ceclia’s and St.


Nick’s devour a bowl of Blackie’s chili that fought it’s way down into Foxie’s cast iron gut. 


Mr. Tillson and Foxie had known each other since first communion.


"Hey, Brother Raymond. Good ta see ya.  How ya bin?" asked Foxie as he


swallowed the last bit of chili for the second time.


"Fine, thank you Finnius," said Brother Raymond.


"Please Brother Raymond. It’s Foxie. Even my saintly mother calls me Foxie."


"Sorry, Foxie. Why are we here?’ asked Brother Raymond.


"Well I tell ya, Joe here and you have got concerns about St. Nick’s future and


Brother Justin.


"I don’t understand?" said Brother Raymond.


"I asked Foxie to help us Brother Raymond," said Jack Tillson.


"I still don’t understand," said a perplexed Brother Raymond.


"The meeting you and I had after you returned from visiting Brother Paul, well, it


seemed that there isn’t much that we can do," said Mr. Tillson.


"What is the purpose of this meeting?" asked Brother Raymond.


"I thought that maybe if Foxie heard something about Brother Justin’s habits,"


said Mr. Tillson.


"I don’t like what Brother Justin is doing at St. Nick’s, but I refuse to become a


merchant of filth. I have no further business here. It is Easter, gentlemen. Let us not


forget what Easter celebrates. Good morning." said Brother Raymond.


Brother Raymond left quickly and avoided touching anything. Jack Tillson looked


at Foxie and asked, "What now?"


"Ya wanta bowl of chili, Jack?"


Mr. Tillson was concerned that he may have alienated Brother Raymond, their


best ally.  Brother Raymond walked the ten blocks back to St. Nick’s.  He spoke to


himself and questioned God’s wisdom while he walked. When Brother Raymond arrived at


St. Nick’s, he went to the bathroom and washed his hands twice. He dried his hands, but


could still feel the filth of Blackie’s bar and the meeting. When he entered his room, he saw 


Brother Philip waiting for him.


“Brother Philip, have you been waiting long?"


“No Brother Raymond, I saw you enter, and remembered that  I had received a


letter from Brother Gabriel yesterday. When I opened it today, there was a second letter


addressed to you  from Brother Paul."


"Thank you, Brother Philip."


"Should I know what is going on?"


"Brother Philip, I don’t know what’s going on." Brother Raymond began to open


the envelope and Brother Philip started to leave. "Please Brother Philip, stay."


The letter from Brother Paul said that he would use Brother Gabriel as his carrier


and trusted that Brother Philip was worthy of their trust as his carrier. Brother Paul


explained that Brother Albert had overheard their conversation, and would be a  formidable


advisory. All of their correspondence would be between Brothers Gabriel and Philip, and


had to be burned. Secrecy and caution had to be used.


The matter had escalated to beyond Brother Justin. It was now the old guard


against the new breed.  Brother Thomas had died the Thursday before Easter creating


a vacuum in the power structure at Mount La Salle.  He was the mortar that that held


Mount La Salle together all of those years. It upset Brother Raymond that he wasn’t


informed earlier so that he could attend the funeral. Brother Raymond when to the chapel


to pray for guidance and the repose of the soul of Brother Thomas. The circumstances


were beginning to suffocate Brother Raymond. He was a pacifist that now was in the


middle of a battlefield.


The next day Brother Raymond approached Brother Justin and asked, "Why was


I not told about Brother Thomas’ death?"


"I did not think that it was necessary for both of us to go."


"You knew that we were old friends."


"I did brother?" I’m sorry, but I am not aware of your network of elders."


"Out of courtesy Brother James always let all of us know when a colleague died."


"Oh, really. Well I’m not Brother James, am I? Only a foolish man makes


assumptions. Do I make myself clear, Brother Raymond "


Yes, Brother Justin."


"Fine. Now let’s get on with the day at hand."


Brother Raymond began to walk away when…"Oh by the way Brother Raymond.


If you need to go to a retreat again, I would recommend going to St. Mary’s in Moraga.


They have retreats that are quite stimulating about the challenge of Vatican Two. I think


the next lecture is about obedience.  I strongly recommend that you go."


"Thank you, Brother Justin. I will give it some thought.


"I recommend that you give it a lot of thought, Brother Raymond. I further


recommend that you give a lot of thought to your role here at St. Nick’s."


Brother Raymond walked away and felt like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemene


asking God if it was possible to be spared from the suffering of dying on the cross the


next day. "Father spare me from this task. Let me pass this chalice."






More next week...