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St. Nick's Outlaws

By Jim Colombo


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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo


 Chapter 45


It was Monday, December 3rd,  the beginning of hell week, and Jim was excused


from taking written exams on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday because his index and


middle fingers were in a splint.  He and  would take his exams in January while everyone


else went through the typical fire drill on Monday, and on Tuesday, re-writing term papers


and getting ready for finals.  On Wednesday Jim had the splint on his index finger replaced


with a smaller splint. Thursday morning he went to the team dentist and had an impression


of his mouth made to make a bridge for his two missing teeth.  Jim had eaten soft food for


a week, and now it was time to have a real meal.  He went to Doggie Diner on Van Ness


and Eddy for lunch, and ate two double chili cheese dogs with a side of onion rings, and a


chocolate shake.  For dessert he went to Remo’s across the street and ate a medium


sausage, mushroom, and black olive pizza, and drank two large cokes.


He took a long walk along Van Ness Avenue, and passed  by Horse Trader Ed’s


used car lot on Ellis Street.  There was a red 1955 Cadillac convertible with black and


white cowhide seat covers, and a set of longhorns attached to the hood.  The folks in


Texas would appreciate its charm.  St. Nick’s was two blocks up Ellis Street.  Jim


recalled the time when Steinway needed a second, and they became good friends.  The


time Tom Portello chased Jefferson down Van Ness to Market Street, and caught him.  Jim


had never seen a big man move so fast.  Jefferson was a middle linebacker, black, and on


the track team.  He had stolen Portello’s lunch, and the guys thought that Jefferson had


said something about Portello’s ugly girl friend.  Jim continued walking down Van Ness


and peeked into Tommy’s Joint on O’ Farrell Street and he saw people eating buffalo stew


and turkey chili.  One of the first things Jim wanted to do when he became twenty-one was


to go to T.J.’s and have an imported beer and a plate of buffalo stew.


Jim's classmates finished exams, and they were free men for three weeks.  The


awards dinner was that night, December 7th, Pearl Harbor day.  The Alumni Association


had donated porterhouse steaks for the dinner.  The guest speaker was Admiral Stevens


from the Seventh Fleet stationed on Treasure Island.  He spoke about how modern the


Navy had become compared to when he was an ensign in 1941.  He talked about


teamwork and the lessons the players had learned.  Admiral Stevens congratulated the


team for winning the city championship, and finished his speech by telling all that they 


had a duty to preserve this great nation.  Admiral Stevens was a very inspiring speaker. 


Each member of the team received a trophy and a football block to sew on their varsity


sweaters.  Jim now had a varsity championship letter in football and baseball.   His father


was very proud of him. That night Coach Kepen announced the All-City team.  Augie,


Rensom, and Jim had made the team.  The halfback from Galileo had injuries during the


year and never played to his potential.  Jim was happy for Rensom and would take him to


the Chuck Wagon for dinner. Rensom was the heart of the team.  The team gave a special


award to Garcia as the soul of the team.  He received a trophy and a block letter, because


he had made the team when the season began.  It was a special year because the


Outlaws had won respect and  St. Nick's was now the big dog in the city.   


The following Monday Jim went to visit Lupe at City of Paris where she was a


saleslady and a model when they had fashion shows.  Jim planned to work at City of Paris


for Christmas, but the doctor said no activity for a month.  He couldn’t lift weights or work


at City of Paris, and felt useless.  There was a fashion show that day and Lupe looked


glamorous and poised.  She enjoyed dressing up.  Jim admired her new confidence.  Mr.


Crenshaw and Rudy were surprised to see how feminine she had become.  Lupe was


graceful and had a beautiful smile.  At the end of the fashion show Jim waited for her and


said,” You look like you really enjoy being up there.” 


“I do.  I enjoy wearing nice clothes.”  Lupe wore a little makeup, she was exercising


every day, and had good muscle tone and posture.  Jim asked her if she wanted to pursue


being a model.  “No.  I’m too short, but I can work here part time as a model and saleslady


after Christmas.  This is my football.  I will enjoy it, and then one day walk away.”


Jim spoke with Rudy for a while.  Rudy and his partner Jerry were very happy


living together in the Castro district where homosexual men were creating a community


and their version of society.  They were organizing as a political group and demanded to


be heard.  The Castro was sanctuary for homosexual men who came out and now enjoyed


the light of day.  They lived in old Victorian flats that they painted with lively colors like


blue, yellow and green.  The lower Castro was in a renaissance.  Men from all parts of the


country were coming to find acceptance, liberation, and love.  Jim had noticed the change


in the neighborhood.  The Castro was livelier, and becoming the center of the universe for


homosexual men.  Lesbian women began to join their ranks.  They now had a safe haven


to live and love as they preferred.   Jim had delivered newspapers when he was twelve


along Castro Street.  Then, the white or beige homes were filled with blue-collar people


who were islands in their neighborhood. The Castro now had vitality and the community


had a  quest for identity and expression that was gaining momentum spreading throughout


the Castro from Market and 16th Streets to the top of the hill on 22nd Street.  Jim didn’t


agree with their sexual preference, but he respected their zest for life.  Rudy was a


talented tailor and a decent human being, and if the issue of sex was removed, he was like


anyone else.


  Unfortunately, sex was their battle cry and it polarized them from mainstream


America. They were branded as radicals along with Blacks, women, and college students


who demanded change in the sixties.  The word radical permeated the mindset. 


Mainstream America had left the fifties with a witch hunt for communists during the 


McCarthy era, the threat of Russian ICBM’s with nuclear warheads aimed at America, and


an American  spy plane was shot down in Russia in May of 1959 prior to a peace


conference.  There was tension between Russia and America and the sabers of war rattled


on the horizon.  President Kennedy and the New Frontier gave hope as the sixties began 


with the attempt to send men to the moon was exciting.  There was energy and vitality in


the sixties.  Leaders for civil rights, homosexual rights, and women’s rights were organizing


and protesting the prevailing conditions in society.  Conflict and change were the


prerequisite in the sixties.  College students didn’t want to join the military and die in


Vietnam. There were others who chose to drop out of society and explore life on their own


terms.  The death of President Kennedy in November 1963 created a void that was never


filled.  The political leadership that followed with President Johnson moved in one


direction, while society fragmented and moved in other directions.  The military-industrial


complex had visions of high-tech warfare that would revolutionize war.  Buttons would be


pushed and rockets would be launched.   War was now a mathematical equation of


attrition with X number of bombs over Y number of faceless people equaled victory.  They


no longer bombed the enemy, they surgically removed targets of strategic need.  America


was enforcing its global policy to secure its vital national interest.  Society was busy


spending money on new cars, homes, and entertainment while there was an exodus to the


suburbs.  Each was in search of a dream and everyone had an agenda.  It was like the


Oklahoma land rush.  All of them were rushing to a point somewhere out there.   


There were other changes in the mix of society, such as the drug culture and


psychedelic music that were starting to gain a following.  Marijuana and LSD were the


preferred drugs of escape.  The narrow end of Golden Gate Park on the corner of


Haight and Ashbury Streets is called the Panhandle and had low-income apartments on


Haight Street.  Ashbury Street was at the base of the hill going up to Parnassus Street and


at the top of Parnassus Street was the University of California Medical School.  The


medical student lived in the cheap apartments along Haight Street.  Musicians lived in the


Haight  Ashbury and played at the local coffee-houses.  It was 1963 and a radical wind


was blowing.  Out of necessity students and musicians lived together in a communal


environment sharing expenses.  They were creating a liberal interpretation of society,


learning from their diverse experiences in life, and protesting society.  It was a time to turn


on and tune in to one’s inner self.  In the early fifties they were called Bohemians and liked


jazz music and poetry.  Then they were part of the beat generation called Beatniks after


the Russian satellite Sputnik.   In the early sixties they were called Hippies because they


were hip or in the know. Their music was folk and they sang about protest and challenging


authority.  The birth control pill was available, fostering the sexual revolution and the drug


culture was turning on to new vibrations.  Like Prohibition, it was cool to openly talk about


drugs and pass a joint with friends.  One of the popular songs at that time was “Take a Hit


on Me.   Blacks, women, and homosexuals demanded equality.  College students and


hippies wanted peace, not global involvement.  There was a severe gap in ideology


between the generation in power and the coming generation.   There was a group from


England called the Beatles.  Rock and roll had veered a little with surfing music, but this


new stuff from England was an  invasion that captured the young girls.  Jim respected his


father as a veteran of World War II.  He and his dad disagreed about duty, and if the


United States were attacked, Jim would join.  He wouldn’t be a pawn in a chess game of


global policy.  Vietnam was a distant war that was the wrong war at the wrong time for the


wrong reasons.  The younger generation sought change in their own way.  Everyone had


dreams, and they lost more than a president the day John Kennedy was assassinated.  


They had lost their innocence and simple way of life.  In a brief time span they went from


Leave it to Beaver to the Man fromU.N.C.L.E.  


They say that television is the window of a society and in the fifties there were


simple comedies with I Love Lucy and Leave It to Beaver.  Home life was stable.  The


older generation had gone through the Depression and World War II, and were very


patriotic.  They didn’t question the policies of the government or the church.  They thought


in terms of neighborhood, not global policy.  All they wanted was to own their home, have


a good car, a steady job, and save money for college or retirement, the American dream.  


Jim's parents worked hard, went to church, and were good people. That’s all that mattered. 


The nation had shifted into a sphere of political involvement with Eastern Europe, Russia,


Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam. The Government's agenda was securing


America's national interest, and strategic locations for its military to police the world. 


The younger generation wanted to live in peace, so they challenged government


policy.  They didn’t  have grand visions of global influence.  It wasn’t their job to police the


world for big business.  They would defend their country if attacked, but this was


imperialism.  This was the Military Complex that President Eisenhower warned of. It was


the monster with an insatiable appetite. 


Then Vatican II changed the mass from Latin to English.  The priest now faced the


altar, and the mystery Communion, as well as the presence of the Holy Ghost was gone. 


The Gregorian chants that set the mood of being humble in the house of God were gone. 


It was no longer a spiritual experience receiving the body of Christ.  Before a priest gave


Communion, now the laity gave Communion.  Maybe the Priest was just a man like


anyone else.  Once they saw the magician taking the rabbit from the back of his black coat


with tails and putting it into his top hat, the illusion was gone. Going to mass was not the


same. Jim and his classmates had studied Latin to become altar boys.  Now the mass was


in English, and the boys were no longer participants, just reminders from the past. First


you doubt your government, next your religion, and then you start to wonder about a lot of




Change takes time in a society and its culture. The sixties were a whirlwind of


radical change. Some dropped out with drugs, other were exposed to the horror of war,


and never came back mentally, only physically from Vietnam.  Some took a wrong turn


and went to places that they hadn’t plan to go, or become people that they hadn’t


planned to be.  Each paid a price for the radical changes in the sixties.   Lupe and Jim


were shocked watching television each night as they saw race riots and fires in American


cities, students protesting on university campuses, and the National Guard confronting


them. The war was here, not in Vietnam.   The ghettos and campuses were the


battlegrounds.   Each night Jim and Lupe saw the world getting smaller as they watched


the window of the world displayed on television.  Their music was changing.  They had


enjoyed the sounds of Motown about love.  Now it was songs of protest, folk songs, and


the English.  The number one song was “Soldier Boy” by the Shirelles.  Some were still


numb from the loss of Camelot.  Brother Matthew said time was change, not motion.   In


1963 Jim's world changed rapidly.  He wasn’t looking forward to 1964.  In June he would


leave St. Nick’s, his haven of friends, and sports.  For everything gained or learned there


was a price to pay.  It was time to ante up.  The future was at hand.



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