St. Nick's Outlaws
By Jim Colombo
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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo
Twin Peaks is located in the middle of San Francisco, and divides the older half
from the newer half of the city. The older half was built after the earthquake of 1906 and
consists of the Mission, Bayview, Filmore, Tenderloin, Geneva, and South of Market
districts. The sun shines on these older neighborhoods. The churches, schools and homes
are vintage architecture. The newer half of the city, built in the forties and fifties, is the
Parkside, Richmond, Sunset, Sea Cliff, St Francis Woods, Ingleside, Marina, and Lake
Merced districts. In between the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridges are North Beach,
Chinatown, and Fisherman's Wharf. The Peaks holds back the fog, allowing sunshine for
the older half, covering the newer half of the city almost every day. The cold water from the
Japanese Current meets the warm water of the Mexican Current at the Golden Gate,
creating the fog that makes San Francisco unique and famous. Mark Twain once said that
he spent one of the coldest winters visiting San Francisco one summer. The westward side
of Twin Peaks faces the Pacific Ocean and the eastward side faces the San Francisco
At the foot of the eastward side of Twin Peaks is Noe Valley. Castro Street runs
through the middle of the valley from Market to 30th Streets. Douglas Street is two
blocks up from Castro, and on 24th and Douglas are tennis courts. This was the meeting
place for fifty of the wildest, toughest teenagers in Noe Valley. They inherited a reputation
established by their older brothers as a mean gang. They were determined to further the
reputation of their gang, called The Courts. They believed that they were bullet proof and
feared no gang and followed no rules. Each story that was told about the courts exceeded
the previous fight or adventure. They would get drunk, crash parties, go to other
neighborhoods looking for a fight, or find girls for sex. It was rape some times, but most of
the time these girls were too scarred or thought that the guy really liked her. These girls
got passed around like a bottle of cheap wine. Some of these girls became pregnant and
dropped out of school. These guys were savage animals when drunk who fought among
themselves for the last gulp of wine or whiskey, or the last piece of the whore of the night.
At the end of the evening the used girl would lay in a bath of semen. If she did not please
them, they would form a circle and bathe the semen on her belly by urinating on her. This
was the scum that ruled Noe Valley.
There were other groups of guys, not in gangs who hung out together. They were
Upper Douglas Park, 30th and Day Streets, Edison schoolyard, 18th and Collingswood,
The Alley, and Jim’s group the 23rd Street Gang: thirteen guys who went to Catholic
school who liked playing sports. They didn’t know who started calling them the 23rd Street
Gang. Their turf was 23rd and Sanchez in the middle of all of the other gangs. The Courts
ruled in any direction traveled in Noe Valley. Going to the library or playing sports was a
calculated risk of running into the Courts. Most of the 23rd Street Gang hung out in their
neighborhood and played sports. The guys in the Alley were down the street. They were
an easygoing bunch of guys who had learned how to fix cars from their older brothers.
The houses in the neighborhood had been built at the turn of the century. Their
architecture resembled the ornate architecture used in the older buildings in the
financial district of San Francisco. The automobile was unknown at that time these homes
were built. The house was in front, the backyard was in the middle, and a small barn was
behind the backyard. Separating two barns was an alley that was used by both blocks of
houses. When the automobile became popular, the barns were converted into garages
that were ideal for working on cars.
The guys who hung out at the Alley had part-time jobs, and spent most of their
time pampering their cars. These classics were called "toilets" because all of their money
went down the drain to keep them in running condition. They couldn’t afford a girl friend or
good clothes. They were content fine-tuning a carburetor or adjusting the valves of their
cars. Bordi would change the oil every 1,000 miles and give his car a complete tune up
every 3,000. That car was his baby, and he took pride in having a 1949 Mercury coupe,
with a Chevy 327 engine, a B&M hydro, and an Oldsmobile 353 rear-end. Any girl who
entered Bordi's car had to give something of greater value for the privilege of sitting in his
During Easter break Baffi, Bordi, and Britchski cruised down the coast highway
from San Francisco to Tijuana. They listened to the Beach Boys, and Jan and Dean songs.
on their way to get a "tuck and roll" upholstery for Bordi's 1949 Mercury coupe. It was a
fancy style of pleated upholstery. The lads would spend a weekend in Tijuana, see the
sights, and get the car upholstered. They got more than they bargained for. The lads
stayed at a motel in the low rent district of San Diego for six dollars a night. Their room
was by a coke machine and the ice-making machine that vibrated all night. The walls were
paper-thin. They could hear everything that went on in the adjacent rooms. An enterprising
lady who earned her living at night was a moaner who gradually increased in volume as
she worked. Then she exploded into a high pitched scream when she hit the finish line.
She spent most of the evening and early morning entertaining gentlemen in the armed
forces. The lads referred to her as Mona.
The next day the lads went to a back street in Tijuana, near the bullfighting
stadium. Bordi paid one hundred dollars for the upholstery work. The lads had some
time to explore the wonders and pleasures of Tijuana. Their first stop was at one of the
historical venues that was highly recommended by the Navy and the Marine Corps called
the Blue Fox. It was a bar that served beer that tasted like piss, with whores who could
take you around the world for fifty dollars or for five dollars you could go for a walk in the
park. The second floor was lined with rooms with one bed and one chair that were the
offices of these entrepreneurs of fantasy. Each gent was an Olympic event and these gals
were determined to get the gold. They said anything to pacify the fool. If a dude flashed a
wad of money or was drunk, thugs would hit him with a blackjack, rob him, and throw him
out into the street. Some of the thugs were on "Angel Dust" or "Horsepower" and literally
threw the dude from the second floor without any clothes. The management quickly
curtailed such enthusiasm by the thugs when word spread fast among the Marines and
Sailors about getting rolled, and tossed. The entertainment industry in Tijuana suffered.
Britchski had the spirit of adventure, and tempted fate. When he removed his
pants and shorts, a thug came in a told him to hand over his wallet, pants, and shorts.
Fortunately the thug was kind enough to allow Britchski to keep his sweater. Britchski
thanked the guy and proceeded to step through the sleeves, holding the bottom of the
sweater just high enough to prevent his manhood from dangling through the top of the
sweater, which was now reversed. Britchski exited by the backdoor and met the lads in
the alley. Baffi gave Britchski his sweater to cover his top half. They took the local
shuttled from Tijuana to San Diego. As they walked into their motel room, a Mexican
cleaning lady saw Britchski wearing a sweater on top and a sweater on the bottom and
said," I chi-hwa-wa!" Britchski had a new nickname, "The Backdoor Man," or if you were
a close friend, you could call him, "I chi-hwa-wa." The next day the lads went to get the
car. They were told it would be ready by evening, so they decided to see a movie, and get
a flavor of the local culture. They entered the theater, sat down, and realized that they
were the only Amreicanos there. They sat low and tried to blend in. The movie began and
the lads found themselves watching Isabella and her horse. She was a middle-aged lady
who was endowed with stretch marks, covering her latitude and longitude. The horse was
old, and bored with her attempts to stimulate him to an erection. The lads were about to
leave when they were given the opportunity for all three of them to have a mother and
her daughter for the price of one. The lads declined, and left the feature before Isabella
showed how determined she was to ride the stallion. Bordi got his Mercury coupe, and
the boys left for home as quickly as possible. At first Bordi was happy with the tuck and
roll, but a month later the seams came apart. The inside was stuffed with newspaper,
not foam rubber as advertised. The lads in the Alley were always good for an interesting
Memorial Day weekend marked the beginning of summertime. Soon it would be
time for finals and competency testing. Most of the courts went to school to hang out or
socialize. Final exams were for pencil-necks, not them. These guys were so tough that
they would often have contests to see who could stand getting punched in the guts the
most or who could drink the most beer, wine or whiskey. Ferguson and Webber were
without question the two most dangerous, crazy and unpredictable of all of the courts.
Ferguson dropped out of school after the eighth grade, and Webber went to high school
for a year to steal lunches. They had discovered hitch hiking and the Russian River during
the summer. The Russian River runs from Santa Rosa, near the wine country in northern
California to Jenner on the Pacific. The Russian River was a resort area consisting of
Gernyville, Rio Nieto, and Rio Mar. During the summer there were dances and activities
for the teenagers who populated the beach resorts. It was a great place to swim and
play on the beach. At night the girls were right and the stars were bright. It was the
perfect place for two vultures like Ferguson and Webber. They would go up there on
weekends, sleep under the bridge or on the beach at Gernyville, steal food and their
favorite beverage, Carlo Rossi Red Mountain Burgundy. A gallon cost only a buck fifty,
but stealing one was more fun. One night they rolled two guys who had beer and
marijuana cigarettes. After several beers and lots of hits on Panama Red, Webber
thought that he would perform a swan dive into the river. He climbed up to the top the
Gernyville Bridge, and jumped into the dark water on a moonless night. When he came
out of the water he challenged Ferguson to jump. Fergy hated heights. Webber called
him chicken shit. Nobody called Fergy chicken shit. Fergy fumbled and stumbled to the
top of the bridge span. A county sheriff began crossing the bridge in his car and saw a
figure on the top span working its way to the middle. He flashed his searchlight to
investigate. It startled Fergy. He lost his balance and fell headfirst into the shallow end of
the river. Webber waited for Fergy to come up. Finally, Webber jumped in as Fergy
bobbed to the surface. Fergy had hit a rock on the bottom in the shallow part of the river.
His head was split open. Webber tried to squeeze Fergy's head back together to stop the
bleeding. The county sheriff called an ambulance and Fergy was rushed to Santa Rosa
General Hospital. Fergy spent a week there, and was asked to leave because he was so
unruly. He should have spent two week there. Fergy suffered slight brain damage and had
to wear glasses for impaired vision. He dropped out of the courts because he no longer
had the vision and reflexes needed to fight. He was a used warrior. Webber stopped
hanging out with Fergy. That hurt Fergy more than his daily headaches.
Fergy suffered excruciating headaches for the next year. He was a fighter who now
lived in the body of a cripple. He had an enough misery and loneliness. One night he got
drunk and sat on the tracks at the tight S turn at 20th and Church, and waited to be set
free. The J Church trolley came out of the turn and ended his misery. The velocity was so
high that he was stuck in the cyclone fence that lined the outer edges of the tracks. It took
a while to remove Fergy. They were trying to keep him in one piece.
Webber was arrested for assault and robbery of a Gay man. They called it Fag
Bashing. Webber said that he was defending himself from a fag who was trying to make
it with him. The judge gave Webber the choice of going to jail or joining the Marine Corps.
Webber joined the Marine Corp. and quickly found a home that rewarded violence.
Vietnam was a chance to further his skills as an assassin. He became a member of the
elite Apaches of the Fifth Division. The Viet Cong hated the way "The Guys of 5" mutilated
the Viet Cong’s dead. Anytime the Cong found guys from the fifth, they would chop them
up into little pieces, whether they were dead or alive, and feed them to the vultures.
Webber’s Platoon was on patrol one night when they walked into a trap the Cong had
prepared. Surrounded and low on ammunition they decided that a bullet in the head was
better that what the VC had planned for them. A week later at night the VC left the
Platoon’s dog tags in a helmet filled with dog shit at the perimeter. Webber's mother
received a telegram that Terry had died in action. She asked when the body would be sent
back. They said there would be no body to return. A month later Mrs. Webber received
her son's dog tags, an American flag, a Purple Heart, and a letter that began, "With
Deepest Respect from a Grateful Country."
Two weeks had passed when Jim had heard about Ferguson's Russian River
accident from the guys at the Alley. It was finals and comp testing for the guys at St.
Nick’s. The guys at Saint Ignatius and Riordan didn’t have the intensity that the guys at St.
Nick’s experienced, because their freshmen class began with two hundred- forty and
graduated about two hundred- forty. For two years the guys at St. Nick’s were in
competition for one hundred-sixty seats to become juniors. When the junior year would
begin, they would be treated like men, not plebes. They could concentrate on school, not
just on surviving the first two years. They would be upper classmen and would have
earned the privilege to buy a school ring and jacket. That was their reward for making the
cut and spending two years in hell.
More next week...