Friday, October 3, 2008

The Lords of Flatbush

When “Rebel Without a Cause” came out in 1955, every kid on my block wanted to be James Dean. I hounded my mother unmercifully to let me wear a black leather jacket and “engineer” boots, and miraculously, she relented. In those days, kids who dressed like that were called juvenile delinquents or “JDs”. There’s a little gem of a movie from the mid-seventies called “The Lords of Flatbush”, starring a very young Sylvester Stallone and the "pre-Fonzie" Henry Winkler, that kind of sums up the JDs’ world.

Anyhow, one night when, as usual we had no money and nothing to do, we “JDs” rode around in my friend Joe Alba’s father's 1940s vintage black sedan…not exactly a babe magnet. On Atlantic Avenue near the White Castle restaurant, a police car pulled us over and took us to the Liberty Avenue station house for questioning. It seems that a bunch of guys dressed like us and riding in a similar car had taken a shot at someone that night. They grilled us separately in a back room just like in an old James Cagney movie.I guess the cops finally figured out that we didn’t do it (the sobbing probably helped) and let us go.

That incident helped put an end to my JD career. I also soon learned that high school girls preferred their guys to look more preppy than punky. ). Overnight I went from being Arthur Fonzarelli to Richie Cunningham. I exchanged my black leather Village People getup for button-down shirts and Chino pants with the little belt on the back that served no purpose at all. (Don’t deny it, you wore them too).

I could never go for the shoes that called "white bucks" though. There were still plenty of JDs left on my block, and they would do to me what Sitting Bull did to Custer if I ever showed my face wearing them.


LOOKING FOR A WORTHY CHARITY? TRY THESE FOLKS: Children's Craniofacial Association

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