We were all damaged. That’s what drew us together. We were 14, 15, and 16-years-old. Each of us had an abusive father who was either an alocholic or just a mean drunk. We saw each others families. We knew each others secrets. We never spoke of them. We didn’t know how to.
We didn’t have an official name like the High Street Gang. We were the neighborhood juvenile delinquents. There were three brothers from one family, two from another, two more from another, and me. That was the core. Other kids came and went. I guess that’s normal. I ran with the High Street Gang for a short while, but came back to my friends.
We all smoked cigarettes and that was what we mostly did when we got together. We weren’t allowed to smoke anywhere openly. We hung out in Lakeview Park or at the Zoo, smoked, and talked tough. Stealing cigarettes was one of our primary activities.
A couple of the brothers got so good at shoplifting that they started taking orders at school. You told them what you wanted, they stole it and then sold it to you for half the retail price. Pants were the most popular item. I shoplifted, too, but I was nothing like those guys. I’d steal a pack of cigarettes. They’d steal a carton.
Cologne was another popular item. We stole that for ourselves, too. Whenever we went to a dance or the movies or a basketball game or any other activities where girls might be present, we drowned ourselves in cologne or after shave. I guess we thought that made us more adult. Three or four of us together would create quite the aroma.