Saturday, October 20, 2012


Speaking about ol’ metal garbage cans, which were a common sight on every tenement street in those days: when I was about 13 or 14, one of the staff members in the Boys Club, Frank “Frank the Tank” Raucci, asked me if I wanted to be an assistant to a Bellevue counselor and get a free trip to Coney Island. He explained that the counselor was from Bellevue’s psyche ward on 30th Street and 1st Avenue and was taking a group of emotionally disturbed kids on an outing to Coney Island. The counselor called the Club to ask for an assistant. Frank said I could go on rides all day long, so I agreed.

A school bus pulled up at the designated time and I got on. Along the way the counselor showed me a bag of soda bottle caps and told me he was going to hand them out to the kids and let them pay for the rides with the caps, trying to teach them financial responsibility. We get to Coney Island, which is closed to the public, and the first ride the kids head for is the Merry-Go-Round.

As the kids are going around on the wooden horses, I start bullshittin’ with the teenager at the booth taking the tickets. While we’re talking, the counselor comes over and tells the ticket taker about giving the kids the soda bottle caps to pay for the ride and says he’ll straighten up with him after they finish the ride. The young ticket taker agrees and goes on the ride collecting the caps from the kids. He brings a bag of ‘em back to the booth and after the ride, as I’m next to him, he sees the counselor walking away with the kids. He yells to him and when the counselor comes over, the teenage ticket taker empties the bag of soda bottle caps on the counter and says, “you wanna’ straighten up with me?”

The counselor says, “Oh, yeah!” and throws a metal garbage can cover on the counter and says, “Here, ya’ got change of this?”

About 1957, in a lot strewn with rubble from a recently demolished tenement, four of us, Al LoBrutto, Eddie Schultz, Jerry “the Touch,” and I decided to call ourselves the “Four Horsemen” and along with another good  friend, Howie Storm, promised to stay friends forever...fifty-five years later, we're still keeping the promise.


From his book Disorganized Crime, by Sonny Patini, published
by Blue Mountain Productions (2012).
 Contact him at

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