|Founded||Founded c. 1950 by Anthony Anarina and Bobby Shipball in or near West Town West Town: Southern West Town (The Patch) South Lawndale: Little Village Near West Side|
|Formerly known as||
Junior Postals late 1940s-early 1950s (not a gang at the time); Gay Lords early 1950s-early 1960s; Gaylords early 1960s-21st century
|Colors||Black, Grey, Green, and Light blue|
|Color usage||Black and Green - early 1950s-early 1960s; Any section started by Kilbourn Park Gaylords wore black and light blue, any section started by Palmer Gaylords wore black and grey|
|Symbols||Skull, Top Hat, Cane, Dice, Whiskey Bottle, Ku Klux Klansman, Swastika, Celtic Cross, and Embroidered G|
Embroidered “G” early 1950s-early 1960s; Ku Klux Klansman, swastica – early 1970s – early 1980s; Celtic cross with flames, 712 – early 1960s to present
The Gaylords are one the oldest street gangs in Chicago. We will begin by tracing their roots that date all the way back to the mid 1930s. This does not mean the Gaylords can have credit for being around in the 1930s, it just means they have roots from back then. I have had to look at many sources to piece together this history of the Gaylords and a lot of info can be found on the Gaylord’s website http://www.gaylords712.com which is one of the biggest sources I used.
I will start this story in the mid 1930s in the Noble Square section of the West Town neighborhood on Chicago’s west side (West Town is technically a west side neighborhood but often considered part of the north side unofficially, look it up). At this point in time the “Postal Athletic Club” was created that was heavily active in sports. They were registered as an official SAC (social athletic club) club which makes them fully legit. Let me clarify something, the Postal Athletic Club was never involved in any criminal activity and this was not a gang or even close and they were in existence at least 25 years maybe even more. They had a store front somewhere in Noble Square that was likely owned by a member. In this store they had a separate room for all of their trophies, a collection that grew as the years went by. In the late 1940s the Postal Athletic Club established a younger offshoot known as the “Junior Postals.” This was for the kids in the neighborhood to join to keep them out of trouble and give them something to do. They especially loved basketball and softball (Short & Strodtbeck 1961).
In order to keep the timeline going properly let’s take a moment and shift focus away from the Noble Square area and take this to the Little Village area in the year 1950. In that year the Outlaws Motorcycle Club opened a garage/club house at the intersection of 25th and Rockwell. The Outlaws made the decision to leave their original club house in the suburb of McCook and move to the city due to the fact that the Outlaws were growing in size and couldn’t fit in the suburb anymore. When the Outlaws arrived they were rowdy and rode on sound motorcycles that echoed through the neighborhood. The Outlaws were greasers back in these days and some of them were as old as in their 30s in age. Within no time the Outlaws were not liked in this community by many people. They were viewed as outsiders and were causing trouble with groups of young men in the neighborhood. A group of men in their early 20s had enough of the Outlaws and created their own club to deal with the rival biker gang that they called the “Gay Lords.” The Little Village Gay Lords were the first gang to use the name “Gay Lords” back when the Junior Postals were still just a baseball team. The original Gay Lords of Little Village were men in their 20s and they soon would get into bikes as well. They opened a motorcycle repair shop right across the street from the Outlaws at 25th and Rockwell and this heated their rivalry up. The headquarters for the Gay Lords in Little Village was 24th and Whipple and that’s where it all started.
At the intersection of 24th and Whipple there are two properties right on the corner designed for businesses. One of them is a former CFD firehouse located at 2358 S. Whipple. The other is a what looks like used to be a bar. I theorize that these two locations were perhaps the first hangouts of the Gay Lords of Little Village. Perhaps they first Gay Lords were firefighters or sons of firefighters and they all possibly drank at the bar right across the street.
Now let’s revisit the Junior Postals in Noble Square. In the early 1950s the Junior Postals grew a little older and started acting like greasers, drinking, cussing and all in all causing trouble. They took their drunkenness into the Postal’s club house and ended up wrecking sports equipment that the club house owned. The Postal Athletic Club had, had enough of these teens and threw them out of the club house and into the streets. At that point in time a couple of leaders developed out of this club Anthony “Johnny Boy” Anarina and his second in command Bobby Shipball, these two boys took the Junior Postals to create their own club and registered their own SAC that they called the club the “Gay Lords” in the year 1952.
The Gay Lords sports were basketball in the colder seasons then Baseball in the warmer seasons. The Gay Lords played in tournaments at St. Mary’s church and were said to have a really good team for a long time. I believe the exact year of formation was 1952 for the Gay Lords, especially since the rival C-Notes formed in 1952 a few blocks away. When the Gay Lords were first cast out, they hung out at a place they called “Guys” which was a candy store owned by a woman at Huron and Throop. The Gay Lords were only allowed to hang out outside of the shop but if they gathered in numbers inside, the woman would push them out. When it was cold outside the Gay Lords hung out in Eckhart Park which has the boundaries of Chestnut to Chicago Ave and Elizabeth to Noble. At this Park they liked to hang out in the lobby, the game room and the gym. The park staff was always upset with the Gay Lords because they made a lot of noise, were often disrespectful and caused some destruction, typical of a greaser club.
The 1950s Noble Square Gay Lords could be seen wearing light green summer jackets with a coat of arms sewn on it with a shield, a skull with a top hat, a whiskey bottle, dice and a cane. The early racial makeup of the Gay Lords was mostly white members that were Polish, German and Italian and early accounts even say there were Mexican members too (Short & Strodtbeck, 1961)
Jumping back to Little Village, the year was now 1954. The the Gaylords712 site shows early evidence from March 3rd 1954 of the Little Village Gay Lord’s existence. I retrieved this very article that the Gaylords712 site briefly discusses and I will expand upon in greater detail. The article was in the Chicago Tribune dated March 3, 1954 and it talks about a basketball game at 2300 S. Lawndale Ave (23rd and Lawndale) between the Gay Lords and the Outlaws in which the Gay Lords beat the Outlaws in a close match 58 to 56. After the game, a huge brawl ensued that involved 60 guys slugging it out. I could only imagine the tensions were high after having such a close game. Those that know basketball know that the end of a close game results in fouls and hot tempers, so everything just erupted on that court. Apparently someone called the Police as soon as 50 members of the Outlaws showed up to join in on the fight. When the Police came they only arrested one member of the Outlaws but they arrested 5 Gay Lords. Two other Italian guys were arrested that resided in Cicero who I think were old school Outlaws, but Police found no gang affiliation with these two men that were 24 and 25 years old. The other 6 that were arrested were 16 to 19 years old. The addresses of all the Gay Lords mentioned all had Little Village addresses not Noble Square addresses or anywhere close to that area.
The 1954 article shows both gangs had already swelled in great numbers by then as having 50+ members of each gang early in the year. These Gay Lords hung out at 24th and Marshall Boulevard out in front of John Spry Elementary School (2400 S Marshall Blvd, Chicago, IL 60623) which is the same intersection where the legendary 24th and Marshall Boulevard Latin Kings started, however, they didn’t come along until the mid-1960s and that was mainly because Gay Lords were voluntarily relinquishing this corner to serve in Vietnam. The Gay Lords were also heavily in attendance at the high school across the street then known as Harrison High School. They also hung out in front of a book store that was right across the street from Harrison High School. The Gay Lords of Little Village were Polish and Bohemian while the Gay Lords of Noble Square were mostly Italian with some Mexicans so that is a difference. The Gay Lords of Little Village wore the colors grey and blue which became official colors for the Gaylords in later years. At the 25th and Rockwell garage the Gay Lords were greasers that fixed up and rode Cushman and Whizzer motorbikes. Greasers world-wide in the 50s were big into bikes and fixing them was a big hobby of theirs too so these Gay Lords fit the classic 50s greaser style.
In the mid-1950s there were for sure youths in high school that joined the Gay Lords in Little Village and soon they dominated Harrison High School and the Junior ROTC program.
Another part of the founding history is that of the Gay Lords SAC that was founded in 1954 in the Near West Side neighborhood at the intersection of Ashland Avenue and Taylor Street. This group of Gay Lords was not a fighting club according to the http://www.gaylords712.com/history1.html website. They were just a club that played basketball, baseball, football, bowling and attended dances. There is no history of them fighting anyone. It is also not known if this Gay Lords club had anything to do with Noble Square or Little Village Gay Lords. It could be possible one or two of these groups broke away from another one and started their own Gay Lords organization elsewhere but one thing for sure these three clubs had a ton in common with each other. The Noble Square and Taylor Street Gay Lords were mostly Italian, all three clubs were heavily into sports. The Noble Square and Little Village Gay Lords were big into bikes and the Noble Square and Little Village Gay Lords would eventually slug it out with Latin Kings in later years. Regardless of what you can make of this, the Gaylords had a very complex history from being “Gay Lords” to “Gaylords.”
Starting in the mid-1950s and into the late 1950s the Little Village chapter grew larger and now dominated from 21st Street down to 26th Street from Whipple Street across to Marshall Boulevard. By the later 50s Gay Lords graduated to Harley Davidson Motorcycles and this made the girls flock to them; not only that, the Gay Lords were running Harrison High School and the Outlaws were not happy with any of it causing more conflict. The Gay Lords were also fighting with black gangs from the nearby Near West Side neighborhood. Gay Lords were fighting with Vice Lords, Egyptian Cobras and Roman Saints because they were attending Harrison High School as they commuted from the Near West Side neighborhood from Jew Town.
In the late 1950s, the Noble Square Gaylords began growing larger and became a major presence at Wells High School (936 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622) located in the East Village neighborhood. Gaylords, C-Notes, Dominos and Lazy Gents were the dominating Italian gangs and the Playboys were started because they felt the Gaylords and the other Italian gangs were bullying them and causing trouble in their neighborhood. The formation of the Ventures was also said to have been caused by Gaylords as both gangs used to slug it out in the stairwells at Wells High School in the early 60s. The bottom line for the conflict between the Italian gangs and the Polish and Irish gangs was over girls and school dances, the usual cause of conflicts for greasers.
By the early 1960s the Gay Lords still ruled Little Village and now fought with Satan Disciples from nearby 18th Street as they were trying to expand westward into the nearby Marshall Square area. The Little Village and 18th Street Gay Lords now had something in common and that was conflicts with Satan Disciples.
In this time period, the Noble Square Gay Lords had about 30-40 members according to social services workers. The President at them (1961) was not totally aware of who all the members of the club were. He was aware of 7 other solid members but most members came and went over time. Sometimes you could be a Gay Lord for the day if you were down to fight against the enemies Source: (Short & Strodtbeck, 1961). The worst enemies for the Gay Lords up north were Playboys, Sons of Satan Slaves (Ventures), Pulaski Park, C-Notes and some small groups of Puerto Rican gangs like the Spanish Lords or Imperials (Later known as Latin Kings). Right around when social services interviewed the Gay Lord’s President this section experienced expansion as they moved to West Humbold Park and opened a section at Augusta and Monticello then eventually to Springfield and Lemoyne. Gay Lords were needed in this area because Puerto Ricans were beginning to move into the neighborhood in the early 60s and the Imperials were operating at beach and Spaulding. The West Humboldt Park territory was perhaps the north side’s first expanded sections.
There were Senior Gay Lords and Junior Gay Lords dating back to the early days. It was also in the early 1960s that the Gay Lords were in a transition with their name changing from “Gay Lords” to “Gaylords” and their new colors were to be grey and black or light blue and black depending on the section. Another big change was the emblem that the Gaylords would wear, as the skull with whiskey bottle etc… was being replaced by a Celtic cross with a sunburst which would become the permanent Gaylords’ symbol (Short & Strodtbeck, 1961).
In the year 1963, the Gaylords in Little Village had new competition right at the intersection of 24th and Marshall Boulevard. Some of the first Mexican families were moving into the Little Village community at that time and soon the first Mexican gang started up at this intersection to defend themselves against the Gaylords and Satan Disciples. This gang or kids from John Spry School called themselves the “MarKings,” naming themselves after Marshall Boulevard. The Gaylords were furious about these young invaders and fought them well especially the Junior Gaylords.
A year later in 1964, the MarKings got connected with the Imperials and other gangs from up north and merged into one organization known as the “Latin Kings.” The Latin Kings hit the ground running and soon became a major force to be reckoned with. The Gaylords from Noble Square were familiar with Latin Kings and Imperials and so were the Taylor and Ashland Gaylords, this may have been the point where all sections united. There were Latin Kings in Bridgeport too so Archer and Throop became all too familiar with this new entity. The Latin Kings were massive right from the start and the north side Latin Kings at Beach and Spaulding and Leavitt and Schiller were governing the 24th and Marshall Boulevard Latin Kings which meant north side Latin Kings would come in and back up the southsiders, this meant more trouble for Gaylords.
Latin Kings, Warlords and Spanish Lords came together in 1964 and created an alliance called the United Neighborhoods which was a unity mainly serving Wicker Park but it protected operations for all those gangs all over West Town. This spelled trouble for the Italian, Irish, Polish and German gangs in the West Town area. The Gaylords responded to this by calling a truce with C-Notes and Lazy Gents to counter the United Neighborhoods alliance that they called “Gaylords, C-Notes and Gents,” or “G.C.G.” This brought these gangs together to fight side by side against the United Neighborhoods and it became the oldest rivalry with Spanish Lords, Latin Kings and Warlords. When the Playboys, Ventures and Pulaski Park came together later in that same year of 1964 called the “P.V.P” the G.C.G also fought with them as well. This unity was the beginning of a very close brotherhood between the C-Notes and Gaylords.
In the early 1960s or maybe mid 60s the Gaylords opened a chapter in the Heart of Chicago area at 18th and Western, mainly because that area was becoming flooded with Mexican gangs that were migrating from the West Loop. “Kingfish” was the leader of this chapter and it is rumored many of these Gaylords were former Satan Disciples that flipped once the Gaylords arrived because they felt Satan Disciples had too many Mexicans now. The Bridgeport chapter may have also opened simultaneously at Archer and Throop. The Pilsen chapter started clashing with the Satan Disciples that landed one block away from 18th and Western at 18th and Oakley. I’m not sure where the 18th Street and Archer Avenue Gay Lords originated from whether it was Noble Square or Little Village but 18th and Western had their own colors of black and brown. I have reason to believe the 18th and Western group may have branched off from the Near West Side group that was still active at the time because one of the members, Johnny G, was originally from Taylor and Loomis according to the Gaylord’s website. His Aunt owned a restaurant there and it was just two blocks away from the Gay Lord’s club house at Ashland and Taylor.
As the Gaylords were finding a way to reinforce themselves up north in the mid-1960s the Gaylords of Little Village came to an abrupt end as soon as the Vietnam War began. The spirit of serving their country was widely felt within these Gaylords and this stems from their background as always dominating the R.O.T.C program at Harrison High School. These Gaylords always had a strong sense of military pride and now the majority of them went to serve in between 1965 and 1966 and by 1966 24th and Marshall Boulevard was completely handed over to the Latin Kings making that section stronger than ever without the Gaylords present to stop them.
As the Little Village chapter closed down by 1966, the 18th and Western Gaylords got connected with a gang of Irish kids that hung out at Garfield Boulevard (55th Street) and Halsted at Big Jim’s pool hall. These kids were in a gang since the early 1960s called the Halsted Street Hustlers and they formed because the black gangs from the nearby Englewood neighborhood were causing trouble by the border of the Back of the Yard neighborhood and Englewood. They also fought with the Latin Souls, a Mexican and Puerto Rican gang that claimed that turf as their own. Eventually the Halsted Street Hustlers started to get into fights with a nearby gang that just formed called “The Burger King Boys” that were from Garfield Boulevard (55th Street) and Ashland. The Burger King Boys got their name because they hung out at a Burger King at this intersection. Much of the fighting was because the Halsted Street Hustlers were hanging out at the bridges by Sherman Park library and by the bridge at Libby School. The Halsted Street Hustlers were big into weight lifting and lifted at the Sherman Park weight lifting room. The boys also had hang outs in the nearby West Englewood neighborhood while it was still mostly a white neighborhood by Moran Park at 57th and Racine and at 59th and Throop. Many of the members of the Hustlers lived in West Englewood so they wanted a hangout closer to home and Sherman Park was perfect. There was a pool and a weight room and various things for a young teen to do.
In that year of 1966, Joe S, Sam Smith and Johnny G the Halsted Street Hustlers were converted into Gaylords. Joe S and Johnny G were Gaylords from 18th and Western, therefore, 18th and Western gave birth to the Back of the Yards section of Gaylords. Sherman Park was the turf these new Gaylords wanted right at 55th and Ashland and the Burger King Boys were the worst to stand in their way. In the late 60s the Gaylords fought viciously with the Burger King Boys. The Gaylords of the Back of the Yards also tangled badly with Black P Stones of West Englewood resulting in many shootings, stabbings and violent rumbles happened between the two gangs. The Gaylords also tangled with the Devil’s Disciples of 59th and Peoria but to a lessor extent. At one point the Gaylords even tried calling a truce with the Disciples to fight side by side against the Stones. 55th and Ashland Gaylords also fought tough battles against the Saints and Cornell Dukes from the Back of the Yards. Other rivals were the Outlaws MC and the Latin Souls. The 55th and Ashland section developed a major following and soon there were white youths from as far south as southern Marquette Park wanting in on the Gaylords, including quite a few from 67th and Kedzie in Marquette Park.
In the mid 1960s the Gaylords arrived at Palmer and California in the Logan Square neighborhood and converted a gang called the “Almighty Insane Stooges” into Gaylords which became the Gaylord’s first section in the Logan Square community.
By the later 1960s it was rumored that the Gaylords had grown to have over 1,000 members city-wide. Although their north side legacy is the strongest ever told, it was the south side that was perhaps larger at this point in time especially as 55th and Ashland kept growing but it was the Noble Square Gaylords that were some of the toughest greasers ever known up north. Gaylords had grown older in the Noble Square/East Village and became a very serious organization that brought fear to all rival gangs in the area. The Gaylords didn’t wait for rivals to invade their turf, the Gaylords would come pay a visit to rival neighborhoods and wreck havok. Gaylords were violent and would even drag the dead bodies of rivals from the bumpers of their cars down the street. The Gaylords were also known for hanging slain members of the Latin Kings from trees in Humboldt Park to send messages to their rivals. Older retired rivals can still talk about how they experienced a lot of grief when they had to go against these Gaylords and when the Gaylords showed up several cars full of guys would show up and beat the crap out of the rivals. The Gaylord’s worst enemies now were the Latin Kings and all Puerto Rican gangs, the conflicts with P.V.P. were lessening by 1969.
By 1969, Logan Square and Albany Park began to change as Puerto Ricans began to rapidly move into these neighborhoods. Soon the neighborhoods did not look the same as poverty set in deep and drugs and prostitution ran rampant. Puerto Rican gangs like Latin Kings and Spanish Cobras moved into these areas and in Logan Square the notorious Imperial Gangsters formed on these streets. White youths were now being prayed upon by Puerto Rican gangs as the white youths were becoming increasingly outnumbered. You can find countless sources in books, online or anywhere where the injustice against Hispanic and black people is well documented but what is not well documented is the prejudices white youths faced after all the middle class whites hopped on the white flight bandwagon and evacuated these communities leaving the poorest white families behind that had to watch their neighborhoods change, many times for the worst. I am not blaming any race of people for this change but I will say the white youths began to struggle in these communities as they had to deal with scores of gangs, this is when they turned to gangs like the Gaylords for protection. Many of the families in these communities looked to the Gaylords to help protect them, even if they had nothing to do with gangs. The Gaylords became the guardians of any area they considered their turf. Gaylords had a white pride stance but they were not white supremists, in fact, they kicked the neo-nazis out of Irving Park at one time. There were many Hispanic families living in Gaylord neighborhoods that were treated with great respect and even some of the original Gaylords from Noble Square where Mexican and many more Mexicans and even Puerto Ricans joined the Gaylords over the years. The need for Gaylords became strong because of the way they protected certain areas in changing communities and this soon brought them new turf in 1969.
The Gaylords had opened a section at Cicero Avenue and School Street in the Belmont – Cragin neighborhood and from there they began a campaign to move into neighborhoods that needed the most help. The Gaylords were die hard Americans with a strong sense of civic pride and they wanted to move into areas where they could make the most difference.
The new campaign all started when Gaylords marched into Kilbourn Park (3501 N Kilbourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60641) which is situated on the border between the Hermosa neighborhood and the Irving Park neighborhood. The Gaylords came in 1969 and viciously battled the Almighty Popes (Insane Popes) that controlled that park, the fight went in favor of the Belmont-Cragin Gaylords and this gave the Gaylords Kilbourn Park at Addison and Kilbourn and KPGL was born. Rumor spread all around the schools and all around the Hermosa and Irving Park neighborhoods that the Gaylords pulled off a big victory now many youths wanted to be KPGLs, this caused new sections to open in the Irving Park neighborhood at California and Palmer and Addison and Pulaski. Then Gaylords opened sections in the Hermosa neighborhood which is where Kilbourn Park is where Kilbourn Park is physically located, as they opened at Kildare and Fullerton, Kolmar and George, Tripp and Armitage and Belden and Kenneth as Gaylord came to fight against the Spanish Cobras that were mainly concentrated near Kelvyn Park.
In 1969, the Kilbourn Park (KPGL) Gaylords came to visit the Palmer Heads street gang of Logan Square. KPGLs frequented 20th Century Bowl at 3253 North Cicero Ave by then and came to preach to the Palmer Square Heads why it was best to join the Gaylords and from there the Heads joined the Gaylords and began congregating right outside the bowling alley at School Street and Cicero Ave in the Belmont – Cragin neighborhood.
After School and Cicero opened up then Gaylords’ influence spread east and west of school and Cicero as they now opened territory in Belmont – Cragin at areas such as Belden and Lavergn (Blackhawk Park), Belden and Major, Fullerton and Monitor, Wrightwood and Cicero, Austin and Diversey, George and Mcvicker and the Manor Bowling Alley at 3124 North Central Ave (Central and Belmont). Lawndale and Altgeld opened up in Logan Square then immediately spread to California and Palmer to create the “Palmer Gaylords” (PGL) that opened themselves a new turf at Palmer and Sacramento. The PGL spread influence further in Logan Square to the mighty Moffat and Campbell, Ridgeway and Fullerton, Diversey and Rockwell and Avers and Altgeld, then eventually east in Logan Square into the Bucktown area at Leavitt and Lyndale. Soon legendary battles were fought in Logan Square that involved the PGL fighting viciously to keep their turf while bringing in as many troops as possible.
From the KPGL and all the spreading of Gaylords into Irving Park, Hermosa and Belmont-Cragin came an arrival into the central Austin neighborhood to battle against black gangs like Vice Lords and Black Gangster Disciples as black migration first began to take off like a steamroller in Austin, the territories of Ohio and Leclaire and Leamington and Jackson by Moore Park opened in 1969.
Poverty was indeed a factor in expanding the Gaylords’ empire and 1969 was an explosive year for rapid recruitment and opening new territory up north with the exception of their original hood in southern West Town that was lagging recruitment and actually beginning the process of losing turf especially after a Gaylord killed a Latin King named Juan Rivera, now Latin Kings began the invasion of this part of West Town accompanied with the usual Puerto Rican migration.
The KPGL influence spread in that same year of 1969 over to the badly decayed streets of the Uptown neighborhood. Bombed out crumbling buildings lined the streets with debris spewing from its architecture. Vagrants were seen sleeping in the streets begging for change to support their drug or alcohol habits while trash blew in the wind next to destroyed immobile vehicles. Uptown was indeed a sight of urban decay and extreme poverty that affected all races of people and even southern whites that had migrated there from the south in the 1950s and American Indians that migrated from reservations.
Puerto Rican Migration along with African American migration was beginning to happen here in Uptown which brought not only an unfamiliar culture but also an unfamiliar gang element. New African American gangs such as the Black P Stones, Black Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords were moving into Uptown and the Latin Kings were brought in from the new Latino element. This was now prime opportunity for the Gaylords to move into Uptown and recruit more soldiers for neighborhood defense and it all started at the intersection of Sunnyside Ave and Magnolia Ave. This was a legendary set that fought Latin Kings tooth and nail for many years until it folded. Soon after Sunnyside and Magnolia, Lawrence and Broadway and Wilson and Dover “Dover Lords” opened up in Uptown.
With all the expansion came a heavy truce with the P.V.P. organization. Gaylords, C-Notes, Lazy Gents, P.V.P., Chi-West and Taylor Jousters now stopped feuding with each other and put together somewhat of an alliance, this was the beginning of a developing brotherhood.
As the 1970s ushered in the Gaylords would soon become giants in the city of Chicago expanding in many new territories that provided much more promise than their original sections from prior to 1969. Neighborhoods were changing rapidly from white to Latino or white to black and the Gaylords’ main goal was to slow this down, many claim they were successful in slowing down migration especially in the 1970s and 1980s. The 1960s did not prove as successful and their original faction in southern West Town was dying out. The area was changing racially from white to Hispanic and Latin Kings were the much larger gang taking everything over.
By the early 1970s the Gaylords of 18th and Western dissolved as many members flipped to joining the Two Six gang from Bridgeport. Just to clarify this is not the same Two Six organization that we know very well presently that came from Little Village, this is the Bridgeport Two Six greaser gang from 26th and Wallace.
In 1971 a big meeting or meetings were called for all white gangs to attend that were mainly from the northern part of the city and some south siders, this was to discuss to growing problem of Latino gangs such as Latin Kings, Spanish Cobras, Latin Disciples, Latin eagles, Imperial Gangsters, Satan Disciples and many others. This meeting was to bring about an entire unity of white gangs. The unity was a success for the next four years as Simon City Royals were shaking hands with Gaylords and so on. The unity was called the “WPO” or “White Power Organization” which greatly contributed to major territorial expansion for white gangs. Almighty Popes (now known as North side Insane Popes) opened up several sets during these years, Simon City Royals turned into a power house organization, C-Notes rolled in many new pieces of territory, Young Freaks (Now known as Stoned Freaks) converted into a full fledged street gang and opened lot of new turf in the early 1970s, Taylor Jousters were able to expand outside of the Near West Side neighborhood more and of course the Gaylords would benefit from this alliance as well.
In 1971, the Gaylords opened up their first piece of territory in the Portage Park neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side next to Irving Park. Portage Park was an all white neighborhood that had never had gang problems and the Gaylords were geared at keeping the neighborhood this way so they opened turf out in front of Reinberg Elementary School at 3425 N Major Ave which is at the intersection of Major and Roscoe. By 1972 the Gaylords opened new turf in the Ravenswood part of the Lincoln Square neighborhood at Seeley and Ainslie in Winnemac Park. This set was a result of a gang called the Maniac Drifters fading out in the area and younger members were still looking to stay active in a gang so they joined forces with the Palmer Gaylords and became the Winnemac Park Gaylords. Soon after in 1972, the Seeley and Ainslie Gaylords opened up the Seeley and Eastwood Gaylords that were located right in front of the fire house station at 2100 West Eastwood (closed down). These Gaylords became known as the “Firehouse Gaylords.”
In 1973, Chi West, Taylor Jousters, C-Notes, Gaylords and PVP (or PVRs) attended a meeting that was guarded with Chi West gang members with crossbows at North Ave and Damen in Wicker Park hosted by Chi West. This meeting was to discuss the creation of the UFO unity (United Five Organization) which was put together by these five clubs that were going to team up against the Hispanic gangs. This unity brought about an incredible friendship between these five gangs that would bring about some of the closest brotherhoods over the next decade and would help each of these organizations expand much larger. These gangs would rove together many times in packs of 100+ members and go out looking for their common enemies and smash them. They wore white arm bands to show they were UFO. This unity was at first inside of the WPO unity but the UFO meant they had a brotherhood instead of just a simple cease fire.
By 1974, Albany Park was becoming a very rough neighborhood as well as the neighboring communities. Run down buildings, drug addicts and prostitutes were now the scene in this destitute area. The area become well known for its vacant buildings which attracted drug addicts to hide in them. Once again another neighborhood was changing and white flight was for the privileged that had the money to do so, while the impoverished white youths and various Latinos and blacks that had lived their whole lives there had to watch their neighborhood change and outside gangs like the Latin Kings came to invade, this is when the Gaylords came to recruit the hard trodden youths of Albany Park to their club. The first faction set up in Albany Park was Wilson and Hamlin outside the Haugan Elementary School at 4540 N Hamlin Ave then eventually a faction opened at Elston and Kolmar.
The WPO alliance was officially ended in 1975 after three murders shook up the Gaylords, Simon City Royals and Insane Popes. It all started in April of 1975 when Latin Kings murdered the leader of the Simon City Royals “Bimbo” who kept WPO and Royal/Gaylord relations real tight and kept both gangs from going to war, as soon as Bimbo was taken out, the Royals advanced on Kilbourn Park and led a Gaylord named “Wizard” out back by the tracks and shot him execution style, this started a major war between Royals and Gaylords in 1975. The Gaylords gunned down the leader of the Insane Popes, Larry “Larkin” Morris in April of 1975 that brought them to war with the Popes as well, now the WPO was finished and the scene of seeing all Stone Greasers hanging out together at Lenny’s restaurant (4 Buddies Restaurant) as C-Notes, Gaylords, PVP/PVR, Bel Airs, Insane Popes, Chi West and Simon City Royals used to all hang at this diner together between 1971 and 1975, now that was over with.
As the 1970s progressed the Gaylords would open more territory and expand their numbers into the thousands in membership while they boasted that they were slowing down Puerto Rican migration. New sets popped up in the Avondale neighborhood at Troy and George by the PGL then spread to Central Park and Barry and Cleveland School at Byron and Troy over in the Irving Park neighborhood. The Gaylords then made it to the North Center neighborhood at Berteua and Leavitt, Column and Campbell and Berteau and Milwaukee which is what set off a fire cracker of a gang war between Gaylords and Insane Deuces.
In 1976 Gaylords opened up at St. Louis and Altgeld in the Logan Square neighborhood which became a legendary but short lived faction.
In the late 1970s the Gaylords were opening up more territory westward in the northern part of the Austin neighborhood at North Ave and Lamon and Nagle and North Ave in the Galewood section of Austin. It was in the summer of 1979 when the legendary Sayre Park Gaylords opened around Belden and Oak Park Ave. African American migration was rapidly increasing in southern and central Austin and north and east of these Gaylords Puerto Rican migration was advancing; therefore, the Gaylords needed to open up territory in the northern part of Austin in order to keep it out of that part of the neighborhood.
In the late 1970s the Hermosa neighborhood started to change rather quickly as Hispanic migration was coming here in very large and quick numbers. Hermosa started getting slow migration of Hispanic as early as the late 1960s but whites remained as the majority. The first major white gang here that fought off foreign made gangs were the Young Freaks of 1967, that had been fighting against Spanish Cobras and Imperial Gangsters since at least 1971.
By the later 1970s Imperial Gangsters and Spanish Cobras began fighting with the Freaks for Kelvyn Park but the Freaks could use a helping hand especially since the Cobras and IGs were teaming up against them now that they were both Folks. The Latin Kings were friends with the Freaks but also fed the Freaks drugs and did not back them up that much. It was now time for the Gaylords to lend more of a helping hand to the Freaks and invite them into the UFO in 1975 and the GFN (Gaylord Freak Nation) alliance was established.
By 1979, the Gaylords had so much momentum it is safe to say they were at their peak and in their prime by 1979. Data was released showing that the Gaylords were the 4th largest gang in Chicago and had about 6,000+ members. The Gaylords were the largest white gang in Chicago and the second largest among Latino and white gangs right behind the Latin Kings. Soon after the peak of Gaylord success began a downfall that started with the south side.
In the year 1977, the 55th and Ashland Gaylords came to an abrupt end. The surrounding area had become too much of a black neighborhood and white flight had severely ran its course as too many families had now fled to the suburbs. West Englewood was an all-black community by then taking away all the old Gaylord hangouts and Marquette Park was half black and half Mexican so there was no more for the Gaylords to claim. Many Gaylords also ended up in prison or severely addicted to hard drugs and with nothing left to fight for they agreed to disband.
The Gaylords refused to join the Folk or People alliances and hated gangs on both sides. The Latin Kings were one of their top two arch enemies along with the Simon City Royals. The Latin Kings had joined the People Nation while the Royals had joined Folks. The Gaylords had the UFO to back them up and did not need either of the alliances at least that was the case until the year 1981 when several high ranking Gaylords found themselves outnumbered in prison.
The UFO was not very strong in the joint; therefore, the Gaylords and the Insane Deuces felt it was time to choose an alliance. They went with the lessor of the evils which was the People Nation because they had way more enemies on the Folks side. Think about it, Gaylords were enemies with Imperial Gangsters, Spanish Cobras, Orquestra Albany, Latin Eagles, Simon City Royals, Almighty Insane Popes and on the south side the Satan Disciples who were all Folks. The People Nation gangs were not as much of an enemy. The Spanish Lords would dwell mainly in Bucktown and the Gaylords only had one set there. The Insane Unknowns were concentrated mainly in Wicker Park and West Humboldt Park which the Gaylords had no turf there anymore since the late 70s so they really were not beefing too much with these People Nation gangs except the Latin Kings who happened to be their worst enemy, and now that the Sherman Park faction had closed down as of 1976 they were no longer fighting with the EL Rukns (were known as Black P Stones when they used to fight them). The Gaylord’s entry into the People Nation alliance was not known very much on the streets all that was known was suddenly in the early 1980s the Gaylords were no longer ordered to target Latin Kings as much which allowed the war to simmer down significantly. The only factions that were still red hot on a war path with Latin Kings were the Lincoln Square Gaylords off Seeley street that were forever angry about the murder of the their beloved leader “Honkey” that was killed a few years prior.
1982 would mark a heartbreaking year for the UFO alliance and the solid relationship between Gaylords and C-Notes. This is right at the same time that the Gaylords started expanding their territory in the Portage Park neighborhood at Central and Berteau, Leland and Melvina, Irving Park and Narragansett (Merrimac Park), Irving Park and Central Park and Narragansett and Montrose (Dunham Park). Suddenly vicious bloody fights were happening at the Axle Roller Skating Rink at 4510 North Harlem Ave (closed down Halloween 1985) which was located in the suburb of Norridge. The fights were so nasty and bloody between C-Notes and Gaylords that the UFO had no hope of survival and eventually the Gaylords even opened turf at Grand and Harlem in the Montclaire neighborhood and slugged it out with Notes over there too. Grand and Rockwell (Smith Park in southern West Town area) was another sight of Gaylords and C-Notes slugging it out. The C-Notes loved Smith Park and wanted it as their own but the Rockwell and Grand Gaylords were the only thing in the way. There were also fights with C-Notes once the Gaylords opened at Addison and Cumberland in the Dunning neighborhood. The Gaylords and C-Notes both wanted to control “White Wonderland” which was the areas of Portage Park and Dunning which consisted of all white middle class neighborhoods, the gang fighting would soon draw attention from law enforcement.
By 1983, the St. Louis and Altgeld chapter dissolved which was a significant chapter of the Gaylords at that time. Another major event was the official announcement to all Gaylords that they are a part of the People Nation alliance. 1983 was the year that all gangs on the streets were to now represent the Folk or People alliance this of course meant many gang members had to be educated about the five and six point stars. It was the big talk on the streets about who was on the roster, and when the Gaylords found out they were on the People Nation roster the vast majority were not happy to be shaking hands with Latin Kings and Insane Deuces. The Gaylords mostly complied with the alliance qualifications except for the Lincoln Square Gaylords, they would never shake hands with Latin Kings ever, and refused to honor the People Nation star, in fact, young Gaylords at Seeley and Eastwood were punished for tagging with People Nation tags which got their set closed for good in 1985 by older Seeley and Ainslie Gaylords. It was a hard thing to digest for about 80% or more of Gaylords while in some other areas younger Gaylords were hanging out with Latin Kings, Vice Lords and Insane Deuces.
The mid 1980s showed an opening of new sets for the Gaylords even though the overall number of Gaylords were starting to decrease. In 1984 the sets of Long and Oakdale, Riis Park, Beldon and Knox (branched out from Sayre Park Gaylords), Lockwood and Oakdale and Altgeld and Cicero Ave (St. Genevieve Catholic School) opened up in the Belmont – Cragin neighborhood. There was now a growing need for Gaylords because the Latino invasion was in full swing in this neighborhood. This neighborhood was being taken over by Mexican families. The white families that could afford to leave moved out into the suburbs, but the families that could not afford it were stuck in Belmont – Cragin and that is when a nasty gang war ensued between white gangs and Mexican gangs unless of course they shared a star. Gaylords found their allies in this neighborhood to be Latin Brothers, Latin Kings and Latin Pachucos.
By 1985 the Gaylord’s recruitment was slowing and some members were flipping to other gangs because organizations like the Black Gangsters Disciples and Vice Lords opened their doors wide open to letting in kids of other races. Vice Lords and BGDs were the biggest gangs in the city so white and Latino kids were thrilled to have a chance to be a part of these enormous empires. Not only that Latino gangs that had always taken in white kids now were taking in more than they ever did before and actively seeking them out for membership, gangs like Latin Disciples, Latin Kings, Imperial Gangsters, Satan Disciples, Two Sixs and many more actively sought white members of their gangs. Many white youths saw a future with these organizations because they were growing at incredible rates and members could make money in the drug trade. Joining the Gaylords was starting to become out of style for the poor white youths stuck in the slums and rough neighborhoods.
By 1986 the very last new sets opened up for the Gaylords at Montana and Kilbourn and Diversey and Kilbourn in the Hermosa neighborhood and Newport and Karlove (Newport Gaylords) opened in the Irving Park neighborhood that were an offshoot of the Kilbourn Park Gaylords. The Newport Gaylords would eventually open in the suburb of Addison, IL. The mid 1980s saw the extinction of the South and central Austin Gaylords due to the fact that the area had become over 80% African American by then and 90% by 1990; therefore, the Austin sets of Ohio and Leclaire and Leamington and Jackson were evacuated. Pretty much all white residents moved out of this area along with 100% of white gangs.
In the late 1980s the Gaylords did not grow any further in the city instead their numbers at each set were starting to decline making it easier for other gangs to take over but mainly the Gaylords were killing themselves with drug addiction, key incarcerations, flipping to other gangs (especially Latin Kings), and moving to the suburbs and/or retiring from gang life. As youngsters, the Gaylords could not afford to leave their neighborhoods because their families were poor but now that many were starting to grow older by the late 1980s they started moving their families out of the neighborhood into the suburbs. The new struggle for Gaylords left behind was not to grow larger but to instead simply keep what they still had.
The early 1990s brought in more plight for the existence of the Gaylords. In the year 1990 the Gaylords decided to shut down a number of their sets such as these Logan Square sets: Lawndale and Altgeld, Palmer and California, Moffat and Campbell, Ridgeway and Fullerton, Diversey and Rockwell, Palmer and Sacramento, Avers and Altgeld and Leavitt and Lyndale. Their whole entire PGL operation was completely shut down in 1990, Logan Square had become 66% Latino and most of the white youths were interested in joining Latino gangs, it was time to call it quits and move out, the PGL was no more.
The Hermosa neighborhood had now become 70% Latino by 1990 and was still changing as the Spanish Cobras and Imperial Gangsters had taken over Kelvyn Park and several sets. Maniac Latin Disciples and Latin Kings also had a major foothold in this neighborhood and the white gangs were just too outnumbered, it was now time for the Gaylords and Freaks to evacuate the area. Montana and Kilbourn and Diversey and Kilbourn were now closed in this 1990 plan for closures. Around that time Kildare and Fullerton, Kolmar and George, Tripp and Armitage and Belden and Kenneth would all call it quits as well. Many Belmont-Cragin sets were folding as part of the 1990 plan as well along with Grand and Harlem and the Dunham park faction were a part of this plan.
If some sets were not a part of the big 1990 closures they soon closed up within the next few years in the first half of the 1990s decade. Drug addiction, incarceration and retirement were wiping out set after set of Gaylords all around the city. Allies were also a threat to the Gaylords as Latin Kings and Black P Stones were selling drugs within Gaylord hoods causing both addicted Gaylords and also Gaylords that were starting to sell the dope and landing themselves behind bars. A prime example was in 1991 when the Black P Stones offered complete peace with the Sunnyside and Magnolia Gaylords as long as they could shoot hoops and sell dope on that corner, the Gaylords ended up going down over this with incarcerations from hooking into Black P Stone drug trades. In 1996 “Geronimo” was shot and killed by a 14 year old Black P Stone, soon after the Sunnyside and Magnolia Gaylords faded away.
The mid 1990s brought about the last of the legendary gang wars for the Gaylords that brought about the last major waves of bloodshed the Gaylords would be involved in. A good example was the bloody gang wars the Sayre Park Gaylords fought with the Latin Brothers and Insane Dragons which caused a lot of damage for all three gangs. The Insane Dragons decided it was not worth it and left the area while Latin Brothers and Gaylords stopped warring mainly because they shared the same star of the People alliance not only that the Latin Brothers left the area.
The late 1990s were a quitter time for the Gaylords as they were declining in numbers more and more. In the year 2000 more factions closed up in the Portage Park area such as: Reinberg School, Central Ave and Berteau, Leland and Melvina, Irving Park Rd and Narragansett (Merrimac Park), and Irving Park Rd and Central Ave. Pretty much all other sets closed down by then except for Kilbourn Park and Sayre Park that are said to still have open section to this day. Even though the Gaylords do not have turf they are still active and now have families and legit jobs. Gaylords mainly look out for their communities and their neighbors as they once did in the past.
Please send in old school pics of graffit and members of Gaylords posing wearing sweaters or group repping pictures. 1950s or 1960s pics will be especially appreciated!
1. What exact year did Gaylords arrive in Humboldt Park and central and southern Austin? What exact years did those sections die out?
2. What exact year did the Bridgeport section start up and what year did it die out?
3. What exact year did the Pilsen section start and what year did it die out?
4. What happened to Johnny Boy and Bobby Shipball?
5. What were the time line of leaders, what years did they run the Gaylords?