I got a job at night when I was fifteen at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I had poor expectations for high school—the learning environment was so dismal in middle school. If you wanted to be sexually active and get in fights it was a great school. I was about 13 when I got my first girl. What did I expect to accomplish in high school? I just thought it was going to be another chimp-out. I had heard about it—day care for Dindus.
I met Missy through a friend and I started taking the bus down to Highlandtown and hanging out with her. She was kicking out pussy and her father owned a VHS rental place and we could watch movies whenever we wanted. I got the 19 or the 15 two the 22—she was kicking out ass, so I got down there one way of the other—a nice girl. She’s married now and has a family.
Right on Pulaski and Orleans was a bar called the Me-Too Inn. We walked up to see her mother who was in their drinking and she wanted to get some money from her mom so we could go out to the Golden Ring Mall to see a movie. So we walk into the bar to see mom there having her drinks and there was this older guy and he accused me of selling drugs in the bar. I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about, so we got in an argument and took it outside. This guy was in his fifties—ancient considering my age of 15—a mouthy Highlandtown guy, Bigger than I was, big beer belly. He cocked his cane back and I popped him in the mouth with a left jab and slipped backed out of the way as he swung his cane. Missy came running out of the bar and we ran off laughing up the street.
Basically it was Hamilton and Parkville guys going at it at Old Harford and Putty Hill at the police station and fire department. There was a carnival. We had this friend Mike Benny, everything I was raised to hate in life, a white trash, piece of garbage—a bad junky now. He was with us and he got in an argument with Jed Phipps, already an amateur boxer. Jed—a big dude—beat the living piss out of him right there. All hell broke out everybody is running, throwing punches, cops came and everybody took off running.
They were having a little league tournament there. I was up there with a bunch of other idiots—it was us and the Parkville High kids—we were the city side of Parkville and Hamilton and the county side kids came down and we ended up across the street in the parking lot of Woodhome Elementary school—this was summertime. There was a lot of posturing and young ego, tough-guy routines. A friend of mine, Donny started it off and hit a big dude good with a one-two and knocked him on his ass and then everyone is hitting each other and stomping people. Next thing you know the cops a right there. Everybody broke and ran, and of course my slow ass gets caught. I got slammed on my face and hand cuffed. Took a little bit of a beating—punches and kicks. I got the pepper spray all in the face after the beating, there were big strings of snot gluing my face to the asphalt. They hit you with this shit after you’re cuffed so you can’t wipe your face or eyes. They threw me like a sack of potatoes into the back of the paddy wagon. They filled the back of the wagon with pepper spray. There was a couple other people there, one of my friends and one other. I was not secured, not strapped in, thrown in head first. Then we got a rough ride. I know the cops enjoyed it—I would have if I was one. I’m not a real fan of cops, but they deal with the worst people, so let them have a little fun on the job. My father got it real bad in the 60s, wore his ass out with the night sticks. My father come up to the Parkville police precinct and got me out. I told him they roughed me up, so we had a father and son moment about getting the shit beat out of us by the cops. It was a good bonding moment as strange as that sound.
There was a lot of incidents there against that same group of kids. One was a big brawl, people throwing punches, even some weapons. My friend Jeff, who wrestled for Baltimore County, had a guy swing a bat on him and he slid right in under that bat like a mongoose and popped up right in is wheelhouse and maced him in the face. He fell on the ground howling—yelling—holding his face. I lost track after that because I was fighting someone else. It kind of fizzed out and people ran off, possibly people from the shopping center coming back. This was behind, was back in the corner where the cell phone tower is behind the covered walkway by the Chinese food place.
There was a family down there called Voats, a big West Virginia Hillbilly family. Their last name was Voat. I had a friend named Albert fighting Butchy Voat. Albert was short stocky, hard as nails. He beat the living shit out of this guy. He throws him on the ground gets him a few times, lets up off of him. Then Butch runs into his yard and gets a steel rake with a big wooden handle. He comes runnin’ out with that and we all jump on him to wrestle the rake out of his hands wrestle him to the ground and his whole family comes pouring out attacking us, throwing punches. The old folks were telling us to leave, so we run off laughing and talked about it. Albert, a few years later, got shot and killed about two blocks from where Eddie Van Kirk got gunned down in the 2000s, but this was in the 1990s.
There used to be Southwest high school which was closed down. The boys from the neighborhood used to fight the dindus from Cheery Hill. The Dindus were coming down Frederick Avenue on the MTA bus—to school. The guys—I was with them, knew what the plan was. They blocked the street and started throwing bricks through the fucking windows, and then ran up and sprayed mace through the broken windows. It was screaming people dropping, they were crying, “Oh ma Gawd, the fuckin’ crackers is hittin’ us wit’ bricks!”
I wasn’t participating and was just watching this shit saying, “Damn, some people are going to go to prison after this. ‘
They had it all planned out. They lined up, stopped the bus. It was like 25 guys spraying mace in this bus. Then we all took off and melted back into the neighborhood. I believe it made it on the news—it was a big deal.
I know Eddie [a lightweight journeyman] fought Vince [the Baltimore based Welterweight title holder at the time] and lost in the ring. But in the street, between Eddie or a guy like him and some slick boxer, it would be Eddie all the way. Guys that are tough, hit hard and like to get close get it done on the street.
I was standing there, north of the train tracks, with a couple Pig Town boys from north of the train tracks with me, on the corner of Ramsey and Parish street. We were standing there acting like knuckleheads. Apparently Eddie had knowledge of the guys I was with. The guys I was with were no chumps. Eddie came over and told us to get lost and you know what, those guys walked and so did I. Eddie had a reputation, a regulator in his neighborhood, putting out the bad element. He ended up getting shot and killed recently. I love boxing. How about this kid Lomenchenko now. I’d kill every Dindu in the world to be able to move like that kid.
The cops were rough down there. I heard all kinds of shit about cops beating the shit out of people for sport. I was standing on a corner waiting for somebody, the corner at the church across the street from the long row of houses, right in front of the Shrine to Mary up behind the iron fence. It isn’t a big deal around there to stand on a corner—that all it is down there is people hanging on the corner.
Three plain clothes cops with tactical vests, hop out of an unmarked car. They immediately grab and throw me up against the stone wall, accused me of selling drugs, which I wasn’t doing. I probably got a little smart with them, since I didn’t d drugs or hang with drug heads and was most likely indignant about the suggestion. This was 92-93, maybe. I was 156 to 160, a middleweight. I got hit hard across the back of the knees. I fell—the ground opened up and I was down. I got punched in the back of the head, kicked several times in the ribs. They were making a point, hitting hard, but not really trying to hurt me. They searched my pockets, pulled off my shoes off, made sure I had nothing in my socks or shoes, stood me up and told me they didn’t want me standing on that corner no more. I said nothing. When the cops tell you to leave, you shut your mother and leave, ‘cause it can only go down from there. You shut your mouth and leave once you get the go ahead.
The interesting part was the wall they threw me up on was Saint Benedicts, the church my mother went to, where the nuns beat her for writing with the left hand like the devil..
His first name was Harlow, a retired Baltimore City Cop who owned at least three KFC franchises. He was a good black dude. He seemed like a decent guy and his daughter, a real big chick named Maquita, which ironically means small in dindu-Spanish. She was a big girl, but good to work for.
I was hired to work at the Parkville Shopping Center. My first day on the job I’m running the register and this black man comes in and he pays for his chicken and I’m standing there like a dumbass holding his change and he’s talking to his bitch. So I out it down to go get his chicken and he says, “Hey whiteboy, you’re supposed to put it in my hand.”
So, genius that I am, I knock it off the counter and he calls me a white bitch, which gets my ire up and I run out from behind the counter and put up my hands—and 350 pound Maquita moved pretty damned fast and breaks it up. I thought I was going to get fired. But she told me go in the back. She refunded his money—which probably made him pretty happy. And she said to me, “I don’t think you did too well dealing with the public. How about I keep you back here cooking?”
I said, “That sounds great, that’s what I wanted to do.”
I was good at my job. I could break the henny penny [pressure cookers] down, breaded and fried the chicken, fried the French fries and cleaned up, washed dishes, mopped the floor.
One night I was back there doing my job and I look up and there’s a dindu in a ski-mask on all fours on the floor and there was another dindu standing there and the one in the floor was scurrying to get his hands on the pistol—he had leaped the counter and fell flat on his face—and I saw what was going on and went out the back door and went to the Linway Lounge to call the cops. The cops caught the dumb dindus in the getaway car down on Harford Road.
Once, me and the dindu I worked with in the kitchedn went across the street to the pool hall and we’re outside talking and these three idiots came out of Racers [bar]—three pretty looking college kids—pick up one of the steel trash cans provided by the City and try breaking the window to the KFC, threw the trash can right through it. My dindu buddy called the police and I ran over there and put a stop to it and they hopped in their car and sped off. They had a personalized tag and I told the cops there tag and they were caught. The Owner, Harlow, eventually came down. He wound up giving me a basketball—what am I going to do with a basketball?—so I gave it to some Dindu kid—a brand new Spalding basketball.
I got that name from working down at North and Pennsylvania. The same owner had this and he asked me to fill in for the cook and they asked me to do it for about a week. I took the 19 down to North Avenue and the 13 Down to Pennsylvania Avenue. The whole thing was behind plexiglass. It was all bullet proof. They had strict protocols for deliveries and taking out the trash. I made friends with Martin, the Jamaican guy. The dindus had chicken bones thrown all over the place and he’s out there cleaning up and there are some dindu girls working the counter and I heard them say, “Oh, Martin’s about ta get his ass beat!”
So I ran up, took a look out the window and there was three or four dindus having an argument against Martin, starting to square off and outflank him. It takes a lot for these dindus to work up the courage to gang up on one guy. I ran out there and spread my arms out and used them to coral them up [Ron, at age 15, does not recognize these men as combatants and treats them like sheep or children.] Of course, their saying, “Get your hands off me whiteboy, arguing and posturing and I just kept pushing them out the door. The girls were calling me Mighty Whitey talking me up. I went back and them dindu girls are cheering—having a great time, everybody was impressed. I could have gotten some dindu pussy if I wanted, could have had my Tarzan moment, me and cheetah swinging through the trees.
Squeaky was his street name. He fought out of Mister Mack Lewis’s gym. An amateur boxer, I Ws hearing some things about him and we decided to have a bareknuckle throw-down—a prizefight without a prize, whatever you call it. It was early, let’s say noon, behind Westside Shopping Center. It was a bunch of Windus and Dindus. There were no Amish spectators—one thing they are good at is wood work. No referee, no gloves, no nothin’. I was a good 5’10” 150-160. He was similar, but lighter on his feet, reach about the same. I had little chance of jabbing with him.
Well, about 15 seconds in I thought I was a little bit over my head. His jab and movement was good. He was pretty much just hitting me with the jab, but that right hand was lightning, coming in there too. My hand speed was too slow. I’d throw a jab and get messed up. I was missing a lot. I was reaching. Halfway through I tightened everything up. I knew I had to get in on him like white on rice. I hit him a few in the ribs. That got a reaction out of him. He wasn’t used to bare knuckles slamming into the ribs. I hit a couple to the face and his top and bottom lip were bleeding. My nose was leaking like a fawcett. It was blood everywhere. I was “leaking,” as the Dindus would say. This was about three minutes in. We had no time keeper but it felt like about a round. We kind of just mutually shook hands on it.
I was starting to get in on him. It’s a little different than the gloves. The interesting thing about this is he got in trouble with Mister Mack when he walked in there [the gym] Mister Mack gave him a hard time for doing stupid shit. A boxing coach will know right away if you’ve gone bareknuckle. He was a good kid. We talked and laughed about it few times. I hope he did something with his life.