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Boys and Girls Clubs help guide young people away from mean streets

Time:2017-01-04 13:40Shoes websites Click:

People Clubs mean away guide

During the planning of year-end charitable contributions, I had to get in touch with the Boys Club I belonged to when I was a youngster. I was having trouble making a donation because its website had changed, so I called instead.

While speaking with the director from the club, memories came flooding back from 60 years ago when I became a member. Since that time I have been a booster of the organization and the work it does because I have seen first-hand the good they provide and the difference it makes in many youngsters’ lives.

Locally, I continue to support the club in San Pedro. However, I recently rediscovered the club in my old neighborhood when I was back home for a funeral. Of course, like all the other clubs, it’s now called the Boys and Girls Club of El Paso. When I was a member it was strictly a boys club.

My guess is that it was the boys in my neighborhood who really needed some place to take them off the streets and out of danger. Girls were more protected, pampered and restricted, so very few got in trouble. But we boys tended to be clannish and hung out with other boys on the block. Of course, we soon became a gang.

Fun ‘gang’ names

However, we were not like the hard-core thugs that have given the name “gang” a bad rap. Our gang was more like the ones you see in the “Our Gang” or “Bowery Boys” movies.

At first we became the FSWC, which stood for the Fourth Street Weight-lifters Club because one of the guys lived there and we used his older brother’s weights. Then, after we saw the movie “The Wild One” with Marlon Brando as the leader of a biker gang, we became the RDBC or Road Devil Bicycle Club. We put the initials on the back of our leather jackets with white shoe polish and rode our bikes in single file all over town pretending we were bad asses.

There were many gangs like ours in our immigrant neighborhood, and sometimes there were minor conflicts, such as taunting or rock fights. But it sometimes got worse, resorting to gang fighting or crime and drugs.

Luckily for us, the Boys Club opened its doors at that time. A large building that had been owned by the Goodwill was converted into the Goodwill Boys Club. Most of us were leery of going since we had been there only when the Goodwill gave out toys for Christmas. However, when it became the El Paso Boys Club, a new director sent his workers out in the street to recruit members.


That’s how we joined the club. Sal, one of the men that worked there, came to our block and invited us to check out the cool pingpong and pool tables they had just installed. Our gang, now known as the Kufu Guys, followed him there and saw all they had done. It was great and the dues were affordable, so we became members.

Working member with duties

Consequently, I also was hired to work at the club. At 14 years old, it was my first real job. I helped clean up, checked memberships at the door, checked out games in the game room, handed out equipment in the gym or refereed games for younger members.

Meanwhile, us Kufus would hold meetings in the library. We elected officers and formed teams for all the sports. We had Kufu teams on the basketball, touch football and softball leagues. Our guys fielded teams from the pee-wee level to the intermediate level. But, some of us also were into boxing because we had a nice program that prepared teams for local competitions, including the Junior Glove and Golden Glove programs.

To us, the most fun was the game room. We became pool sharks and the pingpong games were fierce. But it was the many board and card games that enticed us. We were introduced to Chinese Checkers, Poker, Crazy 8s, Monopoly, Clue, Casino and Sorry, which became our favorite. We would spend hours playing and arguing and sometimes betting a penny or two. But even having arguments was a lot safer than what was happening out in our mean streets.

Thank God for our Boys and Girls Clubs. I urge everyone to support this wonderful program that is successful in guiding our youngsters away from mischief and the vile gangs of today that entice them.

Willie Quinones is a Torrance resident who retired after 35 years at Los Angeles Harbor College, where he served as a maintenance foreman.

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