Excerpts from The Book Oak Cliff Kids & The Paper Boy Mafia Coming In December
Me, Butch Moss white middle class kid bored out of my mind with just about everything including school which I saw more as a prison yard with guards. I was a dreamer, always looking outside wondering what I was missing and not there to see. There’s one thing for sure with a garage full of my dad’s Harleys I was hooked and in love with horsepower at 8 years. Motorcycles played no part in this episode this was a different kind of ride.
During the 50’s & 60”s everything in Dallas shut down at 10:PM, there were no 24hr fast food places, no places for teenagers to find work other than a few grocery stores, maybe a gas station or if your dad owned a business that would you and a couple of other kids to work doing manual labor. 14 years old with no connections your shit out of luck, mowing yards and paperboy was what you were regulated to. For girls I think was even worse. We did know a few that flipped burgers at the local pharmacy's Soda Fountain and that another episode.
So what was left for us to do? We roamed the neighborhoods above and below ground looking for fun and adventure. For us it was the love of the chase and the adrenaline rush that came with it. We were in the perfect place, new home construction, road construction, a school yard with an open field which included a ball park and cement swimming pool and best of all a wooded area with creeks and pond. We spent summer days exploring every inch. We could literally run wild, but what we didn't know is we were mapping escape routes that only we knew about. There are many things that set the stage for the Oak Cliff Kids & The Paperboy Mafia and my experience with the 60's juvinile system was just a small part of things to come.
Becoming A Juvenile Delinquent
Summer 1961 I was 13 years’ old, what was great about that time is we could roam all night during the summer. Our neighborhoods were Beckley Heights, Polk Terrace, Danieldale, Red Bird area near the Oak Cliff Country Club. Generally, the only things open past 10:PM were a couple of gas stations, the Holiday Lodge restaurant 24hrs, and the Hi Vue Drive In.
The Hi Vue Drive In was the scene of what we called the bust of the century which set the stage for the wildest ride ever for teenagers bored out of their minds, but first lets learn the truth of a juvenile system from hell.
On a late summer Saturday night, four of us had been walking the neighborhood which is quite large, as usual everything was shutting down so we gravitate to either the Holiday Lodge or the Hi Vue Drive Inn. The Drive In had a hole in the fence in the back that we walked in and out of at will. Working in the concession that night was our friend Daryl. The owner was a good guy that had six kids if I remember right. His kids went to school with us and he hired kids under 16. Daryl must have been high on the trust list because he had keys to the place.
That night we hung around the concession stand talking to girls we knew and watching the movie on and off. After the movies we waited on Daryl to finish up inside and we went over to the Holiday Lodge which was the only place open at that time of night 1:30AM. Inside was a mix of truck drivers, couple drunks, cops, night owls and kids like us who were out late on summer nights. It was not like today when parents have to worry some perv grabbing you, it was nothing for us to be gone all night, maybe a day or two without seeing our parents. Both of my parents worked and I had been on my own for the most part since age 6, I did not mind at all having the run of things around the house and neighborhood.
So we spent a little over an hour drinking sodas, talking and eyeballing everyone that walking in or out, just being goofy kids. We got up went outside and walked a block or two when Daryl said he needed to go back and change into his tennis shoes, no big problem, just take the short cut back through the hole in the fence and retrieve shoes. When we got back to the concession stand Daryl took out his keys, we went inside. Daryl went to get his shoes, meanwhile we helped ourselves to left over popcorn and a coke. We had the lights on and thought nothing about it. Meanwhile a woman that lived in a house along the fence of the Drive In theater was hanging out clothes at 3:am in the morning. She saw the lights on and instead of calling the owner she called the Dallas Police, who promptly dispatched burglar in the building.
Bust Of The Century.
Here we were, four kids in a building we had keys to drinking a coke and eating stale popcorn. Squad cars came flying in from every which direction. Like in a bad movie I’m sitting there looking out the window as cops jump all over the place taking positions with weapons drawn including shot guns, I’m thinking what the fuck is this? I jump up and start yelling at the other guys, “we got visitors and they are cops”. Larry hide in a attic or someplace. I don’t know how he knew this would turn bad but good move on his part.
The cops busted through the unlocked open door waving weapons and acting more like fools than cops, then came the stupid questions like what were we doing there at that time of the morning. We thought it was pretty simple, we walked over from the Holiday Lodge Café to get Daryl’s shoes, he has the keys, he works here. The truth of it is everyone one of those cops had probably seen us up at the Café at one time or another, one of them was in on the bust when we were caught shooting bottle rockets across Hi Way 77 which is now I35E and one was JD Tippet whose son we knew well from school. Just maybe he thought we were the cause of Allen’s wild ways but it was not us, we ran in a different circle at the time. Allen did not need any help from us, but his dad had a dislike that came to the front that night.
Remember, we are middle class white kids, that would run the woods, play all day ball games at the ball park, who were always looking for fun, not to burglarize, fight or steal from those we like. Things were about to change and in a big way. Something wasn’t right, clearly the cops had a bone on for us and not one was going to listen to our side which was truth.
Generally, I was a pretty quiet kid, but when I realized I was headed downtown and being rail roaded on top of it. I would let loose, we cussed, raised hell, kicked the seats and tried to jump from the car, I think it was Tippet that told us to shut up and in return we told him to shut the fuck up! I’ve never looked bad ass a day in my life but when I told him take that gun off and I’ll whip your ass that might have ripped it.
Looking back several years later that was not such a good idea with that crew.
When we got downtown they talked with the owner of the Drive In, he told them he knew most of us, Daryl worked there. We found out the owner said he would not press charges even though he did not know we went back to the Drive In. As it turned out the owner did not have to, the Dallas PD & State took care of that. In one total swoop three of us were into the Texas Juvenile System, complete with kangaroo courts, probation officers and detention centers, in Dallas it was Harry Hines… Larry escaped and according to our code we would never snitch.
My dad showed up at the Dallas Police Department about 7:AM, was he ever pissed. I figured I had another beating coming because it hadn’t been that log since I ran away on my 13th birthday, yes the very day. Disappeared for a week. I remember we were walking down the steps from the police station he asked me if I thought I was Al Capone or Frank Netty? I remember thinking who in the hell is Frank Netty'
When we went to Juvenile Court was that ever a farce, there were no witnesses, no testimonies, no questions, the judge read the charges and sentenced me right there on the spot. Probation until I was 18. My dad was so furious he forgot about being mad at me, he was now mad at the system, but like always his work trumped everything and I was left to deal with it on my own. That was right up my ally since I had been basically doing that since I was six. By the time my sentencing came around I was close to 14 and in Junior High. Nothing in my life had prepared me for my first probation meeting on a Saturday morning.
J.D. Hale was his name, probation officer from hell. My mom dropped me off in front of the building. I had a room number and knew I would be there most of the day. I found the room opened the door and what did I see? Every teenage punk, thug and bad ass in Dallas County, all sizes, all colors. The minute I walked through the door I had this shorter than me head case in my face yelling he wanted me. I looked at him and thought, oh shit, what the hell is this about? The only thing that made me feel a little better is I knew I would not be alone, Ronnie and Daryl were not far behind. As I scoped everyone out I saw another familiar face “Jack”, who was the neighborhood and school bad ass who happened to be my friend. Jack was a one man war machine that could fight and be so cool.
After roll call Mr. Hale explained to all new comers that we would be there every Saturday no exceptions, we had better be on our death bed if not there. Failure to show gets you time in the Harry Hines detention center. Continue to not show gets you sent to Gatesville TX juvenile home. He explained we should be prepared to box and play games. Well, that certainly explained shorty going after me, I was “fresh meat”. It wasn’t like I had never been In a fight, but nothing like this. This was organized chaos looking for a Golden Gloves Boxing Team. This wasn't a regular Boxing Gym and these were not boxers, street fighters and punks is what they were.
The gym was like a basement with cement floors and some gym matts. Mr. Hale had some guys put on the gloves and the fists started flying. Oh, there was no safety or head gear. I guess there was about 8 fights before Hale got around to me. As I was getting laced up I was planning on how I was going to handle shorty, who as it turned out stole a car and drove it to Galveston. Shit, I stole a coke & popcorn, let me out of here.
I turned around and it wasn’t shorty getting laced up. A black kid about a head taller than me. I would like to report that I fought the good fight, but that wasn’t the case. Kid beat the crap out of me for 3 rounds. I promise you if you’ve never been to Golden Gloves fights 3 rounds of all-out war, you can’t lift your arms. Mr Hale said to me you’ll learn or die. Shit, the son of a bitch is going to kill me. This whole thing ran all day, when I got out to the car my mom looked at me and said what in the hell happened to you? I said to her I don’t want to talk about it, I have to figure out how to survive next Saturday.
After about 6 months you begin to learn the technics of fighting by watching the more experienced fighters, especially how to protect yourself. It really didn't matter much once I had a good pop in the nose I would lose all control every time, forget covering up fists were flying. 8 months later and I was as bad as shorty when new meat arrived. Mr. Hale had some interesting team games, 10 guys on each side, 5 boxers, 5 wrestlers, everybody takes off shoes and put them under the gym matts, the team that gets the most shoes to their side wins. Boxers weren’t necessarily fighting other boxers, it was all out war with wrestlers holding down boxers as other boxers beat the crap out of them. It was frickin barbaric with blood and guts. It was better than a Saturday matinee until you remember your next. There was also the boxing glove beltline, we’d go outside where there was this hill, 5 boxers on each side one side with a right glove one side with the left. The guys running through would have on two gloves, if you could get up the hill without being touched you could stop, frickin impossible. One Saturday Jack told everybody on the hill if anyone touched me he would beat the crap out of them later. As I got ready to go up through the boxing belt line I was prepared to get in my licks on the way up, as I was swing everyone was kind being half ass, hell, I was going to make it through, the last guy was Jack. He laid a hit on me that sent me tumbling all the way back to the bottom, shit should have known.
Clearly there no rehabilitation going on there. Just a whole lot of meanness. We found out if you skipped school you could get a night or two in the detention center and if you timed it right movie night with the girls who were in there for all kinds of shit. You do not go in with anything anybody wants if you do be prepared to fight for it.
The whole experience for the first 2 years didn’t change me much other than being willing to be a lot more daring in our quest for fun and the battle of boredom. For example, I was visiting my at girlfriends house, we were talking and I was tapping a metal fence with a kite stick, a man came out and asked me to stop, of course I gave it a few more good whacks. This dude shows up at my house tells my mother I was tearing down his fence with a board, I exploded and laid about 10 good ones on him till my mother asked me to stop, I then told him his sons dead meat. Needless to say cops up at my house giving me warnings. Did I catch up with the kid? It took a while since his dad took him to school for about 2 months, Yes I got him, frickin wimp. We also had what we called run throughs, where we find a house in the evening with the front door open about super time and literally run through the front door and out the back. You’ve seen chase scenes in movies, we did it for real. Ever see the movie Stand By Me, the scene where the kids are on a bridge when a train comes across, happened to us on the Red River trestle just west I35, we were throwing railroad spikes into the river before the law nabbed us.
The rush from it all pushed us to new heights. There are a hundred stories of juvenile adventure and crimes of the Oak Cliff kids & The Paperboy Mafia.
I’m lucky, from an early age I never needed anyone to guide me and really didn’t want it. For the most part I wanted to be left alone and that’s the way it worked out for the most part. At 18 I knew it was time to get the hell out of dodge, things were getting out of hand. We were too wild, It was time to start a new chapter before it was too late.
Hello US Navy and that’s another story.
Over the years the judicial system along with for profit jails and juvenile detention centers have become big business. All are recipes for corruption. God forbid you or your child ends up in the system. It is my pledge we will expose the corruption to the best of our ability.
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