The history of the Chicago Gaylord Street Gang tells the history of not only the Gaylords, but the history
of the People and Folk Nations which not only affect Chicago, but America as a whole.
It is doubtful that any Chicago ethnic community was damaged as greatly by government policies during the post WWII period as
was the Italian American. First there was the building of Cabrini-Green housing project, which helped drive Sicilians out of the near North Side
in the 1940s and 1950s. Then came the construction of the expressway system on the near South, West, and Northwest sides, which dislodged additional
(and other ethnic) families and institutions, including the church and the new school of the Holy Guardian Angel at the Dan Ryan Expressway and Forquer Street.
The exodus of Italians was west to Austin and along Grand Avenue, eventually reaching Harlem Avenue." 1
This is how the Grand and Noble area was formed.
1 ETHNIC CHICAGO: A Multicultural Portrait, Melvin G. Holli and Peter d'A. Jones, EDS., William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Michigan, p.244.
The Gaylords Street gang has its beginnings in the area of Grand and Noble on Chicago's North Side. The Gaylords were originally a softball club in the late 1940s called the Junior Postals, that eventually converted into a street gang prior to 1954 (See Chicago Tribune reference). The Junior Postals shared a clubhouse with the well established - Postal Athletic Club - until the two clubs had a falling out. Softball clubs and social clubs were common in Chicago and many neighborhoods had them. Other softball clubs at that time included the Scorpions, Ramrods and the Demons. It is very important to say here, that for many years after the 1950s, gangs referred to themselves as "clubs" in Chicago.
1954 Original Gaylords SAC membership card from 1954
It has been reported that the name of the Gaylords softball club was at first called "Gay Lords," which originated from the original leader a guy named "Larry" who looked up the word in the dictionary: "Gaylord is a surname with origins in Old France. Back then it was spelled Gaillard until it was anglicized during the reign of King Edward VI(1547-1553) when protestants from Normandy emmigrated to England to escape religious persecution. Gaylord is defined as meaning brave or representing strength. However, a direct translation of the word gaillard is ribald, bawdy or strapping, as in, 'he's a strapping young fellow',"
The reason for this is unknown, its probably because the usage of the word "Gay" by society at the time to reflect a cheerful mood.
The Gaylords adopted their name at a time period in which homosexuality had nothing to do with the word "Gay." It was a trendy and widely used word of the time that described a proud, happy mood. The word "Gay"could be found back then in the names of businesses, books and even in movies such as: The Gay Intruders (1948), and The Gay Amigo (with western star, Cisco Kid, 1949).
Because of a store front that the original Gaylords congregated in front of Angie's Bar at 1323 West Huron Street, their first street corners were Huron and Throop. Although Huron and Throop were the main corners, Grand and Noble was the general area in which Gaylords could be found because of many restaurants and other venues of interests on the busy avenue of Grand.
The Gaylords later moved themselves just blocks away to Ohio and Noble (See Original Clubhouse) and started claiming this as their new main corners because of a new store front or club house that they found themselves congregating at. It has even been reported that organized crime had a presence on this corner and the Gaylords did small favors for them.
The Gaylords racial make up at its creation was primarily Italian and Irish, which reflects the racial make up of the Grand and Noble area.
Grand and Noble Sixties Sweater
The Gaylords were a a well known street gang by the early 1960s. Other gangs at this time were the C-Notes, Simons Park, PVPs and Lazy Gents. Groups like these were referred to as "Greaser Gangs" because of the greased back hair and other distinctive habits.
The Gaylords and other gangs in general during the early 1960s were far from the insane violence that would come about decades later. Drug sales and usage at this time was a rarity. Gangs basically fought battles over turf, girls or other rights of passage.
Original Huron and Throop Set Card From The 1950s.
It is very possible that it is the first gang card issued in Chicago.
Up until the early 1960s, the Gaylords were basically considered just a simple turf war gang. But, the 1960s were to be some turbulent times, especially on the congested streets of Chicago.
Original Grand and Noble cards from the 50s and 60s. This shows the corners that the Juniors, Seniors, Pee Wees, and Midgets hung out on.