Tired of all the Catholic nonsense, and not being able to steal any more wine from the church sacristy, Tony B decided to go to public high school, which was OK with Sally Boy, since public high school was free.
The required public high school for Little Italy residents was Seward Park High, at 350 Grand Street, between Ludlow and Essex, right in the middle of what the Italians called Jewtown, one of the nicer things they called the neighborhood.
When Tony B was a freshman at Seward Park, he had heard a couple of former Seward Park Jewish graduates had tried becoming actors, with no noticeable success as of yet.
Bernie Schwarz, who had changed his name to Tony Curtis, and Walter Matthau, which was his real name. Who the eff ever heard of them?
And really, a Jew called Tony Curtis? Baloney! Tony B. never heard of a Jew named Tony, not even in the Sunday comic strips.
Abe – sure. Aaron – absolutely. But Tony? You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.
Jewish actors? Are they serious?
Jews were cut out to be doctors, lawyers, bankers, jewelers, or any other racket when they can make big bucks, so that that could supply their wives with diamonds and furs and maybe get laid once a year, usually on early New Years Day, ten minutes after the bells.
And can you imagain Jews busting their balls to become starving actors? Fuhgeddaboudit! With no money, they’d never get laid!
So Bernie Schwarz and Walter Matthau, must be so freaking stupid, they can’t do anything else in this world, except become actors, which Tony B felt, took absolutely no talent whatsoever.
Trying to convince a local shylock you really can’t make this week’s payment on time, now that takes some real acting, that can’t be taught in any stupid acting school.
Growing up in Little Italy, Tony B had very little contact with Negroes, Ditzunes, Jungle Bunnies, Spades, Moolies, or whatever else you wanted to call them. Sure, you’d see a few Darkies once in a while in Little Italy, usually delivering beer or a side of beef to a butcher. But they were in and out and gone, before you even knew they had been there. Tony B felt the neighborhood was a hell of a lot better being that way. And so did everyone else in Little Italy.
But Seward Park High School was a different deal altogether.
Whether he liked it, or not, Tony B had to rubs elbow with the Moolies, day in and day out at Seward Park High, because they were all over the place, like roaches in a box of bread crumbs. Not to mention the Puerto Ricans, or the Spics, as Tony B liked to called them, who slid though the hallways, combing back their greasy black hair laced with Vitalis or maybe even Brylcreem – a little dab will do ya. Day after day, it was a constant fight to stay alive, in school and on the streets surrounding the school after classes were over.
Seward park High was basically divided into three gangs; the Negro Sportsman Gang, the Puerto Rican Dragons and the white Mayrose gang, made up of Jews, Micks and a few Dagos, who weren’t tough enough to hang out with the Italian mob in Little Italy.
Day after day, heads were cracked, and jibones of all races got knifed, hit with chains, or shot with hand-made zip guns, which were as reliable as submarines with screen doors. Jerks who got involved with boneheaded gangs, couldn’t afford to buy real guns, which were as easy to get on the streets as a dose of the crabs. These morons concocted fagese, single-shot guns, made with tubing used in coffee percolators, or radio antennas, strapped to a block of wood, with a rubber band used as the firing pin.
These piece-of-garbage-guns were more dangerous to the shooter then they were to the intended target. Because it was six to five even money that the zip gun would explode in the sucker’s hand who was doing the stupid shooting.
Tony B would have no part of these dopey gangs, basically because there was no money to be made hanging with these hardons. None of the gangs members would screw with Tony B, because word got around quick, Tony Boy was Sally Boy’s son, and nobody, black, white or whatever, wanted to wind up doing the doggie paddle, ten feet under the East River, with concrete blocks tied to their feet.
So in Seward Park High School, Tony B did the smart thing. Instead of immersing himself studying math, or the finer arts, he made his entrance into Organized Crime 101, by being the school’s number one (and only) bookmaker and shylock, under the protection of Sally Boy and his crew. Sally Boy had been promoted to Family Boss, a.k.a. Capo de tutti Capi, which meant in greaseball — Boss of All Bosses. As a result of his father’s exalted status, Tony B. had no problems with any of the rival Italian crews either, if they knew what was good for them.
It was simple in Seward Park High, you wanted to make a bet, you made it with Tony B. Need a few bucks to tie you over until you could make a decent score doing whatever, borrow the money from Tony B, at three points a week of course.
Tony B not only had the bookmaking and shylocking locked up in Seward Park High, but also in the surrounding neighborhood, which was made of of the same Moolies, Spics and Jews, Tony B had to rub elbows with in the school itself.
It was not only the students who partook of Tony Boy’s rackets, but some of the teachers as well, right on up to the principal. Thank God for that, otherwise Tony B. never would have graduated from high school on time, if he had graduated at all.
Take geometry teacher Mr. Goldstock for example. Tony B could calculate odds on bets in his head, as if he had an abacus for a brain.
Parlays. Round Robins. Teasers. Reverse bets. Exactas. Quinellas. No problem for Tony B.
But trigonometry. Geometry. Calculus. The square root of pie, times the circumference of Galileo’s testicles. No freaking way. Who gave a crap anyway?
Luckily for Tony B, Mr. Goldstock picked horses like Venus De Milo picked people’s pockets.
So when Mr. Goldstock got in the hole with Tony B. for 500 clams, Tony knocked the figure down to a manageable 50 bucks bucks a week forever, as long as Mr. Goldstock gave Tony B a “B” in sophomore geometry. Tony B figured, why get greedy and ask for an “A”, when a “B” looked just fine on his end-term report card. No reason to raise anyone’s eyebrows.
Tony B did the basically the same deal with his junior year French teacher, Henri Pouffette, who loved betting baseball, but didn’t know a stolen base from a crepe suzette. Rack up another “B” for Tony B in French.
And if anybody did question the validity of Tony B’s grades, he had an ace in the hole in Seward Park’s principal Herman Gluck.
Was Gluck a degenerate gambler? As far as Tony B knew, Mr. Gluck never placed a bet in his entire life.
But Mr. Gluck did have an obsession with picture books that graphically showed young boys having sex with other young boys, which Tony B quickly provided to his esteemed principle.
Luckily for Mr. Gluck, or maybe for Tony B, the rest of his teachers fell in line, giving Tony B passing grades, either out of respect, but most likely, out of fear.
This fear was most likely as a result of what happened to English teacher Manny Perez.
Tony B felt Mr. Perez was basically an educated Spic, who had a hardon for anyone one whose name ended in a vowel. Mr. Perez tortured Tony B and all of his Dago crew, with anything from nastily correcting their defective speech patterns, to questioning the validity of their parent’s marriage.
One day, after being the recipient of a tirade from Mr. Perez, on about how Tony B pronounced the word “oil”, Tony B decided he had had just about enough of Mr. Perez’ crap.
To Tony B, the correct pronunciation was “earl”, like, in “ give me some freakin’ spaghetti with garlic and earl.” But Ok. You say it your way and I’ll say it my way. Just don’t freakin’ embarrass me by calling me, in front of people no less, a “birdbrained Philistine.”
Tony B wasn’t exactly sure what the word “Philistine” meant, but birdbrained was not a good word to precede almost any word, that wasn’t associated with freakin’ birds.
So one day, Mr. Perez inexplicably disappeared from the face of the earth, for an entire week. When he finally appeared, he did so in the emergency room of Mount Sinai Hospital, with his head shaved, his eyebrows burnt off his face and no teeth in his mouth, except for one tooth in the middle of his erstwhile smile. The funny thing was, the emergency room doctor said it didn’t seem like Mr. Perez had suffered any major blows to the head, but instead his teeth had been pulled out one by one from his bloody mouth.
Fortunately, Mr. Perez’ legs and arms were in good working order, and after he absolutely refused to say anything about what had happened to him, he licked his wounds and walked out of the front door of the hospital under his own power.
Before you could say “Si Senor’, Mr. Perez mailed in his letter of resignation to Seward Park High and took the next flight out of Idlewild Airport to his native Puerto Rico, never to be heard from in the Continental United States again.
Rumors reached Mulberry Street, that Mr. Perez had retired from the teaching profession and had taken a government job as a census taker in a San Juan slum. Right where the bastard belonged.
So as luck would have it, Tony B graduated in the required 4 years, with a solid B average, which made his father Sally Boy very proud indeed.
Yet college would never be in Tony B’s future. In fact, college never was even in Tony B’s vocabulary, because as we shall see, Sally Boy already had his son’s future entirely mapped out.