Keepin’ A Buzz On

      After school hours, I and the crew would roam the streets looking for mischievous things to do. We called ourselves the “Syndicate;” a word I often saw written in newspaper comic strips. Even though I didn’t understand the true meaning, I thought it was a cool name. Our turf covered all of the area known as up-the-way and the top. That is, west of 52nd Street on up to 63rd Street, and on the north side of Market Street. As a typical teenybopper, I admired the strength and attention of being in a gang. By the way I attended Overbrook High School. A notable attending before me was Wilt Chamberlain, and after me was Will Smith.

Overbrook High School – The Overbrook, the Castle is known for the big “Ws.” That is, Wilt Chamberlain, and Will Smith. Notable basketball players that attended with me were: Walt Hazzard, Wayne Hightower, and Wali Jones. Also attending at the same time was Guion Bluford: space-shuttle astronaut; first African-American in space.


     I can’t think of anyone of the members who was not a wine head. Getting high gave us heart (courage), and besides, peer pressure made it the hip thing to do. In fact, senior high was the place to get high. Sometimes we’d carry a half pint flask containing a blend of beer, wine, aspirin and cigarette ashes to get a buzz on. After drinking the concoction we’d jump up and down to speed up the high. These special blends never did anything for me to the level the others would swear by. I can only surmise that maybe my tolerance for booze had already gone up.

Franky Lymon and the Teenagers

     During the Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas week, we’d roam from crib to crib of relatives and friends getting our swig of Christmas cheer. The popular tradition was to toast with eggnog and brandy. On particularly cold winter days, our excuse was that we needed a snort to keep us warm, because Jack Frost was outside waiting to nip at our noses. Even though we dug Frankie Lymon’s hit tune I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent, we were determined not to adhere to the lyrics.
     My logic for establishing a rep as a bad ass was to throw a brick through a store front window, and pull a fire department street alarm. Of course this was done when I was drunk on booze; and in both cases I ran like hell. ssssssssssssss

     There was a crew of old-heads that worked the garbage trucks in the mornings and got drunk in the afternoons. They seemed to be satisfied with this routine, and acted as nothing else mattered in life. Friday afternoons, right after school me and some of the boys managed to pay them a buck to cop a quart or half-gallon of wine; then we would sit on a stoop, drink, shoot the jive and holler at the girls passing by. On Sundays we had to purchase whatever we could get from a neighborhood speakeasy; since the state store was closed.

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12 comments on “Keepin’ A Buzz On

  1. Eggnog and brandy is the best drink during Christmas.

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