Lost Boys of the Bronx
The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang
Perfect Bound Softcover
Richard Price, Academy Award nominated screenwriter and mainstream author of The Wanderers says,
"I read through [Lost Boys of the Bronx] in one sitting - It was GREAT!"
Straight from the streets of the mid-1960s Bronx comes a book about one of the borough's most feared gangs - The Ducky Boys. While their unusual name alone might contradict their reputation, in the Norwood/Bainbridge section of the Bronx their appearances provoked an ominous dread. So much so, that when Richard Price needed inspiration for a terrifying gang in his novel (and later movie) The Wanderers, he knew exactly which gang to choose.
Lost Boys of the Bronx tells the story of the Ducky Boys in their own words. It is a story of how a few pre-teen kids in the Botanical Gardens turned into a gang of hundreds - and a gang so alarming that rumors of their arrival would shut down local schools.
This is also a study of the mostly Irish Bronx neighborhood in which the Ducky Boys were born, and where so many of the Ducky kids got caught up in the tumultuous times of the '60s where their fierce loyalty was the only thing that got them through.
This is not your typical gang book. It neither praises nor demonizes the gang for the things they did, but rather simply reports what happened - warts and all. You'll see the truth behind the Ducky Boys' gang - their lives, their loves, their pranks and crimes, and so much more.
To borrow from a particular product's slogan - with a name like the Ducky Boys, you knew they HAD to be tough.
The origin of the Ducky Boys is a controversial topic, as there are quite a few different versions of how the gang came into existence. As you'll see, some of the stories are more “out there” than others...
Mark Lind, the lead singer of the punk band “The Ducky Boys," recalls hearing this version:
[The Ducky Boys band] played a show in 1997 with (punk band) The Dictators in Connecticut. Handsome Dick Manitoba, the lead singer, was kinda fascinated with our Ducky Boys merchandise and came over to talk to us.
He asked us if we knew anything about the [Ducky Boys] name and he went on to explain an elaborate legend which was kinda cool because, if it's accurate, then wow, but if it's not, it still increases the notoriety of the name.
Manitoba said that he grew up in the neighborhood where the original gang came from and that [the gang] was named after a hitman, or leg-breaker, or something like that, who had the last name of Ducci, or something that sounded like that. He said there was a phonetic spelling of it, and they just changed it 'cause it sounded like “Ducky.”
According to Manitoba, this Ducci guy had been arrested, and as a gesture to the “powers-that-be” in the organization, cut out his tongue, and that's why in the movie they didn't talk. I just thought they didn't talk 'cause they were badass.
Dick Manitoba's version of the origin may seem just a little far-fetched if you ask one of the Ducky Boy leaders.
What the f**k are you talking about? That never happened!
The actual Ducky Boys would tend to agree with Lenny, but this story shows just how much the legend of the Ducky Boys was exaggerated. A more realistic, although a bit romanticized, version, is this:
Multiple Ducky Boy older brother, Joe F.
The Ducky Boys were formed in the beginning of the '60s. Four kids aged eleven to thirteen started to hang around in Bronx Park around Twin Lakes, which was eventually referred to as “the Ducky.” They were two sets of brothers - Jimmy and Frankie Byrne, and my younger brothers Biff and Jerry. And they used to fish, and ride their bikes around the lake.
There was another group of older guys and girls (eighteen to about twenty years old) who used to hunt birds and rabbits with slingshots in the park. I remember Bobby and Terry being in that group. They were teenage troublemakers with nothing better to do. These older guys started messing with the kids and eventually threw one of their bikes into the lake. The kids fought back valiantly, but the age difference was too much for them.
Janey V, a girlfriend of one of the older guys, felt bad for the kids and stopped the older guys from picking on the younger kids. The kids all developed crushes on Janey, and she would look out for them. From that day forward, she was dubbed the "Queen of the Ducky" and she called the kids her Ducky Boys. And it just grew from there.
One of the younger crowd of original Ducky Boys confirms Joe's account, but adds a morbid touch to how the gang got its name.
While we were hanging out in the tunnel between the two Twin Lakes, we found a dead duck. I don't remember who, but someone took the rotting corpse and hung it up on a stick between the tunnels to mark our territory. We became the Dead Duck Boys - which eventually turned into the Ducky Boys.
The tales of the origin don't end there. A Ducky Boy leader weighs in with this account:
When the Ducky Boys started, there was mostly an older crowd - Tommy Trouble, ChooChoo Charlie, Buff, Steve, Tommy K, Parky, Ronnie, Keasey, and the Tracy Brothers.
Then the girls started coming down - Marianne, Joan, Joanne, Linda L., Alice F. They came down because they were going to Catholic school nearby, and would hang out because they liked Keasey or Parky or whoever.
I remember things started changing when the older guys started getting drafted. Buff went into the Army, Steve went into the Army, I don't know where ChooChoo Charlie went. But then the younger guys from East 196th and Briggs Avenue started coming down. There were Phyllis, Gene and Jerry, the Byrnes.
Then more guys from East 204th Street started coming and it just started getting bigger and bigger. Then Jack the Kool Kat moved up from 149th Street to the Grand Concourse.
That's how it started - it started more with the older crowd and then it just changed to a younger crowd, afte
Author and ex-Bronxite James Hannon grew up across the street from Our Lady of Refuge and PS 46 schools on East 196th Street and Briggs Avenue. Little did he realize that almost twenty years earlier, the real-life Ducky Boys, who would become so significant in his life after watching the Wanderers movie, were attending the same schools, hanging out in the same schoolyards, and trying to figure out what their next adventure would be.
Mr. Hannon is the director of the 2004 documentary “Out of Our Dens - The Richard and the Young Lions Story” about a 1960's garage band that came from a “20-mile radius of Newark, NJ” who became one of the greatest bands that nobody ever heard of.
He currently lives a stones throw away from the Bronx in central, New Jersey with his wife and cat.
Perfect Bound Softcover
Dust Jacket Hardcover