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arizona in the fifties

Posted 12-06-2010 at 10:55 by Bill Powell

In Miami, Ariz in the fifties there were several ways to not be bothered by the various factions that roamed the streets. There were the red-necks, the Pachucos, the mixed member groups. The gang violence was not like today, but it was there. The last option was to be un-affiliated. If you chose that route you had to be on your toes. Being un-affiliated worked for me, but not so well for my brother.

He and my cousin, who visiting from the Marines, were walking in what passed for our city park. They were talking and my cousin was inspecting one of the chrome choker dog collar chains. One popular use of the chain was to cut the ring off one end and sew a leather wrist loop on the other end. They passed a park bench with four or five highschoolers lounging on it. As they passed the bench the guys sprang up and one named Nacho stuck a knife into my brother's upper arm and pulled straight back. He then made a cut on a downward angle across my brother's backNot a bad cut, but it was about twelve or thirteen inches long. Not a continuous cut, but it skipped in several places. My cousin spun around and racked Nacho on the top of the head with that dog collar, and when Nacho went to school the next day evey where a chain link hit he had a shaved spot and a stitch. when the doctor stitched up my brother's arm he had to do it in four layers of stitches, starting at the bone and working his way out.

It was like that incident started an undeclared war, that gang of guys against my brother. My brother was a reserve deputy at that time. He may have done something that pissed them off.

Everywhere my brother went there would be one or more of them close by, waiting for him to do something stupid. This went on for over a year.

Jack carried a little Star .25 auto behind his belt buckle because his right arm was basically useless for months. He carried another weapon in the car, and a sixteen foot bull whip. One day the chief of police was fussing at him, telling him if he didn't rid of the .25 the police would have to confiscate it. My brother pulled out the whip and asked if that was considered a weapon. The police chief laughed and the Pachuco across the street laughed. While they were laughing Jack use the whip to flip a Pall Mall pack that was lying in the street. He flipped it about three feet in the air and while it was still airborne, cut it in two.

My dad ultimately stopped the war. He used my brother's car to go to the store, and since he and my brother looked alike from the rear a carload of the guys started following him, My dad drove out of town to the west, to Bloody Tanks, and up a little dirt road that went up into the hills. After my dad went about half a mile up this little road he stopped, and the guys started piling out of the car. My dad stepped out and put four .38 rounds down along side their car. My dad was not suicidal. On the rear seat was an M-1 carbine with a 30 round magazine. If those guys had been braver, they probably would have been full of holes.

The war was over when the guys in the gang realized they could have been seriously killed that night. They finally had a little trial and Nacho was was given the option of criminal trial or the Navy. He chose the Navy.

That was not my brother's last encounter with a knife. Years later he was stabbled through and through with a large fruit picker's knife and then had to fight him til the police showed up. My brother was armed with a coke bottle and his jacket around his arm. He decided right then to never go to another knife fight armed with only a coke bottle.
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