I was still fascinated by pro wrestling, and my dream was to be a wrestler one day. At first my Mom tried to talk me out of it, telling me that her family in Texas saw wrestling as some kind of carnival freak show. My rebuttal was that Manny had been a boxer, and she left it at that because, indeed, she and Manny and her family had fought along that road before. I sold the idea to Kenny and Georgie, who were always fighting anyway, and we declared the Butler Street Wrestling Club. Georgie, who always got the best of Kenny, was the champ, Kenny was the top contender, and I was Number Three. Poor Mark Roman ended up the bottom man. Jesus, Mickey Reyes and the Orlando Brothers didn’t even rank, they were declared midgets! Of course, when the Yodels came along, things changed dramatically. Until then, I enjoyed my spot behind the fearsome Reyes brothers.
Historically, the first BSWC champion was…my Mom! She had been tussling with me since I was a weeun and somehow or other Kenny and Georgie got in on the act, and at that point of time she was literally scrubbing the floor with us. Only her drinking and our maturing eventually brought those days to an end. One night she had been on the sauce and we were scuffling, and to her chagrin, I got the best of her! I was elated that I had reached such a pinnacle but made nothing of it. She, however, harbored resentment that smoldered until that Christmas holiday.
Manny used to paint the windows with Christmas displays every year (a tradition Lea continued to the next generation), and one night she was sipping and brooding in the front window, well-hidden from view. I was in front of the house amidst a ruckus with Georgie and called him a bastard at the top of my lungs as he trotted off. My Mom saw the opportunity to call me inside and throw me a solid beating with her fisticuffs. I squirted a few tears to placate her but contemplated the unreasonable severity of the attack for years later. It took me a few decades to realize it was all about having bested her at wrestling, and she just needed to reestablish her physical dominance over her upstart son.
The first piledriver I ever gave out was to my sister. Mom had bought me a couple of flimsy exercise mats when I told her I wanted to put a wrestling set-up together. Actually I don’t think it was her choice, it was just we were both clueless. Anyway, I was anxious to put them to use and invited Lea to the vacant apartment downstairs (that I would rent years later) where I would teach her to wrestle. Determined to find out how well the padding worked, I announced that the first maneuver we would practice was the piledriver. Well, I executed it perfectly (as described in a Wrestling World article on Killer Buddy Austin), then stepped back to evaluate the results of the experiment (after a loud bang resulting from her head hitting the floor). She was motionless for a few tense moments, then slowly arose to a seated position like the Undertaker. I anxiously asked if she was okay (fearing certain comeuppance from Mom), then graciously excused her from the rest of the class.
My sister and I would have a weird relationship until our final split in 2004. During her pre-pubescence she became the neighborhood flirt, largely because of the lack of male affection in the family (Manny later confessed in his senior years that he was always fearful of someone accusing him of abuse). I ratted her out at every opportunity, mostly because she was doing her thing down around Smith Street with blacks and latinos. It wasn’t until she hit her teens that I was able to tolerate her life choices, and by the time she left NYC to attend the University of New Mexico at Portales, we had become close. We had our ups and downs after she got married, but I never anticipated the Butler Street Screw Job of 2004 which I’ll go into later.
(To be continued...)