None of the rest of the Galvan clan could hold a candle to Israel and Ismael. Lisette’s little brother Johnny Straps had a short but lively career with the Jets, and he became an excellent target for my short shotgun passes. He was much younger and smaller than us, and never amounted to more than a utility player. Marilyn used to come down and shoot hoops with us, and I took her on my side in a couple of games to show off for her. A family friend, Rafael Carpio, came down one time to play football with us. Being the bastard I was, I knocked him on his arse and he never came back.
One night Sam invited me for a ride and told me he had a vision of me becoming a preacher. I was very flattered but tried to explain to him the teenage angst I was undergoing. I really didn’t know how to tell him that one remedy would have been for him to hook me up with one of his nieces. Maybe he understood but might not have thought it a good idea. At any rate, I told him I’d pray over it and left it at that. I only wish he would have learned of what was ahead almost twenty years later when I experienced my rededication to Christ. He would have been an extremely proud man.
For the most part, early on it was all about the friendly competition between the four of us based on the sibling rivalry between Israel and Ismael. Israel was great competition for me because he was book smart (and would go on to earn multiple doctorates and become a successful author) and a powerhouse athlete. Ismael and I, on the other hand, had a kindred spirit and complemented each others’ skills on the playing field. Mark ended up gravitating towards Israel by default though we remained close friends for years afterward. This pattern remained until the new kids on the block came along and rearranged everything.
Maria Guzman moved into the tenement across the street from 263 Court Street along with her Mom, her dog Mota and her sons Victor, Jose, Raul and Mongo. They would come to have another great impact on my life. Jose, like everyone else, it seemed, set his sights on Lea, and she brought him to the house where we made friends. He ended up becoming my biggest sports rival besides Israel, and unfortunately it was such that we didn’t become as close personal friends as we could have. I’d have to blame that on Jose, who had an inferiority complex and was under constant pressure as the surrogate man of the house. I really liked the guy and was disappointed that we lost contact after he moved away a couple of years later.
Victor, the oldest son, was a lardass who fancied himself a slickster and had a penchant for cheap wine and cocaine. Mark loved poking fun at him, and I had little time for him though Jose defended him fiercely. Raul, the youngest son, was the clown of our group and was always cutting up to our amusement. Mongo was a Mongolian idiot who wandered around the house wearing only a woman’s frock. Needless to say, he didn’t get out much.
Raul, or Chi Chi, was the Clown Prince of the Jets. He had a perpetual grin on his face and was always joking and goofing around. Of course, this made him the constant target for ribbing, but all in all he took it in stride. His idol was Chief Jay Strongbow, a mid-card babyface in the WWWF whose main claim to fame was a long feud with…the Spoiler! Of course, the feud spilled over into the BSWC, and Raul and I were constantly bickering and roughhousing as proxies for our heroes. We eventually took it to the mat during the BSWC’s Columbia Street II event, and it was the first and only jobbed match in the history of the BSWC, which I handily won.
Next to Superstar Billy Graham and the Road Warriors, Don Jardine was my all-time favorite wrestler. He was 6’4”, 275 pounds, but had the agility of a cat (the one who taught the Undertaker, Mark Calloway, his top-rope walk). His finisher, the Iron Claw, was a gimmick used by another of my boyhood heroes, Fritz Von Erich. He had a brief run with the WWWF before going down to the NWA in Florida and enjoying a highly successful run during which he captured all the regional titles he so richly deserved. The Spoiler passed away on December 16, 2006 from leukemia, and I never miss the chance to tell people about the man who inspired the rock band bearing his name.
Of course, since we were shoot wrestling, I was applying the claw to my opponents’ temples, causing great discomfort to one and all though never breaking the skin or causing blackouts like the gimmicked TV claws. To be fair, Von Erich’s claw was the real deal, and he clamped it on legendary San Antonio sportscaster Dan Cook one day to prove its authenticity during a broadcast interview. Cook grabbed Von Erich by the balls, and it was quite a struggle before the TV crew pried the two apart. At any rate, I even bought a bowling ball glove that looked just like Jardine’s, and before long Broadway Turk Superstar was very much the BSWC’s Spoiler dupe.
There was a significant difference between the Star appearing at Columbia I and II. Izzy and I dropped our tag team titles to Spook and Israel on the first show in what was nearly a squash job. During the second, I had Alma Merced put some mascara on for me, and the Glitter Rock Superstar took out Spook in short order despite the packed house wishing otherwise. Wearing war paint during the early 70’s was highly unorthodox for an athlete on any level, but I was always way ahead of my time and it didn’t start or end at BSWC. I think it was one big reason why Alma remained fascinated by her shithouse crazy friend throughout our lifetime friendship.
(To be continued...)