In the early 1960s in San Francisco when I was in junior high school, today called “middle school” some of the more adventurous boys got together and formed “gangs”. In the Sunset District it was pretty harmless stuff. By that I mean, all they did was give themselves a scary name and buy the same jackets.
Names I recall were the orange-jacketed “Street Saints”, the “Intrepids” (not sure about that one but it sounds good), the “Courts” from the Mission, and the purple-jacketed “Athenians”. The Street Saint boys were from the east side of the Sunset and the Athenians from the west, much closer to the beach.
Basically the Street Saints went to Hoover Junior High where I went. The Athenians went to Giannini and they looked tougher but they really weren’t at all.
I knew them both. The Athenians hung out at Playland By The Beach, and for awhile I liked to take the streetcar down there with a girlfriend and walk around.
At the time some girls and boys were called “barts”. Being a bart, like it’s opposite, going “league” (ivy league) was a fashion statement having to do with the color black, and wearing these boot like black shoes and make-up, lots of make-up. I really wanted to wear those boots but my mom wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t wear the make-up because I didn’t how to put it on.
Going bart or league was kind of like being a Rolling Stones or Beatles fan. The barts thought they were on the outside, rogues, wild westers, while the people who wore the ivy league clothing walked down the halls of school singing “I’m In With The In Crowd”.
Portrait of (Skip) an “Athenian” wearing the gang’s purple jacket. Photo surely taken in a booth at Playland.
I am bringing this up because in my next post I want to talk about what happened to Bill Wheatley, a former Athenian who went to Vietnam.