TWO QUIET, TOUGH, S.O.B.’S

One of the greatest center’s in the history of the Holy Name summer league, Danny Mahoney, mentioned Noona Taylor in the comments section a few days ago. Mahoney swatted away more shots than any player ever! Only problem is they didn’t keep blocked shots as an official stat in the summer league.

The wonderful story-telling Pat Fenton has written about Taylor in his short-stories/essays on Windsor Terrace.

The ever friendly Denis Hamill discussing in a NY Daily News article how his older brother, the great Pete Hamill describing to him Noona’s legendary toughness along with his two-hour fist fight with Ray Grillo.

According to my older brother Pete, two classic fistfights between Noona Taylor of the Tigers and Ray Grillo of South Brooklyn, lasted at least 20 brutal minutes each, with no timeouts, just pure bare-knuckle brawls. Both fights ended when cops arrived.

I used to see Noona every weekend down at Timboo’s bar on the corner of 11th street and 5th avenue. It seemed like every bar had their own crews; Timboo’s, Tug Boat, Gerard’s, Farrell’s, Windsor Pub, McBears, Lauterbach’s and Smith’s.

Noona was the uncle of the late Joe ‘Fonz’ Farrell. Fonz was my 6th grade baseball and basketball coach at Holy Name. I can remember Fonz talking about Noona when I would tell him I was going down to Timboo’s.

“My uncle hangs out down there,” he would say to me.

Pete Hamill’s description of a fist fight in May of 1950 between Noona and Ray Grillo in Prospect Park brought back memories of when I was a kid hanging out with the Gooch in Timboo’s.

“Two of the neighborhood’s toughest,” my friend Phil McNiff told me. “Those two legends have passed on.”

That must have been some fight between the two brawlers.

Noona, who worked as a Steamfitter was a member of the gang “The Tigers” and Grillo, a Local 40 Ironworker was down with the “South Brooklyn Boys.”

Hamill said the fight lasted 20 minutes, before the cops showed up and stopped it.

In my early 20’s while I was trying to find my niche as an Ironworker, I worked with Ray’s son. He was a great guy, he gave me a ride home a couple of times after work in a sweet Nova.  Often times I would see Ray on the corner of 11th street and 5th avenue hanging out with his dark khaki’s, short sleeve dress shirt and a sweet looking pork-pie hat.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his folded up newspaper sticking out of his back pocket.

What many people don’t realize is Ray was an undefeated light-heavyweight boxer back in 1954 and 1955 with a record of 10-0!

My guy Phil McNiff passed this story along to me back when he was a nine year-old boy.

My mother was taking me and my sister for Chinese food on 9th Street, Sun Joy! Ray was walking down the block and we were walking up the block when two sailors started giving my mother a hard time.  Ray walked over to my mother and said,  “Peggy take the two kids and walk up the block”.  I remember looking back, being curious; Ray had knocked the two sailors out cold! We talked about that for years! Ray was a man of very few words but plenty of action.As tough as Ray was he was a gentleman as was Noona!

Noona Taylor and Ray Grillo were two guys you didn’t want to mess with…

-Steve

SteveFinamore@yahoo.com

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21 Responses to TWO QUIET, TOUGH, S.O.B.’S

  1. sophieliv2 says:

    You forgot my families bar, Langtons!

    • hoopscoach says:

      Thank you for the addition. Who were some of the people that hung out there? Names, we want names!

      • Mudge says:

        A PIECE OF TRIVIA HOW NOONA GOT HIS NAME. HIS SISTER WHEN SHE WAS YOUNGCOULD NOT PRONOUCE JR. SHE WHOULD SAY NOONA. IAM HAPPY FOR THE ABOVE BLOGS NOW I REMEBER HIM RAY GRILLO THAT IS .MY ACCUSE IS HE WAS WITH SO. BKLYN. AND I WAS A JOKER

      • Mudge says:

        BUNKY AND JIMMY FLYNN DANNY MILLS HUDDY HUDSON A VARIATY OF HOULAHANS MORE NAMES IAN SURE WILL COME TO ME BUT RIGHT NOW IAM HAVING A SENOIR MOMENT.

  2. Willy Wickham says:

    Gaspar Gonzalez!

  3. John says:

    Hey Noona is my Grandfather

  4. John says:

    He passed away in the early 90’s

  5. Joan (Ferraro) Hanvey says:

    There was an opening from Langton’s into the pizzeria where I hung out with my friends from Holy Name (if we weren’t at Lewnies(?). I talked to my future husband, Gerard Hanvey, through this window. Gaspar Gonzalez was the best man at our wedding. Noona was the brother of my girlfriend, Virginia. I love these memories. Thank you.

  6. John Mcuire says:

    My Father, Jack McGuire , was one of Noona Taylor’s cousins. My father told me they fought one of those fights with hand tapes. My father also recounts a fight between Ray Grillo and Danny Sullivan.

    • hoopscoach says:

      John, I heard Ray was 10-0 as a professional and his daughter was sick so he had to stop fighting. Wonder if anyone knows the story?

      Thanks for writing.

      • Rose Grillo says:

        Rays wife at that time died. Her name was Fran. She was pregnant, both she and the baby died. Fran had pneumonia. Ray was very upset and smashed his hand into a wall
        He broke his knuckles. Ray told me this. I’m Rose M Grillo his last wife. Ray died in 1996
        On April 10th. That was 20 yrs ago. We were met in 1960 and our first child was Anthony.
        We have two other boys and one girl. We lived on 12 st. Bklyn.,

      • Red says:

        Rose,

        Thanks so much. Appreciate you sharing your story. I loved Ray, he was a good dude.

        I remember working on a job with his son while we were Ironworkers.

        Hope all is well.

  7. John Mcuire says:

    Yes he was 10-0. He fought at Eastern Parkway Arena frequently. Ray Grillo was also a bouncer at one of the popular bars in that area. My father might be able to answer some of your questions. mcguirejack155@gmail.com

  8. Mudge says:

    I would like to mention three ffights between Bobby polock and Butch Nolan however I cant tell you much about them because I did not see any of them Bobby would not mention them . often asked Bobby if we can go break his head he would not let any of us touch him. And that became enough for me if Bobby had that kind of respect for him then so would I.

  9. Dianne Greeenwood Miller says:

    steve are you related to Joanne finamore???? I use to babysit for Joe(Noona) and his wife Dottie. He has three beautiful children. Two girls and one boy.Very good memories

    • Red says:

      Joanne Finamore?

      Don’t think so.

      Diane,

      But to be honest, our old man (Gooch) never opened up to his side of the family. We were closer with my mom’s side.

      Years later, we did become closer with the Finamore side.

      Thanks for checking in.

  10. joe Kelly says:

    i remember he got my friend Terence Leary out of a jam because he beat up a wise guys son Terrence took care of Noona and drove him everywhere he would take him to the track he also hung out at diamonds and Denny Ryan’s with tommy madden I know they watched out for him always I believe because his family was from Ireland after those guys came it was the Mullins boys Philly McNiff and John Scott what a neighborhood a lot of characters that were tough but all with big hearts . And they all looked at moms of family with the utmost respect that what makes me proud of knowing all these guys

  11. Virginia(Ginner) Taylor McPeak says:

    My name is Virginia(Ginner) Taylor McPeak I am Noona’s youngest sister.He was a great guy

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