If you are following the Olympics (and I know you are) you know about the story on USA swimmer Ryan Lochte (I’ve never heard of him before) Sorry, not a big swimmer. I almost drowned once when I was like six.  But I do know Michael Phelps, who doesn’t?

Anyway, Lochte says he was held up and had a gun pointed at his head. Or pressed against his head. There’s speculation as to whether the story is legit?

Who cares?

On the other hand, yours truly DID have a gun pressed to his head back in the day.

Card store on 9th ave

As a teenager I worked at Key Food on month avenue.  One night while we were getting ready to close up shop I was sweeping by the front counter.  Max, one of the owners was pulling the cash from the register.   At this time, I noticed two guys walk in the front door.  These guys looked suspicious.

All of a sudden I heard them screaming for us to get down on the ground.

I was like, “SHIT!” It’s a stick up.  I had seen this kind of scenario in the movies but now I was part of it.


Where’s Adam-12 or Dan-O from Hawaii Five-O when you need them?

I’d even take Starsky and Hutch, or even Baretta to come crashing through the doors.

But this wasn’t Hollywood, this was the real deal.

I put my broom down gently and dove on the floor like I was going for a loose ball in basketball.

I had thoughts of whacking one guy but then his partner probably would have splattered my brains all over the walls.

Without looking up I could hear them talking in Spanish. I had no idea what they were saying.

They were behind the counter snatching the cash from Max.  Just when I thought they were done, one guy comes over to me, bends down and looks me in the eye.


His breathe reeked of booze.

I was now face-to-face with the guy and out of the corner of my eye I saw his gun.  It actually looked fake, sorta like the shiny steel colored ones kids play cops and robbers with. For all I knew he could have bought it in Rae and Otto’s?

All kinds of shit raced though my head.

Was he going to blast my head off and watch it roll down the aisle.  Was he going to shoot me in the leg, the ass?


Why did I come to work today?

You never wanted to see officer Doyle from the seven-two  but right about now I was praying he would walk in.

The fuck with the gun spared my life but winds up snatching a gold chain off my neck that my girlfriend Maureen had bought me for my birthday.

After what seemed like an hour, I finally got up off the ground when I heard Max calling the police.  I walked to the front door to take a peek out onto the avenue.

“STEVEN, STAY INSIDE!” Max screamed at me while I looked out the window.

Deep down I wanted to chase the scumbag and get my chain back.

But Max was right, so I stayed inside.



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  1. bob terry says:

    Good story.

  2. Mudge says:

    As a kid growing up in the neighborhood I stole any thing that wasent nailed down and if I had a hammer with me I stole that to. The point Iam. trying to make is I did try one stick up and I never tryed it again . If you think you were scared being stuck up you should have seen me at my first and only stick up. The same thoughts were going through my mind as was going through yours what will I do if the guy moves or decides to be a hero it almost seems our stories are simular. But that white boy coment might have made me do something stuped . Glad we both survived.

  3. Jim casey says:

    Now it seems that Lochte’s story has some lying to it.

  4. Buzz says:

    Joe Kelly Hero

    New Years Eve 1974 1:00am. Nielson’s tavern 8th Ave/13th street. That night I was in there with George Perchman, Jimmy Haughie, Ray Austin, John Hederman, Eddie Mecner and Johnny Canterino. There were others whose names I don’t remember now. Probably some hardcore neighborhood regulars. Bobby Talese was bartending. It was a circular shaped bar. We’re all pretty lit up,of course. Across the bar from me sat Joe Kelly passed out with his head of white hair on folded hands on the bar.

    I saw the front door open. One tall man with a black stocking over his face stood holding the door open for one short squat person with a black stocking over the face coming in. Tall man is holding a pistol pointed up, short squat has a double barrel sawed off shotgun which it plunked on the bar. Short squat is standing next to Joe Kelly yelling “gimme the fuckin’ money” Bobby the bartender had his hands up, backing slowly away from those barrels saying “don’t shoot, I’ll empty the register. Just don’t shoot”. As we begin to hit the floor I see Joe Kelly wake up out of his stupor, look at that shotgun and grab it saying “Gimme that fuckin’ thing”.

    In that instant I saw that my life pass before my eyes. Those barrels began to look like a huge cannons to me as they struggled back and forth with it. Time slowed way down. I looked up and saw tall man at the door take off. We all scurried around to the other side of the bar, bum rushed short squat then tumbled out the door onto 13th street in a pile.

    We stood around in a circle kicking and stomping short squat who was laying on it’s back. Jimmie Haughie was kneeling on short squat’s shoulders punching it’s face over and over. It sounded like a hammer hitting a watermelon; “Thuck” “Thuck”. Someone yelled “It’s wearing a fuckin’ dress!” As I looked down I heard someone else say “Kick it anyway!” My God, it was a woman!

    Four cop cars rolled up, guns drawn. We backed off as they stood her up against the brick wall.
    Face like bloody oatmeal. One cop pistol whipped her. Joe Kelly came out of the bar holding the shotgun and the cops drew down on him but he handed it over… quickly. He’d sobered up by then. An ambulance showed up to take her away. I recognized Officer Doyle and he told me that her name was Henrietta Aiken, a junkie. After giving statements we repaired back into the bar where Bobby poured beers on the house, with a free shot of Dewar’s for Joe Kelly. I don’t know if it’s true or not but I later heard through the grapevine that Joe Kelly drowned in Florida while attempting to save someone.

    • Steve says:

      Fuckin’ A…

      Love the story.

      Henrietta Aiken huh? LOL.

      Thanks Buzz.

    • H says:

      New Years Eve 1974 1:00am. Nielson’s tavern 8th Ave/13th street?

      I lived across the street and a few houses down from the warehouse that was directly across the street from Neilson;s Tavern only it was Gallagher’s Bar at the time.

      The owner of Gallagher’s Bar was an older gentleman who was treated with the greatest of respect by anyone who crossed his path and always referred to as Mr. Gallagher in the neighborhood.

      I found out many years later that Mr. Gallagher was the person you went to see if you needed a loan to put food on the table because your father was between jobs or on strike.

      Gallagher’s later became Kelly’s Bar after we moved to Staten Island. The owner was a former Gallagher’s bartender by the name of “Red” Kelly. I don’t think “Red” Kelly and Joe Kelly were the same person.

  5. eddie Mecner says:

    I was not present during the holdup,but I did hang out there and with those guys.Ive heard that story from Bobby and the others firsthand “its True”

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