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The Story of San Francisco's Old School 'Jacket Club' Gangs

A 1961 documentary about the non-profit group that got kids off the street.


If this video is to be believed, the major crime scourge of 1950s San Francisco was scores of slick-haired youths (identified by the gang names stitched onto their jackets), making mischief and getting into trouble with the law.

The 1961 documentary Ask Me, Don’t Tell chronicles this problem, along with an ingenious solution.

In 1957, the "Youth For Service" program spearheaded a successful effort to get troubled kids off the streets and involved in their community. Formed by the American Friends Service Committee, the program got entire gangs (with names like "The Lonely Ones" and "Aces") to paint houses, pave parking lots, and assist the elderly.

The idea was that these kids mostly wanted to feel needed by society. Simply asking them to help out would give them a sense of purpose while also developing marketable work skills. As the documentary suggests, a lot the kids actually had fun. A newspaper clipping quoting one participant saying, "We feel good man! This is real kicks!"

The so-called 'jacket clubs' even eventually formed a council for talking out differences to prevent future "rumbles." 

H/T Dangerous Minds

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