The passing of a Bronx Legend – Phyllis Carpenella-Germano

 

On 12/05/2011, we lost a local Bronx legend. Ducky Girl Phyllis Carpenella-Germano passed away. If her name doesn’t ring a bell, you were probably not living in the Norwood area of the Bronx during the early-mid 60’s.  During the course of my Ducky Boy interviews, I got to know her a little bit, and found out she still had that rebellious spirit she had back when she was a member of the infamous Ducky Boys gang…

Dec 31st, 2011

On this last day of 2011, I was going thru my to-do list, and writing this blog was at the top of the list. For athe last few weeks, I kept putting it off because I knew it would be awkward to write since I didn’t really know Phyllis “the person” all that well. But she was one of the first interviews I did for my book on the Ducky Boys gang, and she really showed me what I had gotten myself into…

On May 27th, 2006, I met Phyllis for the first time in Bronx Park. My friend and ex-Ducky Girl Geri Gertler-Norcross set up the meeting with Phyllis and Lenny Lim (also one of the original Ducky Boys).

To save typing tonight, here is the link to my blog entry of that day:
Down the Ducky Turf with some Ducky’s 5/27/2006

Read that entry (it’s not too long)… But it shows just how fearless and bad-ass Phyllis was throughout her life…  At almost 60 years old, she and Lenny climbed over a barbed-wire fence just to send a middle finger to the Botanical Gardens who had put this fence up to block people from getting to the Twin Lakes section for free. In talking to Phyllis & Lenny that day, I found that they were two of the most honest interviewees EVER. Neither of them were embarrassed nor apologetic of anything she did back in the Ducky Boys heyday.

I have to admit that I was a little intimidated by this 5 foot, 100 pound (if she was soaking wet) woman… Phyllis was still a tough cookie, and could still kick major ass.   Read my book,  Lost Boys of the Bronx to see all the gang fights she was in, including fighting tooth and nail with the boys (who weren’t taking it easy on her because she was a girl – they were fighting her at full capacity)

Over the years I was working on the book, I also found that EVERYBODY who hung out in the neighborhood knew Phyllis and were not ashamed to admit that they also were a little intimidated by her as well… I had went to a neighborhood reunion and everyone there had stories of just how tough she was, and how nobody wanted to be on her bad side.

After the Ducky Boys, she rolled with a motorcycle club and was even featured in a June 7th, 1998 NY Times article (See picture)

Phyllis was one of my best interviews.  She was tough, honest, and fearless…  I wish I knew her better than I did, but she probably would’ve kicked my ass at one point or another :)

The world is less interesting without Phyllis in it…   Rest in Peace…

 

 

 

My description of Phyllis from Lost Boys of the Bronx

Phyllis Carpenella-Germano
Phyllis was co-leader of the Ducky Girls. Phyllis was one of the tiniest Ducky Girls, but also widely known as one of the toughest members in the gang.  She was always the first to jump into a fight – regardless of the size or gender of her opponent. In May 2006, as she was approaching her sixtieth birthday, I interviewed Phyllis on location “Down the Ducky.”  During the interview she walked into a dark tunnel in the middle of nowhere just to show kindness to a homeless guy. And later she scaled a barbed-wire fence to send a middle finger to the Botanical Gardens for putting it there.   This woman has no fear whatsoever!

 

If you knew Phyllis at any time in her life, please post a comment or story about her below… Please be respectful…

Thanks for reading
-=James

10 Comments

  • Leonard Stone says:

    Phyllis Carpanella-Germano TRY Phyllis CarpEnella-Stone-Germano.. We met in 64 by the big rock in the park by Mosholu and Jerome.. Phyllis ventured out of the Ducky heading west with her pal Barbara.. She ran into me. Two years later on 07/01/1966 we were married and a few months later Paula Stone was born.. (Guess who her god father is ?) LENNY LIM..Seen him after 40 something years at the Funeral..Joe Stone was born in 67 and life went on..How long could it last,we were kids getting married at 16&17..A few months before she dies Phyllis and Tommy were out in Vegas and we had a great time. Went to The Beatles show, went out to dinner, Phyllis and my wife Carla got a little drunk in my back yard… She was in great shape. Around 12/01 she was supposed to go to Florida and she told her mother she had to stay home so she could do her wood floors (shes 63) cause Lenny and Carla were gonna stay at her house as we were coming to NY for Xmas..SHIT HAPPENS !

  • Leonard Stone says:

    After passing your blog on to her 3 daughters, They feel that Phyllis would have LOVED your blog and want to thank you for your kind words..

    Thanks

    Paula, Jennifer and Jamie

  • Maureen says:

    I was a good friend of Phyllis, she was a sister to me. Phyllis was a great person and friend. I always said either you hated her or loved her,and I loved her. Phyllis will be missed so much. I know in my life she will be missed. Phyllis love you and R.I.P. I know you are watching from above. <3

  • Geri says:

    Spent my teenage years as a Ducky girl with Phyllis, and remained friends thru our adult life as well. We were best friends, and when u saw one of us, you saw both of us. We had our first cigarettes together, our first beers, our first fights, and our first loves! I went to the hospital when Paula was born,and I took Joseph for his first ‘big boy’ haircut, (mom was too chicken lol) I was there for her thru thick and thin, as she was for me! I can’t help but smile or laugh when I think of Phyllis, because we spent our youth getting into things other kids dared, only think about lol. We laughed and cried together, many many times, we even had our own fights between us, but we always came back together, like frick and frack. After many years of not seeing each other, we got back together again at the book release party and our Ducky reunion. She Never changed!!! Still feisty, still herself, always, and that’s why you just couldn’t help but love her. Hearing the news of her passing hit me like a ton of bricks. We had just spoken only weeks before! I will always think of her, will always miss her, and never, ever, forget her. But I’m not unusual.. Once you met Phyllis, you never forgot her!! She was an important person in my life, and one day when we meet again, I’m sure we’ll wreak havoc wherever we are.

  • Joseph V. Carpenella says:

    That’s my sister. Tough, blunt, fresh. spirited, but ever so sensitive to the feelings of others. Phyllis could be easily hurt and yet would never let on and come back at you or it like a bad ass girl.

    She surely will be missed but always loved.

    One note I make is that the headline has our last name spelled wrong. All the rest of the article has it spelled correctly–CARPENELLA

    Luv and miss you more each day–u wont b here on Valentine’s day to keep Elizabeth company and vigil while I undergo my surgery.

    Luv u, ur big brother Joseph

  • ELSIE PEREZ says:

    PHYLLIS ,AUNT MARGIE WOULD HAVE LOVED THIS. SHE THOUGHT YOU WERE GREAT.

  • Carolyn says:

    I was also a Ducky girl with Phyllis…I met her in 1963 and thought this girl is tough and pretty self-assured but I knew another side of Phyllis who was funny and loved to laugh. One time we went to Cousins on Fordham & Webster and listened to music in those little booths there were 4 of us in the booth..so 2 laid on the floor, of course Phyllis laid on the floor….we were laughing so hard, we were crying…we also went to buy shoes at Miles shoe store and she laughed at the size of my feet…she dubbed me 12 1/2…that was another good laugh. I lost track of her in 1968 but saw her again in 2006 for a Ducky reunion…I was so happy to see her and it seemed liked it was yesterday…teenagers once again in the Bronx…I had tears in my eyes to see her and others. She asked me if I was afraid of her way back when…and I said “no”…I loved her….she was my friend. I was happy to stay with her and Geri at her house for a few days and got to know her all over again. I believe that God let us spend some time with she and her family…it was a blessed time for all. She is gone to soon and my heart is aching for a dear, old friend…I will never, ever forget her. I love you Phyllis.

  • Joseph V. Carpenella says:

    Thanks to James for correcting the spelling of Carpenella and for the beautiful article describing a life full of excitement and for all you who have made a response.

    It fills our hearts and Mom’s (Phyllis’ mom) with great consolation.

    big bro, Joseph

  • Ann Marie Carpenella McVea says:

    PHYLLIS, wow! Happy Birthday to my big sister!
    We are celebrating her life today at a family memorial luncheon. On my way here I heard a Beatles tune named “In My Life”. What a killer song. One Phyllis loved as well. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones remind me of driving in the car when myself and two of Phyllis’ older children were young. Phyllis would know every word to every song. She drove like a race car driver and smoked her “Cool’s”. I will always cherish how she taught me to be tough and never take any crap. May she rest in Peace.
    Here is a poem which I wrote for her:

    I lived a life that was rough and tough
    God knew I struggled and thought I had enough

    I’m at Peace in Heaven with those I love
    But still looking down on my friends and family from up above

    Never forget me and always stay cool
    For those who didn’t understand me, Va Fongule!

    Love,

    Baby sister, Ann Marie

  • Billy McAdams says:

    First off let me say I carry a heavy heart knowing of the passing of Phyllis ! back in the sixties she was a tough and very cool gal who I had a crush on the first minute I saw her. She was a few years older then I and went at the time with my cousin Bobby McAdams. when Bobby first brought her home she had a blue jean jacket on and was chewing bubble gum and walked up to me and gave me a stare as if to say what the F–k are you looking at ? I damn near wet my pants ! and knowing she had me she popped her bubble gum right in my face and laughed. with that she kissed my cheek. and said to Bobby he’s cute. Well that was my first meeting with Phyllis and I was thrilled to know her for sometime after that. where ever she went whether it be on Fordham rd. or on Bainbridge avenue , or Decatur avenue or the park or where ever she was respected. There will never be another like her ! im sure you all agree with that…….God bless you Phyllis …..

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