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.
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 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