By Alice Cooper
Here’s Alice Cooper on The Muppets.
Whenever I hear School’s Out by Alice Cooper I get hungry.
I get hungry because I think of Big Al’s Pizza.
Big Al’s Pizza was two blocks from the apartment where I grew up in Forest Lawn. This would have been when I was in Grades 1, 2 and 3.
My mom would take me to Big Al’s for supper about once a month.
I don’t know who Big Al was but he made great pizza.
It was loaded with cheese, slathered in the tastiest tomato sauce, and everything was baked to perfection. I loved Big Al’s Pizza.
Forest Lawn is considered one of the rougher neighborhoods in Calgary but I never thought of it as crime-ridden because, as far as I could tell, it wasn’t crime-ridden.
I don’t remember gangs fighting over turf, but there were two biker gangs, the Kings Crew and the Grim Reapers.
I don’t know why but, as a kid, it was a big deal when you saw a bike gang member.
It was something you would need to tell your friends. You’d say something like, “I saw a couple of Grim Reapers standing outside the Paradise Lanes.” And I actually did see a couple of Grim Reapers standing outside the Paradise Lanes (bowling alley).
Anyway, I don’t remember the exact details, whether it was in the newspapers or if it was word on the street, but the police were trying to track down one of the Kings Crew because he had either escaped from prison or he had killed somebody. Either way there was a manhunt underway.
One night during the manhunt I was eating pizza at Big Al’s Pizza when in walked a Kings Crew member. He walked over to the back counter where the waitress got her orders ready, reached under the counter and grabbed one of those thick, orange-tinted glasses, filled it with water, drank the water and then walked out.
He didn’t kill anybody or rob anybody. He just drank the water then left.
Anyway, my mom was in the washroom when this happened. When she got back I told her a Kings Crew member just walked in and drank some water and walked out. I asked her if it might be the guy the police were looking for. She told me it probably wasn’t.
How doe’s Alice Cooper fit into all this? There was a juke box at Big Al’s and it was around this time, it might have been on this same day, that somebody played School’s Out on the juke box.
Whenever I hear School’s Out, I think of Big Al’s Pizza.
Anyway, when we moved from Forest Lawn to Ogden, this would have been between Grade’s 3 and 4, I never saw the Kings Crew or Grim Reapers ever again.
What’s interesting though is that a few years later the Hell’s Angels rolled into Calgary and built a two-story clubhouse just up the hill from where I lived in Ogden, maybe a kilometre away. (The Clubhouse had a beige stucco finish, and it was surrounded with a high chain link fence topped with barbed wire.)
The Kings Crew and Grim Reapers were either disbanded or patched over to Hell’s Angels.
Even thought the Hell’s Angels lived just up the hill from me, I never saw them. They kept a very low profile. I would see motorbikes outside their clubhouse every now and again (inside the fence) but that was it. Never once did I see a Hell’s Angel on the street - never once - They were no fun.
Forty years later little has changed.
Big Al’s is still there, as are a few other restaurants my mom used to take me to that were only a few blocks from our home, such as Four Seas and the Chinese takeout – Far East Foods – and I’m not 100 per cent sure if the Hells Angels clubhouse is there or not. (A couple days ago I had a Facebook friend complain about how the Hells Angels are looking for a new home close to where she lives.)
– MORE ABOUT MANHUNTS.
One time, this must have been about 15 years ago, I was in a Tim Horton’s in Calgary at about 11 p.m.
This guy walked in and he looked tough. Not big, but tall, wiry and ripped. Not the type you want to pick a fight with.
I was enjoying a donut when he came to my table and said, “If the cops come in just say I’m with you, OK.”
What else could I say but “OK.”
He sat down with me, and not more than a minute later the cops walk in, walk up to my table and ask me, “Is this guy with you?”
I hummed and hawed and, finally, the guy sitting across from me said, “He’s not with me.”
The cops grabbed him, threw him on the ground and tasered him.
I still remember the cop pulling out the taser gun, holding it up, and seeing the blue electric charge dance between the two contact points.
The police took him out to the police cruiser and tasered him a few more times. I remember the guy begging like a small child not to be tasered again. It was kind of sad to watch.
From what little information I gathered it turns out that he had broken out from a nearby prison and was a fugitive from the law.