Rio Rider: The Krol Zielonys

David Salter

I would have never heard of the Krol Zielonys had I not been sent to the Federal Building in down town Chicago to attend a Law Enforcement seminar put on by a bunch from Homeland Security last week. For two days we learned of the fundamental changes in store for American Law Enforcement with the new National Police Force due to be unveiled in 2014 and how it was going to fundamentally change policing in America for the better.

On the third day most of the seminar decided we'd had enough and walked out of the morning session when the speaker, some gal with a PhD from Yale Law School and an attitude started talking about how the definition of Freedom was going to change in order to keep up with the soon to be rapid evolution of the Constitution and the cleaning up of various awkward amendments by executive order.

Subsequently I found myself in Miller's Pub on Wabash sipping coffee upstairs with Walt an Irish Chicago copper from Ireland living his dream of being a Cop in America. Walt worked the Wentworth District and loved Harleys. We were talking bikes and somehow the conversation swung around to gangs.

"Dave" he said, "I gotta tell ya we have the strangest gang of them all up here; the Krol Zielonys. They are this gang of formidable old men and they ride motor scooters painted black but no one knows about them because they are very, very stealth like."

Walt paused to take a sip of coffee.

"The only way I got on to them was one night a few years ago when I was working third shift up in Rogers Park. It was a week night and quiet when I got a call to see a guy about his daughter on Lunt Ave. I went up to their apartment and found this guy and his teenaged daughter in the living room. It was just them.

It seems the kid was out late and walking home alone along the lake when a couple of gang bangers grabbed her over by the Loyola Park ball diamond. They were dragging her to some bushes with a hand over her mouth and a knife to her throat which she thought was The End when suddenly about 8 guys on black scooters appeared out of no where and began giving the gang bangers the once over with canes or clubs or something. She said while the rest of them put the thugs to flight one who had to be at least 80 pulled up beside her and said, "Get on kid, this is no place for you!" And just like that they were out of there.''

''She told me they were perfect gentlemen and dropped her off at home. One of them gave her an engraved card that said KROL ZIELONYS on one side and on the back SKUTER GANGU. They were all old enough to be her grand father.''

Walt continued.

"The kid was fine and the dad was grateful but wanted to know who the hell this Krol Zielonys was and I couldn't tell him. I didn't have a clue. I started asking around and finally caught up to one of them. He was sitting by the lake. At first he was suspicious but when I told him I knew about the kid at the ball diamond he loosened up and he told me all about them.

Turns out Krol Zielony in Polish translates roughly in to The Green Kings and are made up mostly of retired bankers and tailors predominantly of Jewish and Polish heritage in the Rogers Park and Evanston area with grown children long gone and wives happy for them to have something to do that keeps them occupied. And out of their hair.''

''They ride around at night through the alleys with lights out goofing off but mostly doing a kind of neighbor hood watch except instead of calling the police they handle things themselves. They all carry canes and use them like martial arts weapons. They like scooters instead of motorcycles because they can go any where, are real quiet and really not expensive. Anyway we leave them alone and they help us out from time to time and no one is any the wiser or even knows they are around.'' April fool.