Phil Cross: Gypsy Joker to a Hells Angel
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Go for a ride on the wild side with a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club
In the early 1960s, a young Navy vet, motorcyclist, amateur photographer, and rebel named Phil Cross joined a motorcycle club called the Gypsy Jokers. He started a San Jose chapter of the Jokers and embarked on the most action-packed years of his life. The Jokers were in the midst of a shooting war with the real Hells Angels. The fighting became so intense that the Jokers posted snipers atop their clubhouse. This was a rough time, but it was also the height of the free-love hippie era, and as a young man, Cross enjoyed himself to the fullest. He never let anything as minor as a little jail time stop his fun. Once, while serving time for fighting and fleeing an officer, Cross broke out of jail, entered his bike in a bike show, won the bike show, and broke back into jail before anyone discovered he was missing. Though Cross was toughâ??he was a certified martial arts instructorâ??the Angels proved a tough foe. After multiple beating-induced emergency room visits, Cross decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, so he and most of his club brothers bacame the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels. He has been a member of the Hells Angels for 47 years.
to get their own place, and my dad probably wanted to be closer to work. I wasn’t particularly happy about the move. I loved that ranch and would have been perfectly happy staying right there. I’m pretty sure this was the only time Dave and I wore the Hawaiian shirts that Mom got for us. Our house was on a street called Genevieve Lane, and it’s gone now. In 1964, Highway 280 was rerouted. Our house was located in a neighborhood right in its path, so the state bought all the houses, whether
treated Dave badly, and my house worse. My brother saw one cop actually close an open door just so that he could kick it in. It seemed like a good time to leave Mexico, but I knew I couldn’t fly home because I had called and found out that a warrant had been issued, so I left my luggage behind, grabbed a flight to Tijuana, and walked across the border. Next I took a small plane from San Diego to Sacramento and a friend picked me up and took me back to a motel. But as it turned out, I wouldn’t be
There were two other old men inside who looked like clones of the first. One of them started speaking to us in French. I said one word: “American.” All three of them smiled and nodded, and five glasses appeared on the bar along with cheese and bread. The rest of the visit was conducted with improvised sign language, which consisted of a lot of pointing and smiling. When they started pouring, Meg put her hand over her glass. One of the little vintners said, “No?” Meg patted her tummy and then
going to go between the panel truck and the pickup, she thought, “Oh holy mother of God! He is not going to go through there?” Oh yes he was. Meg is not timid on the bike. She does shit like standing up and filming the pack at high speeds, or riding backward so that she can film them behind us. She likes riding fast, but she doesn’t like taking chances. She didn’t think there was enough room to make it through those trucks so she squealed, pulled her arms and legs in tight, and dropped her head.
time, it had a population of about twenty-five people, mostly my family and other ranchers. There was no actual town, just a post office, and I don’t think the town really ever got any bigger than those twenty-five people. To give you some reference, Coyote was just between San Jose (a pretty decent-sized town) and Gilroy (a small farming community). Now it’s gone; it’s all Pacific Gas and Electric towers along Highway 101 just before you get into Morgan Hill. Grandma’s house. The porch always