Field Trip to The James Gang
I live on Whitefoord Avenue. It's not a long road, but it used to be. In the 1960s, Whitefoord Avenue stretched from Memorial Avenue to Emory University. The affluent residents didn't care for the people who literally lived on the other side of the railroad tracks, so they renamed their half of the street Oakdale. Districts were drawn. Generations moved on. And time forgot.
Whitefoord Avenue spans a mile now. Most of the lots are residential, but there are a few commercial properties. A couple of churches. An elementary school. And at the end of the street is a free-standing cinder block structure. The door reads “private club” and the hand-painted sign above it features a skull with a gun pressed against its forehead. This building belongs to The James Gang.
This article is not a negative piece. I respect The James Gang's fraternity. I just want to know more of the history and how I can be a part of their club if I have residency. My wife and I often drive by when the club is operational, and all we can see when we stare inside is a pool table. The door slot seems to beg for a secret knock, but The James Gang isn't a secret organization. Any resident of Whitefoord Avenue can attest to the parade of loud motorcycles every Thursday night. After years of general curiosity, I decided to finally learn more about their clubhouse.
The only online information that I could find about The James Gang came from an outdated MySpace page with photos (the four images below) that make me as envious as they do cowardly.
The group's page mentions that the Gang celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2008. I've lived in this neighborhood for a decade, yet I've been oblivious to the social aspect of The James Gang. Consider me definitely more envious than cowardly. I made numerous attempts to get to know The James Gang over the past month, but nobody answered the door during the times that arrived. I asked the club's neighbors about the Gang's schedule and their presence on Whitefoord Avenue. Those individuals offered the following information:
"We heard that it's a bunch of bikers. Like, guys that have bikes and they meet. They're harmless."
"They've been there for many years. They show up mostly in the summer time. The building belongs to one of them, so he made a club over there. Yeah, nice guys. I've lived here for a long time, and they're nothing to be concerned about."
- Denise & Sam, neighbors
JAY: What is The James Gang?
MECHANIC: It's a bunch of guys who come with bikes.
JAY: What kind of bikes do they ride?
MECHANIC: They ride Harley Davis [sic] and choppers. All kinds of bikes. It's a bike club.
JAY: Can I join?
MECHANIC: Yeah, you can join.
JAY: Do they allow scooters?
MECHANIC: No. [laughs] They ain't got no scooters. They have bikes that you have to have a license to ride. With scooters you just need a helmet to ride it.
JAY: Do you know when they are open?
MECHANIC: They're usually open on Thursdays, but they weren't open yesterday. Maybe next week. They do things for the kids sometimes.
JAY: That's really cool. Sounds like I'll be back.
And back I came. Unfortunately I haven't been able to achieve a proper introduction (or Gang initiation) like I've dreamt about, but I want one. Perhaps this article will help my cause. I think I would be a valuable asset to their organization. I could come up with secret knocks, and they could lovingly give me an ironic nickname. We'd talk all night about how the fools on Oakdale just don't get us. Then we'd ride and pose with our AK-47s, just for shits and giggles. One day, my future brothers. One day.
P.S. This is a private article. I know that it's publicly accessible, but don't read it unless you're a member of The Plug Club.