The Kinsmen Cowboys

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As I was growing up I’d always heard about the Lower East Side of New York City. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio.

Kinsman Avenue was kind of a Lower East Side of Cleveland. It was a melting pot of Jewish people, Spanish, Puerto Rican, Italian, Blacks and other ethnic groups.

My cousin Al lived in Kinsman. Al wasn’t the ring leader, only one of the spokesmen. There were no “ring leaders” in Kinsman, only friends.

Though I didn’t come from the Kinsman area, I was adopted as a cowboy. The term Kinsman Cowboy was really derogatory, coined by the nearby Heights area boys. None of the Kinsman Cowboys were offended by the term; we were proud to be “Cowboys.”

It was a time when there were few real young gangs. It was the latter 1940’s and early 1950’s; most all of the Kinsman Cowboys grew up to be fine men. There were doctors, lawyers, rabbis, priests and other honorable professions that came out of the Kinsman Cowboys. I was proud to be an adopted member.


Image: Witthaya Phonsawat /

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