Forest Park, IL- It’s pretty dark inside Doc Ryan’s tavern, but the bright sun begins streaming through the windows on this beautiful Tuesday in October. They begin to straggle in one by one or in pairs, the gentlemen hailing from many local high schools (Fenwick, St.’s Phillip and Ignatius) and colleges (the University of Notre Dame, Universities of San Francisco, Illinois to name a few). This ritual occurs every Tuesday and has been going on for many years. Exactly how many years is up to debate, and holy cow do these guys love to debate. Over time the location has changed as have the participants; the various locales because of them closing or changing owners (Setback North and Comeback Inn to name two), the members because of health issues or sadly, their passing.
These guys are old, that’s not being mean, it’s being accurate. From their late 70’s to their late 80’s, “The No Name Gang” keeps going on and on. For how long, no one can say but what a grand bunch of unique personalities assembled for an afternoon of talk, joking and reminiscing. What an honor to be invited!
The current members of The No Name Gang:
- St. Ignatius HS: Jim Geraghty, Don Kurtz, Bob Grimes, Jack Tierney, Bill Barcoh, John Broderick, Jim Conley & Don Mulvihill
- Fenwick HS: Bill Ritchie, Ed LeJune, Johnny Lattner, Charlie Fisher & John Dwyer
- St. Phillips HS: Tony Pasquesi, Jack “Moon” Calkins, Jim Costello, Bill Sherlock, Bill Conrick & Mel Wiliams
- Riverside-Brookfield HS: Tony Drake
Johnny Lattner is the center point of The Gang but by no means the only colorful gentleman. I will take credit for coming up with their name, The No Name Gang, because none of them could come up with one of their own. Out of the many great men that grace Doc’s on any given Tuesday, I sat down with two: Tony Pasquesi and Jim Geraghty. Here are their stories.
Jim Geraghty is the eldest of the group. Geraghty is 88 years young and you would guess he is in his 70’s. A retired lawyer, Geraghty is the group’s historian and a great storyteller. Aren’t they all??!!
“It started with Eddie Shea at the old Setback North. He owned gas stations and was from St. Giles Parish. He had a guy named Jack Donnely that worked for him. His nickname was ‘Rabbit’. Eddie could go to lunch because he had Rabbit to run the station for him.” Geraghty continued, “People started to join Eddie and the lunches would go for half the afternoon. People had the occupations that allowed them to take long lunches. I would stop by once in awhile but I was in an office downtown (Chicago). I didn’t spend much time there because I couldn’t.
“There was a good group. Then they moved to a place a little further west. I can’t recall the name of it. Roger Brown, another one of them dead now was with the Bombers. The Bombers were a local 16″ softball team that was sponsored by the tavern. They played at LaFollette Park on North Laramie. Now some of the Bombers started going to these long lunches. Then Shea died.”
Geraghty went on, “The Bombers kept the thing going. They moved the scene to Doc Ryan’s a long time ago. Marty Turek (deceased) had a golf tournament we all went to. He’s been dead now 7-8 years.”
Jim was a lawyer for over 52 years and had practices in Chicago and Glen Ellyn. He explained, “I went to Loyola University and majored in Economics and Commerce. I then went to Law School. I practiced downtown for 20 years and 32 years out west. I had two partners and then went on my own. I got tired of the city. I now live in Glen Ellyn in St. Petronelle Parish, where I raised all my children.” What a great story!
A fellow alumnus with Lattner from the University of Notre Dame was Tony Pasquesi. One year younger than Johnny, Pasquesi played his high school football at St. Phillips HS. “I grew up in Chicago near Crawford Avenue. Going to St. Phillips, I took public transportation. A streetcar. Chicago Avenue to Crawford, right to the school.” Pasquesi reminisced, “I spent four years doing that. As I looked back, I must have enjoyed it.
“I played against Fenwick all four years. We were in the same conference. Johnny was a big thing even though we beat them my senior year. Johnny was at Notre Dame then. We had fun. St. Phillips was a pretty good team back then and we were during my four years. Lattner was a big deal and went to ND. We both enjoyed it.”
Pasquesi continued,”At ND I was one year younger than Johnny. I played both ways my last three years. We were quite good. We won a National title under Frank Leahy. He retired and Terry Brennan became head coach my senior year. We only had one loss (9-1, the loss was to Purdue). I was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals in the 3rd round. There were only twelve teams in the NFL and being the 36th pick was a honor for me.
“I went on to sign with them and played three years. Would’ve been longer but I blew out my knee. That cut my career short. After the NFL, I went to work with Edward Hines Lumber Company. I was based in Chicago and stayed with them for almost 50 years. I was an outside salesman my whole career and turned down many management positions.”
Pasquesi was very successful at Hines, “I became the all time #1 volume salesman for this 120 year old company. I sold to contractors and builders. I worked downtown Chicago. I live in Addison now. My first wife, Juanita, died when she was only 37 years old. I met my current wife, Jeanine, at a wedding of a friend’s daughter. She asked me to dance and I said I don’t dance to ‘this crap’. She said if you can walk, you can dance. And we danced and from that dance we have been together for over 30 years. We’re happy.”
Johnny, who hasn’t been doing well recently, had told me this earlier, “Tony Drake collects the lunch money at Doc’s. He’s from Berwyn, sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad. We have a good group here. I love them all. We have a lot of fun.”
What a unique group of guys. They enjoy their time together and the stories that they tell. It’s very special and I am very lucky to have been a small part of The No Name Gang.
Check out the cool video of Johnny talking with The No Name Gang: