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East Dallas Rats

Posted by Fred Ragsdale 
East Dallas Rats
March 13, 2002 12:39AM
My dad grew up near Lamar and Grand in the 1910-1930 era. I recall him telling me about a "gang" of apparently violent folks called the East Dallas Rats (obviously from what was the East side of Dallas at that time). They supposedly were involved in gambling, extortion, murders, etc.
Does anyone have any details on the "Rats"? ....Fred
Re: East Dallas Rats
March 13, 2002 06:54AM
I've not heard of "East Dallas Rats" but have heard of the "Lakewood Rats" but only from a neighbor lady when I was a teenager. They were a gang but don't know how deeply they were in to the crime scene.
Re: East Dallas Rats
March 13, 2002 12:48PM
Somebody can pick up on this- but -
I think there was a book years ago written by
an Episcopal Priest named Vern Swartsfager (spelling ?) entitled "The Bell Ringers" which
had some material on the "Lakewood Rats".
Re: East Dallas Rats
March 13, 2002 02:47PM
That's correct. I had a copy of it for many years. Don't know what happened to it.
Re: East Dallas Rats
March 13, 2002 03:15PM
I can remember in the 1949 to 1951 timeframe some of the older kids that I knew at Sunset talking about the Lakewood Rats from the Lakewood area. From what I remember it was a gang from Woodrow Wilson High School. There was also supposidly (sp) a gang or two in Oak Cliff at the same time but I do not know many facts about them. Bill Strouse
Re: East Dallas Rats
March 14, 2002 12:51PM
SMU's Fondren Library has a thesis concerning male street gangs in Dallas from about 1900 thru 1940. I forgot the actual title, but I'm sure a librarian could find it for you.
Re: East Dallas Rats
March 14, 2002 01:14PM
There's a copy of this on Amazon.com
Jim Wheat
"Lakewood Rats Beat Victim With Chain" (1945)
December 08, 2004 08:56PM
Lakewood Rats
Beat Victim
With Chain
Robert Eugene Addison, Jr., 34, of 2615 White Rock
Road, operator of Eugene
Fred Ragsdale
Re: "Lakewood Rats Beat Victim With Chain" (1945)
December 08, 2004 10:32PM
Thanks, Jim. I started that thread about 2 1/2 years ago! I had the subject as 'East Dallas Rats' probably because I remembered my dad talking about the gang being in East Dallas. I guess I forgot mention of 'Lakewood' but the word 'Rats' stuck in my memory.
The more things change the more they stay the same.
Jim Wheat
"City to Let Pranksters Go to Jail" (1944)
December 09, 2004 12:00AM
City to Let
Go to Jail
Acting City Manager, V. R. Smitham, and police, were
upheld by Councilmen Wednesday in their handling of
troublesome boys, many of whom are said to live in
Northeast Dallas, where the tag of Lakewood Rats has
been applied to some of the worst offenders.
Parents of three boys arrested by police New Year
Re: East Dallas Rats
September 04, 2005 11:58PM
The Lakewood Rats is still a gang at Woodrow Wilson High school and still exists
Re: East Dallas Rats
September 05, 2005 12:02AM
Allow me to correct myself, I was aloof while writting my last response. The Lakewood Rats was a gang at Woodrow Wilson High School and still was into the late 60s.
Re: East Dallas Rats
September 05, 2005 01:47AM
Good Labor Day Morning !
In reading the thread on Lakewood/East Dallas Rats, a nespaper article from I believe 1937, mentioned Tokalon, Lakeshore and other prestigious addresses in the Lakewood area. Of course, it depends on proximity to White Rock the address is, but, the homes East of the Lakewood Theater, etc. are in the $350,000 to well on up towards $1 million on today's market so the Lakewood Rats of that day were from moderately well-heeled families it would seem. When I sold my family home on Cameron, one block West of the Hollywood Heights Addition in 1990, it was because of Hispanic gangs with guns. One could stand on the porch (if you dared) and listen to gunshots throughout the nights! One Halloween, I was awakened by gunshots and a loud sound as a rifle bullet imbedded itself into the door facing of my bedroom, which opened onto the front porch! Next day, I found my Hispanic neighbors had six gunshots pumped into their house because their kids refused to join a gang. I believe it was done by a group called "The East Dallas Locos" but I may be wrong as we have a gang in Tyler called "The East Tyler Locos" and I may be confusing the names. Later, those same neighbors had their house set afire, again for the same reason! I decided, since I was taking care of my almost 80 year old aunt and her mentally retarded nephew by marriage, I had to get them to a safer area. That "area" ended up being Colorado as I was tired of taxes, traffic, crime and such in the big city. I took them with me and, when she died, I brought John back to Texas with me. I came back to Tyler rather than face the battle of Big D living. Now, Tyler is over 100,000 and the county is over 1 million! So much for "small town living"! I am, however, 1 mile from 2 major hospitals and 1 and a half miles from Tyler Junior College where most of you know from other postings, I teach. This plus a 4 cylinder truck help with the gasoline cost beautifully but it is impacting many of my students who commute 80 miles daily from outlying towns. For a while, the police here seemed to have a handle on the gangs (once they finally stopped denying the existence of gangs in Tyler)but, lately, I am seeing the old grafitti and news stories about drive-by shootings. As I think Fred Ragsdale said, "The more things change, the more they remain the same"! The major difference seems to be ethnic and fiscal from 1937 until now!
Re: East Dallas Rats
September 05, 2005 08:20AM
This is interesting! I always thought that the Lakewood Rats was an urban legend, spread just to be a "warning" to teenage boys in other areas of town. What about the Jet or Jett Twins, the most notorious teens in Dallas? Were they "real" ? I heard that they were blond and good-looking and super dangerous !
Re: East Dallas Rats
September 05, 2005 09:01AM
Steve: It is disheartening to think that the neighborhoods we grew up in are now beds of crime and juvenile misbehavior. I lived on Hammond Ave a few blocks from Cameron back in the '30s through the early '60s. It was a great place then, wasn't it? Mt. Auburn, J.L. Long and Woodrow were find schools, too.
Re: East Dallas Rats
September 05, 2005 09:32AM
I had never heard of the East Dallas Rats, but the Lakewood Rats were a loose knit gang from the 40's up until the late 50's, early 60's. I think early Rats were just criminals, and thugs. Later Rats came from better families and just had a wild streak.
Re: East Dallas Rats
September 05, 2005 09:41AM
Absolutely Richard!
The house (918 Cameron) was moved in as a shotgun house as was the one at 914 by Grandpa Henson in 1915 when the area was annexed into the city and he had to get rid of his pig farm abd peach orchard which were there. 918 was added onto (the shotgun roof is still in the attic under the expanded roof)in the '20's or early '30's. The house at 914 is still a shotgun (or was last time I came to Dallas a couple of years ago) and, when I sold the two houses to a friend, it was the first time a mortgage was ever taken out on either one! I had put a lot of money into making them very nice and enjoyed living in 918 for 10 years until the gangs. It hurt me deeply to part with them bu, I had to consider the safety of my almost bedfast aunt, retarded cousin who walked all over the neighborhood, and myself and property!
Re: East Dallas Rats
September 05, 2005 09:59AM
Yes, I heard that the Jet/Jett twins were well-to-do, which I supposed was why they were "at large" rather than in the pokey.
Re: East Dallas Rats
September 05, 2005 10:16AM
I attended J.L. Long Jr. High from 1958-1960, when my family moved across town to Oak Cliff and I started 10th grade at Kimball H.S.
Throughout the time I lived in East Dallas, always in working class neighborhoods (I attended James Fannin Elementary on Ross Avenue in 7th grade), I kept hearing about the Lakewood Rats, who were reputed among school children to be older kids from well-to-do families (we thought they were rich if they lived anywhere to the NE and E of Long Jr. High, around and beyond Lakewood Shopping Center) who didn't mind getting in fights and handling some drugs. Never met a person who actually knew anyone involved, and I have some doubts as to their existence. Just sort of thought it was one of those things that kids talked about when they were trying to impress each other.
That said, Long Jr. High had its rough element, as 14 year old kids went back then. That is, some kids would fight, smoke cigarettes, and talk about their experiences with alcohol and sex, neither of which seemed to have much relationship to actual events so far as I could tell. I'm not naive, and I know that kids do engage in those activities, but back then it seemed like there was a lot more talk than action among the kids I knew.
After moving to Kimball, whenever I met up with my former classmates, who then attended Woodrow Wilson High School, they always seemed interested in the alleged wild girls and availability of alcohol in Oak Cliff -- things I had no knowledge of even to the degree that I had knowledge of those things at Long when I was there. I had been victim of some bullying at Long, but at Kimball it seemed to me, after East Dallas, that people were really nice and law abiding. But those guys all seemed to "know" that the things they asked about were true. Their only problem was that they couldn't meet anyone who could give them access. So, seems that there were things that everyone knew that might not have been true regarding both sides of town.
Dave McNeely
Re: Jett Twins
September 06, 2005 06:43AM
This from a past poster to this site a retired Dallas Policeman;
I remember Jackie Jett. He ended up in Rockwall County and owned a wrecker service. He had a large wrecking yard between Quinlan and Rockwall.
The IRS came after him, then the F.B.I. was looking for him for some questionable auto body parts sales and he fled to the Bahamas.
I don't know if they ever got him or not.
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