Sunday, March 1, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Jocks, Pranksters, the Pizzarino Boys still laughing 50 years later

Some of the members of the "Pizzarino Boys", a group of friends that attended Armijo High School in the 1950s, recently gathered to remember old times. Pictured are, from left to right, Emil Bautista, Bud Tonnesen, Mike Green, Keith Hayes, Gary Drummond, Bob Lozano, Gene Thacker, Tom Hannigan and Bill Cupp. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

Some of the members of the "Pizzarino Boys", a group of friends that attended Armijo High School in the 1950s, recently gathered to remember old times. Pictured are, from left to right, Emil Bautista, Bud Tonnesen, Mike Green, Keith Hayes, Gary Drummond, Bob Lozano, Gene Thacker, Tom Hannigan and Bill Cupp. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

By
From page D1 | April 22, 2012 |

FAIRFIELD — The raucous laughter spilling out of the Becker-Balmer room of the Fairfield Civic Center Library last week was business as usual for the nine septuagenarians.

The men — Emil Bautista, Bill Cupp, Gary Drummond, Mike Green, Keith Hayes, Bob Lozano, Gene Thacker and Bud Tonnesen — are part of the Pizzarino Boys, a group of fun-loving student-athletes at Armijo High School in the 1950s. Tom Hannigan, a longtime friend of the group who attended Armijo rival St. Vincent’s in Vallejo, was also in attendance.

The origins of the Pizzarino Boys are a bit unclear after a half-century. Some believe the name was coined at Joe’s Buffet, owned by Bob Lozano’s father, and others at a spaghetti dinner at the home of Pete Andronis, whose parents owned the Airline Café.

The meaning? No one knows.

Defining what exactly the Pizzarino Boys were is a bit tricky, too. They were not exactly a club and certainly not a gang, with the connotations that word has today.

“At Armijo in the mid-to-late 1950s, pretty much the center of every sports team, most of student government and almost every rowdy story you may have heard involved this group of guys and other folks like ‘Hooligan’ here,” Gene Thacker said, pointing to Tom Hannigan. “There was another local group called the Hay Buckers, who were Future Farmers of America guys and one of them, Ray Simonds, had ‘dual citizenship.’ ”

“It was all about camaraderie and friendship,” Bob Lozano said. “There were no requirements, just a loose group of friends.”

A caricatured rendering of the Pizzarino Boys in front of Armijo (now the Solano County Courthouse on Union Avenue) was created by member/artist Mike Green in 1957. Because of obligations or geographic distance, many of the 19 men depicted could not make the library interview, some such as Bill Cupp joined the group after the picture was made. Three members — Pete Andronis, Dick Overturf and Jim Alexander — have died.

With many of the members outstanding athletes, Armijo crushed opponents in numerous sports including track and basketball. Their 1955 football championship remains the last time Armijo captured that honor. A frequent victim was Tom Hannigan’s school, St. Vincent’s.

“They kicked my butt and that’s why I’m sitting here silent. I have nothing to tell,” Hannigan said.

Armijo football’s archenemy back then was Benicia. Emil “Tools” Bautista got his nickname from an incident involving the rivalry.

“We had a night game at Benicia and we had duffel bags with our pads and coach walked by and accidentally brushed against Emil’s bag and it made a metallic, clanking sound,” Gary Drummond said. “He asked what was in there and Emil straightened up and said ‘tools.’ It was a tire chain and machete.”

Which leads to the infamous pranks of the Pizzarino Boys.

“Bob Lozano was a man of few words, but one day I came out of school after a long meaningful conversation with him which was just him delaying me while the rest of my good friends took down the fence around the tennis courts, moved my car onto the courts and then put the fence back up,” Mike Green said.

The Pizzarino Boys all agreed there was no real leader of the group, but that the prank ringleader was definitely Drummond. Some of the pranks included:

  • Insisting that they be allowed to take Home Economics, forcing the Armijo administration to create a boys Home Ec class.
  • Replacing member Vern Browning’s elaborate mom-made dessert that he would show off at lunch with a cow patty that looked remarkably like a big cinnamon roll.
  • Sneaking into the girls locker room and waiting in line with mops on their heads to be initiated into the Girls Athletic Society.

Some pranks were simple while others were more elaborate.

“I once had trespassed and shot a deer out of season. I told Drummond and a few other guys about it and a couple of weeks later I received a letter from the Department of Fish and Game saying a farmer had complained and I had to go to a hearing,” Green said. “I told my parents and got into all kinds of trouble. I told the guys about it and they burst out laughing. Turns out Drummond had stole some stationery with Fish and Game’s letterhead and sent me the letter.”

Because Green had spilled the beans to his parents, phase II of the prank was not realized.

“At the old courthouse, the public bathrooms had a waiting room with a sofa and a table and we made a ‘Department of Fish and Game’ sign and were going to have Mike come there for his hearing, but it didn’t get that far.”

Recalling their exploits, the Pizzarino Boys laughed hard. But, back then, it was not a laughing matter to the school administration. After a number of warnings and suspensions, Drummond was expelled.

“I left a note on the table at home saying I had been expelled and not just suspended and that I was going to a basketball tournament,” Drummond said. “I came home late and went to bed and the next thing I remember is my mom shaking me and asking me what branch of the service I wanted to join. That afternoon I was in the United States Marine Corps.”

Besides sports and  pranks, in 1957 the group started a tradition at Armijo that continues to this day — homecoming.

“Up until that time, we had no homecoming and the Pizzarino Boys organized it, sold tickets and it came off beautifully,” Lozano said. “But we weren’t sanctioned by the school so they took it away from us.”

After graduation — or expulsion — the young men found their separate ways in the world but always kept in touch. These days their get-togethers are called the Pizzarino Boys Film Festival because they have dinner and then view bad movies. Past features have included “The Terror of Tiny Town” with midget cowboys and “Attack of the Killer Shrews” with dogs dressed as the mutated mole-like mammals.

In 2008, the group collaborated through email on the Pizzarino Chronicles, which compiled their exploits. While the statute of limitations on their pranks are long past, the several-inches-thick document remains classified.

Most of the group are retired now. Lozano worked for PG&E. Bautista would need no machete today against Benicia as he is 9th Dan black belt Kajuekenbo Grandmaster. Cupp went into the Army and later civil service. Tonnesen worked at the State Board of Equalization and owns his own business. Hayes worked at Fairfield Grocery and later as a teacher. Thacker was a mailman, then an Exxon senior supervisor. Green taught art, was the design director for Nut Tree and later CEO of the Dixon May Fair. Hannigan joined the Marines, was mayor of Fairfield from 1972-1974 and was a California Assemblyman from 1978 to 1996.

And in the Last Laugh Dept., Drummond, the expelled rule breaker, has been a lawyer since 1971.

Reach Tony Wade at [email protected].

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Peace and patience: Quilters gear up for show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1Comments are off for this post

 
School bands compete in Pageantry on Parade

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Calling someone a ‘smoker’ is hilarious

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Conservancy plans next Quail Ridge Reserve walk

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Police seek suspect in armed robbery

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3, 3 Comments

4-H Presentation Day brings fun, education to Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
The agony of the codling moth, ecstasy of worm-free apples

By Christine Macgenn | From Page: C4

What you eat can affect your medications

By Marilyn Ranson | From Page: C4

 
Rollover in Suisun City

By Aaron Rosenblatt | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
State schedules ramp closure at freeway project site

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
Appointments on tap for Board of Supervisors meet

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Tri-City NAACP honors community members at gala event

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
CAASC 18th Annual Chinese New Year and Scholarship Celebration

By Steve Reczkowski | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
NY, SF town house prices through the roof

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

 
Fairfield police log: Feb. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Feb. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Airmen with local ties finish basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
Force draws many from South, middle class

By Tom Philpott | From Page: B10

.

US / World

Christie to Calif. Republicans: No rush to pick 2016 nominee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US missionary abducted in Nigeria is courageous, friends say

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Dress that ‘greatly resembles’ stolen Nyong’o gown found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Weekend storm drops snow, rain, hail in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Churches, synagogues, mosques bear tough New England winter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Hyundai recalls 263,000 cars due to power-steering problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Blind dog rescued after being lost for 2 weeks in the cold

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Details about proposed national monuments in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
National monument supporters in California get antsy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Greece will not seek another bailout, prime minister says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Attacks kill 37 people in and north of Iraq’s capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

US drone strike in Yemen kills 3 suspected al-Qaida fighters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Nemtsov a possible ‘sacrificial victim,’ investigators say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: March 1, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for March 1, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
New school funding plan remains on bumpy path

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Even Gruber deserves a break sometimes

By Megan Mcardle | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

 
I might just vote for a Democrat next time around

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 8 Comments

Aging Fairfield housing agency faltering

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 1, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

With numbers falling, Houston-area nuns’ future uncertain

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Horoscopes: March 1, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

Kidney Walk participation helped give me a positive outlook on life

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

Take a look – Dr. Seuss has a new book

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Publisher launches line of Warhol e-books

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Q&A: Opera star Deborah Voigt writes of turbulent life

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2Comments are off for this post

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Review: ‘The Girl on the Train’ has realistic plot

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2Comments are off for this post

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Vikings girls looking for first section title

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Local Report: Vaca’s Aquino wins Masters wrestling title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Phegley hopes his style will catch on in Oakland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
A year after meeting Tiger, Indian golfer on the rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Jeff Gordon takes a final spin at track that meant so much

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Defending champ Federer beats Djokovic to retain Dubai title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Safarova beats Azarenka to win the Qatar Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Environmental activists disrupt meeting by Olympic officials

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hamilton hones Mercedes with fastest time at F1 testing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Thunder’s Russell Westbrook has surgery on cheekbone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Anthony Mason, rugged forward of 1990s Knicks, dies at 48

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Warriors center Festus Ezeli suspended for a game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Reichelt leads Austrian World Cup downhill sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Players’ union head: future spring games in Cuba possible

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Harrington takes 36-hole lead, then more rain in Florida

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Harvick wins Xfinity race at Atlanta for 3rd year in a row

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Stolen No. 44 NASCAR race car found in suburban Atlanta

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

For many in US, cash saved at gas pump is staying in pockets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Fruits and vegetables get a star-studded marketing push

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Nevada casinos keep $953.7 million in winnings in January

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Historic snows causing headaches for real estate industry

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Recalls this week: hand trucks, ceiling fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Review: Freedom! These smartwatches leave the phone behind

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Greek prime minister rules out third bailout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Boy, 13, builds Braille printer with Legos, starts company

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9Comments are off for this post

AP Exclusive: Fuel-hauling trains could derail at 10 a year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Thomas Browning

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Leah E. Hoffman

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Jacqueline Mendes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Lester Singer

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

John W. Van Wart

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Virgil Albert Hanson

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics