The Garden City Boys

The murder conviction of Nicholas Gianquitti, a Cranston man who shot and killed his next-door neighbor Jim Pagano in a dispute over a child's stray tennis ball, was upheld by the state Supreme Court today. The case has a special resonance for this reporter; I covered it as a reporter at the Providence Journal.

A few days after the shooting, I spent a long night in Fitzpatrick's Pub in Cranston, chatting with some of the Garden City Boys - an extraordinarily large and tight-knit group of friends that grew up together in the Garden City neighborhood and came home to bury their friend, Jim.

The next morning, I wrote a piece for the Sunday paper that began like this:

Jim Pagano had a pea-green Ford Maverick in high school.

Nothing special. Just enough to get him around town.

Unless John Cooney was borrowing it. Or Stanley Glick. Or Mike Coleman. Or Paul Kopech. Or Marc Adler.

Or any of a circle of three dozen friends who knew they could skip class at Cranston High School West, stick a random Ford key –– or screwdriver –– into the ignition and take off for lunch.

Truth was, there were more people driving the Maverick than Pagano knew.

“But even when he found out there were dozens of us, he didn’t care,” said Cooney, now 44.

That’s the way it was for the Garden City Boys, a crew of Irish, Italians and Poles who took their name from the neighborhood of trim ranches and tidy lawns at the center of their childhood.

A crew of Protestants, Catholics and Jews who came back to Cranston last week to bury Pagano, a city firefighter allegedly shot and killed by next-door neighbor Nicholas Gianquitti last Sunday in a spat over a child’s stray tennis ball.

The “GC Boys” are angry. They’re devastated.

And like so many in this city of close neighborhoods and extended families, they are grieving deeply. But they find comfort in shared memories of their childhood friend and their unbroken ties to each other – ties even the Boys can’t fully explain.

Click here for the full story. The GC Boys, I expect, will sleep a little easier tonight.



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