Back in the mid-90’s, when I moved from Brooklyn to Michigan there was a pretty good baseball player named Derek Jeter who moved from Michigan to the Bronx.
Not a bad trade, right?
Back in the mid-90’s, when I moved from Brooklyn to Michigan there was a pretty good baseball player named Derek Jeter who moved from Michigan to the Bronx.
Not a bad trade, right?
Megan Reynolds of Brooklyn Magazine took in a few spots in the neighborhood. She gives us a brief rundown.
Can’t seem to put my finger on it, but I’m not feeling her description of Farrell’s.
You could very easily end the night at the Double Windsor, but keep it together just long enough to visit Farrell’s, conveniently located across the street. This move is probably going to be where you lose your beer snob friend, and the people that you’re with that don’t like the actual smell of a bar, but those brave soldiers that have stuck it out with you to the bitter end will be rewarded with the coldest beer you’ll find, served in styrofoam cups. It’s a dive bar in the truest sense, but really, nothing ends the night better than an ice-cold Bud. Take it to go, if you dare, or just finish it standing in the cooling night as you look for a cab.
I’ve been out of Brooklyn for seventeen years (I still can’t believe it’s been that long).
When my wife and I left in the Spring of 1996, we were fed up with the rising cost of living in Brooklyn.
This article from the New York Times gives us a run down on other people who can’t afford it either.
“Brooklyn has become unaffordable,” said Victoria Hagman, the broker-owner of the Realty Collective, founded in 2005. “For normal, middle-class people with good credit, we used to be able to say, ‘We can find you something.’ ” Now, even in once working-class areas like Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, she said, “people are priced out of purchasing and landlords are asking egregious numbers.”
New York Daily News with the story of spanking your child when they act up. You know, a form of discipline.
The courts say it’s kosher.
We all got hit back in the day when we were out of line.
How about at Holy Name? Mamma Mia!
Listen to Kiko from Long Island City, the father of a 9-year-old boy who is quoted in the story:
“A father has to educate his son, has to spank a little to protect his kids from growing up wrong. Some kids, if you don’t smack them a little, they won’t learn any respect.”
I’m often asked, “Where ya from?”
When people hear me talk they assume I’m from the East Coast.
“You from Jersey?”
“No, I’m not from Jersey…”
Or I get,
“Are you from Boston?”
“No, I’m not from Boston…”
Quickly I respond,
“I’m from Brooklyn.”
I don’t say New York.
Nor do I say, “East Coast.”
It’s always “Brooklyn.”
Then I proceed to tell them what neighborhood after they ask, “What part?”
But I pause for a split second before I answer.
Forgive me but Windsor Terrace sounds…well wrong.
If I say Park Slope, I’m like, ‘shit, Park Slope, really’? I’m not from Park Slope. I remember a small gang used to call themselves the Park Slope Boys. “PSB” for short.
Or I’ll say, “Right by Prospect Park.”
But the Park covers a lot of ground.
Am I from the other side of the park?
Which part of the Park?
Grand Army Plaza?
“You know, by Farrell’s.”
Or I’ll say “Right by Bishop Ford.”
Oh shit, can’t say that anymore – Ford is closed.
Back in the day we used to say, “I’m from Holy Name.”
Hanging out at Manhattan Beach playing ball on a hot summer day.
“Where you from?”
“Yo, where you from?”
We were identified with a parish back in the day.
“I’m from Holy Name.”
I was always intrigued about where people were from.
“Where do you come from?”
“You play CYO?”
“Yeah, I play for OLPH.”
“Oh, you live down by East 5th?”
“Yeah, I play for IHM.”
See what I mean?
Basketball connected you and your neighborhood.
“I’m from St. Saviour’s,” the kid from first street would explain while he was up in the Holy Name boys schoolyard watching the summer league.
Here’s what I remember about each parish.
IHM: Jackie Ryan, East 5th street park, Dan Leary, and Chris Ryan.
St. Rose of Lima: Small gym. Coney Island Avenue. Tommy Sina and Tommy Baker.
St. Saviour’s: Chris Logan, Carl, a small gym, all girls high school. My boy Jimmy Parker and a pretty good player, David Quinn.
Visitation: Red Hook. All black players. Murray. F-train to Smith and 9th.
OLA: Bay Ridge. RR. Carl Flickinger. Long court. 4th avenue. Dennis Nolan and Tommy Lowney.
OLPH: Billy Thurlow. My career high in CYO, 32 points. Getting thrown out of a game. The high school my younger sister attended.
Regina Pacis: Cool Locker Room. Bowling alley. Fans stood upstairs. Scoring my first bucket in the 3rd grade. Steve Leondis. His team beat us 63-9.
St. Finbar: Bensonhurst. They beat us 29-3. Frankie Cullen scored all three points for our Bantam ‘B’ team.
St. Mary Mother of Jesus: Bensonhurst. John Pitlak. Gerard Genevieve and Manny Fernandez.
OLG: Playing for Ty Cobbs, we crushed them. Guadalupe, not Grace. A kid choking me during the game. Bensonhurst.
St. Mark’s: Gravesend. Louie Zito.
Holy Family: 4th avenue. They once asked me to play for their team. Boosted my self-esteem. Slice.
St. Thomas Aquinas: Chris Mullin. King Tournament.
St. Agatha: I always had a good game there.
St. Vincent Ferrer: Their court was hard as rock. When I dove for a loose ball, I complained that I should have had knee pads on. They used to have a good men’s league there. Gerard Trapp had a good team. First time I ever saw Ziggy. Kevin Greaney.
Holy Innocents: (Candy Man)
St. Athanasius: Some great battles not only in basketball but baseball too. I recall their gym being in the basement and across the street was Bishop Kearney, an all-girls high school.
St. Patrick’s: Last stop on the RR train. Allen Sheehan. Under the bridge.
Yo! Where you from?
An interesting take on Brooklyn over the years. Nice mention of the neighborhood.
In Windsor Terrace, Sunday-afternoon drinkers holding plastic foam cups of Budweiser spill onto the sidewalk outside Farrell’s, where Pete Hamill’s father spent many a twilight, while yammering 20-somethings pick from an impressive and rotating selection of craft beers at the Double Windsor across the avenue. I’ve happily stood at each bar when it was three-drinkers deep.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I’m a Bay Ridge girl, born and bred in Brooklyn. I was born at a hospital called Brooklyn Doctors which isn’t there anymore but I believe it was located at 45th Street and 15th Avenue. I grew up in Bay Ridge, on Gelston Avenue, and went to St. Patrick’s. For high school, I “escaped” Catholic school and attended Fort Hamilton, where I had great teachers who encouraged my love of writing. I was a shy kid who could write much better than I could talk and that’s how it all started. I’m also grateful to Mildred McVay, my third grade teacher at St. Pat’s, who instilled in me of a love of reading. (I thank her in the “Acknowledgements” section of THE EL.) I set a number of scenes in the book in places familiar to me growing up–a noteworthy accident takes place on the corner of Gelston, for example.
In Chapter 24, a scene in your book takes place in Farrell’s. What was the reason for using Farrell’s?
I’ve lived in Windsor Terrace since 1994, just a couple of blocks away from Farrell’s. Even though I’m not much of a beer drinker, I’ve always loved the sense of camaraderie of Farrell’s. People celebrate there, mourn there, get jobs there…I’ve never seen another place like it. So, when I needed a place for a clandestine family pow-wow, the back tables of Farrell’s seemed perfect. The characters lived in Borough Park and in a sense, Farrell’s was a world away for them. Few people knew them there, so they could speak frankly, plot and bond. I even put Houlie into the scene (but changed his first name) even though he probably wasn’t even born yet. I wanted to pay homage to Farrell’s, to its spirit, and it seemed to fit perfectly into the plot. I hope it worked!
If you can sit down tonight and have dinner with any three people, who would they be and where would it be? (Don’t worry, you’re not picking up the check…)
I guess I should say something noble like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln but I think I’ll be selfish and say my mom and dad Teresa and Francis Gigante, and my great-grandmother Marguerite Cirigliano who inspired the “Bridget” character in THE EL. Both of my parents have passed away (my dad almost 2 years ago and my mom 19 years ago) and I would love to have one last dinner where I could ask them things I didn’t and tell them things I should have. I’ve always wanted to meet my great-grandmother who died about 7 years before I was born. And dinner would be a home-cooked meal! To cook with Marguerite and my mom would be amazing, and to share all of the things women talk about when they cook together would be a gift.
Your three favorite books of all-time?
That’s a tough one. Let’s see. In no particular order: Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ 100 Years of Solitude and Pete Hamill’s Forever.
Are you working on a new book?
Yes, I am. The working title is “Society’s Child” and it’s set in 1979 Brooklyn, mostly the Sheepshead Bay area. It’s about a female drummer in the club-date business (aka “society music”)…you know, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc…who’s trying to “make it” and get a recording contract. It’s very different than “The El,” written in journalistic style from the drummer’s POV, and also from the POVs of various people close to her. I’m a little more than halfway through. I wish I had more time to work on it. For “The El,” I took off six months and managed to write it. I’ve been working on my second novel a lot longer but I love being able to squirrel away any time I can to work on it. I love writing about Brooklyn and the colorful characters in it.
Cathy Gigante-Brown lives in Windsor Terrace and is the author of “The EL.”
Click here for more information on her book.
What’s going on?
People are going bananas!
Who’s to blame? Because that’s what we do, right? We look to place blame.
Or, the entitled kids?
I don’t ever recall society being out of control like this.
Everywhere I turn something crazy is happening
We have a lot of smart people who read Container Diaries. Some leave comments, some e-mail and some, well they read an entry and sit it out. They clear things up for me. Give me hope.
As a teen I recall being afraid of the police, now people want to fight them, scream at them, spit at them and of course, bring a lawsuit down against them. Doesn’t anyone respect authority anymore?
I miss the days of waking up in the morning and going to the schoolyard to play ball day. You went home for lunch, grabbed a bite to eat and went right back to your friends. At supper time you went home, ate and returned to the yard.
I miss the days of hanging out on ninth avenue shooting the breeze with my friends. We could be on any street corner having a good time. Talking girls, sports or how we were getting liquored up on the weekend.
We rode the subway back and forth to stay warm when it was too cold outside.
I miss the days of walking into Rae and Otto’s and ordering an egg cream at the counter. Or picking up Street and Smith’s, Basketball Digest and always trying to sneak a peek at Playboy. Otto always caught me.
“Come on Sonny, don’t look at that…”
On a summer night climbing the fire escape out back to hang out up on the roof which gave us a gorgeous view of the Twin Towers. During the day I’d take a blanket, radio and baby oil and try to get a tan from the sun on the roof but with my Irish-white pasty skin, all I ever got was red as a lobster. Burnt to the crisp.
“Ma, where’s the Noxzema?”
I miss the days of, when I was of legal age, ordering a container from Farrell’s and drinking it outside while we leaned up against a parked car on 16th street or Prospect Park West. Before I was legal, I loved hanging out in Farrell’s and chatting with the bartenders about the Knicks.
Who can ever forget the legendary basketball games in the boys schoolyard during the Summer League? The players, fans, refs and of course listening to the stories afterwards.
Speaking of basketball, I miss playing for Holy Name in CYO. Traveling to different neighborhoods by bus, train or car to play other catholic schools. We never had a gym to call our own so we were always the travel team. There was a season or two where we rented P.S. 10’s gym down on 7th avenue and Prospect Avenue.
I miss the days of hanging out on the Parkside, inside the park or sitting on the totem poles. The bleachers over by the diamonds was a favorite spot.
Snowball fights, Trick or Treating, getting drunk on New Year’s Eve and of course the food at Thanksgiving.
I miss the friends I grew up with from the 70’s and 80’s. We communicated, we didn’t text message each other.
Sleigh-riding down cherry hill, suicide and three devils. Throwing snowballs at anything and anyone who moved.
Playing baseball in the lot without our parents shouting from the stands or choosing up the teams for us or driving us from our doorstep to 16th street.
Whiffle ball on the streets. Along with two hand touch, slap ball and kick the can.
“Buck-Buck how many fingers are up?”
Hopping on my bike and cruising down Ocean Parkway to Manhattan Beach to play basketball all day. Afterwards walking on the boardwalk to check out the sights.
I miss walking or taking the bus down to fifth avenue to grab some donuts, buying a board game at Sepe’s or hanging out in Timboo’s.
And why did I spend so much time taking two busses to Kings Plaza shopping mall when I could have hopped aboard the F-train and went over to the city to shop? When I discovered the city in my late teens and early twenties we spent so much time going to clubs, hanging out in the village and chillin’ by Columbus Circle. East side, West side, Mid-Town, uptown, we covered lots of ground.
Thanks to my boy Turk for introducing me to Delancey Street. Especially Katz’s.
Mostly, I miss the days of being a teenager. I miss the nights of hanging out with my steady girlfriend, Maureen. Holding hands, kissing and laughing together. Somewhere around nine or ten at night, I’d walk her home, kiss her good-night and then spend another hour on the phone with her.
Boy how I miss those days…
Denis Hamill on a white couple attacked in their car while waiting at a red light by Kings Plaza.
Click here for Hamill’s story via the New York Daily News. Here’s a short blurb.
Right over there by the traffic light near Kings Plaza at Avenue U and E. 58th St. , a guy named Ronald Russo, 30, sits in his car with his wife, Alanna, 30, about 7 p.m. Oct. 14, waiting for a red light to turn green to drive less than a mile home.
The light switches to green as a group of 10 black youths, ages 12 to 18, steps in front of the car in the crosswalk, according to prosecutors. The kids linger. Don’t move. Russo taps the horn. Instead of crossing, the youths start kicking the car. Banging on the windows, authorities say.
In 1969 my father stopped living with us. I was five.
Fatherless during a time a boy needed a strong male influence the most.
My mother began dating. There were many losers that showed up at our front door. Matter of fact, out of all the men she dated, I can’t recall one good one. There was a guy whose name was Joe, he was a complete asshole.
I spotted him from a mile away.
He was a phony. Full of shit. And to top it off, he loved the bottle.
I first met Joe in January of 1983 during a Super Bowl party in Timboo’s.
My father invited me down to watch the game between the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins. Dad’s nickname was “Gooch” I have no idea how he got it. One day I asked him and he ignored me.
Despite Gooch not living with us I’d visit him down at the bar from time to time. I think it started back when I was twelve. On Saturday mornings he would come by 228A Prospect Park West to pick me up.
I loved hanging out in Timboo’s. Only problem though, my mother was there that night too. I sat in a booth alone drinking glasses of soda and eating pretzels. My mother stood in the corner at one end of the bar with her friends and the Gooch stood at the opposite end with his friends keeping an eye on the game.
At half-time the Dolphins led 17-10. Someone dropped a few quarters in the Jukebox and the jams started playing. With music blasting throughout the bar, Timboo’s turned into American Bandstand. The patrons began dancing, including mom. Gooch stayed on his end shaking his head in disgust.
“WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?” I heard Gooch ask out loud.
Mom was dancing to ABBA’s, “Dancing Queen” with some tall guy that had long, dark hair and glasses. He was kind of goofy.
After the song ended she brought him over to where I was sitting. The second half was about to start so I had no interest in talking to them.
“Steven I want you to meet Joe,” she said.
“I’m watching the game,” I replied as I had my eyes glued to the TV.
Mom and her friend stood there.
“Well, hello to you,” the guy said sarcastically to me as they both walked away back to their spot at the bar.
“Yeah, stay the fuck over there,” I said.
I wasn’t interested in meeting him. I hated every guy my mother dated. This one was no different.
After the game was over, which the Redskins won 27-17 the Gooch called a car service and sent me home. As I was walking towards the front door of the bar, I noticed mom playing pinball with the long-haired creep standing behind her watching her closely. Too close if you ask me.
The car service was out in front on fifth avenue waiting for me.
“Forget the car, the guy is staying,” I shouted to the driver as he pulled away. I kept the five bucks Gooch gave me and walked home. When I got home I grabbed my basketball and went to the schoolyard.
It was close to midnight. I didn’t want to be home when they got there. I figured they would just fall asleep soon as they got there.
The long-haired creep wound up moving in with us. He paid our rent and bought our groceries; he had a pretty good job so my mother really liked him.
One night he came home piss drunk. This turned into a normal occurrence. It seemed like we had an argument every night. I was sitting on the couch watching the Knicks game.
“You stole money from me,” he said as he stepped in front of the television blocking my view.
“No I didn’t, get the fuck out-of-the-way, asshole!”
Mom was in the kitchen on the phone.
“Yes you did, you little fuck!”
I really wasn’t in the mood to argue with him so I got up off the couch and began to walk away.
“You’re a thief,” he shouted to me as he grabbed my arm.
“Get your fucking hands off me, asshole!” I screamed at him. His breathe stunk and he had a hard time standing. All I had to do was blow on him and I’m sure he’d fall down.
“What’s going on?” mom asked, as she hung up the phone.
“Your son stole money from me.”
“I thought you were going to let me handle it?” I heard her ask him as I walked into my bedroom.
“Fuck it, I’m gonna handle it,” he said.
The drunken bum began to walk towards my room.
“JOE, STOP IT!” mom screamed at him as he ignored her.
The bum had accused me of stealing money from him (he was right, but I denied it)
As he stood in front of my room, the yelling continued. I had a hard time understanding him, his speech was slurred due to the alcohol. I got up from my bed, pushed him out-of-the-way and ran out of the apartment.
“C’MON MOTHERFUCKER, STEP OUTSIDE!” I screamed from the hallway.
Mom and Joe were arguing in the apartment.
“COME ON YOU DRUNKEN BUM, LET’S SEE HOW TOUGH YOU ARE!” I added as I walked down the stairs.
I never expected him to follow me downstairs but as I got down the two flights of stairs I heard him yelling at my mother on his way down the stairs.
“I’m gonna teach this kid a lesson,” he said as my mother screamed at him not to hurt me.
I was going to wait for him to come out the front door and clobber him with my Louisville slugger. I could hear my mother out the window.
“STEVEN, GET YOUR ASS BACK UP HERE!” she screamed.
“NO, HE’S AN ASSHOLE, I DIDN’T STEAL HIS MONEY!” as I looked up at her, lumber in hand, ready to tee off.
“What are you gonna do with that bat?” she asked.
“I’m gonna smash his fuckin’ head in.”
I noticed a few of my friends walking across the ninth avenue towards me.
“Yo Fin, what’s goin on?” John asked me.
“This mother fucker coming down the stairs is gonna get it!” I said.
“Don’t worry, we’ll take care of him,” John assured me.
Boy did they take care of him. They went after mom’s boyfriend the minute he stepped out on the sidewalk.
Joe never messed with me again.
And no, the official scorer did not charge me with an at-bat.