UNDESERVED PAIN

Boy dribbling outside schoolyard “Manhood is mimesis. To be a man, a boy must see a man…”

-JR Moehringer

“Where’s daddy?”

“He’s not here.”

“Yeah, I know that but where is he?”

“He’s gone.”

“Gone where?”

“Gone, I don’t know where!”

“When is he coming back?”

“He’s not coming back.”

“Why not?”

“He found a new family.”

“A new family?”

“Yeah, a new family.”

“Why does he need a new family? He’s got us.”

“I don’t know. Now go outside and play…”

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN…

When I stepped out of my apartment on Windsor and ninth all one had to do was turn right and walk four short blocks to Bishop Ford High School.

Despite not being a student at Ford I spent a lot of time at 500 Nineteenth Street.

On Monday, Ford announced they are shutting it down for good in June.

I received the news via text message on Monday afternoon.

“FORD IS CLOSING IN JUNE!”

I had to look twice at my i-phone.

Bishop Ford is closing? 

Back in 1977 when I was in the seventh grade at Holy Name it was time to take the co-op.  They had you select four high schools that you had an interest in attending. Did I ever tell you I was petrified when it was time to take a test? My palms were moist, I had butterflies in my stomach and I would gag. In the sixth grade I once faked sick at home just to avoid a test.

1-Power Memorial

2-LaSalle

3-Christ the King

4-Bishop Ford

The year before, after watching the Panthers play in the King tournament at St. Thomas my mind was made up where I wanted to attend high school (my tenure at Kareem’s alma mater lasted two days).

I’m not sure why I wrote LaSalle down and I think I filled in Christ the King because I had watched their basketball team play in the summer league at Holy Name. Little did I realize how far away the school was and what kind of commute awaited me. F-train to Delancey and switch for the M?

Sitting there I thought to myself, “I’ll complete the list with Ford.”

How stupid was I?

At that time my good friend Glen Thomas was a freshman at Ford. Two classmates at Holy Name, John Godfrey and Mary Kawas put down Ford and would soon be enrolled. It would have been cool meeting up with Mary and Johnny G on the corner of Windsor and ninth and walking to school with them every morning.

How stupid was I?

Why not attend high school with my friends?

As a young boy I would go up to Ford to watch the Falcons basketball team play as much as possible.  Neighborhood guys like Danny Piselli, Jimmy Rauthier, Charlie Alberti, Willie Lanzisera, Edgar Dela-Rosa, Joe Santos, Artie Lee, the Ferro’s, Brian Lang and Andy Purdy all wore the red and black.

There was nothing like a Friday night game against Xaverian; the gym would be packed.  I would sit way up at the top of the bleachers against the wall on the Ford side of course and watch all the action. Besides the great games between two very good teams was the passion and spirit felt throughout the gym.  The student sections from both schools were always hyped up.

“SINK THE SHIP, SINK THE SHIP, SINK THE SHIP!”

“EAT THE BIRD, EAT THE BIRD, EAT THE BIRD!”

I know, I know, different chants back in the 70′s compared to what we hear today.

(Container Diaries shout out to Brian Keating of sixteenth street who ran the point for the Clippers.)

Back in the early 70′s the Los Angeles Lakers held a practice at Ford between championship games with the Knicks and Jo-Jo White filmed a commercial for Pro-Keds.

It’s hard not to think of basketball when I hear about Bishop Ford. If I had to do it all over again, I would have put Ford at the top of my list. I probably would have played for their basketball team and came out all right.

It’s a sad feeling knowing that after June, Bishop Ford will be gone forever.

Like Alice Cooper said in his song, “School’s out forever, school’s out for summer, school’s out completely. No more pencils, no more books…

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

 

W.T.F. DID SHE SAY?

I was born on tenth street between eight and ninth avenues, down the block from Prospect Park.

Our address was 665 – we lived in a really cool brownstone.  I recall mom taking us up the street to the 11th street playground almost every day.  When she wasn’t paying attention I’d run around to the bandshell, jump on stage and make-believe I was Mick Jagger. If you go to a playground today parents are all over their kids; Never taking their eyes off them. Can you blame them?

Things must have turned for the worse in 1969, because that’s when my father left our family.  It sucked because we had to move. I was going to leave all my friends behind. Down the block towards 8th avenue there was a family, The Basile’s; they were and still are to this day “good people.”

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Mom had a great relationship with a very nice couple from across the street. Antoinette and Dick were very nice to us, especially at Christmas time.  Instead of a gift they would give us a Christmas card with ten bucks inside.  When it got close to Christmas I always asked mom when they were coming over.  Antoinette and Dick had a huge pool table on the middle floor of their brownstone. You guessed it, we played a lot of pool.  I think that’s why I became such a good pool player at the age of ten. I can’t leave out all the Saturday’s I spent down at Timboo’s playing on their pool table in the back of the bar.

One day we were out on our stoop. Some of us were running around out on the street, Mom was sitting on the stoop. It was a pretty busy time of day, people were walking up and down the block.  Antoinette was walking out of her house.

“ANTONIETTE, HOW’S YOUR DICK?” mom screamed.

Everyone stopped dead in their tracks.

People were staring at my mother.

Antoinette looked embarrassed as I was too.

It was an awkward moment for sure.

Respectfully,

Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

THE WIND BEGAN TO HOWL

“Frustration leads to anger.  Anger to violence. Don’t get frustrated.”

-Dave Kindred

Saturday morning in February.

It’s so cold in our apartment.

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I have two blankets covering me, a sweatshirt and a pair of white long johns. I’m wearing a pair of white tube socks.

Glancing over at my digital clock on the table it says 4:35.

Thank God I can still sleep some more. But how can I sleep? Mom is having another fight with her boyfriend.

They are out in the living room, screaming at each other.

My sister who is nine, slept over my cousin’s house last night so she’s safe.

My older brother who’s 17 is not home. I know this because we have bunk beds and he sleeps on the top.

I’m not only cold, I’m scared.

Mom’s boyfriend is mean. He’s vicious and strong too. His temper is out of control.

What makes it worse is when he’s drunk, like he is now, he’s twice as bad.

This is becoming the norm on Saturday mornings.

It’s hard to understand what they are yelling about. Their speech is slurred.

The shouting match goes on for what seems like an hour. But finally they are quiet. Too quiet if you ask me. I decide to get up from the bed, I’m not scared of him. I’ll pick up my Louisville slugger which sits close by and smack him across the fuckin’ head.

I look out of my room towards the living room. I see mom on the couch and her boyfriend on the living room floor.

Looks like they both passed out.

How can they go from screaming at each other to sleeping?

It’s still dark outside. In the past I have run out of the apartment to the schoolyard to get away from all the bullshit.

But I think I’m going to stick this one out.

I make my way closer to where they are sleeping.

Looking at my mom she has her mouth open a little bit and she still has her clothes on. The boyfriend is on his stomach, sprawled out on the carpet. I can smell booze and cigarettes. I’m sure they were in Timboo’s all night.

I don’t think he has hit her though, usually when he does she screams really loud.

One time he hit her so hard he gave her a black-eye. Our landlord downstairs called the police and Doyle came by and placed the cuffs on him and took him away. I stuck my head out the window and saw him ushered into the back seat of the patrol car. Before he got in he looked up at me and smiled.

I gave him the finger.

Figuring that would be the last we saw of him, to my surprise he was back two days later. Mom never pressed charges.

Standing over them in the living room I feel like Mills Lane, the boxing ref standing over two boxers who knocked each other out.

But there’s no one around pleading for them to get up. I’m not counting to ten either. I don’t want them to get up. I hope he never gets up. As for mom, she can sleep as long as she wants.

SEASONS IN THE SUN

The holidays are in the rear view mirror, it was a busy time for all. The weather is still crappy so I thought I would post something different.

Born in Brooklyn

Going through the comments section I came across some cool people who gave their views/reflections of their time in the neighborhood.

From Brian Lang:

I remember when the run (Basketball Games) switched from Holy Name to P.S.154. I would walk down Prospect ave. Stop in the D&R Deli (Dirt and Roaches). It was on the corner of 10th ave. across from Mc Bears. Get a sundew and a pickle. Then in the summer when it was 100 degrees we used to go to key food and get some a/c to cool off and drink a large sundew iced tea in the store without paying. Much props to Father Devlin for bringing the Holy Name summer League back.

From Kevin Molloy:

Thinking of Holy Name cross country back then do you remember how dominant Mickey Reilly was for Holy Name? I don’t think he ever lost a race for the school. Also Mary K was dominant on the girls side.

From Betty Trapp:

JUST FOR THE RECORD, I WAS ONE OF MARY’S COACHES DURING HER YOUNGER YEARS AND WHAT A PLEASURE AND PRIVILEGE IT WAS. SHE IS A REAL SPECIAL LADY.

From Mike Purdy:

I also remember Lala…Junkie Joe with the baby carriage. Also on 10th Ave there was that old man, he’d checked your hands to see if they were clean. If they were clean he would give you tickets to Palisades Amusement Park. Unfortunately the tickets were no good because Palisades Amusement Park was closed down. Years later he was found frozen to death outside Connie’s Corner (Windsor and 10th. Ave). Those were the days… 

From Michael Lang:

Me & my 17th Street crew use to climb over the high fence at Bishop Ford, go down the metal steps to play 2 on 2 sponge ball in the schoolyard. We use to chip in and buy from either Rays n Ottos or Bargain Land the white baseball spongeballs, somtimes leaving these stores with 12 balls…going home with none ! I use to pitch a double header almost every other day , probably 200 pitches a game. We all sucked, all the games were 1-0 or 2-0 generated by walks …we all struck out 10x each. No pitch count for this magic arm. What a nut i was. Then we use to go down to get this one “AUNT FANNIES FARM” and buy the 1/2 gallon sun dew drinks in all different flavors for like 75 cents and pass it around like a doobie…….oh those were the days !!!!

From Tommy Fields:

Use to play a lot of street hockey, with the metal rollerskates on 11th ave between 16th and the parkside. There use to be a nice gap in the park fence right by 11th, I think the Saxon’s (remember them?) made it with a car jack so they could slip through and get to Suicide easier. Made getting over there easier for sleighriding. Also, it’s on the way to lookout, where Brother John used to run track practice on the “track” which once around was supposed to be a 220. A few of us would go half way and jump in the bushes to get out of running for a while, then jump back in. Remember seeing some funny stuff on that hill in all weather.
Someone mentioned the guy they found outside Connie’s frozen, I remember seeing him shortly after they found him, I think Bobby Cirillo found him all blue.
Anyone remember playing baseball cards? I still remember beating Stephen Keating in a 100er last. I think he’s still pissed. He did have a hell of an arm and if he hit you with a snowball, you knew it. For that matter, a brand new spaldeen hurt as much if it hit you playing swift at 154.

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Keep posting those comments, sending those emails (hoops135@hotmail.com), keep spreading the word, keep reading, or if you have pictures that you’d like to see posted on the blog, please send them. It’s you, the reader, that makes Container Diaries special…

COME TUMBLING DOWN

What’s going on?

People are going bananas!

Who’s to blame?  Because that’s what we do, right? We look to place blame.

The Police?

Politicians?

School Teachers?

The Coach?

Parents?

Or, the entitled kids?

I don’t ever recall society being out of control like this.

Everywhere I turn something crazy is happening

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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…

Respectfully,

Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

BIG APPLE ATHLETE

As a kid growing up in the neighborhood we played sports in the Lot, the schoolyards and the street.  We played whiffle ball, baseball, softball, basketball, football, hockey and stickball. We loved the pro and college athletes that we would watch on TV.

Whether you were working on a batting stance or shooting a jump shot, the pro athletes were always on our mind.

I recently saw a list of favorite athletes from different cities around the country. NYC obviously was a huge spot for great teams and athletes over the years. Many to choose from.

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This was hard but looking back, here’s my top five favorite athletes of all-time who played in New York City:

1-Micheal Ray Richardson

2-Derek Jeter

3-Lawrence Taylor

4-Chris Mullin

5-(Three-Way Tie) Mark Messier, Walt Frazier and Giorgio Chinaglia

Respectfully,

Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com