CONTAINER DIARIES

September 7, 2012

THE OLD FASHIONED WAY

We all know how big the World Wide Web has become.

Forms of communication include the Container Diaries blog, Facebook, Twitter, Message boards and e-mail.

But nothing beats a good old telephone call to an old friend.

A few days ago, basketball referee Nick Gaetani passed away.  I thought Nick was a good guy and a solid official.  He worked a ton of high school games and also spent time at the collegiate level. When I was attending John Jay and played a few games for their varsity team under Pete Coakley we played New Utrecht one Friday afternoon. While going up against them at their gym in Bensonhurst I became friends with one of their players.

It turned out to be Nick’s son Frankie.

After that game we played against each other all over Brooklyn in the summer time. East Fifth Street, Manhattan Beach and the Brighton Y.

When I received the news about Nick’s death, I decided to reach out to Frankie and send him my condolences.

Now mind you, we haven’t spoken in over thirty years.

Someone passed me Frankie’s number and we had a great conversation. We talked about the good old days of ballin’ in Brooklyn. It was amazing that he remembered me!

I know technology is great and all and has made communicating easy but you know what? Nothing beats a conversation over the phone. I still know my old phone number from when I lived on ninth avenue ST8-7307.

Sure e-mail and texting is easy and the thing to do but I miss dialing up old friends and chatting.

Think I’m going to start making more calls instead of e-mailing.

-Steve

HOOPS135@HOTMAIL.COM

March 26, 2012

SOMEWHERE OUT THERE

Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 9:50 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I never go too long to find inspiration for a blog entry.

A topic can come from an e-mail, a phone call, a newspaper article or a memory that just pops inside my dome.

Maybe I’m listening to my i-pod and a song from back in the day comes on or I can be looking through some old Kodak pictures in a photo album.

On the strength, Social media has taken over. I love Facebook and Twitter; I’m all over it. So getting in touch with friends from back in the day has become rather simple.

Think about this, have you every wondered about people you haven’t seen in 20, 25 or even 30 years?

At 9 a.m. this past Sunday on Facebook, while reading a friend’s post, I saw Suzann Bassil respond to the post. (If you’re not familiar with how Facebook operates, you need to check it out)

Suzann and I lived on the same block as kids. I lived at 665 10th street between 8th avenue and the Park.

I believe Suzann had two brothers, George and Joey. The Bassil’s lived closer to 8th avenue. I recall hanging out in front of their house often. That’s all I remember though, I moved from 10th street when I was 5.

In my 20’s, I would see her on 7th avenue every now and then but I never said anything to her. During my short tenure at John Jay as a teenager, I might have seen her in the hallway a few times.

Her one brother George is a cool dude, we’d hang out by Pino’s Pizza in the summer time and rap about the good old days.

I’m not sure why I didn’t nurture my friendship with Suzann. She had a bubbly personality, she was very outgoing and most of all, she was beautiful.

As teenagers you hung out with your friends from your neighborhood. Down on 7th avenue there was a huge group of guys and girls that probably attended St. Saviour’s.  The guys were good people, I knew a few of them but I was never really that close with them. The girls were also very cool. I recall seeing a few of them hanging outside John Jay or by the public school on 1st street.  It wasn’t until my 20’s did I become friends with some of them through what else? Sports.

To this day, when I look back at my days as a teen, I wish I had been friends with the “7th avenue” crew. But how could I? We’d compete with them in baseball, basketball and of course that ‘macho-bullshit’ of being a tough guy. Who was cooler? Who was tougher? You know, typical teenage stuff. (See the movie, ‘The Outsiders’.)

Chalk it up to my ignorance…A trait I excelled at as a teen.

Thanks to Facebook though, it’s not too late because somewhere out there those same kids that hung out on 7th avenue are lurking. And I’m glad I have re-connected with Suzann. Hey, take it easy, it’s just conversation on Facebook, that’s all.

Steve

Hoops135@hotmail.com

July 28, 2011

A HERO’S TRIBUTE

Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 2:33 pm
Tags: , , ,

Facebook is amazing.

I’m sure no one could have told me back in the day while I was hanging out in the schoolyard that in the year 2011, I’d be living in Michigan and chatting with people over the internet.  I would’ve looked at you and said, “GET OUTTA HERE!”

Besides Facebook, we also have the ever popular electronic mail, Twitter, and Skype for forms of communication. (Last night in an e-mail, a friend informed me that a certain someone from the neighborhood still doesn’t have a computer. I won’t mention no names)

Social networking has put me in contact with so many wonderful people from the past. People I grew up with and of course the older guys from the neighborhood that I watched from afar.

A few days ago I caught up with someone from the neighborhood who, as a kid, I would often see around the neighborhood; I hung out with his younger brother from time to time. Both guys went on to become firemen.  We got to talking about the job, and the many guys from the neighborhood that became firemen. The total amount of guys from the neighborhood is staggering.

When you look in the eyes of a fireman you see their courage, the willingness to help others and of course their human compassion. Do not forget their toughness, attitude and determination.

Young kids look up to them. It’s like a wonderland when they visit a firehouse. Every young boy has owned a toy fire truck. Even now, when I pass a firehouse, I always glance at it. If there happens to be a firemen outside I always make it a point to say hello. When you see a fire truck zooming down the street on their way to a call or even in the parking lot of a supermarket, you look at it.

Face it, you’re in awe!

No one would ever dare say that a fireman’s job is easy – it’s arguably one of the toughest jobs in America; and in my eyes, they are grossly underpaid. These guys run into burning buildings when people are running out.  I know there’s no way I would ever be able to do it. I never even had a thought of becoming a firefighter as a kid. But looking back, boy would I have loved to possibly give it a shot. I would have loved to be part of their brotherhood.

It takes a special person to be a fireman. They are regular guys who give no thought of risking their lives for others. Let me put it this way, they are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

I found this essay on the noble profession:

What is a firefighter?
He’s the guy next door….
He’s a guy like you and me with warts and worries and unfulfilled dreams.
Yet he stands taller than most of us.
He’s a fireman….
A fireman is at once the most fortunate and the least fortunate of men.
He’s a man who saves lives because he has seen too much death.
He’s a gentle man because he has seen the awesome power of violence out of control.
He’s responsive to a child’s laughter because his arms have held too many small bodies that will never laugh again….
He doesn’t preach the brotherhood of man.
He lives it.
~Author Unknown

With the help of a few people, I compiled a list of guys from the neighborhood who became firefighters. 

Vinny Brunton, Mike Brunton, Tom Brunton

John Powers, Charlie Powers, Bill Kahaly

John Devaney, Pat Devaney, Tom Riches

Howie Bischoff, Roger Riches, Jimmy Riches

Jimmy McGee, Danny McGee, Joe McGee

Danny Ryan, Joe McGee, Joe Heegen

Bobby Ryan, Danny Ryan, Danny Quirke

Paul Quirke, Mike Price, Ricky Ferro

Greg Seminara, Pete Vega, Dennis O’Berg

Bobby O’Berg, Charlie Kawas, Tommy Kawas

Marty Lang, Jimmy Rallis, Kenny Rallis

Mickey Reilly, Pat Reilly, Tommy Dolan

Pat Heegan, Gary Heegan, Williams O’Connor

Mike Maronna, Tommy Gates, Charlie Kasper

Eddie Greene, Gerard Fraser, Eddie Plunkett

Donny Meeg, Frankie Fitzpatrick, Harry Mills

Bobby Pesce, Danny Gorman

Special Mention: Gammy Martinez, Philadelphia Fire Department

(Thanks to everyone who contributed to this list. I apologize for any omission. Please feel free to add anyone in the comments section that we may have missed or e-mail me and I will add them)

-Steve

SteveFinamore@yahoo.com

July 15, 2011

I CAN SEE FOR MILES AND MILES…

If you know me, you know I am a friendly, outgoing person. Making friends was my speciality back in the day and it still is today. Matter of fact, I’m actually a lot more open-minded today when it comes to making new friends.

Growing up in Brooklyn I had a ton of friends from all over the city. I had friends I played hoops with during the day and I had friends that I hung out with at night. Every single one of them was special.

It didn’t matter if you were White, Black, Puerto Rican, Jewish or Asian. Didn’t matter if you were rich or poor; lived in Queens or the Boogie Down Bronx. If you were cool, you and I could hang.

Fast forward to today, July 15, 2011 where the Internet has helped many people meet others from not only around this country but around the world too. No, I’m not talking about a dating website where you hook up with someone nor am I talking about a chat room. I’m talking e-mail or even Facebook; two powerful tools to connect people who have not spoken to each other in years.

(Pat Fenton)

A few weeks ago a loyal reader of the blog forwarded me an essay that he found on the net about the neighborhood. (Click here to read, ‘Almost Home‘) written by Pat Fenton, a former resident of Windsor Terrace. Mr. Fenton enjoys writing about the neighborhood back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. (I must add, Container Diaries has re-connected many of the current and former residents of such a wonderful neighborhood from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.)

As an aspiring writer, I was hungry to learn more about him. So I did what everyone else does when they are starving for information, I Googled him. The power of the internet, huh?

Pat’s work popped up from various links and I became fascinated with his writing style and of course his knowledge of the neighborhood; mainly the history.

Naturally I had to reach out to him and talk to him about the writing craft and of course the neighborhood.

Here’s something Pat wrote recently for the Irish Echo on outstanding writers Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, plus the neighborhood’s they cover. Just one thing though, as Pat writes, these neighborhoods are changing. Take a look…

Jimmy Breslin is back at the Daily News and Pete Hamill has a new book out that everybody is talking about, “Tabloid City.” And that’s good news, but sadly, both events also remind me that something important to Irish culture is slipping away from us. The sort of journalism they both perfected as they wrote stories in the Daily News and the New York Post about the city’s Irish working-class neighborhoods is fading away. And so are some of the Irish neighborhoods they wrote about.

I agree with Pat, the Irish working-class neighborhoods are fading away. Oh and by the way, I now have a new friend in Pat Fenton.

What do you think?

-Steve

Hoops135@hotmail.com

January 27, 2010

RELEASE YOURSELF

Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 12:44 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thank heavens for i-tunes, 80’s music, technology, and of course old friends. They’ve made my life a lot more enjoyable!

Through the creation of this blog and attempting the head-first dive into Facebook, I’ve been able to re-connect with many good people from back in the day.

I’ve also been able to go back in time with my musical interest; my daughter says my music taste is ‘dinosaur‘-like. Yeah whatever, Taylor!

(She must mean I’m getting old…)

A few nights ago I re-connected with a very special person.

We knew each other from the old neighborhood. This individual was a year older; engaged in conversation with some of my friends, to top it off we had similar interests in; sports, academia and socially.

This particular someone came from a large family, walked the halls of Holy Name, then traveled a few short blocks to Bishop Ford (the high school we both agreed that I should’ve attended).

After high school graduation (them, not me) our paths crossed a few times on the Avenue with a quick ‘hi’ exchange.  It might’ve even came down to the two of us passing each other without any sort of pleasantries. You know what I’m talking about, passing someone that you know but the two of you put your head down like you don’t see the other person. LOL…

Facebook bridged the gap for the two of us and they have also been reading Container Diaries.

It’s been wonderful catching up with them and learning so many things about each other; things we probably should’ve talked about when we were living in the neighborhood. But who shared those types of things? They talk about opening up to a friend,  getting things off your chest… I was too embarrassed to tell anyone about what was going on in my life.

Chalk that one up to maturity-or, lack of ego development…

I hope more people would use the blog to get back in touch with people they once spent time with or if they recognize someone posting a comment on the blog, reach out to them. (Feel free to include your e-mail address with your comments)

It’s been a long time since I’ve spoken with my old ‘friend'; and I’m so happy we re-connected.

JAM OF THE DAY

At the conclusion of each blog entry I will post a jam from back in the day via You Tube. Enjoy…

-Steve

Hoops135@hotmail.com

November 7, 2009

HOW SOON IS NOW

I don’t know about you, but I get all ‘nostalgic’ deep inside when I hear from someone I grew up with from the neighborhood.  I guess that’s why I started this blog a little over two years ago; I missed my friends and the memories.  (I relocated to East Lansing, Michigan in 1996. Despite what people may say, I’m not in the Witness Protection Program) As I climb the ladder of life (45 years young), I often think back to the experiences that helped shape who I am today.

Whether it’s a surprising e-mail from an old friend, a person asking me to accept a friend request on Facebook, or if someone happens to stumble upon the Container Diaries blog; and leaves a comment, it always brings a smile to my face, not to mention a warm feeling. (Yeah, that’s right, I said a warm feeling).

Catching up with friends I grew up with in the neighborhood is such a wonderful feeling; especially when it’s been over 30 years since I last spoke to that person. Hearing about how they are doing, how many kids they have, and of course their marital status. (Whoever thought they were going to get married while we were hanging out on 9th avenue or in the schoolyard?) Plus, how come no one ever told us how life was going to be in our 30’s, 40’s and 50’s? Shit, come to think of it, I’m still trying to figure out this game they call ‘life’.

It’s an amazing experience hearing from people who I made my first communion with in the 2nd grade at Holy Name.  Hearing from people I argued with while playing slapball in Holy Name schoolyard and of course, people I spent a lot of time with in my teens and early 20’s.  Three different stages of my life; people I lost touch with, but never forgot about them.

Brother Luck was on my side over those years to be able to share good and bad times on a daily basis with great people.  Whether it was hanging out in Candy World on 9th avenue, playing basketball in the Boys schoolyard, flag football in Prospect Park on Sunday mornings, sitting in the back of Joe’s Pizza nursing a slice and a coke or playing basketball down East 5th street.

IMG_0793

For all that know me, I was very passionate about sports.  Basketball was my favorite activity. I wasn’t good enough to make it to the NBA (my dream), and my playing career didn’t last very long in high school (7 games at John Jay). But I played all the time.  I went to so many places to play with different kids all over the city.  I took the train to Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and even drove over the Bridge to Staten Island to play at Cromwell on Saturday mornings.  I played ball down at the 9th street YMCA with guys from 5th and 7th avenue.  I played in 51’s schoolyard on 5th avenue with guys from Park Slope and I also played in 230 park with some Mexican kids who befriended me as soon as they saw how much I loved to play.

Basketball connected me with a lot of people; it was a sturdy bridge that I built over time. The orange roundball helped me form numerous friendships.  This mis-guided, insecure, angry, and envious teen was going with the flow for so many years; no direction, no goals, probably many thought, no chance. All I had was friends and basketball. Little did anyone know that things would turn out o.k. later on in life when I finally “got it.” (Thank you Mary Hogan, the most inspirational human being I ever came in contact with)

Facebook has brought me so much joy (as has this blog). I find myself checking them often (maybe too often). All the people who I have reconnected with through these two outlets have helped me look back at life and try to get a better understanding of who I was, where I’ve been and where I’m headed.  I’ve connected with guys and girls I haven’t spoken to in many years. I’ve connected with guys and gals who I knew from saying hello around the neighborhood but never really had any kind of relationship with and of course there are the people who I always wanted to become friends with but just didn’t know how to.  (Chalk that up to immaturity)

Big shout out to technology for helping me connect with the following: Alex McNeil, Teesha, Doris Bullock, Karen Artz, Liz Peterson from Prospect Avenue, Mary Kawas, Corrado, Paulie Ramos, Richie Ferraiolo, Frankie Lakat, Jerry Cole, Jimmy Vackner, Jimmy Cullen, (A.K.A., Spoony J), Rosemarie Taliercio, Fiore Tierno, Kevin Mahoney, Chris Johnson and many more.

Some of you know that I am currently writing a book (Miss Monzillo is probably so proud of me, I know I was one of her favorites). It’s a novel based on my life as a teenager. Some of the stories and characters will be familiar and some will not. I spent a lot of time with many different people; I guess chalk that one up to my ability to make new friends.

I’ve been fortunate over the years to have a couple of close friends who I keep in touch with on a daily basis like Glen Thomas of Sherman Street. It’s a great feeling knowing that all those years we spent together that to this day I can still pick the phone up and give him a call. (Not to mention a chat on FB) Ask yourself “how many people do you still talk with that you grew up with”?  I think it’s important to reach out to that certain someone you spent a lot of time with; it brings back so many fabulous memories. Plus, maybe someone is going through a crisis and hearing from you may lift them up or even bring a much needed smile to their face.

Facebook and Container Diaries are two great avenues to get in touch with a friend from the past.  Sign up now and search for someone’s name. (be careful what you tell that certain someone who you had a crush on at 12 years old) Check out the comments section after each blog entry here at Container Diaries and if you recognize someone posting a comment, reach out to that person. Why just the other day Sister Barbara formerly of H.N.S. left a comment on the blog; you remember Sister Barbara, dont you? She was the ‘friendly’ nun who DIDN”T wear Rosary beads around her neck.

Catch up with someone from back in the day, it’ll do wonders for you…

“This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around.  This ain’t the Mud Club, or CBGB’s, I ain’t got time for that now…”

-The Talking Heads, Life During Wartime

-Steve

Hoops135@hotmail.com

Catch me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @CoachFinamore

July 19, 2009

LEAVIN’ BROOKLYN

I moved from Brooklyn, New York to East Lansing, Michigan in April of 1996.   I had lived in Windsor Terrace for 32 wonderful years.  They were the best times of my life; I had a great experience. It was like earning a degree in Streetology.  If you would’ve told me when I was in my teens or even early 20’s that I would move to Michigan, I would’ve laughed at you.

Today, when I think about a lot of my friends (and compose blog entry’s) I often think about the fun I had along the way and I also think about all the people who have moved out of the neighborhood over the years.  Moving out of the neighborhood never entered my mind.  I was born on 10th street, moved to 9th avenue and Windsor Place.  Moved down to the Park Side and 16th street, then to 11th avenue and Prospect.   No monstrous  moving vans necessary.

IMG_0290

While attending Holy Name I recall two friends moving out of the neighborhood; Tommy Brick and Laura Williams.  At the time I had no idea why they elected to move and probably still don’t to this day.  Brick moved to Staten Island which at the time seemed like millions of miles away.  Williams moved across the country to Las Vegas which seemed like the other side of the world.

Last week another friend I grew up with moved out of the neighborhood to North Carolina.  I’m not sure of the reason and it’s none of my business – but I wanted to wish them well and I hope that they find it to be a great experience.  People moved out of the neighborhood over the years for many different reasons.  Cost of living, real estate, new job or just wanted a change.  Whatever the reason, I’m sure they were valid ones.  Me on the other hand, I needed to move.  (Never thought I would put that in words).

When I first moved out to Michigan, it was a serious culture shock; everything seemed to slow down.  No traffic, fresh air, and the people were a bit different.   Oh yeah, I realized we needed a car.  No one walks here.

I had done o.k. for myself the first 32 years but there was something missing in my life.  I was coaching freshman basketball at Bishop Ford and working nights as a doorman at Planet Hollywood.  I was having a great time.  I had fallen in love with a beautiful woman who I am proud to say is now my wife.

Ever since I was 5 years old I loved basketball.   Just like everyone else in the neighborhood who played ball in the schoolyard, I wanted to play in the NBA.   Problems in high school and not giving 100 % to my goal put a damper on that career.  I figured the next best thing to do was to coach.   So I pursued a second dream; plan B if you will.   I needed to put my talents to good use and I needed to realize my dream can come true if I made some changes.

Since my move to Michigan I have earned my college degree, became a head basketball coach at the Junior College level and have learned so much about life; things like how much time, effort and discipline are needed to reach one’s dreams.    Elements that I would not of accomplished had I stayed in Brooklyn.  As one of my professors at Michigan State once told me, ‘Steve, you were going with the flow’.

I miss Brooklyn every single day of my life.  I miss riding the trains, I miss the hot bagels, delicious egg creams and walking the streets.  I miss the people out on the streets.  I miss the chatter amongst sports fans debating who’s better, the Mets or Yankees.   I read the New York Times every Sunday (we get it delivered).  I log onto to the New York Post and New York Daily News every day.  I still talk with my best friend Glen Thomas on a daily basis.  With Facebook, Twitter and this blog, I still am able to communicate with people from a great neighborhood.

There are still many people living in the neighborhood; They have enjoyed their stay and have been successful.  They have pride in their homes, their roots and their streets.  They love calling home, ‘Windsor Terrace’.

To conclude, moving away is/was not a bad thing for me.  You have two ways to approach relocating; you can embrace it or you can fight it.  I chose to embrace it. Someone once told me that God hides both ambition and opportunity in each of us.  Thankfully I have found both and have ran with them.

-Steve

Hoops135@hotmail.com

March 6, 2009

CHILDHOOD LIVIN’

Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 7:43 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Imagine having a crush on someone at the age of 12.  I know, I know, you’re reading this and saying, ‘Yo Steve, I did have a crush on someone at 12′.  But, imagine that crush lasting a very short time because that certain someone relocated.

Now, get ready.  Picture this…You don’t hear or see that person for 31 plus years!  That’s what happened to me thanks to Facebook and this blog.  12 years old, wow!  Do you recall when you were 12?  We were introduced to Spin the Bottle, 7 Minutes in Heaven.  We were in the 6th or 7th grade…man-o-man.  I had no idea what was down the road.

I look at my ten year old daughter Taylor and I shake my head.

At 12 being so immature, naive, curious…

Hanging out on 9th avenue, hanging in either schoolyard, Boys or Girls.  Spending time in the lot on 16th street/Windsor Place.  Basketball, whiffleball, stickball, slap ball, punchball, tag, taps, Around the World…Rain, snow or cold – didn’t matter.  We hung out and had a ball.

Ray and Otto’s, The Summer League at night, Joe’s Pizza…Those were the days my friend.

Looking back on these times is so much fun.  As I get older I forget some of the fun times I shared with some great people.  When I hear from old friends thanks to the blog or now FaceBook, a smile comes to my face and when we share some funny moments, it takes me back to a better time.

I wish I had more pictures of my younger days.  I only have a couple and I’m hoping to get the courage up to post them on the blog.  I have one that I know everyone is going to die laughing.  My wife and I are going out to buy a video camera this weekend so we can shoot film of Taylor while she is growing up.  We’re also going to turn up the heat on our two digital cameras.   In 30years, I want Taylor to share in the memories and think back to her younger days.

-SF

hoops135@hotmail.com

February 23, 2009

ADDICTION

Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 9:46 am
Tags: ,

We can all agree that everyone has some sort of addiction.

Well this past weekend I became addicted to something that just hit me.

I fell off.

Unreal!

I was turned on to it by my best friend.  Then my wife pushed it on me.  I had seen and heard about it for a long time.

What was I doing, I thought to myself?

It started with a little bit and now, 48 hours later, it’s escalated to an obsession.  (Can I stop?)

The minute I wake up I’m thinking of it.  Thinking about who else is using.

It has taken over.  Almost…

I always said, “I’m not gonna do it, I’m not gonna get pulled in”  I had been pretty good for a while, but it finally took over.  I thought it was just for the younger gen.

Yes folks, I’m suffering from FAD.

But fear not, it’s treatable, and I think I can keep it under control.  But it’s hard.  As I’m composing this blog entry, I am sneaking a bit.

FAD is one of the most addictive social phenomena to sweep the world.

Call me weak, call me a sell-out, tell me I gave in to peer pressure.

My new addiction is Facebook.

What is Facebook you ask?

Well go to Facebook.com

Sign up and see what I’m talking about.

Be careful, you may become addicted.

-SF

Hoops135@hotmail.com

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