LEAVIN’ BROOKLYN

I moved from Brooklyn to East Lansing 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 wonderful 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.

MICHIGAN?

LOL…

But looking back, it was the best move I ever made.

Today, in 2016, when I think about my friends 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 okay 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 five 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 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 bagels, delicious egg creams and walking the streets.  I miss the people out on the streets.  I miss the chatter among 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. With E-mail,  Facebook, Twitter and this blog, I still am able to communicate with people from a great neighborhood.

There are still many people from back in the day still 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 ‘Windsor Terrace’, home.

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

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45 Responses to LEAVIN’ BROOKLYN

  1. DRH says:

    Normally on the weekend, I don’t go near my computer – with working on one all week – I need the break. Oh, I might look something up for research purposes ie – a name of a song by someone, a book or movie, do a bit of banking, etc. but that is it. The brain ain’t what it used to be – things are always on the tip of my tongue!
    This weekend was the exception – I have been glued to this site and reading all the past blogs from so many people I knew when I was a kid/teenager about so many subjects, life, death, food, sports, the schoolyard, marriage, the current state of the world and hopes for the future.
    It has been a very enjoyable weekend for me. The things I have read have made me smile, confirmed I wasn’t crazy ’cause I have had similar thoughts over the years on a lot of the topics and it has been confirmed that I wasn’t being anal by thinking about these things.
    Keep it going and keep it real! You will hear from me again, I am sure.

  2. Glenn Thomas says:

    Wow! Steve!
    That was a powerful piece of writing that explained the inner conflicts that people often go through when they leave the neighborhood for one reason or another. I often meet people up on PPW that come back and visit the neighborhood and I must say that the common factor for most (not all) is that they wished they had stayed in this area. People leave for family, career, success, and sometimes must also leave due to the socio-economic reasons for they get priced out of this neighborhood. Growing up I had always wanted to move out of Brooklyn and then as the years passed I realized how good I had in Windsor Terrace with the close proximity of many things such as Manhattan, Pospect Park, beaches.
    I also now realize first hand how child friendly it is. My two sisters moved out and went to Charlottesville VA, and to NJ a while back with absolutely no regret while my brother (now deceased) always came back to the area from Staten Island and had a kick when he ran into or noticed someone from the distance that he remembered from his past. In a nutshell the beauty of Windsor Terrace is that although we live in a major city and the borough of Brooklyn, Windsor Terrace has always had that small town feel to it along with a strong sense of community. It may not be as strong as years ago but it still holds true to a good extent today.

  3. Jackie Kelly says:

    Brooklyn’s been good to me. I had a great childhood and made some great friends. I found a wonderful woman who was crazy enough to become my wife and we were blessed with two great kids. We bought a house before the real estate went out of control and I stumbled into a decent job working for the D.O.E.. Retirement was always in the future and my wife often talked about the Blue Montains of North Carolina while all I wanted to know was is there a bar nestled in those Mountains. Things change but as the old saying goes – if you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there.

    • hoopscoach says:

      Jackie, I’m sure you can find a tavern somewhere hidden in the mountains. I was driving through a really, really bad part of downtown Cincinnati and I made a wrong turn. As I was going down this street, I noticed a bar on the corner. I pulled over, got out and went inside to get directions. Don’t ask me what made me get out of the car in such a bad neighborhood. But once inside the bar, I felt like I was back on 9th avenue at Farrell’s. LOL…

  4. JIMMY VAC says:

    Dude ,you have done great for yourself and shlould be proud. That degree in Streetology will serve you well as a coach and a person. Al McGuire was ” streetology ” personified. It does not matter where you go after Michigan, your roots are in Windsor Terrace. I have been in Staten Island for 28 years now and I like it alot but I am working on my wife to retire to the old house on Windsor Place. I don’t think you fully appreciate how grear the area is until you move away..

  5. drh says:

    Hey Red – I have lived in Europe for over 15 years now and never missed New York so much in my life. I know I moved for the right reason as it probably saved my life but…

    I think every year it gets worse – especially after I have been home to Brooklyn for a visit and have to come back home to the UK.
    I read every book I can, that takes place in Brooklyn and NYC. Some of the books are really good (Lawrence Block, Pete and Dennis Hamill) and others – well what can I say, if I could get a refund on them I would!
    I try to see every film and TV show that is shot in New York so maybe I can get a glimpse of areas I know in Manhattan as well as Brooklyn (don’t really like Queens or the Bronx, never did!). Thank God for all the Law and Order shows being syndicated world wide – they certainly give me my fix. They even made a British version of L & O this year – and it was pretty good. You might catch it on PBS or BBC America.
    Third Watch – finally saw the final series only last year over here and now they repeat it like no one’s business.
    When I go to Brooklyn, I bring at least one extra suitcase for the food to bring back- kaiser rolls, pump bagels, pretzel rods, cakes, cookies, candy, etc. that I cannot get over here, I then eke them out very carefully til I know someone from Brooklyn is coming over and then replenishments will arrive. I make corn muffins and calzones from scratch. Had a pepper and egg hero Friday night for my tea (dinner). People know my voice over the phone even before I say my name because of my Brooklyn accent. Can’t get away with making any prank phone calls, that’s for sure!
    You can take the kid out of Brooklyn, but you can’t take Brooklyn out of the kid!

  6. Glenn Thomas says:

    Al McGuire was the best! They once asked him about Butch Lee – his former All-American PG at Marquette (who almost single handedly beat the US Olympic Team in 1976 in Montreal, Canada.) and how fast Lee was. McGuire’s response was that “Lee was faster than a Catholic Mass at a Holiday Resort”.
    I too am proud of my Streetology and Brooklyn upbringing for there is a charm to it. Guys like McGuire, Jim Valvano, Louie Carnesecca, Pete Gillen, and even today Barry Rohrssen to name a few have that inner city charm that I am sure that they can give credit to growing up in the NYC city limits.

    • hoopscoach says:

      They’ll never be another guy like McGuire in coaching. It’s a business now, used to be a brotherhood.

  7. jimmy vac says:

    Cuz Glenn,
    Two of his great quotes were:
    “I think everyone should go to college and get a degree and then spend six months as a bartender and six months as a cabdriver. Then they would really be educated. ”
    “I never understood why kamikaze pilots wore helmets”.

    I thought Valvano was great also. Antoher funny guy.My high school basketball coach, Vinny Ciraullo (Park Slope) was friends with McGuire and said he was th same in private as he was in public. There is a great story about Al when UMass’s Julius Erving was taking apart Marquette and Mcguire was yelling at Meminger and another guy from NY saying,” how do you guys not know about him? You’re from NY!!!!!!!!”

  8. jimmy vac says:

    drh,
    Do you go on the nydailynews.com website? Everyday they have a Brooklyn session. Denis Hamill writes on Tuesday and Thursday and he writes about the neighborhood quite abit.
    I always enjoyed coming back to WIndsor but this website has made it more so. I was in Farrells and some guy whose name escapes me was talking about this website and we spoke for a while but then I ran into Pat Byrnes, Red Slavin and Jimmy Kelly. Whenever I am there, I always keep my eyes open for the lunatics I knew back in the day.

  9. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    Hi Coach, good to see you back on the blog. I have lived almost my entire life in the same zip code, 11215, except for two years in 11217. When I was younger, I was conflicted about this, I thought I should “go somewhere else” I am glad I did not. This is for me. My whole family is here, everyone within a mile radius, except for one sister in Long Island. (most of the time, that is a plus 🙂 ) However, the only reason I am still in the neighborhood is because I live in a family-connected apartment, if not for this, I would have to leave. When I was younger, the majority of people who got married could always find an affordable apartment in the neighborhood, and eventually a house. I am talking about uniformed service people, I remember reading an article about 20 years ago that stated Windsor Terrace had the highest concentration of uniformed workers, (FDNY, NYPD and DSNY) in Brooklyn. That is not the case anymore , the real estate has become unaffordable to city workers for the most part. I am not making a judgement on this, just stating a fact. I believe that just as we carry people in our hearts who are no longer on the earth with us, so too we carry our childhood memories, wherever we may wind up. Yes, you may miss the day to day reality of the neighborhood, but as the old saying goes, you can take the man/woman out of wherever, in this case Windsor Terrace, you cannot take that out of the man/woman. I know that is a little discombobulated, but hey! I have a plot in Green-Wood Cemetary, so I often say, they could not get me out of the neighborhood while I was alive, and I will not leave when I am dead. However, in the past years, I have fallen in love with New Orleans, the city of my soul. Family matters prevent me from moving there, and I may never do it, just be content to go down as often as I can (am going in 9 days!), so now my plan is half my ashes in Green-Wood, the other half in Jackson Square. I am not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, but I know that is not up to me. Anyway, good to hear from you, and I believe no matter where we end up, we will always carry Windsor Terrace in our hearts.

  10. Loretta Morgan says:

    I also moved out of the neighborhood- only to relocate to Upstate NY but my feelings are the same. My roots to the old neighborhood are still so deep rooted and that will never change. I still consider my home to be Brooklyn, and I’m gone from the neighborhood 13 years now. There’s no better feeling than going back and hanging out in Farrell’s or Rhythm & Booze and running into old friends and laughing about all the crazy things we did. I have so many memories of good times that when I feel lonely for the neighborhood, I just think back and it makes me realize that they were the best times of my life. There were some sorrows too, but everything that formed who I am now came from my life in Brooklyn. It will always be part of my heart and soul.

  11. Fr. Peter says:

    Great column Coach!

    I was watching the ESPY Awards last night and I think there could be one coach that could match Al McGuire… …Don Meyer, the coach at Northern State University! What a speach he gave as he received the “Jimmy V” Award. It is worth finding on the Internet

  12. jimmy vac says:

    Mo,
    I may do the same with my ashes with Brooklyn and Donegal.

  13. Jackie Kelly says:

    Loretta, has it been 13 years. It’s hard to believe the years have gone by so fast. I think it’s because the older we get the more we sleep. My twelve year old puts me to bed now. I say don’t stay up late as I’m going upstairs and he acknowledges by saying yea, yea, yea and goodnight. I’m glad to see I’m tolerated 😉

  14. Betty T.B.K. says:

    I moved out of the neighaborhood over 28yrs ago to Long Island, and I like one of the writers thought Staten Island was far!!!! To me I was by no means embracing this move, it was an opportunity that doesnt happen often. At that time of my life I didnt know it was gonna be a blessing in disguise, I was kicking and screaming. Low and behold it was one of the best things that ever happened to me in my life experiences, and I do have many. In making this move, I found out just who my real friends were, and today for many yrs we are still great friends and we get together because we make time for each other. It was one of the best moves for me in my life, cause I have come into myslef in away that would never have happened if I was to stay in Bklyn. Like one of the writers wrote, YOU CAN TAKE THE GIRL OUT OF BKLY BUT U CAN NEVER TAKE BKLY OUT OF THE GIRL!!! I have come to embrace my life and I love where I came from. Cant wait to see those special people in Sept. once again!!!!!!!!!!!! I HAVE MY SONGS FOR KEROKEE THIS YEAR, DO U GUYS????

  15. Jackie Kelly says:

    Betty, I am firmly convinced that Kareoke is payback from the Japanese because we won the war. I shudder when I hear the announcement of Kareoke and I immediately look for the song book to see how many rookies are with the usual suspects going through it. And if I see alot of rookies, which usually means that the bartender had a good day, I wonder in search of others like myself who know what the true meaning of Kareoke means in Japanese…”paybacks”.

  16. Loretta Morgan says:

    Hey Jackie
    Good to hear from you I was worried about you when you stopped checking in on this website. I still worry about my old friends! I still laugh when I think about the MacDonald’s incident. You big spender!! Yeah, I know what you mean about your son putting you to bed. Alot of nights my son just ends up sleeping in with me because we settle in to watch some TV and both of us fall asleep and my Timmy (not Tommy) knows better than to wake me up! All is good here, probably will be making a trip to Brooklyn before the summer’s over. You are in my thoughts often and I hope you and your family are doing well. Take care.

  17. jimmy vac says:

    Jackie,
    We and two other couples went on a cruise last year and sang alot of kareoke. I am proud to say I was the lead singer on “Love Shack” .. where I had the crowd rocking for 15 seconds… the remaining 3 and a half minutes they had a stunned look… We could hear out footsteps when when we returned to our seats.. I also got to live a childhood dream by being a Pip for three young women singing “Midnight Train To Georgia”.. I got to show my moves.. at 6’5 287 it is hard to miss my moves…
    I took my best friend’s son to Farrell with me.. he is doing some work on the house on Windsor for me and he loved Farrells and he could not beleive how everybody on the block interracted with each other on Windsor and in Farrells…

  18. TonyF16thSt says:

    You never really leave Brooklyn it’s always a part of you it’s in your blood and genetic make-up.
    And thats whats so special about where we grew up, no matter where I am or who I’m with I’ll always comment “when I was a kid growing up in Park Slope” or when someone asks where did you grow up? I’ll say are you familiar with Park Slope do you know wher Farrells bar is? I lived right down the block.
    You can take the kid out of Brooklyn but you can never take Brooklyn out of the kid.
    I wouldn’t want to have grown up any place else.

  19. Tommy Cole says:

    Lots of great posts and great memories…
    Life is filled with surprises. Born in raised in 11215, life almost took a turn in 1960…we almost moved to Clifton, NJ. I was even registered for 1st. Grade at the local catholic school. Even at that age, I was not pleased with the thought of leaving the neighborhood (Prospect Park, the Zoo, Coney Island, and everything else).
    Currently living in exile in NJ, my father would be howling today to know that every day I pass the school that I was registered for but never attended. Fate is a funny thing.
    These Jersey suburbs are like any other place outside The City. No one walks anywhere, there are no stoops to sit on, stickball? a school yard? real bagels or delis? You get the picture.
    Most of us are lucky enough to be able to hop on the NJT and get back to The City and the old neighborhood (and our youth) whenever we want.

  20. Kenny Whelan says:

    When I first moved to NJ after I got married, I went back into Farrells and ran into one of my brother Al’s friends. He asked me how the “mid west” was treating me. When I reminded him that I moved to New Jersey, he just looked at me and repeated his question.
    Now I live in Austin, Texas. Moved to Texas in 1991 (my wife was born and raised here.) One of the main reasons we moved was my wife’s parents were still around at the time and mine were already in heaven (probably looking down on their 3 sons and just shaking their heads).
    Texas has been good to me. Got here at the start of the tech boom. You come to realize that there are good people and knuckleheads everywhere.
    I do miss Brooklyn and try to get back a couple of times a year. We’re trying to figure out a way to spend more of our time “back east”. Time and the economy will tell

    • hoopscoach says:

      Kenny good stuff. I met a guy out here in Michigan who wants to get back to his roots; Brooklyn. He was an all-city basketball player at Boys HS back in 1964. Played for Michigan State and played some pro ball in Europe. Such a small world. I spent 90 minutes with him yesterday. But like you said, ‘only time and the economy will tell’ if my new friend ever makes it back.

  21. Glenn Thomas says:

    Steve, I am not sure if you heard but please tell your friend that played at Boys and Girls HS that if he hasn’t heard yet that legendary Boys High Coach and Principal Frank Mickens recently passed away. There’s a story on him on nycnjhoops.com. Your friend probably played there a bit before Mickens got there but Frank Mickens left a huge legacy there at “The High”

    • hoopscoach says:

      I did indeed tell Heywood Edwards; the former Boys High Kangaroo. Mickens came in after he left. ‘Woody’ graduated from Boys in 1964. I am trying to track down someone who may heard of him. I have called some guys but no one recalls. He played a couple of years for Michigan State. Good dude.

  22. jimmy vac says:

    When Loitta moved to Staten Island in 1975, I visited him out there and there were horses …I started busting his chops about having to wear overalls and having to lose teeth to fit in… Now I am out here 28 years!!!Go figure.. Like Kenny said there are alot of good people and knuckleheads out there…

  23. drh says:

    Just got my mid year replenishments of genuine kaiser rolls, pumpernickel bagels, and Entemens crumb cake amongst other NY food and I am in heaven! Dounts got squished but hey that’s a good excuse for sharing with my hubby.

    I have had few thoughts since spending the weekend living and breathing this site and reading the variety of topics and wondered –

    Do any of the girls remember working on the Nixon re-election campaign at the Roosevelt Hotel ? We were canvassing people over the phone to get an idea of who would vote for him? We even went to the re-election ball!

    I was in the McFadden Bros. band when I was younger and was wondering if the Tommy Fraser who contributes to this blog is the same one that was in that band? I know that Patty, Charlie, Tommy and Dennis K were amongs many others.

    Early morning TV – me and my brothers (I am the sister) used to race to see who would be the first one up in the morning. Whoever got to the telly first, had control of the mornings viewing. I remember watching “My Little Margie” and our “Our gal Suzie” as well as David and Goliath and all those other early morning shows previously mentioned.
    I have also bought the DVD sets for Leave it to Beaver and the Little Rascals- I love those programs and they both still makes me laugh!

    I am so happy I have found this site – thanks Steve for re-awakening so many memories and giving people, people to share them with.

    Enjoy your day people!

  24. drh says:

    For all the people who are out of the Brooklyn/NY area and still get home sick- there is a radio station I listen to on the net – it’s from Fordham Uni and is called WFUV. They play a great assortment (old and current) of music and they have a few of the DJ’s (Vince Scelsa, Dennis Elsas, Pete Fornatel) from the old WNEW and there are no commercials – just some talk, news and plenty of music.
    Enjoy!

  25. Jackie Kelly says:

    Loretta, It’s been almost 28 years and still no one believes me when I say I left my money on the bar…..And MacDonalds ? I know you have relatives in Scotland but I didn’t know they bought the McDonalds franchise;-) Who am I to talk anyway. Instead of wandering around I’m wondering around… perhaps in my sub-conscience I’m looking for Sonny Fox. Thanks for the thoughts. Me and the kids and the dog are doing fine. And I hope all is well with you guys. I have become convinced that washer machines eat clothes. Everytime I do a load something is missing. On the brite side I always find money at the bottom of the washer. And in keeping with the situation I put in my empty container for my Saturday baloney run.

    • Loretta Morgan says:

      28 years??? Are you kidding me??? How old are we , anyway?? One of my problems is that I never feel like I’m getting old,except the day after I go out and have a few-It takes me a week to recuperate-how I used to go out a couple nights a week amazes me!
      And what about the missing socks in the washer?? I always have one sock at the end that stands alone. Then you don’t want to throw that sock out because as soon as you do, the other one shows up- one of life’s mysteries. As far as the $ in the washer/dryer, my rule is, if I’m doing the laundry, it becomes mine, except I don’t buy baloney, I buy shoes!
      Go figure! Glad to hear you and the kids and the dog are doing well.
      At work, I better get off now before I get fired! Take care..

  26. Jackie Kelly says:

    Jimmy, Being that you had them for 15 seconds you’ll need a shorter song. My recomendation for your next gig is “Her Majesty” a 45 second song by The Beatles. You’ll just have to work on the last 30 seconds 😉

  27. jimmy vac says:

    Jackie,
    I think my future is as a PIP. I got the groove thing going, the deep voice, and as a PIP, I would only have to sing about 20 words a song.. But I will discuss your suggestion with my people. Cruises are a blast because people figure they will never see the other people again so they will make fools out of themselves..hence.. kareoke!! Speaking of the Beatles,
    saw Mc Cartney on Saturday.. great show.. did not sing ” Her Majesty”.
    Check the furniture and the kid’s clothes for loose change…you can upgrade to liverwurst or spam!!!

  28. Just trying to figure out if MOVING from the neighborhood is growing up or instinctly the thing to do…..anyway, the first time ever heard pf MICHIGAN, DETROIT, was in the 70’s GM was transferring its employees from NY and gave them an opportunity to see what it was like by visiting, Jackie H. transferred & Dennis M. stayed….Another time ran into a gal who graduated from U of Mich and related how it was the size of a city, just beautiful she said…Leaving Brooklyn at almost 1/2 century old and gooing to NJ where a gal said to me people move from NJ not to NJ, it was there I saw there is life after HOLY NAME… Memories are always…Sounds like a great place, Mich., my Betty, Richie, Michael Bobby & Gerard moved far away, I thought….Kate remained in Brooklyn, and managed to feel they never left. Over the years miles traveled back forth gives the best of both worlds…YOU CAN ALWAYS GO HOME Understand there,s a B&B near Glenn T…HI

    • hoopscoach says:

      Thanks Mary…I love Michigan. Lots of room to do things. As I get older, I no like traffic! It’s all open here. As for me, the move turned out to be a blessing and a much needed one at that. Hope you are well and I am hoping to get back for a few days in September. We try and make it back twice a year.

  29. Pedro Nieves says:

    Pedro says. I went to boys high from 1962-1965. I lived in Pulaski street and Brooklyn was our world. As a baseball player for Boys High I saw all the players from the basketball team, Webb,Haywood, Harper etc. I attend the last game played by a PSAL high school team in Madison Square Garden. We beat I believed it was Franklin High School. A riot started. I still live in New York, but in Long Island. From time to time my wife and I go back to Pulaski street and the apt that I came to live back in 1954. My wife and I agree that we have come alone way, but Brooklyn will always be in our hearts. Please give my regards to Mr Haywood he played great ball

    Regards
    Pedro class of 1965

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