My guy Andy Purdy of Windsor Place checked in last week on the Bishop Ford basketball reunion gathering.
What’s up Red,
Wanted to fill you in on the basketball reunion we held in December. It was great seeing these guys. Unfortunately, I ruptured my Achilles tendon during the game. I had surgery the following day and now have an 8 month recovery period.
(Click Image to Enlarge)
Andy Purdy is one of the many good dudes from the neighborhood. Thanks for filling us in…Hope you get better soon!
Too bad the New York Jets lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game yesterday. It has been a very long time since New York has sniffed the Super Bowl.
I’m sure Billy Ryan (a huge Steelers fan) and Randy Reis (Jets fan) watched the game together.
Pete Iulo has to be in a bad mood today.
Oh well, let’s go get a snack!
Good luck to the New York Jets tonight as they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game.
I know for a fact Pete Iulo is excited about this one.
When I was a kid my mother bought me a Joe Namath jersey. I think 7 kids in the neighborhood had the same exact one.
My favorite Jets of all time:
As a kid growing up, I was never into school. Matter of fact, I despised it. For all who visit the blog, you are well aware of my academic situation as a teen. Thank God my wife talked some sense into me and straightened my ass out by setting me straight on the importance of school.
Today, I’m a big believer in education. Our daughter does pretty well and she loves attending class each day. Thanks to Container Diaries visitor Ken, for the heads up on this story from the New York Times about a new school inside the old John Jay High School located on 7th avenue (like others from the neighborhood, I spent a minute there). Standards look pretty high at the place where John Corrar, Patty Burns, Michael Bundrick, the Ryan brothers, Jack & Billy, and Ron Hardy all played their high school basketball. But shouldn’t standards and attendance be high for our kids today?
The new school, Millennium Brooklyn High School, will open in the fall, sharing space with three high schools and a middle school that occupy the old John Jay High School building. It is expected that the middle school will eventually move elsewhere. The new school is an offshoot of Millennium High School in the financial district of Manhattan, whose competitive admissions process requires high grades and near-perfect attendance from its applicants.
Container Diaries contributor Jimmy Sullivan recently mentioned a person from the neighborhood that everyone I’m sure remembers. He was a hard-working man who ran a business located on Sherman Street right off the corner of 11th avenue across the street from P.S. 154 schoolyard. I’m talking about Nat.
If you ever played basketball or softball in P.S. 154 I’m sure you recall getting a drink of water from the pitcher that he kept for all the boys in the neighborhood.
A great act of kindness.
Imagine store owners doing that today?
The best was sitting around on the sidewalk outside the Cleaners and shooting the bull with your friends.
Do you remember Nat?
The following blog entry is a revision of an earlier entry composed back in 2008 titled, ‘Crossing the Border‘.
I’m not sure where the cut-off was or is for our neighborhood but places like 5th avenue, 7th avenue, 8th avenue, 21 street, St. Saviour Parish and I.H.M. Parish were locations where I met a lot of outstanding people during my days of growing up in Holy Name.
What about when you were a youngster, say from the ages of 13 through 18? Did you meet anyone from outside the neighborhood that you became good friends with over the years?
Before you ventured out, did you have a preconceived notion about that particular neighborhood? The kids living there? Did you think they were richer, smarter, or even tougher? Maybe you thought they were better athletes?
I loved our rivalry with I.H.M in basketball. Remember their gym with the stage behind the basket; the half-moon backboards on the side? I used to love the ‘chute’ that went alongside the stairs which led to the locker rooms. We used to get screamed at for sliding down.
When I was a teenager I was able to meet guys like Jackie and Billy Ryan, Randy Reis, Turk, Ron Hardy, Chris Ryan and Danny Leary from down at I.H.M; I had the pleasure of hooking up with them down at East 5th street park; it was actually a great run; you always looked for the best comp. Do kids do that today?
Jackie’s the best. I have known him since I was 14 years old. To this day we still chat. The guy has made a living from his passion; basketball. Check out his website, he’s making things happen.
Turk’s another one; a friend for life. He’s always been there for me with outstanding advice and words of encouragement while I go through my coaching career. I could never forget how he came to my rescue at my first basketball camp at the age of 14 when some kids tried to ‘clown’ me.
Ron Hardy was my teammate for one month at John Jay when I played for their varsity basketball team. Good dude who used to give me a lift home after practice.
Carl Manco conducted a basketball league at Saint Saviour in the girls high school gym. He had the standings and the stats listed up on a board on the wall for all to see. Guys like David Quinn (younger brother of Colin) and Garnett Grisom were legends. Jimmy and Frankie Cullen played down there and put up some big time numbers. I wanted to play there in the worst way.
I can’t forget about cats like Terry Green, Al McNeil, Chris Johnson, Jimmy Parker and Chris Logan; all guys from St. Saviour’s; playing ball down at the 9th street YMCA and at times in the back of 51′s schoolyard were also the norm.
How’s this for friends outside the neighborhood; my first cousins, the Leopoldi’s are from Saint Saviour. My father’s sister’s kids run the hardware store on 5th avenue. Great people!
The fella’s from 21st street, who everyone thought were these rough and tough kids with leather jackets and ‘ba-ba’ shoes were actually cool dudes. They drove around in Monte Carlo’s with disco music blasting from their speakers. They hung out on the corners sipping beer and at times would come up to the schoolyard and play us in basketball. It was funny watching them run up and down the court in tight Jordache jeans, wife-beater t-shirts displaying their countless tattoos, numerous gold chains dangling from their beefed-up necks and the ‘ba-ba’ slip-ons without socks.
It didn’t matter where you were from. It could be an early Saturday morning or a weeknight. We hopped on our bikes, snuck on the train, took the bus and sometimes we walked…we got together and formed friendships that have lasted for years.
I wonder if teens do that today.
Today’s blog entry deals with a great friend. We have known each other for a very long time and he has contributed not only his thoughts but a few images on the blog. As youngsters Glenn Thomas and I grew up together; we played ball and hung out all the time over the years. Matter of fact, it was with Glenn that I first started going out to nightclubs in Manhattan; we hit them all. Seems like we went out every Friday and Saturday night in our late teens into our 20’s. When Glenn had surgery on his knee due to a basketball injury he had to rely on a set of crutches to get around but that didn’t stop us from going out. First it was Xenon, Limelight (“No Jeans Fella’s, No Jeans.”), Red Parrott, Nells, Fun House, 1018, Electic Circus, Peppermint Lounge and many more.
A memorable moment that stands out to this day is when we would hang out in his basement and pump up the volume on his late brother Drew’s stereo; the bass was turned way up for ‘Isn’t It Time’ by the Baby’s. (Click here to see the video and listen to the song) Glenn’s mom, a lovely woman would flick the lights at the top of the stairs if it got too loud…and boy did it get loud. We rode our Mongoose Mountain bikes to East 5th street, Manhattan Beach, across the Brooklyn Bridge to midtown Manhattan and of course catching the F and A trains to take in a New York Knicks basketball game at Madison Square Garden. Those were the days my friend…
To this day I am proud to say that Glenn and I are best friends and communicate on a daily basis.
Recently I sat down with Glenn (nah, not really; we conducted this Q and A via electronic mail). We tossed 3 questions his way…
CD: Which teacher at Holy Name made the biggest impact on your life? Which one do you remember most and why?
I had some great teachers in my time at Holy Name. There are actually two teachers that really stand out in my memory to this day. In first grade I had Sister Helen Dolores. Sister Helen taught us how to read with those big hard covered reading books. I think those books were entitled “David and Ann”. I also remember how Sister Helen taught us how to print letters and write numbers. I can still remember her little sayings and gimmicks that helped me to remember how to make these letters and numbers. I presently have a daughter in kindergarten. Kids learn in kindergarten today what we learned in first grade. I was helping Carolina make the number “5”. Sister Helen’s saying came into my mind and I explained to my daughter the very same way that it was explained to me. “Down the street, around the corner, and his hat blew off”. My daughter loves that saying and does this all of the time when we work on homework. Yes homework in kindergarten! It has been 41 years since I was in first grade and those fond strategies still remain. I’d like to think that Sister Helen had a large part in that.
Another teacher that really made a big impact in my life was my third grade teacher Mrs. Lynch. Mrs. Lynch was an old woman back then. She was a very caring person and a great teacher. Mrs. Lynch was always dressed impeccably with long manicured nails with her hair always done nice. She was very motherly to the boys for back then she taught in the boy’s department. Mrs. Lynch always seemed to have a story for every situation and was very animated when telling these stories. She was very encouraging and would always build our self-esteem up! At times she would also yell at us. My friend Ernie Williams from 16th Street (Dennis Williams’ younger brother) sat next to me. I remember Ms. Lynch screaming at me and Ernie for talking too much. I told my best friend Ernie that Ms. Lynch was an ‘old bag”. Well Ernie snitched to Ms. Lynch. In front of the class Ms. Lynch told the whole class “Mr. Thomas for your information I am not an old bag…I am a young one”. I went home and told my parents. They were not happy but I remember them laughing afterwards. Third grade and Mrs. Lynch stand out in my mind for that was the first year that I got involved with the Sports program at Holy Name. I tried out for the baseball team and got cut by Mr. Castaldo. That day after the cuts were announced and being a bit disappointed for not making the team it was Ms. Lynch of all people told each of us that we just missed making the team and that with a little more practice we would sure make the team the following year. She was right!
I also tried out for the Bantam “B” basketball team coached by Nicky Cannella. Nicky was assisted by Georgie Routhier. I remember basketball tryouts being held in the HN Boys yard at 3:30 pm after school. I remember hearing the announcement for tryouts over the loudspeaker at school. I never played basketball before but I wanted to try it out. It seemed like there were hundreds of kids in the yard with all age levels and teams using one of the six baskets. Other former HN coaches like Mickey McNally and Pete Gillen were there. We did layups the whole practice and I remember Cannella calling me “hoppity hop” for I hopped when I dribbled the ball. He must have taken a ton of kids on that team for I actually made the Bantam “B” team. I didn’t play in the games much but who cared for I had a uniform and belonged to something. I remember when the final cuts were made and the names were put up on the bulletin board in school and finding my name on it! In class Ms. Lynch read my name out loud and acknowledged my accomplishment. I was on cloud nine! Teachers like Sister Helen Dolores and Mrs. Lynch really shaped me not only with their teaching of subject matter but just as importantly in terms of character building and positive reinforcement.
CD: Your favorite Holy Name Summer League memory both as a player and as a fan?
Wow! That’s a tough question! There are so many great memories of the HN summer League. As a player I had many. I guess that I’d have to narrow it down and say that my best memory was winning the 1980 Middle League championship with a team called OTB. Our team was a rag-tag collection of guys that played on different teams the previous summer and also played the ponies hence the team nickname! Some of those very teams from the previous summer had folded and guys wanted to play. Besides me, our team consisted of Danny Mahoney, Gerard Kash, Joe Farrell, George Brossard, John Brown, Hank Fifield, Charlie Worsdale, and John Godfrey. Forte Bellino was our coach and actually played a bit. No one including ourselves expected anything from us in the beginning of the summer but for some reason we were winning our games and realized that we were not that bad after all!
We beat some very good teams such as Collura coached by Ray Collura. I remember making it to the championship game with OTB against Team Ferro. Team Ferro consisted of all of the Ferro brothers (Billy, Tommy, Mark, John, and Ricky). I believe the game went into overtime with George Brossard making the crucial free throws to seal it! What’s sad is that George Brossard, Joe Farrell, and most recently Forte Bellino are no longer with us today! I miss those guys a lot! We had often talked about having an OTB reunion at a bar and I guess that is not in the cards anymore.
As a fan of the HN summer League there were tons of favorite memories.
I remember as a third or fourth grader going up and watching Mickey McNally running the league. I remember the bright lights with everyone having a white t-shirt in their back pocket. Danny Byrnes (Patty Byrnes’ older brother) was playing in a game. All of his “Huns” friends were outside the fence drinking their containers and screaming in at the players on the court. Danny’s team was down 1 point. Danny was fouled with like 0:01 to go in the game and he was awarded two free throws. Mickey McNally was the referee in the game. Mickey handed Danny the ball. The crowd outside the fence on Howard Place were screaming and shaking the fence. Danny makes the first shot. Mickey then hands Danny the ball for the second shot. The crowd outside the fence again starts to scream and yell. Danny takes a deep breath and then flips the ball back to referee Mickey McNally and says “Wait a minute Mick I’m going to take a F*$&-in heart attack!” The whole yard erupted in laughter!
Another memory that comes to mind is the Blackout of 1977 or 78. I was watching a game on the sidelines and in an instant the lights went out. We at first thought it was just the schoolyard that was affected only to find out that the whole city lost power and we were part of NYC history.
Lastly the memory as a fan of the HN summer league was watching the classic Middle League Battles between Farrell’s and Collura in the Championship. I believe this was 1978 and 79. Farrell’s had guys like Bill Kahaly, Corrado Candiano, Frankie Palazzo, Snappy Corrigan, Danny Ryan, Charlie Kawas, John Corrar, and Marty Lakowski (Marty Lake). Farrell’s was coached by Brian Dannaher. Ray Collura was player/coach for his team. He had Billy Gallagher, Ray Godfio, John Saris, Buddy Thompson, John Finamore, the late Michael Bundrick, and Patty Byrnes to name just a few. I remember seeing basically the whole neighborhood up in the yard watching these championship games in back to back years (78 and 79). I also recall a lot of trash talking and seeing a lot of wagering going on the week prior to this classic match up! The summer League was a fantastic tool in that it helped make an already tight-knit community even closer.
CD: Born and raised on Sherman Street, and still living here, what is the biggest change you have seen?
This is the most difficult question to answer out of the three for there are a lot of changes.
I would have to say gentrification is the biggest change. Gone are the middle class that we all knew. Besides people having less kids and moving out the neighborhood
I remember waking up and seeing and playing on the street with families that resembled your own family in terms of attitude and socio-economics. On my street the kids today go to schools like Poly prep, Berkley-Carroll, and Packer Collegiate. Families are more upper middle class. My street (Sherman Street) has a lot of nice families but kids don’t play in the street anymore. It seems that the creativity and imagination is lost with today’s youth. Everything is a schedule with music lessons or something else. Enjoying simple pleasures is a thing of the past. Gone are those fun street games like kick the can and stickball. Back 25-30 years ago people knew their neighbors and if you didn’t you made it a point to introduce yourself and your family to those people. People today seem to have more of a “Manhattan like” mentality where they only sleep in Windsor Terrace.
Their kids go to schools out of the area. I miss the days where we had more teachers, NYPD, FDNY, DSNY, and MTA guys in the area. There is still a small amount left of the old guard left in the neighborhood. I have this very strong connection when I run into these very same people on the street. It’s even stronger when I run into someone who has moved away and has come back to visit. The school yards are empty after school. I walk by the HN Boys yard and it’s empty at 3:30. I still love to live in the Windsor Terrace/ Holy Name Parish area. It still has its charm but lost are many of the wonderful ‘characters” that made the neighborhood.
Sad to announce another death from the neighborhood.
Henry “Chap” Chaplain has passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
The wake will be held at Scalia Funeral Home in Elltingville, Staten Island.
Monday, January 10 from 2 to 5 and 7 to 9.
Mass is at Our Lady Star of the Sea Tuesday 10am.
He is survived by his wife Donna and three daughters Alysa, Krista and Erica
We can all agree that there were some outstanding men and women from our neighborhood, I blog about them often.
One guy who was always cool with me despite being a few years older was Johnny Cummings.
After Mike Kelly wrote his splendid piece on his McBears football team, I was told today that Johnny has passed away. Back in September he suffered a stroke. After surgery, everything seemed to be ok, he made it out fine but the poor guy suffered a second stroke.
Johnny was a guy that no one, and I mean no one disliked.
Every time I ran into him he always had something cool to say. He was from 7th avenue and from time to time he would visit Farrell’s. We’d all be hanging out on 9th avenue in the middle of the winter tossing a football around in the snow. The 7th avenue guys would come walking up Windsor Place on their way to pick up containers from Farrell’s.
Before and after their visit to Farrell’s on the corner of 16th street they’d jump in with us and toss the ball around; going out for a bomb from Ronnie was the highlight of my night. At times we’d even play them 5 on 5 right there on the avenue. One night we moved the game to the Girl’s Schoolyard…getting tackled by Antony Paige was no joke.
Like I have posted before, all those cats from 7th avenue were cool, not a bad guy in the bunch. I miss them.
One viewing…Tuesday from 4PM to 9PM
Jureck Funeral Home, 728 4th avenue (just off of 23rd street) 768-4192
The Mass is Wednesday at 1PM: Our Lady of Chesterwova (24th street and 4th avenue)
Johnny Cummings, Rest in Peace