, , , , , , , , ,

Quote of the Day:

“It’d take a guy a lifetime to know Brooklyn t’roo and t’roo. An’ even den, yuh wouldn’t know it all.”

-Thomas Wolfe, -Only the Dead Know Brooklyn

I was born in Methodist Hospital on 7th avenue back in 1964.

We lived at 665 10th street between 8th and 9th avenues from 1964 to 1969. When I was 5 years old, my father left us so we were forced to pack up and move 7 blocks away to 228A Prospect Park West. Our new home was a 5 room apartment over Bob’s Hardware Store. I’m sure the reason for the move was financial.

On 10th street we lived in a very cool brownstone.

Growing up on 9th avenue, the streets of Windsor Terrace became my classroom.

I’ll be honest, I probably learned more from being on the streets than I did as a student at Holy Name. (I was enrolled in H.N.S. from 1970-1978)

The boys & girls schoolyard, any street corner, someone’s stoop, and of course Prospect Park. In those places we took notes, contributed to the discussion and of course were tested on a daily basis.

The education was priceless.

If you were lucky enough to get through, you earned a Ph.D in streetology; the course was ‘Street Life 101’. It was a pass-fail; No credits, no tuition.

Hanging out with friends you learned to figure things out. (Hopefully some of the people who grew up in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s) have figured it out by now?

You learned how to play sports taught by excellent coaches and of course you learned how to relate to people. You learned about teamwork, discipline and of course toughness.

There were no parents packing your lunch in the morning and driving you three blocks away  in a mini-van to meet your friends. There was no cell phones where mom was texting you every 30 minutes to see if you were ok. There were no parents standing around the field shouting words of encouragement or even standing at the pitcher’s mound with a baseball cap and glove, tossing the ball underhand to us.

In our neighborhood classroom you learned how to make it through in the ‘Game of Life‘.

Today, I’m not so sure Street Life 101 is a class that is offered in the course catalog.

When I was in the 8th grade at Holy Name (1978) at dismissal we’d run home, change out of our school uniform, slip into a pair of jeans, lace up our sneakers and jog to the schoolyard.

We played basketball, football, punchball and stickball. There was no gymnasium for us to play in. There was no expensive health club where we were members. There were no personal trainers and no specialization in one sport where we had a coach working with us. There was no shooting or pitching coach. One friend told me, ‘My speed and agility drills were ducking punched from my father’.

If you weren’t shooting a jump-shot or rounding the bases after punching the ball into the well, you were sitting on the side bullshitting with your buddies.

Our “lunch period” was walking to Joe’s on Prospect avenue and getting a slice. If you were lucky enough to have extra money you walked across the street and picked up an iced tea from Henry’s. There were no juice boxes.

I’m sure the very nice people who have moved into the neighborhood in recent years are very nice people with good jobs, happy family and high aspirations; but boy did they miss out.

Growing up in the neighborhood during the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s was a magical. Doesn’t matter if you started a blog and write about the daily happenings at Connecticut Muffin; if you didn’t experience an egg cream from Rae and Otto’s, or if you didn’t hang out on the parkside at night with a bunch of friends, you missed out.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to hang out in the boys or girls schoolyard with friends, chill out on a stoop and shoot the breeze late into the night or even shoot a few jump shots all alone at night in the boys schoolyard, you missed out on a great time.