Joan (Ferraro) Hanvey, a former resident of Windsor Terrace sent me this wonderful poem.

I knew  I lost Brooklyn
when my Grandson asked,
I knew I lost Brooklyn
when “A dime was dropped on me”
and I almost forgot the phrase.
I knew I lost Brooklyn
when names like Mousie and Cannonball were from
some other gang in some other neighborhood.
I knew I lost Brooklyn
when children no longer “whinged”
and no one “bunked” into me.

I knew I lost Brooklyn
when a Chandelier was not something to be
seen from the outside looking in.
I knew I lost Brooklyn
when the tub was in the bathroom where it belongs
and the fire escape was no longer the porch.
I knew I lost Brooklyn
when I could not find a nice cup of tea
and no one asked me what parish I came from.
I knew I lost Brooklyn
when the “poor house” was an empty threat
and the “crying towel” was gone.
There will always be “A Tree Growing There” for me.

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26 Responses to LOSING MY BROOKLYN

  1. Jack Kelly says:

    Joan, That was beautiful. And your absolutely right about the poor house. I tell my kids they’re driving me to the “Poor House” and they think it’s some yuppie bar that just opened.

    • hoopscoach says:


      You just made me laugh this morning with that “Poor House” comment!

      Thanks so much.

      Enjoy the day.

  2. Blinds says:

    Beautiful poem, I’ve only ever seen Brooklyn in movies but it looks like an interesting place, will visit 1 day 🙂

  3. jimmyvac says:

    Great poem..the poor house wasa common comment in our household along with whaddaya think I am, a bank? I was in Jersey (Joisey ) last week and our friend’s 20 year old daughter was mocking me saying terlet (toilet).. I old her about stoop and aries .. I got her when she said carmel instad of caramel…

    • Joan (Ferraro) Hanvey says:

      What about “What do you think this is lunar park?” turn off the lights!! My friends from Jersey recently started laughing at me. They said I said terlet. I told them “I did not” but then I caught myself saying it and laughed as well. I love the Brooklyn accent, which I still have big time, and whenever I get lonely, I listen to Curtis Sliwa on the radio just to hear him talk.

  4. Eddie Matula says:

    Great poem….Jimmyvac—i love the look i get from people when trying to explain the “aries”……..arie-way, arie-gates. Lived on 10th ave between 16th and windsor from 1971-1995. Moved to Staten…….I have a wrap-around porch now—–but it will NEVER compare to sittin on my stoop !!!!!

  5. jimmyvac says:

    Brrn in Staten Island 31 years noe.. I still remember one of the oldtimers saying how great it is to take a sonar (sauna)… my aunt referred to lineoleum as erl cloth (oil cloth).. as a kid, I thought leo Garcey was an English professor…..

  6. Glenn Thomas says:

    That’s funny! My father was born up on Prospect Park West and 17th Street in 1925. He’s 87 years old today and is still active in the neighborhood. He pronounces words like “oil” as “earl” as Eddie pointed out. He also pronounces the letter “H” as “Hay-ch” LOL! My dad along with my mom (81 years old) walk up to Mass at HN each day when the weather is agreeable. I love to hear their old stories of the neighborhood for there were so many characters living around this area!

  7. jimmyvac says:

    Give my birthday wished to Uncle John.. When I am tired or angry the Brooklyneses comes out as wehn my buddy ticked me off and I said don’t be such a quiff…he looked at me like I spoke Chinese… I think of some of the stuff we used to say like”MARONNE” to express shock…

  8. TonyF16thst says:

    I don’t think we ever really loose our Brooklyn. I left Brooklyn in 1978 only to go to Staten Island. But where ever I go and we do a lot of traveling I always get ” Let me guess, your from Brooklyn right?” And the reply is always the same.
    You Bet I Am

  9. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    lol, Tony- Staten Island is Brooklyn-only over a bridge, I recall reading once that 60% of Staten Islanders were originally from Brooklyn

  10. TonyF16thst says:

    Moe I’ll betcha its more than that. All the Staten Islanders got rich selling their properties to Brooklynites and moved to Joisee

  11. jimmyvac says:

    Tony /Maureen,
    I have been in Staten Island since 1981 and I like living here and met some great people.. but when I meet new people I say I am from Brooklyn but live in Staaten Island… Maureen, I think it’s more like 70-75 per cent.. Most of our friends and family have moved to Joisee … It’s funny now they are all saying what a pain it is mowing their lawn that noone is now using and wondering how they can afford the taxes when they retire…

  12. Willy Wickham says:

    Anytime anyone writes about Brooklyn it always seems to come out just right. Why is that?
    I’ve always loved this one from the first Steely Dan album. Not quite sure what all the lyrics mean but it’s beautiful. That’s David Palmer singing the lead. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCGiG4rgx5I

  13. Robert Cunningham (Broadway) says:

    When I was a kid my Mother would say “Ya think money grows on trees?” in my minds eye I would imagine money growing on a tree. Today I wonder what little kids think when Mom goes to the ATM and money squirts out like its free. “Why not Mom just go to the ATM and get more?”

  14. Bob Rice says:

    I havent heard those names in many years I knew Mousie and Cannonball,What a great neighborhood and great place to grow up

  15. Joan (Ferraro) Hanvey says:

    When I was a young girl (around 10 yrs. old), I would get into my bathing suit and walk barefoot (sidestepping glass and anything else on the dirty sidewalk) from Prospect Ave and 8th Ave around the corner to 17 St. and 8th Ave. to get under the “johnny pump” that Cannonball had opened up. He would manage to produce a fine spray for us kids but let the water out full force for the older fearless crowd. He also had a beautiful girlfriend/wife (not sure which) who looked exactly like Bridget Bardot. This was in the 50s before gentrification and during the time of the gangs. The Jokers would hang out in the candystore at 17th St. and 8th Avenue and the neighborhood had a diverse socioeconomic mix.

  16. Pat Fenton says:

    Joan, that was a wonderful poem you wrote about Brooklyn and our neighborhood. I lived at 483 17th Street, grew up there in the 50’s and 60’s, next door to Jacky Malone. Looking back on it, we didn’t know it at the time, but we had something that will never come our way again.

  17. Don C says:

    I live in North Carolina now and there isn’t a weekend where someone doesn’t ask me if I am from up North and I reply Brooklyn. They laugh when I say are yous going out? I always say “its better than yall”

  18. Joan (Ferraro) Hanvey says:

    Thank you Pat. I do have such fond unique memories of the old neighborhood.

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