Today’s blog entry was inspired by two friends from the neighborhood, author Pat Fenton and blogger Alex McNeil. Pat’s e-mail address has the word ‘stoop’ in it and Alex’s blog has ‘stoop’ in the title. Oftentimes when I see an e-mail pop up from Pat or if I visit Al’s blog, I go back into time to the moments I spent hanging out on a stoop; our neighborhood was filled with them.
I lived in a five-bedroom, railroad apartment on the corner of Windsor Place and Ninth Avenue right on top of Bob’s hardware store. Our landlord Fanny Hyman lived on the floor below us. When I’d shoot my jump-shot on my Nerf hoop, run through the apartment or make-believe I was Chief Jay Strongbow jumping off my bed onto the floor, I’d hear from mom, who heard from Fanny.
“STOP JUMPING,” mom would scream at me.
Many of my friends lived on the avenue and over different stores like L&J, Ballard, Bonalli’s, Farrell’s and Rae & Otto’s.
Other friends from the neighborhood lived in private homes throughout the area; homes with a stoop.
A stoop was a few concrete steps that went from the sidewalk to the front door; it was how you entered and exited your house.
People hung out on their stoops all the time. They say down to shoot the shit, watch people walk by and play cards. It was a social event. People read books, newspapers, they brought out glasses of soda, cans of beer and some people smoked cigarettes.
As kids we hung out on The Cullen’s stoop all the time; we were light fixtures; it could be early in the morning, mid-afternoon or late at night. The Cullen’s lived on Windsor Place between Fuller and 10th avenue. We played cards, argued over who was better Craig Nettles or George Brett and we also took pot shots at people walking by. We were professional ball breakers.
Hanging out on a stoop, the parents knew where their children were, they knew they were safe. Actually, come to think of it, do you think our parents worried about where we were back in those days?
Next door to the Cullen’s was an older gent named “Scooter” who could always be found on his stoop jabbering away.
All one had to do was walk around the neighborhood and see many people sitting on their stoops. I must have sat my skinny ass on more stoops than anyone in the neighborhood. Maybe it was because I was tired from walking but deep down I wanted to stay connected with friends and chat.
Glenn Thomas who still lives on Sherman Street had a cool stoop in which I spent a lot of time on despite a round flower-pot taking up a lot of space. We’d play ball down at P.S. 154 schoolyard and head back to his house and hang outside.
A little farther down Sherman, past 11th avenue but right before Terrace Place the late Forte Bellino was on his stoop holding court every night.
I had some good friends that lived on 16th street with stoops; some lived in apartment buildings, some owned a home.
Windsor Place between 7th and 8th avenue was my favorite stoop of all; my first girlfriend Maureen lived in the first house right off of 8th avenue.
Together we sat on her stoop many nights talking, arguing, holding hands and of course kissing.
When I sat next to her on her stoop I felt like we were in our own little world.
At times her mother would call down to her to come upstairs but she would always put it off.
“I’ll be right up,” was her response.
I recall one night we must have been out there until 3 a.m., her mom had given up trying to get her to come upstairs. It was nights like that where I didn’t want to go home.
I can’t forget playing “off the point” on many stoops too. Now that was a fun game. Wonder if kids still play?
How about the good folks of Howard and Fuller Place? These lucky SOB’s not only had a stoop but they had a front porch too. Double the pleasure, double the fun!
Getting back on Windsor Place just a few doors down from the subway, Betty Cole (mother of Jerry and Helen) loved to sit on their stoop. Most times it was Betty, Helen Sweeney and Mrs. Mackay hanging tough. I recall passing them many times on my way to Cullen’s. Most of the time they sat on Betty’s stoop but from time to time they’d switch it up and sit on the Mackay’s stoop. I once sat on Mackay’s stoop chatting with Joanne Mackay, one of my favorite people from the neighborhood.
I have to come clean though, I was always jealous of my friends that lived in their own homes with stoops to call their own. When you came out of my apartment you walked into a bunch of garbage cans for sale chained to the Hardware store.
But hey all was not lost, we had a very cool fire escape in the back that led to our roof so it wasn’t all too bad.