SITTIN’ ON DA’ STOOP

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.

-Steve

HOOPS135@HOTMAIL.COM

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to SITTIN’ ON DA’ STOOP

  1. Helen Cole Prestia says:

    I miss sitting on the stoop in the summer time. We had alot of laughs.

  2. Jack Kelly says:

    Schoolyards and stoops in the spring, summer and fall and then in the winter it was apartment bldg vestibules and if you could sneak all the way up before the mayor of the apartment bldg caught you we would sit by the roof door at the top of the stairs. And then when your old enough it was off to a bar. Nowadays if I’m not in Farrell’s or R & B’s you’ll find me sitting on my stoop with a cigar and beer. ……All these years later and I’m back where I started.

  3. Glenn Thomas says:

    We still sit on our stoop on Sherman Street as our children play and have these long conversations with people who either are residents of the block or friendly people that pass by. This is of course going on during the times of good weather. My wife is from Sao Paulo, Brazil and absolutely loves Brooklyn and especially our neighborhood of Windsor Terrace for people in Brazil either don’t or can’t sit on their steps for many different reasons. The idea of living in a major metropolis like NYC and still have that small town feel to it which our neighborhood affords us to enjoy. It’s kind of being able to have your cake and eat it! I love sitting on my stoop while enjoying a cup of coffee and taking in the sights and sounds of Sherman Street. Today, there’s not as many children playing street games but still fun nonetheless. I can remember those arguments when we were younger such as baseball player and rock band comparisions. Good times when we had little responsibilities and could worry about things like that!

  4. jimmyvac says:

    As a kid, I was jealous of everyone that had a stoop… We finally got a metal stoop put in about 5 years ago when we renovated.. everytime, I am at the house, I sit on the stoop and watch the world go by.. My goal is to retire to Windsor and spent alot of time on that stoop.

    • Glenn Thomas says:

      You mention that a lot Jimmy! I hope that you make that a reality! Of course with everyone in your family on board with that!

  5. Jack Kelly says:

    I’m thinking about the people that lived in the apartment houses in my neck of the woods and inparticular my friends mom and dad. His mom and dad lived on Prospect Ave between 6th and 7th avenue and she use to have a chair by the window of her 2nd floor apartment and from that window she would have the whole neighborhood available to her than at night after dinner her husband would man the other window, pillow in hand of course, and talk to eachother from window to window and together take in the sights. So if you didn’t have a stoop in my neighborhood you still had a window.

  6. jimmyvac says:

    Jack,
    As a kid, Donny Rice lived on the top floor of the Chile’s house (Brian, Cathy, & Kevin)… we used to talk at night across the street until someone would yell SHADDAUP ALREADY.. My Aunt Catherine (Gabbert) would sit by the window sill and watch everything. Years after she passed away, people

    would say they were still looking for her in the third floor window.

  7. Steve McLaughlin says:

    I can remember pitching baseball cards against the bottom step of our stoop @ 98 Windsor.
    Sure wish I held onto those cards – quite the collection as I recall!

  8. Laura Cox-Delaney says:

    My apartment building stoop on 16th Street was a little different. Instead of a bunch of steps, we had 1 small step, a really wide platform and another step leading to the sidewalk. The building had 2 Greek-like concrete columns and there was a place to sit on each side of the stoop. Mrs. Clark (the old lady on the 1st floor that used to yell “cops, cops!” whenever a spalding ball came near her) could be seen sitting in her chair, cane in hand, just waiting for something or someone to get her going -which we always did.

    • hoopscoach says:

      Laura,

      Great to hear from you!

      It was cool hanging out in that area; especially when it rained!

      How about when everyone hung out in your apartment? Your mom was aces for allowing us to hang out.

      Hope you are well.

  9. Don C says:

    Laura. Was that a Spalding or Spaldeen? lol

  10. Joan (Ferraro) Hanvey says:

    “Actually, come to think of it, do you think our parents worried about where we were back in those days?” Boy, did that statement hit home although I did have a curfew which I don’t think my friends had. Speaking of roofs, what about “tar city” and trying to avoid the melting tar while getting a tan? And, I almost forgot looking out the window on a pillow. Both my husband and I, he from 15th St. and I from Prospect Ave, have photos hung up in our home in South Jersey (yes we did leave Brooklyn via Staten Island to Jersey) of both our tenements which we obtained from the Dept. of Bldgs which has pictures available of every bldg in NY. Mine was available from the 40s which was the specific tax year the photos were taken. Since my tenement was torn down, it’s so nice looking at it from time to time and remembering.

  11. Joan (Ferraro) Hanvey says:

    Life was different in those days. Only God can truly see what’s in a person’s heart. As Maya Angelou says: “When I knew better, I did better.

  12. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    I lived in an 8 family apt building on 13th bet 7th and 8th, but we had a stoop- it was the most popular stoop on the block- I am gonna have to walk down Sherman Street sometime, because, although I am still in the neighborhood, I always marvel at the empty stoops I pass as I walk through- I know a lot of it has to do with the fact that most everyone has a/c these days, but I do miss the community feeling of the various blocks…everyone was out in the summer, and every block had a “warden”- usually someone’s grandma, hanging tough out the window, resting her arms on a pillow- I snapped a pic of Prospect Ave bet 10th and 11th and posted it on FB, just to give my friends a visual of my block- the first comment from a friend in NOLA was ” where’s da people?:

  13. Kevin Mahoney says:

    The stoop of the apartment building I lived in on 14th street just off 8th ave, directly across the street from PS 107’s, was always full with kids hanging out on summer nights. Our land lord was an old Polish lady who would throw buckets of water from her second floor window on to the stoop to get people off. She usually yelled one warning and anyone who failed to move after that got hit with it. I can remember some people’s radios getting ruined. She’d also go crazy any time the hydrant across the street from the building got turned on during hot days since the building’s water pressure would go down. To her credit, the building was never in better shape than when she owned it, she did everything herself. I can remember the scent of amonia on Saturday mornings throughout the building when she would wash the halls and steps from the fourth floor all the way down. My Dad stil lives in the building, which has been owned by a corporation for many years, and it doesn’t get close to the care she gave it back then.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s