I saw this essay on Fiore Tierno’s Facebook page.  Not sure of the origin/author but I figured everyone here would enjoy it.

I come from a borough called Brooklyn where hoagies are called hero’s, shopping carts are called wagons and roads are called streets.  Going on the avenue was a night out and everyone knew someone or you were related somehow.

Your parents sat on the stoop all night while we played manhunt, hide and seek, handball, hopscotch, war, freeze tag, red light, green light and ring-o-leeveo.


Our moms called us from the window to come in and eat; we had block parties that lasted till morning.  We ate the best Italian bread, pastries, cookies, and homemade Italian ices.

Mr. Softee, egg creams, pretzel sticks from the candy store and we hung out at the park not the playground.

These were the best of times…



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21 Responses to BROOKLYN BORN

  1. jimmyvac says:

    Where you say give me a slice ot a square, or two on a roll with bacon and ac…. great post, Steve.

  2. JB says:

    I remember sitting on the stoop at night (P.P.S.W, between Vanderbilt st. & Reeve Place), seeing the lights from Ebbets Field across Prospect Park. I could hear the crowd cheering when there was a home run.. Less people, fewer cars in Brooklyn back then..

    • hoopscoach says:


      That is awesome. And, I bet you recall it like it was just last night?

      Did you ever go over there to a ballgame?


      • JB says:

        Yes, I did go but I was very young. My Dad alway’s promised me but worked at night. A lady from church whose husband couldn’t go, took me. I was amazed at how bright the lights were, like daylight..Sorry to say I don’t remember the game..

      • hoopscoach says:


        That’s ok, there are tons of games I went to that I don’t recall what happened.


        Hope all is well and again, thanks for writing.


  3. jimmyvac says:

    I used to wish I was born earlier to be able to walk to Ebbets Field and see a game.. My dad, not a big baseball fan, told me he went to about 10 games a year when they had nothing to do. When we were about 9,Donny Rice and I went to where we thought field was and we saw apartment buildings. We asked an oldtimer where the park was and he told us we were standing on it. They were originally called the Ebbetts Field Apartments and the name changed when Jackie Robinson died. When they demolished the park, they painted the wrecking ball like a baseball. I wrote some of the old Brooklyn Dodgers and received a signed picture and a note from Pee Wee Reese and an autographed pic from Roy Campenella…It must have been awesome to have three MLB teams in NYC back in the day…

  4. JerryG says:

    Brooklyn is a state of mind while the Slope was heaven on earth. The people I came to know and love when I lived there in the 70’s were more up front and honest about everything back then than people today. Grocery stores! On the corner of 11th and 8th Ave was Jack the Jew…what a wonderful man. He gave credit to everyone in the neighborhood as did the grocery directly across the street ( I forget the names of the brothers who owned it).

    And “The Neighborhood” characters! Where are they now? I used to run into Joe Pennino, an old punch drunk prize fighter, who constantly claimed that he fought Fritzie Zivic for the title. He said the mob fixed it. Of course I always blew him off until one day I looked it up in the Ring record book. Sure enough he lost a ten round decision to Zivic in 1938 at the Velodrome at Coney Island!

    Two of my favorite neighborhood guys were Tommy and Bobby Gates. Tommy started out as a cop but switched to the Fire Department, and Bobby was a cop working in the Emergency Services unit. They don’t make guys like them anymore. For those who don’t know it they were profiled in the book Working by Studs Terkel. They appear as Tom and Bob Patrick, and their dad appears as Harold Patrick, who was a Union Organizer (when it took balls to be one) in the chapter Freight Elevator Operator. They appear again using their real names in a later book by Terkel, Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Both great reads.

    I’ll sign off now thinking about having an ice cold “container” outside of Farrells on a hot summer day. Only $1.00! No question they had the COLDEST beer in the world. Were the pipes from the kegs really packed in ice?

    • hoopscoach says:


      Great stuff my man.

      I’m going to try and look for those books. and I’m also going to

      Research Joe Pennino; 27-31 record and he did fight Zivic on August 12, 1938. Lost in 8 rounds. The fight was held at Coney Island. He had a couple of fights in Prospect Hall and also Madison Square Garden. Poor guy lost 13 of his last 15 fight before his career came to an end.

      Didn’t they film the Lords of Flatbush on 8th avenue; some of it at least.

      Have a great weekend.


      • Jerry G says:

        Yes, I think they might have filmed some scenes there at or near Vinnie’s pizza place on 8th Avenue between 11th and 12th. He had pizza by the slice and he used to show us Hustler centerfolds as we waited at the counter…too funny. Tame stuff today. Joe Pennino used to shadowbox all over the neighborhood and was in pretty good shape for an old guy. Nobody tangled with him, that’s for sure. Definitely check out the books…Terkel used a tape recorder so you get the exact wording of the people he talked to.

        Keep up the great writing…


      • hoopscoach says:

        Jerry you’re the best…

        Wish I would have seen Joe shadow-boxing. Dude sounds like a street-brawler.

      • Carol Acess Wilbur says:

        Yes, they did film some indoor scenes of the Lords of Flatbush on 8th. The scenes were filmed in Herman Ehrich’s luncheonette and ice cream parlor.

      • hoopscoach says:

        Thanks Carol, hope you are well.

  5. tony fasano says:

    Steve I really do know the answer to that question, scouts honor. When he was little he liked to play marbles and a pee wee is a marble.

  6. richie k says:

    i went to school were ebbets field was before i moved to the neighborhood, i was 10 -11 years old, the school was IS.320 i think on washington ave

  7. jimmyvac says:

    Reese got his nickname from being a marbles champion. He was about 5’10 165 so he was not small for the era he played. He was later called “The Captain” and the “Kentucky Colonel”. What prompted me to write the old Brooklyn Dodgers was ,”The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn, a great book for baseball and non baseball fans alike. I still read it every so often. Useless trivia: Winkler based Fonzi on Stallone’s character in “Lords of Flatbush”.

  8. Maureen Rice says:

    There is a statue depicting Pee-Wee Reese with his arm draped around Jackie Robinson down by KeySpan Park (or whatever it is called now) It represents a time when Robinson was being called hateful names by a crowd and Reese walked out on the field and put his arm around him in support for his teammate…someone spraypainted racist slurs on it. smh…

  9. Maureen Rice says:

    wow.. I really need to proof-read my comments, lol!

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