SITTIN’ ON THE STOOP WITH…

Brian Lang…

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on 17th Street between 9th and 10th avenues.  Although my parents divorced when I was in my teens, my apartment at 510 17th St had my mother Mary Ann, father Mike, brother Mike, and my sister Pat.

17th St was an amazing block. I had my cousins Richie, John and Walter.  There were great guys like the Camarano’s, Allie Russo, Tommy Plantamuro, the late Nicky Guido, Dennis Mullaley, and the Laux brother’s Billy and Tom. Can’t forget about Mike and Sue Hardman. We had good people like Brian, Mark and Jody Carrachia. Michael and Pee-Wee Pagan and Douglas Herman. The McKee’s, Kenny Driscoll, and who can forget Boooolaaaa!

Sports was played all year-round.  Stickball, whiffle ball, off the point, football, sponge ball and softball. Believe it or not we didn’t play basketball.  I broke the mold with that one. When it got too hot in the summer we opened the johnny pump. None of us knew that we didn’t come from much money. We were living the dream!

Brian Lang

Describe your experience of Holy Name?

Going to Holy Name was the single greatest gift my mother and father ever gave to me.  It is there that I received the education that has lasted me a lifetime. Ironically, those life lessons didn’t come from the textbooks, they came from the daily interactions from the friendships that were formed. The people in my life today are the same people from my youth.  Martin Cottingham, Eric Swanson, The Sturges brothers, the Rafferty’s, the Mackay’s, the Harte’s, the Dougherty’s and Thomas Dolan.

The teachers were awesome. I remember Brother Lawrence taking us to a Big East  basketball game at Madison Square Garden, St John’s vs Georgetown. It was my first college game; Chris Mullin vs Patrick Ewing.  I will never forget that night, the Garden was rocking. I left there a big Ewing fan. I was amazed at his game.

Brother Lawrence met us at the 15th St train station and rode the train with us to the Garden.  When the game was over he said, “O.K. see ya’ I have to go to the Bronx.”

Martin Cottingham, Tim Sturges and I rode the train back home by ourselves at 9:30 at night. We were too dumb to be scared!

The Parish went into turbo charge when Father Jim Devlin arrived.  Instantly he put the hoops back in the schoolyard .Not those half-moon thing’s either, real square back boards. Then he started the flag football league in the park, I think every kid in the Parish was on a team. Basically you played with the kids you hung out with.  He single-handedly revived a sleeping Parish. I believe he was the one who created the momentum which is still going today at Holy Name /St. Joseph the Worker.

The highlight of the day was when the school bell rang  at dismissal.  You met your friends in the boys school yard.  Steve Finamore, Glen Thomas, Little Jimmy Maloney, Jimmy McDonough, McDermott, Matt DeNardo, Daniel Ferrity, Danny Toner, Jack Malone, The Cunninghams, Riggins’, The Shashaty brothers, The Heegan’s, Andy Purdy, Chris Robinson, Orlando Pabon, The Rutter brothers, The Stratton’s, the Palanca’s and the Lavassuer brothers.  All good people. The boys school yard was the center of our universe. We couldn’t live without it!

Do you recall the first time you walked into Farrell’s for a drink? 

My first beer in Farrell’s was on my birthday when I was 21.  I didn’t even waste my time trying to be served before hand because I knew I would be denied.  All my buddies were there waiting for me;  John Rafferty, John Macky, Phil McKenna, Eric Swanson, Danny and Jimmy Sturges, it was great.  I’m older than Martin Cottingham and Tim Sturges so they couldn’t get served.  Gerard Trapp was working the stick behind the bar that night.

“You have I.D.?” Gerard asked.

With a smile I answered, Yes I do..

I’ll have a Gin and Tonic, I said.

“Oh no you’re not!” Gerard replied.

Really?

“You will thank me in the morning,” Gerard assured me.

Thinking back on that night, he was right!

The best thing about going into Farrell’s you always get your family history played back to you with the other generation of guy’s that are there.

Someone always knows your grandfather, father, brother, or cousins.  I have the pleasure of going on the Farrell’s football trip with guys like Duffer (John Powers), Pete Connoly, Billy Kahaly, Sookie. John Davis, Bucky, Broadway, the McKenna’s and the Heegan Family. This season we ran into Danny Mahoney, A.K.A., “The Chief.”  It was great to hang with him, he’s a good dude.

Choose one store up on the avenue; give me the one thing you recall about that store and a story from your experience.  Can be your favorite store, least favorite, etc. 

What I remember fondly is Tony Pinto from United Meat Market. He was so nice to everyone. I remember as a little kid he would engage me in conversation on all things. I couldn’t believe this man with his store packed would take the time and talk to me. He had a great way of making you feel good about yourself. It was no surprise that when the Sturges’ dad died he hired Timmy and Jimmy to work at the store. Later on in life when I started dating and marrying his older daughter Tracy it was the same, he was always a pleasure to be around and the best person to talk to. I owe much to him for letting me see how a true gentleman operates in life. When his entire family his wife and daughters  lost their home in Breezy Point we moved back to the neighborhood. My girls and little Tony Pinto, Tricia’s son got a kick going back into their grandpa’s butcher shop. I am pleased to see Rocky and Joe doing an amazing job with United just like Tony.

Give us an update on what you are up to these days? 

I am presently living back in the neighborhood while we await the permit process to rebuild our home from the fires that occurred during “Sandy”.

Last year a few month’s before the storm I made a promise to myself that I would get healthy again.  I started running, biking and incorporated swimming into the mix.  I started doing triathlons and competing in road races.

In a year’s time I ran eight, half-marathons and will be running the New York City Marathon in November.

I teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to raise funds so they can help families rebuild there lives post-sandy.

So far, family and friends have helped me raise $14,000.

I am a proud union electrical foreman in Local 3 and have a beautiful hardworking wife.

I have known my wife Tracy Pinto most of my life and am very proud of the way she has helped keep normalcy with my children, post-sandy.  My kids love sports; soccer, swimming and hoop’s. All of our free time goes to them and we love it!  Being back in the neighborhood I love that my daughter and I can shoot around in the school yard just like the old days. I feel blessed, I have the best family and friends a man could ever ask for.  How fortunate I was to grow up in such an amazing parish of Holy Name.

Thanks Brian…

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12 Responses to SITTIN’ ON THE STOOP WITH…

  1. Jack Kelly says:

    I’m impressed with you and your family , Brian…. It must be that Holy Name spirit I’ve been hearing about. Sandy comes along and wipes everything out yet you make something positive out of it…. Good luck in getting that house re-built…..and PS…..the first time I went into Farrell’s was on my 18th birthday but I wasn’t as daring as you……I asked for a beer and just prayed no one would comment about my long hair 🙂

  2. jimmyvac says:

    Good luck with everything , Brian. We got hit by the storm (Staten Island) but not as bad as others. I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and they are a great organization. First time I went to Farrells was when I was 17 and ran into Farrell’s and bought 6 containers during the 1977 blackout. Are you related to the nice guy that owned Gerald’s bar?

  3. B.lang says:

    Thanks Jack that’s kind of you to say.Jim that is my Uncle Gerard Lang. Your right he is nice. One of the most generous people, would give the shirt off his back.

  4. Andrew Purdy says:

    Great piece on a total class act….One thing Brian forgot to mention (which I kind of blocked out), was he and I were in a summer basketball tournament together for the first time ever and after sizing up the competition, we looked at each other and said the trophy was ours. We always played tough against each other and knew nobody would be able to stop the both of us. After losing 2 straight in a double elimination tourney, we both vowed to never pick up a ball again.

    BTW – my first time in Farrells was when i was 14 and Jimmy Breslin was doing a piece for Good morning America. My parents werent happy campers when I was filmed walking right up to the camera on national TV.

    • hoopscoach says:

      Andrew,

      Thanks for sharing…

      Hope you are well.

      BTW, you were one of the toughest ball players from the neighborhood.

      I tell everyone about our late night trips to PS 154’s schoolyard following the West Coast game on CBS.

  5. Jack Kelly says:

    Andy, I can only imagine what your Mom and Dad said to you during supper that night 🙂

  6. GTrapp says:

    Brian, What I remember from that night was thinking -this is a good kid, not having spent a lot of time in the neighborhood while you guys were at the prime time age I didn’t get to know you and your crew, other than Martin & Chris, being we were older and had moved on as the older guys have always done in the schoolyard and neighborhood , unfortunately we missed seeing your crew grow up, but what’s nice and always happened in our neighborhood was eventually the younger guys catch up to the older guys and start to blend in, joining together, continuing the neighborhood bond that has brought together uncles, cousins, brothers, fathers, sons, daughters, moms, aunts and everyone else, for years this was the way, as long as I could remember, and this along with people like you, your crew and all the crowds before is what has made it a great neighborhood.

  7. B.lang says:

    Andy that was terrible! A week earlier we went to Astoria and kicked butt in a tourney your friend Nicky got us in. The next week we got brought back to earth big time. Lol. Great hearing from you. Next time Red is in town lets all get some burgers and beers.

  8. Dan Mahoney says:

    Man that’s good stuff Brian! Your Mother and Father in law, Tony and Pat Pinto great folks. Pat’s Mom and Dad, George and Gertrude Fearon were two of the nicest people that I ever met. They were like an Aunt and Uncle to me growing up in the neighborhood. We had a lot of “Aunt and Uncle’s” like that growing up ,you had your family and then your extended family. Those folks and many more like them were the Bedrock of the neighborhood! From what I can see you are part of that Bedrock too! Your actions , comments and the comments from everybody above really sum up what makes the Neighborhood special! All the best and Good luck in the Marathon!

  9. B.lang says:

    GT very well said. ” Chief” I will pass along those kind words to my wife’s family. Hope to see you on next years trip. Best part always hanging around the suite talking about ol’ times.

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