THE SNOW SHOVELLER

Winter time means snow, it’s early January and we’re getting lots of it.

The arrival of the white stuff also means its time to grab a shovel and go to work.  I’m not feeling the snow-blowers people use.

Someone pissed off Mother Nature, she is hitting us hard.

Me on pile of snow

Back in the day I grew up in a railroad apartment, 228A Prospect Park West, corner of Windsor Place, third floor over Bob’s Hardware Store.  I never had to shovel the sidewalk in front of the apartment.  Our landlord, Fanny Hyman had the workers in her store shovel. Even if she asked me to shovel, there was no way I was doing it.  She once gave me a part-time job in the store when I was a teen; that lasted about a week.

An easy way to make some cold cash was to shovel snow. A lot of kids in the neighborhood went from house to house asking if they could shovel. Some homeowners would hire them and within minutes their sidewalk was cleared. The stores on ninth avenue did the same thing.  I remember seeing the same fucking kid hustling from store to store shoveling, getting paid and moving on to the next store. Today, that kid is probably a successful business owner somewhere.

These past few days I have snatched the shovel from our garage and gone to work. To tell the truth I actually enjoy shoveling.  It’s a great workout and most of all, I get a feeling of accomplishment after seeing my work.  I like it so much, when the neighbors are out-of-town, I do their sidewalk too.

As a teen, when they actually played ball in the boys schoolyard on Howard Place, if we wanted to play ball in the yard, we had to shovel.  Danny P., our fantastic coach would make us shovel the court for practice. Holy Name never had a gym.

On a cold night in January of 1978, I left my apartment after dinner carrying my basketball. My mother must have thought I was crazy; I mean there was snow all over the place. I’m sure residents of the neighborhood that saw me crossing ninth avenue and walking down Windsor Place with a basketball in my hands must have thought I was nuts.

I walked into the yard and saw Edgar De La Rosa and Gammie shoveling the middle court. Edgar was one of the best point guards from the neighborhood and played his ball at Bishop Ford and later at St. Francis College. Gammie was a slick ball-handler who ran the point at John Jay. The snow blanketed every part of the yard except for one long, narrow path that they had shoveled. These two dedicated ball players cleared a path from the Howard Place baseline to the church wall.

I was mesmerized by the discipline these two displayed.  I watched them go up and down the court working on their dribbling skills; it’s no wonder they were so good. Watching Edgar and Gammie for a few minutes, their drive and desire to improve enticed me to join them; which I did and they welcomed me with open arms, as long as I shovelled a bit.

“Yo Red, get that spot over there in the corner,” Gammie shouted out as he worked on his behind-the-back dribble.  I did as I was told grabbing the shovel and scooping up some slush that must have been in their way.

After working on our dribbling for about an hour Edgar and Gammie left. I now had the entire yard for myself. It was my paved paradise. I noticed they had left the shovel behind so I stopped dribbling and walked over and grabbed it to shovel some more. I cleared the snow from around the basket on the Howard Place side and began to get some shots up.  (Do kids today still shovel the court?)

That night in the yard the hard work paid off. Watching Edgar and Gammie work on their game was contagious.  These two showed that if you put the time in, you can accomplish anything.

Respectfully,

Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

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18 Responses to THE SNOW SHOVELLER

  1. jimmyvac says:

    I remember shoveling the yard for hoops.. I also remember playing touch tackle in the yard on the snow, coming home soaking wet, bloodied, exhausted, and very happy…

    • hoopscoach says:

      Rough tackle in the snow was great. One night we played on ninth avenue. Must have been close to midnight. No traffic. No parked cars. We had our own “Bowl” game…

  2. jimmyvac says:

    Red, as I told my son the emphasis was on tackle not touch. I remember sliding for a couple of yards on the snow and slush////

  3. GTrapp says:

    Great memories, playing tackle football, shoveling court to play hoops, for Mickey @ G’s practices if u didn’t shovel u had to run around the school yard until snow was cleared, when the sun was strong the water from snow allowed us as youngesters to palm the ball, letting us feel what it was like for like pros to hold a basketball in one hand, another memory was remembering how quiet, peaceful and beautiful the neighborhood got after a big snow storm, everything in the city/neighborhood came to a stop, something that rarely ever happens, I can still hear the muffled peaceful sound of the chains on the tires of the buses and cars moving along the Avenue.
    (And then of course we had to bomb them with snowballs as they went by)!

    • hoopscoach says:

      Gerard,

      Yes! The palming of the damp basketball! Loved that feeling…

      And bombing the bus with snowballs; boy were we bad.

      Happy New Year my friend.

  4. Maureeen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    wow..the chains..forgot all about that…

  5. Jim Casey says:

    Also remember shoveling in order to practice for Bro. Duane and our 8th grade team in ’58-59
    Great memories
    Made us appreciate having any court

  6. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    Also, I have seen people using that schoolyard to play ball recently, but I doubt they shoveled it out to play..but, now, they have the maintenance men and the snowblower 🙂

  7. GTrapp says:

    Jim, had br duane in 8th grade also, didn’t know he coached you in hoops, heard he was semi pro baseball, he was paying more attention to the girls & not involved in any sports when we had him.
    Going downtown thurs to catch SFC LIU.

    • hoopscoach says:

      GTrapp,

      I expect a full report on the Blackbirds-Terriers game.

      Because I remember those battles back in the day; they were legendary. Matter of fact, one game our guy Edgar should have won the award that they give to the Most Outstanding Player of the game. They hosed him…

  8. GTrapp says:

    Will do.
    I actually have a picture somewhere receiving Buck Lay/ Danny Lynch trophy after the game and you are standing clear as day in the picture.

  9. GTrapp says:

    Terriers blow blackbirds out!

  10. Jim Casey says:

    Gerard
    Bro. Duane was a terrific hs athlete
    He was a teammate of Heisman, Notre dame and Packer great Paul Hornung
    Congrats to the terriers on the big win vs LIU
    The LIU coach was Buck Lai(you never were a good speller)

  11. GTrapp says:

    Jim, would have never known Br Duane was a “Player” from the interest he showed in HN sports pgrm, however he clearly was a “Player” though when it came to the girls, not a surprise he left brotherhood a few yrs later.
    What do you mean I was poor at spelling, my two favorite subjects , and the ones I really excelled most at in All Hallows happened to have been Spelling & Lunch!

  12. Michael Bove says:

    Great memories about shoveling the snow. Me and my Uncle Tony used to shovel Farrell’s bar.Not only did we get paid to shovel the snow but the drunks At the bar would give us nickels and dimes.What a score.Hard work but good money. Sometimes 2 or 3 dollars each

  13. Michael Bove says:

    Other ways of making good money in the early 60’s.Hunting for bottles that have deposits , 3 cents a nickel.The big coke bottle was a nickel that was the score.man that bottle was Heavy the glass was so thick.Anyone who ran over this bottle would definitely get a flat.More money help the old man change the flat.If we got a quarter we can go right to Ray and ottos For an egg cream and a couple of candy bars

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