I’m often asked, “Where ya from?”
When people hear me talk they assume I’m from the East Coast.
“You from Jersey?”
“No, I’m not from Jersey…”
Or I get,
“Are you from Boston?”
“No, I’m not from Boston…”
Quickly I respond,
“I’m from Brooklyn.”
I don’t say New York.
Nor do I say, “East Coast.”
It’s always “Brooklyn.”
Then I proceed to tell them what neighborhood after they ask, “What part?”
But I pause for a split second before I answer.
Forgive me but Windsor Terrace sounds…well wrong.
If I say Park Slope, I’m like, ‘shit, Park Slope, really’? I’m not from Park Slope. I remember a small gang used to call themselves the Park Slope Boys. “PSB” for short.
Or I’ll say, “Right by Prospect Park.”
But the Park covers a lot of ground.
Am I from the other side of the park?
Which part of the Park?
Grand Army Plaza?
“You know, by Farrell’s.”
Or I’ll say “Right by Bishop Ford.”
Oh shit, can’t say that anymore – Ford is closed.
Back in the day we used to say, “I’m from Holy Name.”
Hanging out at Manhattan Beach playing ball on a hot summer day.
“Where you from?”
“Yo, where you from?”
We were identified with a parish back in the day.
“I’m from Holy Name.”
I was always intrigued about where people were from.
“Where do you come from?”
“You play CYO?”
“Yeah, I play for OLPH.”
“Oh, you live down by East 5th?”
“Yeah, I play for IHM.”
See what I mean?
Basketball connected you and your neighborhood.
“I’m from St. Saviour’s,” the kid from first street would explain while he was up in the Holy Name boys schoolyard watching the summer league.
Here’s what I remember about each parish.
IHM: Jackie Ryan, East 5th street park, Dan Leary, and Chris Ryan.
St. Rose of Lima: Small gym. Coney Island Avenue. Tommy Sina and Tommy Baker.
St. Saviour’s: Chris Logan, Carl, a small gym, all girls high school. My boy Jimmy Parker and a pretty good player, David Quinn.
Visitation: Red Hook. All black players. Murray. F-train to Smith and 9th.
OLA: Bay Ridge. RR. Carl Flickinger. Long court. 4th avenue. Dennis Nolan and Tommy Lowney.
OLPH: Billy Thurlow. My career high in CYO, 32 points. Getting thrown out of a game. The high school my younger sister attended.
Regina Pacis: Cool Locker Room. Bowling alley. Fans stood upstairs. Scoring my first bucket in the 3rd grade. Steve Leondis. His team beat us 63-9.
St. Finbar: Bensonhurst. They beat us 29-3. Frankie Cullen scored all three points for our Bantam ‘B’ team.
St. Mary Mother of Jesus: Bensonhurst. John Pitlak. Gerard Genevieve and Manny Fernandez.
OLG: Playing for Ty Cobbs, we crushed them. Guadalupe, not Grace. A kid choking me during the game. Bensonhurst.
St. Mark’s: Gravesend. Louie Zito.
Holy Family: 4th avenue. They once asked me to play for their team. Boosted my self-esteem. Slice.
St. Thomas Aquinas: Chris Mullin. King Tournament.
St. Agatha: I always had a good game there.
St. Vincent Ferrer: Their court was hard as rock. When I dove for a loose ball, I complained that I should have had knee pads on. They used to have a good men’s league there. Gerard Trapp had a good team. First time I ever saw Ziggy. Kevin Greaney.
Holy Innocents: (Candy Man)
St. Athanasius: Some great battles not only in basketball but baseball too. I recall their gym being in the basement and across the street was Bishop Kearney, an all-girls high school.
St. Patrick’s: Last stop on the RR train. Allen Sheehan. Under the bridge.
Yo! Where you from?