WELL THEN WHAT CAN A POOR BOY DO?

My guy Pat Fenton, formerly of 483 17th street checks in with a compelling piece.

It’s 1957, and the three of us, Jacky,Vinnie from 19th Street, and me, are doing this Brooklyn strut sort of a walk down Eastern Parkway. Vinnie is a thief. He will steal anything he can get his hands on, doesn’t matter who owns it. That’s just the way he is. But there’s something cool and hip about him. He has an Emerson portable radio in his arms and he’s talking about the rock and roll music that he listens to way down at the other end of the radio dial where the black stations are, where most white boys don’t go.

Click the link below to read the rest…

http://mrbellersneighborhood.com/2014/12/the-last-winter-dance-party-of-america

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

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22 Responses to WELL THEN WHAT CAN A POOR BOY DO?

  1. Pat Fenton says:

    As always, Steve. Glad to appear on your Container Diaries Blog. You’re keeping an important part of our Windsor Terrace neighborhood alive.

  2. George Farrell says:

    1957 was the doo wop days of music. Every nabe had a singing group hitting notes a capella trying to sound like the Channels, the Dubs, the Flamingos, the Cadillacs, et al. We used to hit notes in the bathroom of the local playground…the tiled walls were a perfect echo chamber. Best Brooklyn doo wop group was the Fascinators fronted by Anthony Passalacqua. Four Italian guys and a black guy wearing their three-piece green corduroy suits and velvet boots. Gang graffiti started to appear on the subway walls back then. The gang’s name followed by “DTKLAMF”. If you didn’t know what it meant you were not cool. Gangs I remember were the Chaplins, Hellburners, Phantom Lords, Jokers and the Gremlins.

  3. Mudge says:

    GEORGE I BEG TO DIFFER WITH YOU THE BEST DOO WOP GROUP WAS THE INCIDENTALS. JOE BECKET BIL CASEY JOE GULESPPI MIKE MORAN DICK BAVETTA ANDBILL MUDGE. WE WORE RED JACKETS BLACK PANTS AND WHITE BUCKS

    • George Farrell says:

      Yo Mudge… I am sure the Incidentals were a great doo wop group but white bucks? Sounds more like the Kingston Trio look than doo wop! Cannot believe an old street-fighting, jitterbuggin, ditty boppin guy like yourself would be caught dead wearing white bucks! Heehee.

  4. Pat Fenton says:

    Talking about early Rock and Roll in Windsor Terrace , remember Andy Rose from 9th Avenue between 18th Street and 17th Street? He had a cover of the song “Just Young” hit the charts. Also in our neighborhood was Santo and Johnny from 18th Street down from 9th Avenue and their song “Sleepwalk”, which is part of Rock and Roll history.

  5. TonyF16 says:

    There were more than 1 band who went by The Fascinators.

    1. A 1950s doo-wop band
    The original members of the Fascinators came together, as did many of the vocal groups of the ’50s, while singing harmonies on the street-corners of their hometown, in this case, the Ridgewood-Bedford Stuyvessant section of Brooklyn.

    The group — Tony Passalaqua, lead, Angelo La Grecca, baritone, Nick Trivatto, tenor, Ed Wheeler, tenor, and George Cernacek, bass (though he was just a tenor and occasionally had to smoke cigars before appearances or record sessions in order to deepen his voice!) — ultimately received offers from several record labels, but it was their manager, Jim Fererri, who directed them to Capitol Records. Unfortunately for the group, Capitol wanted to sign Passalaqua as a single artist, but he insisted that he would not go forward without the group. Manny Kellem, director of A&R, proceeded to set a session up with musicians Big Al Sears and King Curtis on sax, Panama Francis (from the Count Basie band) on drums, and the arranger was Sid Bass. Capitol issued three singles before dropping the group, who became so completely disillusioned by the entire process that they disbanded and, with the exception of Passalaqua, were never to record again.

    Passalaqua later changed his name to Tony Richards and joined a group called the Twilights. Somewhere along the way, he met Kay Twomey, a songwriter who wanted to manage his career as a solo artist; she brought him to Irwin Schuster at a major music publishing company that would later be purchased by singer Bobby Darin. He recorded as Tony Richards and the Twilights for Colpix, who issued another single by Richards as a solo artist (“Shout My Name” was the second Jeff Barry-penned song ever recorded).

    Richards continued working with Barry before leaving Colpix to record for Canadian American, becoming Tony Mitchell for the new imprint. He recorded Barry’s “A Million Drums” with backing from the Angels (one month prior to the release “My Boyfriend’s Back”), which became the ABC Pick Hit of the Week; it was later covered by Jimmy Clanton. (Mitchell’s version was a hit in South America and Brussels). In 1967, Mitchell connected again with Barry — who by now was working with songwriter Ellie Greenwich and producers Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller — and recorded an album for Atco, which was not successful. He also sang with a group called the Dedications, whose own lead singer would often forget to show up for appearances — Tony was their on call lead, just in case. This group eventually ended up working out pretty well and they decided to add Mitchell permanently. They began calling themselves the Soul Survivors. Mitchell left the group six months before they were to hit with “Expressway to Your Heart.”

    Several years of background singing sessions followed. He contacted Barry once again, who had a then-current hit with a “group” he was working with, the Archies. There wasn’t a job for him with the group and ultimately he changed his name back to Anthony Passalaqua. He began a short-lived career in racing Double A Fuel dragsters. Passalaqua was later invited to join the Archies to anchor their sound and went on to again record Greenwich (who had split with partner/husband Barry and gone independent), but the single failed and ultimately he hung up his microphone, having come quite a long way since those days on the street-corners of Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn.
    (http://www.allmusic.com)

  6. Joan (Ferraro) Hanvey says:

    Another beautifully written piece by Pat Fenton. I enjoyed the way he so naturally tied the ending into the title and I especially loved hearing about the old neighborhood close to my era. Also, thank you for providing such a great website. One of the writers, J. Margolis, wrote stories about Alphabet City and one of the pieces that maybe of interest is entitled Jews Playing Basketball.

    • hoopscoach says:

      Joan do you know where I can find the piece on Jews playing basketball?

      • George Farrell says:

        Always takes me back to the famous fistfight between Larry Brown of UNC and Art Heyman of Duke around 1961. Two Jewish guys from Nassau County who were supposedly good friends got into a real donnybrook during a close ACC game. Both were suspended for a few games as I recall. Could never figure Heyman out…great rookie year with the Knicks then fizzled out. Word on the street was he was a bit of a loose cannon. Died alone and unknown a few years ago. Sad story. Larry Brown is still going strong. Best Jewish guy I ever played against in a summer league was a guy named Steve Nisensen from Hofstra. Deadly shooter with great range. Give him today’s three point shot and he’d go for 40 on you every night. Smooth as silk.

      • hoopscoach says:

        George that is great stuff! Thanks for sharing…

  7. Pat Fenton says:

    Much thanks for your kind words, Joan. Windsor Terrace was a good place to be young in. I’ve been talking on the phone with Pete Hamill lately, and our conversations always go back to the way we were in the old neighborhood. This Christmas Eve I’ll have a Christmas column I wrote for the Irish Echo published. Much of it is about Christmas on 17th street.

  8. Joan (Ferraro) Hanvey says:

    Steve, go to the site where Pat’s essay appears and on the right side at the bottom hit in Month: November 2014. You will then see Margolis’s story. Also after you find his story if you just hit his name you will find his other stories. I discovered Margolis by accident. If you don’t find it, there’s another route I can give you.
    Pat, I can’t wait to read your Christmas story. We just moved to Florida and as coincidences go, I met a women named Joan whose grandmother was the superintendent in a bldg down from where you lived. She knew you and your sister. She also knew the Pesce family who lived on 17th street off 8th Ave. I forgot her last name. I’m on Staten Island for the Holidays but when I return in Jan, I can find out more info.

  9. Pat Fenton says:

    Yeah, Joan, please let me know more about her. Always thinking when I hear that, god I hope they don’t remember some awful story about me when I was younger and sometimes made the wrong choices. (Like we all did.) But then I think of some of the real “bad” guys in our neighborhood and I consider myself Saint Pat. My feelings always were, bring no harm to anyone who is not trying to harm you. Great hearing from you.

  10. TonyF16 says:

    Pat, did you know my brother Bob?

  11. TonyF16 says:

    Fasano

  12. TonyF16 says:

    No relation Steve. We lived at 460 16th St. 3 rd house past the lot. between the Masella’s and the Pesce’s

  13. David says:

    Hi Mudge, do you still stay in touch with John Gallagher and Edward Hussey? I think Gallagher and Hussey were in the Jokers? In March 1957 the Youth Board set up a meeting between the Jokers and South Brooklyn Midgets, but the Midgets didn’t show up. The Youth Board set the meeting up at P.S. 10. Not sure if my email address will show up on the profile, so here it is if anyone is interested in emailing me: david@vanpelt.on.ca

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