DEATH TO MY HOMETOWN

“Everything was bottled up inside of me.” -Paul Auster

HNS building

Monday morning and I’m standing on the corner of Windsor and ninth.

Cell phone in my right hand. Watching the cars drive by and the people walk by, they have their heads down. One person is talking on their phone.

A bus zooms by – 61?

What?

Wait up, where’s the 75?

What’s the speed limit on the avenue?

How come everyone honks their horn?

Cool out bro.

There’s an argument across the street outside Terrace Bagels between a homeless guy and guy in a business suit.  I can’t make out what they are saying. Someone is pissed.

No more Rae and Otto’s. Where can I get my New York Post? Daily News? I need an egg cream bad. They kept the money in a cigar box. What?

No more Pynn’s Deli. Can’t get a good bowl of Rice Pudding. Billy Pynn is the man. So was his brother Mel and sister Virginia.

No one is hanging outside Farrell’s. Was there ever a bookie in Farrell’s that took action? Remember Farrell’s football team? That was real football. On Sunday mornings I would bum a ride outside the bar to go down to Farragut Road.

Associated is gone. (“Seven kids for one Pringles?”) I was so embarrassed using Food Stamps there. They made me feel like a bum. Hey, mom tried. She really did. I would grab the groceries and wait until no one was in the store then pay for them.

That hurt…

Brick oven pizza has replaced Sabella’s. (“Hey Joey, you got the world by the balls!” shouted the late Forte Bellino to the late Joey Corrar when Pop gave Joey a free slice)

I just like cheese and sauce on my slice.

228A Prospect Park West. That was my address. Phone number was 718-788-7307

Shaking my head. Crazy right?

Speaking of Joey and Forte, death sucks. You lose good people. But hey, we all gotta go sometime, right?

Clothes Tree? Great place to buy a pair of jeans.

There’s a Dunkin Donuts on the avenue but no Starbucks! Come on man.

I sit at a table drinking a cup of mud and enjoy a jelly donut. Looking out the window people still climb the church steps for the mid morning service.

“Bless me Father for I have sinned…”

They’re all walking by me and I can’t recognize a single mug.

Who are they?

Where are they from?

I gotta do a double take.

Change. I totally understand it. Don’t explain it to me.

High rent. $3200 a month? What?

Surreal man…Society man!

Some childhood friends have moved to Upstate, New Jersey, Staten Island, North Carolina, Vegas, Texas…One friend went out to California. But hold up, there’s still a few around.

Teesha’s still holding it down on 8th avenue and Prospect. Stay strong girl…

Another long-time Windsor Terrace resident Donnie Kent told me he feels like a stranger in his own neighborhood.

The boys schoolyard at Holy Name turned into a parking lot. Can’t get a decent game of three-on-three. I’d go for a game of taps if we had three guys. But I’m alone.

Spent a lot of time in that yard. Would sneak out of our apartment late at night. Walk there and sit against the church wall thinking. Thinking of what? I had no idea.

The summer league was the best. No such thing as Flagrant one or flagrant two. We learned how to compete.  No parents in the yard. Kids. That was it. The way it ought to be.

Helicopter parents? What was that?

Juice box?

LOL

Yo, here’s a question for you. When it snows, do kids shovel the court? Oh wait, they can’t, there’s too many cars to play ball.  Edgar and Gammie taught me a valuable one winter night.

“Yo Red, grab a shovel and help us!” I was 12.

Older teens teaching younger guys. That’s how you learned.

In the girls schoolyard there’s no strike zones in chalk on the brick wall.

School just let out. No one’s rushing home to get dressed and head back to the yard.

“I got next!”

Right now I can go for a game of Around the World.

Speaking of Holy Name: Do they still have half-days on Wednesday? I was given a questionnaire six years ago. Question number one: Why did you come to Holy Name of Jesus School?

Great fucking question. I was six years old how did I know?

The uniforms we were wore were awful. Clip on ties.

Wonder if kids hang out on the roof anymore?

At night I’d climb ours. Sit there and look up at the stars. Dreaming.

Is there a stick-ball game going on down on 10th avenue?

Whiffle Ball?

Carmine, Mr. Zoli, La-La and Tommy Hauk.

Wish I could go back and see those guys.

There’s no one hanging out on the parkside.

What happened to Circles?

Park House?

Park Hill?

Bandshell over on 11th street?

Can I still buy a six-pack of beer down in the Bodega on 15th and 8th? I’m 16 years old, they will not ask for I.D.

Corner of 15th and 8th was wild back in the day. Don’t worry, I won’t mention no names.

I’m headed down Windsor Place, going to check out P.S. 154’s schoolyard. Maybe there’s a softball game going on? Farrell’s football practices down there on Saturday afternoon’s were tougher than the games.

The lot is still standing. What are those adults doing on the field playing baseball with the little kids?

Howard Place is empty except for one person running down the subway stairs.

No one on the stoop at 175 Windsor. That was my spot for many years.

Fuller Place just like Howard. Not a soul around.

Did you know Isaac Asimov lived on Windsor Place? Who’s he you ask? Go Google him.

Smiling faces, sometimes pretend to be your friend.

This entry is dedicated to: Vinny Brunton, Joe Farrell, George Brossard, Joe Sullivan, Joe Sabbagh and Michael Rauthier.

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

 

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12 Responses to DEATH TO MY HOMETOWN

  1. holy2520name says:

    This is well stated Red. You brought back many memories. Especially one in particular.I was in New York for a funeral recently and walked across 9th to see the church and just reminisce. I looked into the girls schoolyard and there wasn’t a chalked strike zone on the brick wall and I thought nobody else would notice that little oddity but you noticed. I walked the neighborhood and Don Kent is right ,I was a stranger in my own neighborhood. Most all the gin mills are gone. The schoolyards,PS10’S,HolyName and 154’swere empty. No kids no softball,basketball or football.The stores on 9th are strange to me.Some storefronts were difficult for me to decipher.What did they sell? Jewelry,real estate? I guess Iwanted to see the layout of the neighborhood as it existed when I grew up and made so many wonderful Brooklyn friends. It was sad but I am grateful to have grown up there. It helped define me as a person and really taught me the true definition of friendship.I wish more people posted comments on these pages because this is the way I go back and enjoy my younger years.Great memories with great lifelong friends in a great Brooklyn neighborhood.

  2. Virginia says:

    Hello Steve, I agree, I feel the same when I walk on 9th Avenue, so many new people in the neighborhood and they don’t like to say hello to anyone. Thanks for mentioning me, Billy and Mel 🙂 Virginia

    • Red says:

      Your family was a staple of the neighborhood.

      That neighborhood will never produce them like they used too…

      There’s no spirit.

  3. Tony16ST says:

    To coin a phrase ” You can never go home” When people move out someone moves in so it’s out with the old and in with the new. At least you can still walk around and remember things the way they were, you can never lose that. Alot of people never grew up in a neighborhood like we had. hang on to the memories. Remeber something is better than nothing.

  4. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    I just heard the Shangri-Las in my head…”you can never…..go home anymore….”

  5. Tony16ST says:

    Yo Mo, Your like a walking Juke Box

  6. Frank Papa says:

    Virginia, even though I am “new”, I would never walk by without saying hello! !

  7. DON CUSH says:

    It is really a shame. Whenever I am back to visit the neighborhood with my kids I talk with them about the times I had in the schoolyards and neighborhood growing up and they look at me like I have two heads

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