When I stepped out of my apartment on Windsor and ninth all one had to do was turn right and walk four short blocks to Bishop Ford High School.
Despite not being a student at Ford I spent a lot of time at 500 Nineteenth Street.
On Monday, Ford announced they are shutting it down for good in June.
I received the news via text message on Monday afternoon.
“FORD IS CLOSING IN JUNE!”
I had to look twice at my i-phone.
Bishop Ford is closing?
Back in 1977 when I was in the seventh grade at Holy Name it was time to take the co-op. They had you select four high schools that you had an interest in attending. Did I ever tell you I was petrified when it was time to take a test? My palms were moist, I had butterflies in my stomach and I would gag. In the sixth grade I once faked sick at home just to avoid a test.
3-Christ the King
The year before, after watching the Panthers play in the King tournament at St. Thomas my mind was made up where I wanted to attend high school (my tenure at Kareem’s alma mater lasted two days).
I’m not sure why I wrote LaSalle down and I think I filled in Christ the King because I had watched their basketball team play in the summer league at Holy Name. Little did I realize how far away the school was and what kind of commute awaited me. F-train to Delancey and switch for the M?
Sitting there I thought to myself, “I’ll complete the list with Ford.”
How stupid was I?
At that time my good friend Glen Thomas was a freshman at Ford. Two classmates at Holy Name, John Godfrey and Mary Kawas put down Ford and would soon be enrolled. It would have been cool meeting up with Mary and Johnny G on the corner of Windsor and ninth and walking to school with them every morning.
How stupid was I?
Why not attend high school with my friends?
As a young boy I would go up to Ford to watch the Falcons basketball team play as much as possible. Neighborhood guys like Danny Piselli, Jimmy Rauthier, Charlie Alberti, Willie Lanzisera, Edgar Dela-Rosa, Joe Santos, Artie Lee, the Ferro’s, Brian Lang and Andy Purdy all wore the red and black.
There was nothing like a Friday night game against Xaverian; the gym would be packed. I would sit way up at the top of the bleachers against the wall on the Ford side of course and watch all the action. Besides the great games between two very good teams was the passion and spirit felt throughout the gym. The student sections from both schools were always hyped up.
“SINK THE SHIP, SINK THE SHIP, SINK THE SHIP!”
“EAT THE BIRD, EAT THE BIRD, EAT THE BIRD!”
I know, I know, different chants back in the 70’s compared to what we hear today.
(Container Diaries shout out to Brian Keating of sixteenth street who ran the point for the Clippers.)
Back in the early 70’s the Los Angeles Lakers held a practice at Ford between championship games with the Knicks and Jo-Jo White filmed a commercial for Pro-Keds.
It’s hard not to think of basketball when I hear about Bishop Ford. If I had to do it all over again, I would have put Ford at the top of my list. I probably would have played for their basketball team and came out all right.
It’s a sad feeling knowing that after June, Bishop Ford will be gone forever.
Like Alice Cooper said in his song, “School’s out forever, school’s out for summer, school’s out completely. No more pencils, no more books…