9th avenue’s own, Tommy Ryan took a fall yesterday while working on the Verrazano.
Click the link for the story via the Daily News.
The worker was on the Brooklyn side of the bridge when he fell around 12 p.m. and landed on a beam on the lower deck. Emergency Services Units had to cut through a fence to get to him. They then hooked him to a rope to bring him to safety.
Get well soon my friend.
You remember Maria, right?
Well there she goes, right over there.
She looks great. Always smiling.
She’s walking alone, going right by Farrell’s, towards the park. There’s a a few guys on the corner of 16th street checking her out. Tight jeans. White sneakers. Denim jacket.
What’s crazy is my boy Tony was asking about her the other night. “Whatever happened to that Hispanic chick from Church Avenue?”
For once, I was speechless.
What the fuck did happen to her? It was probably me that fucked up. After we hung out that night in the park I told her I was going to meet her at East 5th the next night; I never made it.
Shit, I gotta catch up to her. I throw my bottle of coke in the trash can.Tuck my newspaper in my back pocket.
Gotta tell ya, I think about her often. Matter of fact, I could be in bed late at night and she’s the only thing on my mind. I think of her even when I am with my girlfriend. Yeah I know, that’s pretty shitty of me. I know. If my girlfriend ever knew I was with her…oh boy I would be fucked.
But I gotta be honest with you. I will never forget that night we hung out in the park. Maria is an amazing kisser. Nothing lasts forever, right? Beautiful girls don’t come around often. Besides, I think I’m in love with my girl.
Jetting across ninth avenue, I call out to Maria.
“Hey, wait up!” She looks over her left shoulder and says hi.
“Where ya’ been?” I ask.
“Oh I’ve been around.”
I stop dead in my tracks, looking around.
“After that night we hung in the park I never saw you again,” I tell her.
“I’ve been busy.”
She’s been busy?
“And you stood me up,” she tells me.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
“And besides, me and my boyfriend got back together,” she informs me as she lets out a giggle.
I am standing still on the corner, right outside Oak park pharmacy. I knew I should have went down to East 5th to meet her. I fucked up.
“Oh, okay,” I say to Maria as she looks over towards the circle.
Guess I really blew this one… I have no idea what to say next.
This is where I always fuck up. I’m awful with words. I clam up. Wish I knew what to say in times like this. I’m not very good at expressing my feelings.
She’s fucking gorgeous and I threw it all away.
A few of of my friends are walking towards us.
“Red, what’s up?” Johnny G asks.
“Come on, we’re going to the city,” he informs me as he looks at Maria.
We’ve been doing this a lot lately. Back in August we met some kids at Brighton Beach who were from the city. We became friends, started playing ball and now we hang out over there once or twice a week. They’re cool people.
They begin to walk towards the subway, I watch him, Mickey and Kevin walk down the stairs.
“You going?” Maria asks.
I am standing there frozen. Still thinking of Maria’s boyfriend.
“Yeah probably,” I answer.
“Okay well have fun,” Maria says as she jogs over to the circle.
I watch her run. She has amazing legs. Maria goes straight for some tall guy. They hug. I feel like an idiot. Dejected and feeling like shit, I walk to the subway, jog down the stairs and catch up to my friends.
“Yo, wait up!” I scream out.
We’re headed over to the city. As I sit on the F-train, I can’t take my mind off Maria.
17th street, 9th avenue, Bengie Powers, Bob Rice, Brooklyn Gang, Bruce Davidson, Container Diaries, Football Weddings, Holy Name Church, Irish Bar, Junior Rice, Lefty Jensen, McFadden Brothers, P.A.L., Pat Fenton, Prospect Park, Sanders theater, Sorrentos, Violence, Windsor Terrace, zoo
Our own Pat Fenton with an amazing recollection of the neighborhood and the teens who lived here.
In their heart of hearts, most of the guys and the girls who appear in the Windsor Terrace “Brooklyn Gang” pictures, were really good people. Even the photographer, Bruce Davidson has said that the book is not really about a gang, it’s more about a bunch of young people and their lives together. They certainly were not the toughest guys in our neighborhood.
(Courtesy of Bruce Davidson, ‘Brooklyn Gang’)
I was very close to Junior Rice, and Bengie, and Lefty Jensen who appear in much of the pictures, and on the cover of Bruce Davidson’s book. When I was young, I stayed over at Junior’s house on 20th Street almost as much as my own. His older brother Bob Rice and I are still as close as brothers. Unfortunately for them, they got lost somewhere between the violent culture that existed in the 50′s in parts of our Windsor Terrace neighborhood, and the sweet innocence which I think really represented it. Junior passed away recently, and so did Lefty Jensen; Bengie has managed to turn his life around.
This I remember about Lefty Jensen, who I once went out to a shoe store in Bay Ridge with in the 50′s, a place that sold second-hand motorcycle boots, he had this sort of James Dean sensitivity to him. Sadly, it probably helped to destroy him. He died way too young. The only good thing I walk away with is, the three of them, Junior, Lefty, and Bengie will live on, forever young together, on the cover of Bruce’s book, “Brooklyn Gang.”
Truth is, we were all lucky to grow up in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, a neighborhood that to me was like a working-class opera taking place every day of our lives. Yeah, it had its share of violence and drugs, but I think overall it had a certain pride, patriotism, and a strong belief in doing the right thing in life. The choice was ours. And most of us learned well from those lessons we were taught here.
It had the original McFadden Brothers American Legion Post on 9th Avenue when it was located near 17th Street in the vast former, wedding hall of Sorrentos Italian Restaurant. And all through the 50’s and into the 60’s, when neighborhood soldiers came home from the wars, they would be welcomed here.
Simple “football weddings” were made up of cold cut sandwiches wrapped in wax paper and passed across the table like footballs, barrels and barrels of tap beer and plates of cheese and crackers, some set ups of Seagram Seven and ginger ale, and a live three-piece band playing, and people dancing. And they were the best weddings ever.
On nights when Holy Name Church would have a Novena the church would get so packed with kids and adults that they had to open up the gates to the altar to let people sit there. And we all had Holy Name School yard where other lessons of life were being taught to us, lessons we would take with us forever.
Every Irish bar in the neighborhood had a baseball team, and 17th Street on a Saturday afternoon had stick ball tournaments that went on all day. Come the summer and 17th Street would be closed down from 9th to 8th Avenue for a P.A.L. play street. We had the Sanders Theatre and Prospect Park to fish in, and a wonderful zoo that we could walk to. And in the cold winter when the streets were empty and covered with new snow it was still safe enough to go down your block alone and trade comic books at friends’ houses. It was good to be young then.
I came across a book written by a guy who grew up in South Brooklyn. I read some of the material, it’s amazing how similar we had it.
Like most neighborhoods, there were a ton of families with multiple kids living in Windsor Terrace.
Some families were residents for many, many years. On each block you would know someone (at least I did). I’m not sure what I attribute this to but after thinking long and hard this morning, I knew at least five people on each street in Windsor Terrace! Our neighborhood was a tight-knit community.
I get many e-mails from people these days about a new crop of folks moving in.
Before you bombard me with e-mails, take it easy, I have no problem with it. Matter of fact, I think it’s cool.
Good or bad, one thing is certain; the neighborhood will never be the same.
The people, the sports we played, the nights hanging out, and other events that transpired. The kids growing up there now, have a different life. I have seen it with my own eyes; and I’ve been told.
I lived over Bob’s Hardware on 9th avenue for 25 years. Bob’s was located on the corner of the avenue and Windsor Place. Morty Hyman and his loving mother Fanny ran the show.
They really were nice people.
Morty had a lovely family who lived out on Long Island (not a bad commute for Morty, huh?) Fanny lived on the second floor as we lived one floor above her. (I could still hear her walking up the stairs telling my mother to put an end to my jumping. We had Puff basketball and at times I thought I was Dr. J)
I had a ringside seat at my window. I saw everything that went on whether it was morning, noon or night.
We had a pay phone right outside our apartment and I could write a book about the conversations that went on.
Years later, I often think back to all the time I spent hanging out. Sometimes I kick myself for all the time I wasted. But upon further review it was an amazing time. I had so many great friends. The adults who tried to get you to the right thing were so valuable back then but I was too blind to see.
When I get back to the neighborhood, I make it a point tp spend a couple of hours on the avenue.
5th avenue, 8 Ball, 9 Ball, 9th avenue, ABC, Billards, Breakfast, Cell phone, Coke, Deli, Diner, Fat Tom, Football, Ham, Hues Corporation, Marchiano Cherry, Members Only, Pool, Rock the Boat, Saturday Mornings, Scrambled Eggs, Televsion, The Cube Steak, Timboos
Yeah when you call my name
I salivate like a pavlov dog
Yeah when you lay me out
My heart is bumpin’ louder than a big bass drum, alright
On Saturday mornings as a young kid, my poor excuse for a father would take me along with him to Timboo’s where he spent much of his time taking numbers in the popular Bar & Grill located on the corner of 12th street and 5th avenue.
This became a weekend ritual for me between the ages of 8 and 12.
The morning would start with getting picked up from my apartment on 9th avenue, (some mornings I’d walk alone or meet him on 9th street and 9th avenue).
The Cube Steak was our first stop for breakfast (it’s the first time I ever had scrambled eggs with ham). Remind me to post a blog entry on the legend of Jack Buscarelli’s confrontation with my late Grandfather, Ray Corbett. The Cube Steak was located on 9th street – always known for a lot of action going on inside and out.
The Gooch, Roger Chebba and Stevie Bodlovich were the usual suspects in the booth; plus skinny little me squeezed in against the wall.
Talking low almost to a whisper, laughing and sometimes arguing between the three men; as for myself, I just listened and looked around at everyone in amazement.
The activity in and around the restaurant was electric and fast paced. You had waiters and waitresses flying all over the place taking orders and delivering plates of hot food; all on the run. The infamous smoke from cigarettes was always floating in the air. The Gooch loved to smoke Kool’s.
Other diner’s at the Cube Steak included Fat Tom, Mikey Melfi, Phil and Miles McNiff, Billy Phelan, Artie Miller, Red Duffy and of course you had your degenerates trying to skip out on their check.
After the scrumptious breakfast, the four of us would walk over to the bar just a few short blocks away but not before stopping at the newsstand on the corner of 5th avenue and 9th street. I’d always walk through the side door on 9th street next to the donut shop while the Gooch grabbed a Daily News to check out the basketball magazines back against the wall; occasionally taking a peek at the girlie magazines if no one was watching.
A stop at the pay phone seemed mandatory for either Roger or Gooch. Stevie, well he always had his hands in his pants pockets chatting it up with someone along the way. (Imagine if they had cell phones back in the mid-70’s) These guys would be burning up the lines.
As we entered Timboo’s I’d peek to the back to see if anyone was occupying the pool table; if the table was empty, I’d hustle past the bartender while the Gooch grabbed a few quarters and I’d choose a cue stick to begin the chalking process.
“Rack ’em!” the Gooch would say as he made his way to the bar to get change.
There were usually 3-4 sticks hanging on the wall. Sometimes there’d be two lying on the green felt from the previous game. Small, used cubes of blue chalk on the side of the table and I was ready to go. The Gooch always made me wash me hands after I played. “Ya don’t wanna get that blue stuff in your eyes.” he said.
Sliding the quarters in I’d watch the side of the table to observe the balls rolling down the chute and then racking them. Placing the formation of the balls together at the start of any billiards game is an art.
I was awful at it.
Each time I tried, it was very frustrating; seemed like every time I lifted the white plastic rack a ball or two would always roll away (do people still play 9-ball with the triangle ball rack?)
“Breaking” was also a weak point of mine. I just didn’t have the strength. I used to love to watch Roger break. He was by far the best. The balls went everywhere and of course he always managed to sink one or two.
High’s and low’s or stripes and solids, whatever tickled your fancy.
After a couple games of pool (alone of course, the Gooch was too busy tending to his clients) it was time for pinball with the occasional visit to the Jukebox to play ‘Rock the Boat’ by the Hues Corporation.
Taking a well-deserved break from the amusement of this fine establishment chillin’ in a booth, (which last I heard was still owned by Timmy Hodges), downing unlimited number of glasses of Coke with the Marciano cherries, (I always asked for extra cherries) ham and cheese sandwiches from the deli a few doors down and of course viewing college football from the television set mounted on the wall just above the entrance to the men’s restroom room.
Late in the afternoon usually around five, five-thirtyish, just as the afternoon football game on ABC (no cable ‘bro) was coming to an end (the winning QB was taking a knee) and everyone with a financial interest in the game was grabbing their windbreakers or Members Only looking jackets downing their drink; I knew it was my time to leave.
Some were excited their team had covered the spread and some were ticked off.
“I ain’t never bettin’ Nebraska again”, Fat Tom shouted as he tossed a couple of bills to the edge of the bar and began to walk out.
“Yo, Fat Tom, don’t forget to drop my kid off.” The Gooch shouted from the opposite end of the bar.
Football sheets, teasers, point spreads, pool, pinball, jukeboxes, breakfast at the Cube Steak, glasses of cokes, and of course the occasional calling of a horse race coming from the radio in the corner of the bar; Timboo’s was a valuable experience in the social growth of this young boy from 228A Prospect Park West.