This morning my wife and I were discussing today’s youths compared to when we were growing up in the 70’s and 80’s.
Back in the day you had the older guys passing along their encouragement, advice, and discipline to us younger guys. (Not sure if it was the same on the girl’s side of the fence)
It could be a basketball coach like Danny Piselli in the schoolyard teaching us how to take a left-handed lay-up in the 4th grade. Or it could be the late Joe Farrell from Terrace Place showing us how to play basketball the right way or maybe it was Officer Doyle from the 7-2 telling us to get off the corner at midnight and get home. (Not in those exact words).
I wish I could sit here and jot down all the advice I received as a kid. Did I take the advice? Yes and no. I was a smart-ass kid who thought they knew everything.
There was a cool cat named Cadgee whom I believe was from twelfth street between eight and ninth avenues that was always in the schoolyard playing ball. The guy was aces. He owned a ten-speed bike and was always riding around the neighborhood. I recall him talking to me when I would be frustrated from playing bad or losing a game in the yard. I’d be on the side waiting to get back on the court and sure enough Cadgee would come over and tell me to cool down and get my head straight and go back out there and get them. He would also buy me an ice from time-to-time at Bonalli’s.
Years later I heard he found God and became a born-again christian. (It would be amazing if he ever finds this blog).
There was also my main man Corrado pulling up to the curb on ninth street and fifth avenue in his cherry-red caddy while I waited for the B75 bus when it was close to midnight. I was a bit hungry and was craving donuts so I walked down to the donut shop picking up a dozen; Instead of waiting for the bus, Corado pulled up and gave me a lift up to the avenue.
Thanks to Richie Feriolo for giving me a card in celebration of my eight grade graduation from Holy Name and slipping in a ten spot. (And thanks for accompanying me on a recruiting trip years later in Staten Island)
And of course a special thanks to Gerard Trapp from Howard Place for telling me to go to school and get a good job! Also for allowing me to hang out in Farrell’s when I was underaged but always serving me a coke. And I can’t forget the many nights after he got off work he would take me down to George’s Restaurant on Coney Island Avenue.
The older guys from the neighborhood took you under their wing. Unbeknownst to me at the time, they were trying to teach us about life. About growing up the right way.
Bill Parcells once said, “The kids from today and back in the day haven’t changed, it’s the people around them that have changed.”