March Madness is here.
Punch the ticket; “Farrell’s” is up for best neighborhood institution.
March Madness is here.
Punch the ticket; “Farrell’s” is up for best neighborhood institution.
The New York Times took to the streets. Interesting look around the city.
Looks like the neighborhood made it.
If you don’t feel like clicking and scrolling, I got you; here’s what a resident (Barbara Barran) said about 16th street. A heroin and crack dealer? Nooooo…
When I moved to my block 25 years ago, we had a heroin dealer two doors down and a crack dealer two doors up. Our car was broken into repeatedly, and we couldn’t leave flowers or pots on our front steps, as they would be stolen. Prospect Park was unkempt and scary. The movie theater was closed and there wasn’t much variety available in terms of restaurants. Today, the block is safe and beautiful. People build planters and take care of the street trees. There’s a vibrant new pub at the end of the block, a refurbished movie theater, and loads of restaurants on Prospect Park West. The park itself is a gem: clean, safe, and alive with runners, bikers, children playing, couples strolling. The downside? Parking has become very difficult, and we get lots of tickets. And the F train has become unbearable at rush hour. But gentrification? I’m all for it!
The Brooklyn Eagle reports about a fire on ninth avenue.
Two people were hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, and seven families had to be evacuated from their homes, after a fire hit a four-story building in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.
According to the Fire Department, the blaze was first observed on the third floor of 263 Prospect Park West around 11:35 a.m. the four-story brick building is two blocks from the Prospect Expressway and three blocks from Prospect Park.
Sixty firefighters from 12 units responded to the fire, which was classified as an all-hands fire, according to Firefighter Brian Norton, an FDNY spokesperson. It was reported under control at 12:11 p.m.
January 21 1978
Great, it’s snowing again. What the fuck is the deal?
Maybe I should grab a shovel and see if anyone needs their sidewalk cleared. It’s a good way to make some money. At least it’s not too cold out. The temp is about twenty-eight degrees.
Mom left for work about about an hour ago, my sister is at school, she’s in the 7th grade at Holy Name and my older brother is still sleeping. He stays out late, comes home and sleeps in.
Fuck it, I’m headed over to the city.
Hopping on the F-train I head over to Times Square. I rush the gate because I don’t pay to get on the train. Thank God no cops are around. The guy in the token booth is to busy with the line of people waiting to buy a token.
I’m starting to get a little pissed off about life.
Everyone around me seems to be fucked up.
My mother is getting on my case.
“Lower that Music.”
“Take the garbage out.”
“Make your bed.”
“Be home by nine.”
My brother is always yelling at me. Just the other day he got mad at me for wearing his shirt.
“What the fuck ya think you’re doin’ wearing my shirt?”
The shirt was really nice. What sucked is that he yelled at me right on Windsor Place. I was with my girlfriend. He embarrassed the shit out of me.
Speaking of my girlfriend, we broke up again. She gets me mad when she talks to other boys. From my bedroom window I watched her catch the 69 bus for school. At times I think of going over and apologizing to her. I know I can be a pain in the ass sometimes. She stands there every morning. Every morning I sit at my window watching her.
As for me, school is the last thing on my mind. I know I should go back, but I’m embarrassed.
Bless me Father for I have sinned, it’s been two weeks since I last attended school.
The secretary at school is always calling my house in the morning wondering where I am. I pick it up when it rings.
“Hello can I speak to Mrs. Moore?”
CLICK! I hang up.
School tried sending letters home but when the mailman comes, I grab the mail before mom. I open it, read it and throw it in the garbage.
On the Manhattan-bound train I’m standing against the door. I look around at all the people headed to work. They look tired and miserable. Suckers if you ask me.
At Jay Street Boro-Hall I get off, grab a Daily News on the newsstand and hop back on the F. How cool is that? A newsstand on the platform. When I’m with my friends and we’re riding the trains we steal candy from the newsstand on 4th avenue. It’s easy.
I’m read about the Knicks, my favorite team. What the fuck is up with these guys? They can’t win a game. They suck.
As we pull into West 4th street I think of getting off, heading upstairs and checking out who’s hanging around the courts. I love the village. I started coming here last summer. It happened right after I met this pretty girl at Manhattan Beach; her father lives on 16th street and 6th avenue. Her parents are divorced, like mine.
Often times I dream of living in the city. What I thought was so cool is that her father has cable TV. She told me her dad watches Knicks games live from the Garden. Her and I hung out a few nights in the summer just walking around. We had pizza at Ray’s and even walked down to the East Village for an egg cream. But that’s all I’m going to tell you.
I also love watching basketball at West 4th. There’s been some great players come through here. I’m too young to get out there and play with these guys, but I do try to get some shots up when no one is around. One night, about two in the morning I hopped on the train with my basketball and came out here to shoot. I had the court to myself.
I decide to stay on the F-train and go a few more stops to forty-second street.
As we get to 34th street I think of getting off and walking past the Garden. I could go in and look for Red Holzman.
“Yo Red, what’s up with the team?”
I stay on the train. Holzman would probably laugh at me anyway.
The next stop I get off and as I walk up the stairs with the crowd of people I roll up the newspaper and stick it in my back pocket. I learned that from my father and all the ironoworkers down Timboo’s.
Out on the street I’m relieved it stopped snowing. Standing on sixth avenue I look up to see a building going up. I see a few ironworkers walking across the beams. I wanna be an ironworker in a few years. My uncle says I have to be 18. I still have three more years to go.
Walking down forty-second I stop in a coffee shop. The take-out line is long, out the door onto the sidewalk. People are grabbing their coffee and breakfast to go. I notice an open table by the window and take a seat.
The waitress comes over with a glass of water. She’s an older lady. Probably about forty. She looks excited.
“Coffee hun?” she asks. She looks like Linda Lavin on that show “Alice.”
“No, can I have a coke please?”
The Linda Lavin look-a-like writes it down and walks away.
I grab a menu and check out their breakfast.
It starts snowing again.
A compelling essay from our guy Pat Fenton.
(Originally posted December, 2013)
The snow came hard that winter. It covered 17th Street and all of the rest of Windsor Terrace in a thick, blanket of white. Strings of stark, clear light bulbs hung over rows of Christmas trees in front of Mitchy’s Fruit Stand on Prospect Park West, and over on the corner of Prospect Avenue you could see the outline of the red bricked, Holy Name Church through the swirl of the snow.
It was the winter of 1961 and Billy Coffey was thinking of leaving the neighborhood. He was too young to understand what he would be leaving behind. He was 19 years old now and the 50’s were gone. And with them soon would go places he would never ever see again, places like the Royal Tailors on 5th Avenue where he was measured for his first pair of peg pants, the Shoe Box over on 19th Street, Bill and John’s Bar off the corner of 18th Street, Jack the Wonder Dairy’s grocery store on 17th Street, places like the Globe Theater on 15th Street, and the 16th Street Theater just off of 5th Avenue, and the Venus down on Prospect Avenue, and the Sanders on Bartell Pritchard Square, where he first saw Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis as a kid on a “standing room only” Sunday afternoon.
It was in that long ago time in America when they actually had standing room only in movie houses, and people would announce “this is where we came in”, because, like dreams, the movies went on and on, and on. And it only cost a quarter.
Now, in bars like McNulty’s on the corner of 9th Avenue and 17th Street, men would stare down at the front page of the New York Daily News and read headlines of a wall being built by the Communists between East and West Germany, and news that Russia had built missile launching pads in nearby Cuba, and the headlines said that they were pointed at the United States.
The “Cold War” was becoming something more real now, and you could sense that change was coming to the culture of America. Where once there were empty lots all over Brooklyn where kids ran free as if they were in a rye field somewhere in the country, every square foot of the borough was being built on. And you couldn’t go to Coney Island anymore, too dangerous people said. Men were moving their families out to places like Levittown on Long Island, hoping to hang on just a little longer to the innocence of the fifties that they once knew in Brooklyn.
In early evening, just before the sunset started, he would sometimes go out the back door of the railroad room flat that he lived in at 483 17th Street, and climb up this ladder in the hallway that led to a hatch way. He would push it open and stand on the roof as he looked down toward the magnificent sky over the Brooklyn waterfront.
They called his neighborhood “The Hill” because it was located on the highest point of Brooklyn. You could see the Statute of Liberty from here. Just as the sun went down you could see the bright flicker of its torch and the weathered green of its copper robes. It was so close.
Some evenings he would watch in amazement as a giant cruise ship sliced passed it through the dark green of the water as it headed for the Verrazano Narrows, and far out to sea somewhere. And as he watched it go by he would slide a can of Rheingold Beer out of his jacket and punch a hole in with a can opener, and he would daydream about leaving here.
Maybe in the morning he would go down to Livingston Street to the Draft Board and push up his draft for the Army. He could be gone in a week.
That’s what he was going to do.
Some afternoons he would play this record called, “Far Away Places,” over and over again.
“Those far away places with strange sounding names keep calling, calling to me . . . They call me a dreamer, well maybe I am…”
He had this feeling that he wanted to pack up and leave, to travel, to see places that were far away from Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. It was such a strong feeling that it scared him sometimes, but he knew that he just had to go.
When he came down from the roof he opened up a pint of Southern Comfort that he had been saving, and he poured some of it into a shot glass. It had a sweet sort of a taste to it that made it go down easy. Too easy. Maybe he would ask them to send him to France or even Germany, he thought. Then he reached over and started playing this song by Tommy Edwards on his record player, “It’s All in the Game.”
“Many a tear has to fall, but it’s all in the game. All in the wonderful game that we know as love…”
The song made him think about Janice Joyce. She was three years older than him, and he loved being around her. She had this dark, black hair and a face so beautiful she could have been a movie star. She used to drive around in this old 1954 Ford Customline with holes punched into the exhaust pipe so the car would make a lot of noise.
There were so many guys in his neighborhood that wanted to be with her, it always amazed him that she would come looking for him up in the old Irish bars of Prospect Park West. He would see her come up to the doorway of McNulty’s saloon wearing this suede jacket with tassels on the sleeves, and she would wave to him to come out, and he would. He would quickly slide his money off of the bar and go off with her.
Since she had so many boy friends, he never understood their relationship, but he didn’t question it either. She would ask him what songs he liked and when he would tell her she would tape them off of the radio for him. One of them was Johnny Cash’s “I guess Things Happen That way,” and Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only make Believe.” Sometimes he would tell her how much he liked it when she wore her hair in an up sweep and the next time he would see her she would tell him she was wearing it that way for him because she knew he liked it.
The closest he ever came to making love to her was one Christmas weekend that the two of them were drinking a pitcher of tap beer in a back booth in Val’s Bar on 10th Avenue and Prospect. They slow danced to the sound of Tommy Edwards singing “It’s All in the Game” from the Wurlitzer Juke box in a corner of the bar, and afterwards she asked him to take her up to the top of Lookout Mountain in Prospect Park.
The two of them walked up the long rows of steps in the darkness of Prospect Park to the top of the mountain where you could see all of Brooklyn lit up in the Christmas night, and Billy reached over and started to kiss her. She pulled him close as he wrapped the hood of her parka around her to keep her face warm. It was such a clear winter night filled with stars, and Billy felt so lucky to be gently holding her face in his hands and staring at her.
As he drank the whiskey, he played the Tommy Edwards song over and over again. A little while later, he stumbled out of the building and made his way down to Helen’s Candy Store on 8th Avenue. He nodded to a few young members of a local street gang called The Jokers. He was about a year older than most of them, but he felt much older than that.
They sat lined up along the soda counter, some talking, some like Bengie just day dreaming as he stared out the front window. Along the wall was a comic book rack with rows and rows of comics like Archie, Daredevil and the Little Wiseguys, Wonder Woman, Plastic Man, last vestiges of the innocence of the 50’s.
All of them were slowly killing themselves by staying in Windsor Terrace, he thought. All of them were facing a life time of Irish working-class jobs in the factory row that lined the nearby Bay Ridge waterfront in a place called, “Industry City.” That’s where many of their relatives worked. That’s where they were headed. Or they could wind up in one of the local factories like National Metal Art on 19th Street where Billy wound up after he dropped out of Manual Training High School in South Brooklyn, eight hours a day of stepping on the pedal of a riveting machine as it slammed a rivet into the hinge of a bathroom hamper. And in the end the boredom and helplessness of it all would lead them to escape somewhere else with drinking in the Saturday night bars of 9th Avenue.
He leaned over the juke box as he punched in Gene Vincent’s,” Be -Bop- A- LuLa.” And then he walked out the door of the candy store and tried to get his balance as he hung onto the side of a car. A group of the Jokers came out of Helen’s candy store and threw his arms over their shoulders and walked him home.
The snow fell softly on them as they made their way up 17th Street. Across the street in Lenahan’s Bar, you could hear muffled laughter and men singing Christmas carols. In his head he kept hearing the words of the song, ”Those far Away Places,” and it saddened him, but he knew that he could never stay here. He knew that he might never see Janice Joyce again. And he was right.
“Those far away places with strange sounding names keep calling, calling to me.”
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…