Miss these guys and gals…the best of times. (Thanks Kevin Molloy for photo)
By Pat Fenton
The following piece was posted on Pat’s Facebook Page…
The obituary in the upstate New York newspaper called him John “Jack” Malone.
It had a few facts about his life underneath his picture. Nothing much though, really.
It didn’t say that for 40 or more years he walked in the back door entrance to Farrell’s bar on the corner of 9th Avenue and 16th Street and sat where he always did at the very end of the bar. Always at the same spot.
It didn’t call him Jacky Malone. That’s what I always called him. We hung out together. He lived next door to me at 481 17th Street. I lived, and grew up at 483 17th Street. I knew more about him than probably some of his family. And he knew more about me than probably some of my family. He was like an older brother to me. Always giving me good advice. And all my life that street, that Irish working-class street filled with tough guys and lovers where we grew up kept coming back into my life. It always pulled me back.
It still does.
It was like the writer Peggy Noonan once said about Catholicism: “at some point, if you are lucky, being Catholic lands like a harpoon in your heart. You can swim away with that harpoon in your heart forever, but you will be pulled back.” Windsor Terrace is like that. Probably one of the last neighborhoods like that.
Recently, I was pulled back to 17th Street and Windsor Terrace for what turned out to be an Irish wake for Jacky Malone. It took place in Farrell’s Bar on the corner of 16th Street and 9th Avenue. Jacky Malone missed out on what the writer Denis Hamill once called a “marvelous three –cushion shot in the same zip code, Smith’s Funeral Home, Holy Name Church, and Greenwood Cemetery.”
Smith’s Funeral home, which was in Windsor Terrace for almost a hundred years, is closed now. From what I hear they turned part of it into a Dunkin Dounuts. But he got part of it. He got an Irish wake, something that never happens anymore in Windsor Terrace. “Hipsters”, the new people, don’t know much about Irish wakes. And I don’t imagine they really care about them.
Jacky’s sister, Snooki Malone, and her family brought his ashes down from Lake Luzerne in upstate, New York where he retired to a few years ago, and they had a funeral mass for him in Holy Name Church. After mass they all walked down 9th Avenue to Farrell’s Bar, like we used to do years ago after wakes and funerals from Smith’s. And they brought Jacky’s ashes with them.
After moving through the crowd of the bar with my wife Patricia and Gladys Mastrion , who also grew up on 17th Street, I didn’t notice until later that his ashes were placed in the very same spot he drank in for so many years. I ordered some drinks, stared into the long row of mirrors behind Farrell’s Bar that me and Jacky once stared into when we were so young, and then Gladys picked up her glass and the three of us walked down and tapped our glasses against Jacky’s ashes at the end of the bar.
As a writer, I am always looking for inspiration.
Growing up in Windsor Terrace it’s not hard to find material to write about. And it helps to have other writers to read (both good and bad) to be inspired to write.
Have a look at some outstanding work by our guy Pat Fenton.
Click the link below for a wonderful piece in the Irish Echo on a documentary they are putting together about Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin.
Slept in today.
Don’t care. I don’t go to Holy Name anymore so they can’t say anything if I don’t go.
Been going to church every Sunday since I was eight years old. I’m 14 now.
Mom never came home last night.
Younger sister slept at her friend’s house.
Older brother never made it home. Haven’t seen him since Friday.
Head out to the kitchen and open the fridge, it’s pretty empty.
Guess that means no cereal.
It’s cold in our apartment. I swear sometimes I think the landlord shuts the heat off. Mom would turn on the burners on the stove to warm us up. One night a couple of years ago I slept with my coat.
Slide my jeans on, slip on my sneakers and throw a coat on. Don’t need socks.
Forget to brush my teeth.
Walk down the two flights of stairs out onto ninth avenue.
It’s cold. Snow still on the ground from Saturday. See a few people walking on the avenue. Some coming from church. Some kids are wearing nice clothes.
Cross ninth avenue and walk over to Pynn’s Deli on the corner of 16th street.
See a few older guys outside Farrell’s. Two guys are holding containers. One guy is smoking and talking politics. One guy is complaining about the Giants. They missed the playoffs. Some day I’ll be able to get into Farrell’s, buy a container and hang out.
Walk into the deli and there’s a long line. I hate waiting on line.
Pull out my money and count it. I have six bucks. Had twenty last night but I spent it on some booze. Saturday night is a drinking night for us.
“Coffee light and sweet and a buttered roll,” I tell the guy behind the counter. He doesn’t seem to enthused about working. He has a white apron on. Looks perturbed.
My order is made in a flash. Gotta admit, the line goes fast. I look through the glass showcase and see the rice pudding isn’t out yet. I love it. You should try it some day. I usually get a dollar’s worth. Fills me up.
The guy behind the counter puts my order in a brown paper bag. No “thank you,” and no “have a nice day.”It’s okay though. I’m used to it.
The owner of the joint Billy, is a good guy, he sees me and say’s hi. In the summer we talk about the Mets.
Walk past Farrell’s and over to the parkside where I take a seat on the wooden bench straight across from Lefrak. The snow is cleaned off. The bench is dry. There’s a 68 bus idle.
“Yo Red, Knicks need Melo!”
That’s Mickey, he’s a former teacher and basketball coach at Holy Name. Really knows the game. He’s more of a college guy than NBA. But he knows I love the Knicks. He’s talking about Carmelo Anthony; he sat out last night, Knicks lost.
“NOT A FAN OF MELO!” I shout across Prospect Park Southwest.
Mickey smiles and keeps walking up towards the avenue.
“Matter of fact, maybe they should trade him!” I add.
Doubt Mickey heard me. He walks fast.
I sip my coffee. It’s hot. A few people are walking into the park carrying their sleds.
The buttered roll looks delicious.
Wonder where all my friends are?
“Can’t believe the Knicks!” Jimmy complained as he downed a glass of beer standing in Farrell’s.
“Yeah, I know, they suck,” Billy answered. Billy was a Nets fan, so he loved piling on even though the team that plays down on Flatbush and Atlantic have had their problems this season.
Earlier in the evening the New York Knicks traveled to Boston and lost to the Celtics, 100-91.
“I took them and the points,” Jimmy announced while he stood at the bar looking up at the television which happened to be showing highlights of the game.
“How many were you getting,” Duffer asked from behind the bar as he poured a Container for a customer on the go.
“Eight and a half,” answered Jimmy.
Duffer shook his head. He didn’t have an answer. Matter of fact, he didn’t want to answer despite enjoying breaking balls from time-to-time.
But Duffer was thinking to himself Jimmy must be stupid for betting the Knicks tonight no matter how many points they were getting.
New York had played the night before and lost to the Hawks. They had the game on, matter of fact the place was packed. There was a party up at Holy Name earlier and the crowd made their way down to continue drinking.
The Knicks looked awful against the Hawks, especially in the second half. Celtics played Saturday night too, they beat the Pistons in Detroit but now they were back home playing in front of their fans.
“That’s four games in a row they have lost, not bettin’ them again for a while,” Jimmy said, trying to sound convincing.
Duffer, throwing some cash in the register not looking at Jimmy couldn’t resist.
Great story on Hooley via the Brooklyn Paper. Colin Mixson does a good job with his writing.
“It’s a great neighborhood,” said Houlihan, 76, who has worked behind the bar for 50 years and owned it for almost 20. ”We take care of each other.”
Get out the brooms.
They did it.
Went to Chicago and took care of business.
Swept the baseball team everyone was talking about. Seemed like everyone I talked to about the play-offs was pulling for the Cubs.
They felt sorry for the Cubs.
Billy Goats, 107 years, and what’s up with the Ivy on the outfield wall?
How about them Mets?
YA’ GOTTA BELIEVE!
AMAZIN’ AMAZIN’ AMAZIN’
“I stayed in Farrell’s until last call,” Steve explained to Jimmy this morning as they sat on Jimmy’s stoop on Windsor Place.
Jimmy was pissed. Didn’t even touch his coffee which Steve had brought him.
He really didn’t want to talk about the Mets game 4 win last night in the Windy City. Jimmy was a big-time Yankees fan.
“That fuckin’ Danny Murphy!” Steve added. “He’s amazin’.”
“Fuck the Mets!” Jimmy shouted. “I’m tired of them, enough already!”
Steve took a sip from his light and sweet coffee from Pynn’s Deli as he looked at a guy walk by the stoop on his way to the subway.
“Yo, Ryne Sandberg, FUCK THE CUBS!” Steve shouted to him as he laughed. The guy dressed in a blue suit was wearing a blue Chicago Cubs cap.
He looked at Steve and kept walking, head down. This guy was showing his loyalty by wearing his Cubs hat to work.
“Hey Jimmy, I saw that chump in the Double Windsor last night, the joint was filled with Cubbie fans,” Steve said.
“Yo Joe Maddon,” Steve called out to the poor guy. “Andre Dawson, Ernie Banks and Mark Grace were not walking through that door!”
Jimmy didn’t find Steve’s trash talk amusing. His head was buried in the newspaper.
The neighborhood had changed over the last few years. There were people from all over the country moving in.
“Yeah, Yeah, enough of that shit Steve,” Jimmy said, not even looking up from the paper.
“Let me guess you bet the Cubs last night?” Steve asked.
Jimmy was silent.
Red knew it. But when you think about it, no one expected the Mets to sweep the Cubs, America’s team. Even Steve was talking on the parkside yesterday about the Cubs winning last night.
“I’m down three-hundred.” Jimmy said to Steve as he got up and walked in his house.
“I gotta take a piss,” Jimmy said.
Steve polished off his coffee, jumped off the stoop and began to walk up Windsor Place towards the avenue.
“LETS GO METS!” he shouted to a guy walking his baby in a stroller as he raised his styrofoam cup in the air.
The guy didn’t seem too interested in baseball.
“I’m from Cleveland,” he replied.
It’s a Wednesday night. Billy and Jimmy are hanging out in Farrell’s. Both guys just got off work. Billy’s an ironworker working on a building on Madison and forty-third over in midtown. Jimmy’s a cop who works at the 7th Precinct in the lower east side. It’s a little after six.
“You see 30 for 30 last night on ESPN?” Jimmy asks Billy as he takes a sip from his glass of beer.
“Nah, it came on too late, I gotta get up at four in the mornin’,” Billy answers as he looks up at the TV which is showing highlights from game two of the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants.
“You missed a good one,” Jimmy muttered.
Billy takes a sip of his beer.
“They’ll show it again, ESPN is always showing those shows over and over,” Billy counters.
Both men visit Farrell’s every night after work to get together, talk sports and talk about life.
“Knicks looked good last night,” Billy mentions as he gulps down the rest of his beer.
“Duffer, gimme another,” Billy shouts.
Duffer is behind the stick tonight, he’s been working at Farrell’s for over 30 years. He’s a local guy and it must be noted, one of the better guys in the neighborhood. He’s also a retired fireman.
“Not sure how the triangle offense is gonna work,” Jimmy added.
“Well, if Carmelo buys-in to the team philosophy, anything is possible” Billy offered. “Not to mention he has to play defense and stop being a ball hog.”
The Knicks have not won a championship in 41 years. They have a new coach, a new offense and Phil Jackson is back at thirty-third and seventh running the show.
“How’s your kid like her new school?” Jimmy asks.
“She’s coping, but she’s bummed that Ford closed.”
Bishop Ford closed it’s doors this past June forcing many families to look for another school.
“It’s a shame, Ford was the place you went after you graduated from Holy Name,” Jimmy says as Duffer places another glass of beer in front of him and pulls some money off the bar.
“Yeah, that sucks,” Billy says. “But it doesn’t matter to me, I went to Jay, and my daughter loves Saviour’s.”
Saint Saviour’s is an all-girls high school down on sixth street. Many girls from the neighborhood go there.
The bar begins to fill up. Duffer is joined by another bartender, he’s new on the job, Duffer will be training him tonight.
“I miss the Knicks teams of the seventies,” Jimmy admitted.
“Yeah me too,” Billy agrees.
“They played the right way. Frazier, Bradley and Willis.” Jimmy added.
“Don’t forget their coach, Red Holzman,” Billy shouts. “HIT THE OPEN MAN and SEE THE BALL!”
Both men laugh and reach for their glasses and take a gulp of beer.
“Just like our coaches at Holy Name taught us,” Jimmy says as he lets out a burp.
“I miss the days of waking up on Saturday morning, running to the yard and playing three-on-three all day.” Billy says. “Kids don’t play in the yard anymore.”
Both men polish off another glass of beer.
“We’ll never see another team like the Knicks from nineteen seventy-three,” Jimmy says.
“No doubt about that,” says Billy. “And with that, I gotta get outta here Jimmy, my old lady wants to go down to Snooky’s and see some friends.”
Snooky’s is a bar-restaurant on seventh avenue.
“Don’t get into any fights with the seventh avenue boys,” Jimmy reminds his friend.
Billy grabs his money off the bar, throws a ten down and shouts, “YO DUFFER, GIMME A CONTAINER TO GO AND GIVE JIMMY A DRINK!”
Duffer heads to the stick, fills a container and swipes the ten off the bar. Billy’s out the side door, headed down sixteenth street on his way home.
Jimmy looks up at the television. Glances at all the people in the bar and downs his glass of beer.
“Duffer, gimme a shot of Johnny Walker.”