The following blog entry is a revision of an earlier entry composed back in 2008 titled, ‘Crossing the Border‘.
I’m not sure where the cut-off was or is for our neighborhood but places like 5th avenue, 7th avenue, 8th avenue, 21 street, St. Saviour Parish and I.H.M. Parish were locations where I met a lot of outstanding people during my days of growing up in Holy Name.
What about when you were a youngster, say from the ages of 13 through 18? Did you meet anyone from outside the neighborhood that you became good friends with over the years?
Before you ventured out, did you have a preconceived notion about that particular neighborhood? The kids living there? Did you think they were richer, smarter, or even tougher? Maybe you thought they were better athletes?
I loved our rivalry with I.H.M in basketball. Remember their gym with the stage behind the basket; the half-moon backboards on the side? I used to love the ‘chute’ that went alongside the stairs which led to the locker rooms. We used to get screamed at for sliding down.
When I was a teenager I was able to meet guys like Jackie and Billy Ryan, Randy Reis, Turk, Ron Hardy, Chris Ryan and Danny Leary from down at I.H.M; I had the pleasure of hooking up with them down at East 5th street park; it was actually a great run; you always looked for the best comp. Do kids do that today?
Jackie’s the best. I have known him since I was 14 years old. To this day we still chat. The guy has made a living from his passion; basketball. Check out his website, he’s making things happen.
Turk’s another one; a friend for life. He’s always been there for me with outstanding advice and words of encouragement while I go through my coaching career. I could never forget how he came to my rescue at my first basketball camp at the age of 14 when some kids tried to ‘clown’ me.
Ron Hardy was my teammate for one month at John Jay when I played for their varsity basketball team. Good dude who used to give me a lift home after practice.
Carl Manco conducted a basketball league at Saint Saviour in the girls high school gym. He had the standings and the stats listed up on a board on the wall for all to see. Guys like David Quinn (younger brother of Colin) and Garnett Grisom were legends. Jimmy and Frankie Cullen played down there and put up some big time numbers. I wanted to play there in the worst way.
I can’t forget about cats like Terry Green, Al McNeil, Chris Johnson, Jimmy Parker and Chris Logan; all guys from St. Saviour’s; playing ball down at the 9th street YMCA and at times in the back of 51′s schoolyard were also the norm.
How’s this for friends outside the neighborhood; my first cousins, the Leopoldi’s are from Saint Saviour. My father’s sister’s kids run the hardware store on 5th avenue. Great people!
The fella’s from 21st street, who everyone thought were these rough and tough kids with leather jackets and ‘ba-ba’ shoes were actually cool dudes. They drove around in Monte Carlo’s with disco music blasting from their speakers. They hung out on the corners sipping beer and at times would come up to the schoolyard and play us in basketball. It was funny watching them run up and down the court in tight Jordache jeans, wife-beater t-shirts displaying their countless tattoos, numerous gold chains dangling from their beefed-up necks and the ‘ba-ba’ slip-ons without socks.
It didn’t matter where you were from. It could be an early Saturday morning or a weeknight. We hopped on our bikes, snuck on the train, took the bus and sometimes we walked…we got together and formed friendships that have lasted for years.
I wonder if teens do that today.