FRIDAY AFTERNOON – MAY 15
Walking to the train I see an old friend, Anthony Mastrandrea.
Great family from Windsor Place. Went to school with his older brother Louie.
There’s Dominick, Peter and Stephen.
Their mom and dad are good people.
Big soccer fans back in the day. They loved the New York Cosmos. Mainly Giorgio Chinaglia.
Anthony pulled his truck over to chat. Good move Ant, we need more friendly people in the world.
As I pass the boys schoolyard on Prospect Avenue and Howard Place looks like they are having recess. It’s not Holy Name though, it’s St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy.
Something ain’t right at 241 Prospect Park West.
There’s like 15 kids out there.
They’re not playing ball either.
They have their school uniforms on and all but…
Just chasing each other around.
While I walk down Howard Place I am tempted to make a suggestion to the three adults standing in a circle keeping an eye on the children.
“Let’s choose up sides!”
COME ON MAN!
GET THESE KIDS GOING.
Good thing I didn’t. Probably would have called the cops on me.
We had some big time, and I mean BIG TIME slap-ball games in the yard during recess. The full-court basketball games were competitive. We would unclip our ties and toss them to the side.
Yeah fruitcake, I had a clip-on. Go ahead and laugh.
When the girls stood against the church wall and watched us, we played harder.
We played in our dress shoes. Remember the marshmallow shoes? LOL. Try running in them.
Shirttails sticking out in the back. (Is Shirttails one word or two?)
Did I mention we had between 40 and 50 kids in our class?
Mary Kawas always participated. One of the best athletes I ever went against in the yard. She was aces…
So with two, sometimes three classes at recess, that was over 120 kids. Wait, we had four 8th grade classes.
Where did everyone go?
And here’s one for the local child psychologist: we organized the games ourselves.
Most times we made the teams up back in the classroom before we came out.
On the Manhattan-bound F-Train it’s not too crowded. But first off, I miss the swipe of the Metro Card.
“Swipe it again,” dude behind me says.
I want my tokens back!
F-train comes roaring into the station. I board and pass on planting my ass in the open spot. I choose to stand.
Looking around the train everyone is in a trance. What’s the deal?
Hating the fact that they are going to work I would guess. I am on vacation, sorry.
Straphangers look mad.
But lighten up Francis, it’s FRIDAY!
As the F travels from Fourth Avenue to Carroll Street I get a peek at the BQE. It’s packed. Bumper-to-Bumper. Don’t miss those days at all.
I thought I was standing my ground when all of a sudden I lose my footing.
The Bergen Street Curve got me.
Loved the guy with the business suit holding the coffee in one hand, his phone in the other. Briefcase between his legs.
He spilled the coffee all over.
To me, people get way too close on the train. I need my space. Back up people.
Gotta love the people who run for the train, as the door is about to close they stick half their body in and get stuck.
What’s that all about?
Wait for the next train bro!
You look silly stuck in the door.
How about Smith and 9th station and York Street?
These stops are packed now.
Never was that way.
Guys on the train look like they wanna fight. Look like boxers entering the ring.
Mad at the world.
One guy got on at East Broadway, swear he was ready to rumble.
Where’s Michael Buffer?
Forget “Watch the closing doors.”
I’ m waiting for, “LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!”
Oh shit, Second Avenue, my stop.
Gotta get off.
Talk to you later.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up on 17th Street between 9th and 10th avenues. Although my parents divorced when I was in my teens, my apartment at 510 17th St had my mother Mary Ann, father Mike, brother Mike, and my sister Pat.
17th St was an amazing block. I had my cousins Richie, John and Walter. There were great guys like the Camarano’s, Allie Russo, Tommy Plantamuro, the late Nicky Guido, Dennis Mullaley, and the Laux brother’s Billy and Tom. Can’t forget about Mike and Sue Hardman. We had good people like Brian, Mark and Jody Carrachia. Michael and Pee-Wee Pagan and Douglas Herman. The McKee’s, Kenny Driscoll, and who can forget Boooolaaaa!
Sports was played all year-round. Stickball, whiffle ball, off the point, football, sponge ball and softball. Believe it or not we didn’t play basketball. I broke the mold with that one. When it got too hot in the summer we opened the johnny pump. None of us knew that we didn’t come from much money. We were living the dream!
Describe your experience of Holy Name?
Going to Holy Name was the single greatest gift my mother and father ever gave to me. It is there that I received the education that has lasted me a lifetime. Ironically, those life lessons didn’t come from the textbooks, they came from the daily interactions from the friendships that were formed. The people in my life today are the same people from my youth. Martin Cottingham, Eric Swanson, The Sturges brothers, the Rafferty’s, the Mackay’s, the Harte’s, the Dougherty’s and Thomas Dolan.
The teachers were awesome. I remember Brother Lawrence taking us to a Big East basketball game at Madison Square Garden, St John’s vs Georgetown. It was my first college game; Chris Mullin vs Patrick Ewing. I will never forget that night, the Garden was rocking. I left there a big Ewing fan. I was amazed at his game.
Brother Lawrence met us at the 15th St train station and rode the train with us to the Garden. When the game was over he said, “O.K. see ya’ I have to go to the Bronx.”
Martin Cottingham, Tim Sturges and I rode the train back home by ourselves at 9:30 at night. We were too dumb to be scared!
The Parish went into turbo charge when Father Jim Devlin arrived. Instantly he put the hoops back in the schoolyard .Not those half-moon thing’s either, real square back boards. Then he started the flag football league in the park, I think every kid in the Parish was on a team. Basically you played with the kids you hung out with. He single-handedly revived a sleeping Parish. I believe he was the one who created the momentum which is still going today at Holy Name /St. Joseph the Worker.
The highlight of the day was when the school bell rang at dismissal. You met your friends in the boys school yard. Steve Finamore, Glen Thomas, Little Jimmy Maloney, Jimmy McDonough, McDermott, Matt DeNardo, Daniel Ferrity, Danny Toner, Jack Malone, The Cunninghams, Riggins’, The Shashaty brothers, The Heegan’s, Andy Purdy, Chris Robinson, Orlando Pabon, The Rutter brothers, The Stratton’s, the Palanca’s and the Lavassuer brothers. All good people. The boys school yard was the center of our universe. We couldn’t live without it!
Do you recall the first time you walked into Farrell’s for a drink?
My first beer in Farrell’s was on my birthday when I was 21. I didn’t even waste my time trying to be served before hand because I knew I would be denied. All my buddies were there waiting for me; John Rafferty, John Macky, Phil McKenna, Eric Swanson, Danny and Jimmy Sturges, it was great. I’m older than Martin Cottingham and Tim Sturges so they couldn’t get served. Gerard Trapp was working the stick behind the bar that night.
“You have I.D.?” Gerard asked.
With a smile I answered, Yes I do..
I’ll have a Gin and Tonic, I said.
“Oh no you’re not!” Gerard replied.
“You will thank me in the morning,” Gerard assured me.
Thinking back on that night, he was right!
The best thing about going into Farrell’s you always get your family history played back to you with the other generation of guy’s that are there.
Someone always knows your grandfather, father, brother, or cousins. I have the pleasure of going on the Farrell’s football trip with guys like Duffer (John Powers), Pete Connoly, Billy Kahaly, Sookie. John Davis, Bucky, Broadway, the McKenna’s and the Heegan Family. This season we ran into Danny Mahoney, A.K.A., “The Chief.” It was great to hang with him, he’s a good dude.
Choose one store up on the avenue; give me the one thing you recall about that store and a story from your experience. Can be your favorite store, least favorite, etc.
What I remember fondly is Tony Pinto from United Meat Market. He was so nice to everyone. I remember as a little kid he would engage me in conversation on all things. I couldn’t believe this man with his store packed would take the time and talk to me. He had a great way of making you feel good about yourself. It was no surprise that when the Sturges’ dad died he hired Timmy and Jimmy to work at the store. Later on in life when I started dating and marrying his older daughter Tracy it was the same, he was always a pleasure to be around and the best person to talk to. I owe much to him for letting me see how a true gentleman operates in life. When his entire family his wife and daughters lost their home in Breezy Point we moved back to the neighborhood. My girls and little Tony Pinto, Tricia’s son got a kick going back into their grandpa’s butcher shop. I am pleased to see Rocky and Joe doing an amazing job with United just like Tony.
Give us an update on what you are up to these days?
I am presently living back in the neighborhood while we await the permit process to rebuild our home from the fires that occurred during “Sandy”.
Last year a few month’s before the storm I made a promise to myself that I would get healthy again. I started running, biking and incorporated swimming into the mix. I started doing triathlons and competing in road races.
In a year’s time I ran eight, half-marathons and will be running the New York City Marathon in November.
I teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to raise funds so they can help families rebuild there lives post-sandy.
So far, family and friends have helped me raise $14,000.
I am a proud union electrical foreman in Local 3 and have a beautiful hardworking wife.
I have known my wife Tracy Pinto most of my life and am very proud of the way she has helped keep normalcy with my children, post-sandy. My kids love sports; soccer, swimming and hoop’s. All of our free time goes to them and we love it! Being back in the neighborhood I love that my daughter and I can shoot around in the school yard just like the old days. I feel blessed, I have the best family and friends a man could ever ask for. How fortunate I was to grow up in such an amazing parish of Holy Name.