I’m currently reading Pete Hamill’s outstanding memoir, “A Drinking Life.”
There are so many awesome stories from Pete from his younger days of growing up in the neighborhood. This one particular story blew me away…
By the Spring of 1949, seething with anger at Brother Jan, I started hanging out in a different part of the neighborhood, two blocks from Holy Name. The place I chose was called Bartel-Pritchard Square, and it was more of a circle than a square. Off the square on one side were the two tall Corinthian columns that marked the entrance to Prospect Park; we called them the Totem Poles, or the Totes. We’d gather around the bases, sitting on them, looking at girls, cursing, smoking, making jokes, and drinking beer. (Taken from pp 111-112)
Thirty years later, when I was 13, I did the same thing! This is where we hung out! On the parkside, inside the park (they called it “Hippie Hill”)
I’m sure other teens from the neighborhood, ten and twenty years before me, did the same thing. On a weeknight everyone would make their way over after supper. It was our meeting spot. Our own little world. Like Pete mentioned, we drank, talked, flirted and sometimes, when we had money, we’d play cards right on the sidewalk.
Some kids went home earlier than others. I was usually one of the last to leave. I loved being with my friends.
Little did we know that for many years the teenagers in and around the neighborhood were doing the same thing.