Wanted to wish Frank Cullen a Happy Birthday. Frankie and I grew up together and it was some of the best years of my life.
Enjoy the day my man…
Windsor Place 4-Ever!
Still in shock.
Or as Mick Jagger would say, “State of Shock.”
John Cain was a huge Rolling Stones fan…
Here’s an awesome tribute from Robert Fields on J.C.
What a heartbreak for the Cain and Davis Families! My sympathies to all, especially Mr Cain, John’s son, Kathy Ferris, Pat and Tim, and all the nieces, nephews and cousins from WT/Holy Name and NJ.
John was my oldest friend, who spent many happy days with his grandfather and grandmother on 16th Street (the late, great Bridie Davis, also grandmother to Noreen and the Windsor Place Davis families), two doors up from our old place on 16th (John’s sister Kathy and her family have lived there for years, and still do).
John and I palled around since we were born (joined a year later by Sean Keating from across the street), attending kindergarten at PS 154 together, and then–on one of the rainiest days I ever remember–we marched up to Holy Name together to start our academic careers, full of excitement and hope, he in his blue rain slicker, me in my yellow one. When we got through the huge school doors, we were quickly disappointed, as they literally had to separate us to join two different homerooms, me to Miss Schiotis (sp?) and John elsewhere down the hall. We never again had the same class in our 8 years at Holy Name, and John later went to Loughlin and I to Xaverian, but we always hung out anyway as before, either on 16th or Seeley, or in the park/subway/wherever the fun/girls/excitement was to be found.
It was a pleasure knowing John, who truly could be said to have had a twinkle in his eyes (a gift from his mother, Irene, who had the same); nonetheless, a tougher/gentler guy you couldn’t find, and I was happy many a time to have had him in my corner when the going got tough! He worked too, and was a hard grafter. He had sense of right and wrong, and while mostly quiet, when he did speak, he spoke from the heart and wasted few words. Anyone our age (HNS Class of ’78 or thereabouts) would know the fun times we all had at the Prospect Park Corral, a secluded place just off the Circle/9th Ave., with the boombox as a musical backdrop to socializing in the park, a place to meet and date pretty girls, get up-to-date on the latest news and gossip, and figure out our way in the world as teenagers always do.
As times go by we lose track of friends, and focus on careers and family, while the years pass more quickly than ever. I regret not keeping up with John since I moved to London (22+ years!), but only a few years ago, John’s older brother Tim moved over here and married an English girl like I did, and we would go out whenever our schedules would permit and talk and laugh about the good old times in Brooklyn. How I regret now not calling John, who I think about often. My sympathies on the loss of a great guy and good friend.
We’ll meet again, pal, I’m sure.
Heard some outstanding news late last week. Childhood friend, Kevin Molloy, originally from Howard Place informed me his daughter has accepted a Cross-Country/Track scholarship to Iona College.
Atta boy Kevin…nice job.
If you are not aware, former Windsor Place resident Jerry Cole is an Iona alum. He too ran for the Gaels.
Good luck Miss Molloy!
Keep on running…
Back in the late 70’s when I was a teenager I saw two guys from the neighborhood have a fist fight in front of this two-car garage.
It was late at night, somewhere close to midnight, middle of the summer.
These guys were good guys, I liked them both. Matter of fact I believe most of the neighborhood liked them.
They were about four or five years older than me. The fight spilled out into the street and boy did it get ugly. It was MMA way before MMA.
No one attempted to break it up.
I later heard they were fighting over a very attractive girl.
Don’t recall who won the fight and I don’t even know who wound up with the girl.
January 2, 1978
It’s a little after nine and man it’s freezing outside… but I don’t care.
I stayed in all day yesterday watching college football. You know, the Bowl games; Cotton, Orange, Rose and Sugar. I was tempted to place a few bets but the bookie down on fifth avenue would laugh at me. I’m only 15. Sorry, I can’t mention him by name; don’t wanna get pinched.
In all honesty, I was hung-over from all the drinking we did on New Year’s Eve. I know, I know. I can hear you know. You’re drinking at fifteen?
Yeah, we drink, handle it.
You ever try Wild Irish Rose?
That shit is amazing.
Ninty-nine cents a bottle.
Not gonna tell you how many bottles I drank, so don’t bother asking.
To make matters worse, my girlfriend is pissed at me. Not sure what I did though. Come to think of it, she’s always pissed at me.
So I grab my basketball and head to the schoolyard.
“About time you get your ass out of this house!” My mother says to me as I walk past her in the living room.
“Yeah, Happy New Year to you too…”
Mom has been getting on my case lately.
Heading out of our apartment, I cross ninth avenue and walk down Windsor Place. Hanging a right at Howard Place I dribble the ball through my legs. No one dribbles the ball like me. I don’t have gloves on either. My fingers are cold.
Howard Place is a quiet block. I’m sure someone is pissed at me for making noise. The sound of the bouncing ball is probably annoying. Who cares!
Entering the yard I walk straight to the first basket and start to shoot. I start in close.
After the third shot a priest from the second floor window of the rectory screams, “GET OUT OF THE SCHOOLYARD!”
Damn it, I’m screwed now.
I’m always getting tossed out of the yard at night. It’s bullshit if you ask me. It’s nine o’clock for crying out loud.
But hold up. I know where I can go and no one will bother me. Good-bye Father.
East 5th street park is a hike, but fuck it. It beats going home and having to listen to my mother.
I head down Prospect Avenue and walk over the bridge. As I walk into the playground I hear a few kids messing around over by the swings. Probably a few teens from I.H.M.
Believe it or not, there’s a lot of kids down here I know; we play ball against each other often. But it’s too dark to see who’s on the swings. They leave me alone.
No one is out on the court. I have it all to myself. What do you expect, it’s ten at night. Only someone crazy like me would be out here where it’s like twenty degrees. There’s a little snow on the ground too. But that doesn’t bother me.
As I take a few shots, I notice someone walking into the park.
I zoom in on them and see that it’s a girl.
She starts to walk over towards me, right onto the court.
Wonder what she wants?
Maybe she’s lost?
Maybe she thinks I’m someone else?
I’m nervous. She looks to be about my age.
“Hi,” she says.
“How you doin’?” I respond.
“I’m good, what’s your name?” she asks.
“Steve, but my friends call me Red.”
It’s an awkward moment, her standing there and me holding the ball. What do I say next?
Wonder if she plays ball?
Wonder what she wants?
The street light and the moon shining down on us lights up the park.
She’s short with dark hair. She’s wearing jeans and a pair of high top black, Chuck Taylor all-stars. She has a black coat, and a scarf.
“You play ball?” I ask.
“What’s so funny?”
“Me, play ball?”
“Yeah what’s wrong with that?”
“Look how short I am!”
I look her up and down.
I have to say, she may be short but she’s gorgeous.
East 5th is a spot I visit often. Gotta be honest, I’ve never seen her before.
“You live around here?” I ask.
“Nah, I live down on Church Avenue,” she replies.
“What brings you around here?” I ask.
“Why, you writing a book?”
She laughs and reaches for the basketball, knocking it away from me. The ball rolls over by the fence. Maria chases it, picks it up and starts to dribble.
“D-up,” she says.
D-up? Holy shit, I think she does play. Either that or she watches a lot of ball.
I stand still watching her.
She’s cute with a beautiful smile. Her eyes are sparkling. She seems so happy, so full of spirit.
But hold up, I can just see her boyfriend pulling up in a car, running out and punching my lights out for talking to her. Pretty girls like Maria have a man.
Next thing I know Maria throws up a shot towards the rim.
The ball goes over the backboard.
“OOPS…” she says in a shy manner.
There’s no way she plays ball with a shot like that I think to myself.
“Nice shot,” I tell her. I’m messing with her.
I walk after the ball and retrieve it.
As I walk back on to the court Maria gets up close to me and attempts to play defense.
“Wanna play one-on-one?” she asks.
I’m so close to her I can smell her perfume.
“Sure,” I answer.
I give up my dribble and pass her the ball. I’m probably getting myself into deep shit.
“Your ball first.”
Maria smiles. God her smile is unbelievable! Her teeth are so white.
She dribbles around the top of the key. I’m a bit reluctant to get close to her, I keep looking over towards the street. With my luck someone will pull up, I can just feel it. Last summer down at Manhattan Beach I met this really pretty girl and she had a boyfriend. He got pissed at me and we got into a big fight right on the basketball court.
That’s one thing I am staying clear of; girls who have guys.
I should ask her if she has a boyfriend.
I’m not a fighter. I play ball and hang out.
Maria starts to drive in towards the basket. She double dribbles. I don’t say anything. She has so much enthusiasm. Plus, I’m not a referee.
As Maria gets close to the goal she misses the lay-up.
“Brick!” I say teasingly.
I rebound the ball, dribble out to the foul line and take a jump- shot. It swishes. But there’s no net on the rim.
Maria chases the ball down.
We go back and forth for the next five minutes.
This feels like a dream.
Very little is said between us but she’s so playful. My girlfriend never wants to play one-on-one.
I keep looking over at the street. You know what I’m thinking, right?
Someone please wake me up.
Maria seems to be out of breath.
“I need a break,” she says.
Watching her walk over to the benches, I shoot a left-handed layup high off the backboard.
My eyes glance at her butt.
She sits down while I get up a few more shots.
“Hey Red, come over here.”
I know I shouldn’t but I pick up my ball and start to walk over to the bench where Maria is sitting. These are the same benches we hang out on during the summer when we play pick up ball. East 5th has a great run in the summer. Some of the best players around come here to play ball. Never thought I’d be sitting here at night, with a pretty girl.
What I should do is be polite. Say something like:
Maria, it’s been a pleasure meeting you but I gotta go now.
Walk out the park, head back over the bridge and back up the hill to my neighborhood.
Instead I walk over and sit across from her. I put the ball down by my feet. I turn over my right shoulder looking through the fence for a car or a guy to show up.
My heart is racing…
Sad news today; Stephen Whelan has passed away. He was 62.
Thoughts and prayers for the entire Whelan family.
On Facebook Stephen’s younger brother Kenny described Stephen as “smart, funny and tough. Very tough.”
The Whelan’s grew up on 8th avenue between Windsor Place and Prospect Avenue. 1634, right next to Empire State Oil.
8th avenue had some cool people. Danny Byrnes, John Brown, Harry Mills and of course, my girl Maureen Delaney. We hung out on the corner of Windsor and 8th often.
Here’s a team picture Stephen sent me back on June 8, 2008.
“I’m the “freak” by the way. That’s my hair blocking the Schaefer sign (second from right). Notice Mike M, John D, and Eloy M in the lower middle. Jimmy K is in the middle top row. What losses! It was quite a day with the last minute win!” said Stephen.
I went back to a few comments Stephen posted right here on Container Diaries. We actually were e-mailing each other for a short time. Kenny is right, Stephen was smart and funny. I must also say that Stephen gave me some valuable advice on my writing career.
Here’s a comment Stephen posted on the blog dated December of 2011:
Yabba-Dabba-Doo, I think Rocky got his voice from Yogi Bear! The neighborhood was filled with people who were honest and moral. Many a time the expression “Did you drop this?”, Or “is this yours?” were echoed. Often, many people would share their found wealth with others and bring sodas, and such to others in the school yard to leave for them. Mostly it was the desire for others to share in your good fortune. There was nothing like being on the giving end of someone gulping down a cold Cola followed by a satisfied “ahh.” If it was “real” money it was handed over to the parents who would decide what was to be done from that point on.
Apartment, Basketball, Black Belt, Bookie, Coffee, Cube Steak, Dee-Dee, Father, Gambling, Georgia Tech, Girlfriend, Karate, Marquette, Money, Mother, Ninth Avenue, Ninth street, Thanksgiving, Windsor Place, YMCA
Day After Thanksgiving…
“Can I have ten dollars?” I ask my mother as she sits on the couch watching television, sipping a cup of black coffee.
Without looking at me, she asks, “For what?”
Every time I ask her for money, she always questions me.
“There’s a basketball clinic tonight at the YMCA,” I replied.
“No, I don’t have it.” She barked as her eyes never left the screen.
I don’t even know why I ask anymore? Just once I want to hear, “Sure, here you go sweetie. Have a good time.”
I mumble something under my breath as I walk away.
Mom ignored me.
Usually after I mumble something she’ll say, “WHAT DID YOU SAY MISTER?”
As I walk out of our apartment she shouts, “GO DOWN TO TIMBOO’S AND ASK YOUR FATHER!”
I haven’t seen that prick in weeks.
He doesn’t give a shit about me but it’s a worth a try.
I remember he used to come by on Saturday mornings to get me. We’d head down to Timboo’s and I would spend the whole afternoon there. But before we got to Timboo’s we’d stop off at the Cube Steak on ninth street for breakfast.
Walking out of our apartment, I hang a left on Windsor Place, down the block, past my girl’s house and across seventh avenue.
For late November, it’s actually a nice day. The sun is out and it has to be at least fifty degrees.
It didn’t cross my mind to ask my girlfriend to walk down to Timboo’s with me. All I thought about was getting the money from my father for the clinic. Besides, I was just with her last night until midnight. She’s probably still sleeping.
When I get to 11th street I make a left and head towards fifth avenue.
Outside Timboo’s there’s a few guys standing on the corner shooting the breeze.
Red D. has a cup of coffee in his right hand. Roger C. is leaning against the lamp post reading the New York Post and Dee-Dee is checking out a hot girl across the avenue.
“Wow, look at that honey over there,” Dee-Dee muttered.
We all look over at her. Even Roger interrupts his reading to take a peek.
“She’s young enough to be your daughter,” Red implied.
“Shit, if there’s grass on the field, let’s play ball!” Dee-Dee insisted.
All three guys laugh. Even I had to smile. And Dee-Dee was right, he was fine.
There’s always hot babes on fifth avenue.
I turn around and look through the front window of Timboo’s to see if my father is in there. He’s always in the same spot at the bar. If he’s not in his spot, he’s on the pay phone by the window.
There’s three guys in there, including the bartender.
Dad’s not there.
“Stevie, what’s up kid?” Red D. asks as he looks over at me.
“Hey Red, you see my father?”
“He’s not here yet, should be here soon though. I’m waiting for him too, he owes me some money.”
Roger picks his head up from the paper. Red smiles at him.
“That was some bet last night,” Roger noted.
“I knew Georgia Tech wouldn’t cover,” Red bragged.
That was some game. I watched the whole thing.
Dee-Dee walks over to me and puts both fists up like a boxer and gets down in a stance.
“Come on Stevie, put ’em up baby!”
I stand there and watch him bob and weave.
Dee-Dee is a black belt and is always looking to get me to learn Karate. Every time I see him, he wants to spar.
He scares me. Not in a bad way but now he starts jumping around and kicking into the air like Bruce Lee.
What the fuck?
I think to myself.
He’ll kill me if one of those kicks land at my head.
Dee-Dee taps me on the head with an open palm and walks into the bar.
I could never learn Karate, I’d get my ass kicked but it would be cool to be able to karate chop someone and peg someone with a flying drop kick.
Plus, no one would fuck with me if I knew Karate.
“Hey kid,” Roger says as he walks past me, stuffing his newspaper in the back of his pants.
“Who you like today?” he adds.
Before I could answer, he’s inside the bar.
Roger is always asking me who I like?
He doesn’t mean which girls I like either. He wants to know which teams I like to win or which ones will cover the spread?
Red’s alone on the corner now, sipping at his coffee as he continues to look around the empty streets.
I’m sure he’s keeping an eye out for my father. Red’s head is on a swivel. Looking left, then right.
My father’s a bookie.
Red bet Marquette last night, he was getting five points. They won the game outright by two.
I have given serious thoughts to placing bets on basketball games. I read the betting lines every morning. I circle who I think will cover. I usually get a lot of games right when I check the scores the following day.
But my father would probably never let me gamble.
Wonder how much Red had on the game?
I hope my father can give me the ten dollars for the clinic.