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Kensington Stories





Updated: 2017-11-20T07:04:26.454-05:00

 



Our Home in Our Hearts

2017-04-27T18:55:46.483-04:00

The sound of the metal being ripped apart was almost sickening. With its large toothed scooper the backhoe found yet another void between the boards and the fence to place its four sharp fangs and then pull hard forward tearing another section of white and blue plastic along with metal studs, collars and some occasional nuts and bolts. Within just a few seconds the eight-foot section of boards was gone. Just lying on the floor in a heap of plastic and tin. The backhoe then growled and again made it's way to another section of the boards ready to attack. And with no expression at all, the operator just continued his job while gently moving the black joysticks on his console."Hey Ronnie, you ok?" You really took that one square in the head". I remember the windup from John Arnold and that's just about it. Lights out and straight to the asphalt of my crease. Boom!But then just like my mom waking me up in the morning to go to school there was Bill Webster's face along with his black longshoreman's wool cap staring at me with concern though the two eyeholes of my fiberglass goalie mask."Wow that one really left a mark on your mask but most important it didn't go in".Now only a fellow goalie can relate to getting hit in the mask by a puck. It's a loud deafening "cling" that makes your ears ring for hours, along with the lump that you'll have on your forehead the next day in school."I'm ok Bill, but man did that one really hurt."Bill Webster who was both a reference and linesman and volunteered so much of his time at the league helped me get back up to my feet. "You sure you're ok Ronnie, because if you're feeling a little dizzy I'll tell McCourt to put it Mitch Stern"." No I'm ok Bill, let's get this going".Bill blew his whistle and all the guys lined up for another face off just to my left on the circle. With white puffs of smoke blowing through their mouth guards it was just a split second before the scotch 88 slapped to the ground.Arnold back to Randazzo at the point, Randazzo moves in and takes the shot.The scotch 88 whizzed past my outstretched Cooper catch glove and hit the back of the netting in an instant."Yeah!!!!!!" Yeahhhhh!!!With their sticks raised high in the air it was yet another celebration for the 67 Pct. Blues. The scoreboard hanging on the fence by the F-train froze with 2:49 left in the first period.Home 0Away 1Kenny Whelan one of my defenseman scooped the puck out of the bottom of the goal and flicked it to center ice."Don't worry Ronnie, there was nothing you could have done about that one."Yeah, try telling that to the guys on the bench I thought to myself. All sitting there with their heads hanging down like they were awaiting execution or something.Oh man, this sucks I thought to myself.But still the band played on and somehow we managed to win that game by a score of 2-1. I think I faced 53 shots that game. It was probably the best game I ever played in my life.The 70th Pct. youth council roller hockey league back in the 1970s was our world. On any given weekend down at Avenue F there could have been over 400 players, coaches and fans in and out of the park. It was our Mecca of roller hockey; it was our Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum or Maple Leaf Garden. You choose the arena and that's what it was in an instant.There were tons of fans watching us along with many of the parents of the kids who played there. It was where all the action was each and every Saturday and Sunday all throughout the 1970s. There was nothing like it, nothing.You wore your team jersey with pride when you walked around in Kensington or Windsor Terrance. You were part of something great, part of something special. You were part of the 70th Pct Youth Council Roller Hockey League and you couldn't be more proud of who you were and who you played with.And it was never going to end, never. This was going to last forever until the day we died."Hey man you can't do repairs here, this is city property". I looked up at the Park guy and smiled."Hey man, do you know this was my home when I was a k[...]



4 Comments

2017-02-21T18:36:58.204-05:00

Finding 1969It's taken me almost fifty years to make peace with "1969". We've been fighting a long depressing battle for so, so long. Never looking at one another in the eye, and never speaking about our pain. We just try to forget who the other is, and try not to ask why we hate the other so much after all this time. Just sitting at opposite sides of the room and dare not to raise our heads up to speak. Silence and more silence, that's how we deal with our problems. Yes 1969, you made me hate you so much.Once while cleaning out my mom’s apartment I found one of those old time kitchen towel calendars buried in the back of the closet. Scrawled on it right in the middle were those dreaded numerals "1969". I quickly tossed it in a black garbage bag and covered it up with old shirts and material that belonged to my mom. But somehow that didn't work and instead the old dirty towel calendar made its way back to the top of the trash and right back in my head where I've been fighting it from going. Right back to where it belongs, enter the nightmares, enter the crying, 1969 is back again and it's never going away. You see 1969 started like every other year here on East Fourth Street - with my family's yearly New Years Eve party at my grandmother and grandfathers apartment right below our place. With dozens and dozens of relatives and a celebration for my cousin Pete whose birthday falls on the 31st of December. There was nothing that seemed different than any other New Years Eve, no it all seemed to be just right and nothing different from before I thought.December 31st 1968It must have been a Guy Lombardo special that night too in 1968, being broadcast from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel about ten miles away on a cold winter's evening in Manhattan, the same hotel where my parents spent their honeymoon night.Standing around the television everyone was getting ready for the traditional countdown and had either a horn or a twirling gear noisemaker in their hand. And as the frigid wind blew against the old wooden windows of my grandparent’s house you could hear them gently rattle and whisper a sweet goodbye song to 1968.Then it started like every year, those same spoken numerals and the familiar countdown on the television.  "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one...Happy New Year!!!!With hugging, kissing and the usual crying my family all did their best to say goodbye to one year and bring in another as they have done many times before. January 1st 1969 12:01 amFor me 1969 has just begun and all its nightmares will live with me forever, and for my brother Joseph they will all soon end.February 1969"Hey Joey why are you walking so funny? Are your shoes too tight? Because if they are we can go to Mays this weekend in downtown Brooklyn and buy you a bigger size".I vaguely remember my brother complaining to me about his legs or feet, but somehow I remember something wasn't right because my brother was doing a lot of sitting and lying around the house rather than being outside and running around with his friends and especially Steve McNally who lived next door."Hey Joey are you feeling ok?""Get away from me you idiot"That's ok, older brothers always speak to their younger brothers that way and given the fact that he seemed to be not feeling well I really didn't mind anyway.April 2016Now it's all making sense Last year in 2016 I found a box of old photos in my closet here in Brooklyn. They were ones that we took upstate all during Easter of 1969. As I looked at each photo I noticed something quite consistent in each one. The expression on my brother’s face. In each and every photo Joseph had a pained expression. He wasn't smiling and in fact almost looked like he was ready to cry. It was his knees, it had to be.Easter upstate in the CatskillsApril 6th 1969“Hey Ronnie just stop for a minute, my knees really hurt”.I remember looking at my brother that day and seeing the pain in his face. We were fishing with my grandfather Paco down by the stream alongside the Hollow that lead to ou[...]



Save Avenue F

2014-12-31T14:14:31.991-05:00

Ok guys I’m going to do my best from my old puck hit memory to explain the birth and history of hockey at Avenue F from 1972 to the early 80’s when I played there.The 70th precinct PAL had two roller hockey teams that originally played at the playground up by East 5th and Fort Hamilton Parkway. They played without boards and the games were usually on Saturdays and Sundays in the late 60’s through very early 70’s. They were the Ryan’s Northstars and the Terrace Rangers. Local bars sponsored both teams.  Which in hindsight is actually funny because we were just kids. The guys who ran the league back then were; Fred Allen, Bill Webster, Jerry Cartalano, Mr. Pierce, Joe Romano, Louie DeBiasi, Richie Kenna and many that others I forgot. These men were all pretty much tough “blue collar” guys that didn’t take shit from anyone including us teenagers.  They also did more for us than anyone else because of the time and devotion they put into the league.On any given Saturday or Sunday back then there were probably around a hundred people either watching or participating in the games up by the playground on Fort Hamilton and East 5th. Especially when IHM let out after mass, that’s when the place would fill up and it was standing room only!Now a couple of the older guys who ran the league either worked for the Parks Department or had some kind of affiliation with the city. So when we heard there was going to be an actual rink being built down by McDonald Avenue near Avenue F we were all quite excited.  We also knew that it would happen much faster than normal because they worked for NYC Parks and oversaw the McDonald Avenue Park before the rink was actually there.No back then you just got things done period.My cousin Pete has a vague memory of some Italian construction company doing the paving work down by F during the summer of 1972.  The fence piping and the plywood were all put up by the guys who ran the league back then and also with the help of some of the older teenage players who were skilled and strong enough.Ok, I’m going to say that the original Avenue F was built in the Fall of 1972.The cool thing about Avenue F from what I recall is we were the first roller hockey rink in Brooklyn to have curved corners vs. the angled corners that both 53rd and Kings Bay had.  And the guys that ran the league were quite proud of that too!I think they held some kind of painting party and many of the boys that played in the league helped paint the boards, the blue lines, face-off circles, goalie creases, etc.The original nets that were lightweight aluminum were given up for much heaver steel nets that could not be blown down by the wind. I clearly remember our original nets being held by sand bags up on East 5thwhen we played there. And for the record I still have one of the original nets and my cousin Pete has the other. Patty DeSimone traded us the two nets for a motor scooter back in 1971 or so.Patty no longer has the motor scooter but we have the nets!!! I still use the net today to shoot into on my block here on East 4th.The rink was originally named the Billy Powell Memorial Hockey Rink after a young player was killed by a car on the way to one of the games early one Sunday morning. Billy was killed by the circle by Prospect Park down by the Coney Island Avenue/PPSW/Ocean Parkway merge. We were all in shock that morning to learn that he was killed on his way to the game. We had a ceremony one day before a game and there was even a sign erected on the fence outside the rink.It was never known as the DiGilio Playground when we played there.Well, we had refs, score boards, dozens of fans and the action was always quite intense. There were fights galore, playoff games, crowds cheering on the park benches, rivalries, hockey dinners, trophies, crying after a tough loss and celebrations after you won the coveted “Kenna Cup”. The Kenna Cup was our equivalent of the Stanley Cup and you better believe that when my team won it [...]



3 Comments

2014-09-18T20:51:38.641-04:00

As I sat in my third grade classroom in PS 179 I could hear them roaring towards us. From my desk I could look out the window and see their long yellow roofs. They parked in front of the school entranceway on Avenue C. With their diesel engines just clattering away, I knew it was my time to go. On every Wednesday at 2 o’clock my stomach would start to hurt. It was time for the public school Christians to leave our sanctuary of bliss and head North up East 3rd street to The Immaculate Heart of Mary school. It was time for “Religious Instructions”. As I gathered my books and headed out the door I looked back and said good bye to Miss Saltzman. She just smiled back at me looking as beautiful as ever in her white go go boots. As I started to walk down the battle ship gray stairs I really started to feel nauseas. But you see I wasn’t alone, about four otherchildren followed me down. All of us silent, no words ever spoken. “Ronnie are you feeling OK” asked the school bus matron. A friend of my Mom’s whose name always escaped me. I tried to smile at her, but my lips always had a problem arcing up on the sides on a Wednesday afternoon. I always sat in the back of the bus too. Right under the “emergency exit” sign. Maybe hoping it would open up one day and I would just fall out. As the bus driver closed the doors, I closed my eyes. The bustling clatter of the diesel engine got louder as we pulled away and made a left onto East 3rd street. The ride up East 3rd street was the greatest torture. Especially as we passed Church Avenue, because everything I loved was right outside the school bus window, almost within reach. Kennys Toy Store, Lee’s Toy Store and a brand new Pizzeria called “Korner”. All the places I loved to visit with my Mom, yet here I am sitting on a cold school bus seat heading towards my doom. Church Avenue just vanished in the distance behind me. The bus made a left on Fort Hamilton Parkway and gently stopped in front of IHM School. We all silently gathered our belongings and filed out the bus. At this point I would really start to dread them. With my stomach feeling worse I was hoping to start throwing up this time before we got inside. One of them opened a heavy red metal door, dressed only in black, she just stared at us through her little round eyeglasses, not saying a word. Thepublic school heathens had just arrived. We sat in the classroom, all silent. One of them stood in front of the chalk board, she too was dressed in black with something white around the top of her head. Some kind of hat. Right below her head was a large white disc that looked like it was sawed in two. She held a long wooden yardstick in her wrinkled old hand. She just stood there glaring at us. I could make out her bee bee eyes behind her glasses, they were dark blue. She started to speak, “Now who can tell me about Jesus......And then it happened like it always did. There she was standing in front of the class. She had to be the most beautiful teacher at 179. Miss Saltzman, with beautiful dark eyes and long silky black hair. She had to be a dream, because when she spoke to me I just melted. When I’m old enough I’m going to marry Miss Saltzman, my third grade teacher. And even when she handed me my test papers that usually scored no more than 65. I just stared at her beautiful milky white hands and then her beautiful face, then down her neck to her tight pink sweater and then at her two beautiful full......Wack!, Wack!, Wack!, the tip of the wooden yardstick slammed hard on my desk, just barely missing my little fingers and almost hitting my Timex Dumbo watch that my Mom just bought me for Christmas. “I said wake-up and payattention young man!” “Don’t you care about Jesus?” At that point I was too scared to look up at her, I could only stare at the cross that was hanging on her waist with some sad looking skinny man with a long beard nailed to it. “I said look at me when I speak to you!” Now she was screaming at t[...]



1 Comments

2014-05-08T16:43:21.489-04:00

Freddie's Stoop.On any given August night back in 1975 you could find me down the block on Freddie Schefferman's stoop. But not just me you know, the rest of the boys also made Freddie's stoop their perpetual brick and mortar home. Glen Gruder, Robert Brennan, Neil O’Callahan, Jimmy Spinner and my cousin Pete Liria.Now most of us were anywhere from fifteen to twenty at the time, and Freddie was much older. Freddie could have easily passed for Jesus or Tommy Chong from “Cheech and Chong”. With long wavey black hair, a beard and little round glasses. It was hard to imagine what Freddie really looked like too.Freddie may have been 35 years old at the time. His mother and father owned the house he lived in. And from the stories Freddie told us all the time, we were pretty sure that he grew up on the block too. I know Freddie graduated from Pratt in Brooklyn and did work “freelance” from time to time. Hey, he even owned a 68 Triumph Spitfire convertible, so he had to have some kind of dough. But most of the time Freddie just loved to “hang out” on the block. Just looking like “Jesus” in his bell-bottoms, sandals, and yellow and white striped shirt. Leaning against the white picket fence of his house talking to anyone who wanted to “hang out” with him.Freddie did spend some time in Vietnam too; I think he told us he used to make maps there. But we never pushed it because who knew if he would “Freak out” about it. And Freddie knew just about everything you know, politics, art, religion, history, philosophy, and most important, Brooklyn.“You kids should have been around here when the Trolleys ran on Church Avenue. You couldn’t imagine the shit we used to do with the Trolleys”Freddie did share many of his Church Avenue Trolley stories with us. From squashing pennies on the rails to making late night explosions on the high wires by throwing a metal pipe up at the lines, hoping to arc them both at once, and causing something to blow. I guess it did work sometimes, because Freddie told us many stories about being chased by the cops up our block too.“What the hell are you guys doing here with me?”“you should be out getting laid somewhere,you guys are really schmucks!”Now we never asked Freddie the same question, because it wasstill a Saturday night, and the clock just struck midnight for himtoo. But we just took his insults in stride, and just listened tomore of his stories.“Did you guys check out that new program “Saturday Night Live”, now that’s some funny shit. Hopefully NBC won’t cancel it next year like they always do. Bunch of schmucks!”Freddie was a Jewish 60’s flower child with an edge.“You guys are little assholes, didn’t you seethat girl walk by and smile at you?”“Why don’t you talk to her and get her number?”“When I was your age I had a girl on each arm every night”No one ever dared to ask Freddie what happened,because we never saw him with anyone on the block.No, instead of a beautiful girl on each side of his shoulders,Freddie had us instead. And let me tell you, we were farfrom being beautiful.Freddie hated the establishment too,every President sucked,every Governor sucked,every Mayor sucked.But then again we never asked Freddie if he ever voted.On very rare occasions Freddie would let us down into his basement to see all his photography equipment. Freddie knew all about mold making and casting too. In fact he made me my first fiberglass goalie mask that I still have today. We may have even seen “pot roaches” in empty cat food cans down there too. If Freddie did smoke pot, we never knew it, because he kept his personal life in the basement. Sometimes some of my friend’s dads would playfully rib Freddie about the fact that he seemed to be blissfully un-employed. Especially my friend Robert’s dad Bob Brennan.Now Bob worked on the World Trade Center and told us countless stories about being up on the tower crane some 110 stories up. [...]



Bob Brennan (Last night I lost a friend)

2013-12-02T10:29:22.430-05:00

Bob Brennan Sr. passed away last night in Brooklyn at the age of 83. Today a big part of my heart is missing, for I will miss Bob forever until the day I die.Below is a story I wrote about 6 years ago, I am re-publishing it today in Bob's honor...The greatest storyteller Brooklyn has ever known is my friend Bob Brennan. At 78, Bob is a Brooklyn original you know. From sneaking into Brooklyn Dodger games at Ebbetts field to climbing the wall outside Kings County Hospital to see a live autopsy. Bob just always had what seemed like a novels worth of stories to tell at any given moment.“Oh, do I have a good one for you Ronnie” said Bob. “You know my brother Joey wasn’t one for doctors, and one day he hurts his arm real bad playing baseball down on Brooklyn Avenue. So after about a week he goes to the doctor. Well, he comes home with a cast on his arm, and there’s my brother going crazy every night with this cast. Its itchy as all hell, he’s sticking wire hangers, ice cream sticks, almost anything he can find to shove up the cast and scratch himself. Well, finally after six weeks he goes to the doctor to get it off. So when the doctor takes a small hammer and cracks it open, “Bang!”. He breaks open the cast and hundreds of roaches come running out.The doctor gets up and runs the hell out of the room.And there’s my brother just sitting there screaming withall these roaches all over him”.Besides being a wonderful storyteller, in many ways I felt like Bob was the Dad I never had also. When my dad died when I was seven many of the fathers on the block pitched in to either show me how to hold a hockey stick or catch a hardball. And of course Bob had the best arm on the block, he was even called for a tryout for the New York Giants Baseball team before he was drafted and went to Korea. So there I am just standing in front of my driveway at 399 East 4th with my new Rawlings mitt. “OK Bob, I’m ready”. With the gracefulness of a pro-ball player, Bob throws the hardball towards me. Like a streak of white it flies through the air crossing East 4th and hits the newly oiled palm of my glove, “snap”. I just stood there with my fingers and hand feeling like they got run over by the B35 bus on Church Avenue. “You OK, Ronnie?” Too embarrassed to say no, or even cry in pain. I dug the ball out of my oil soaked glove and threw it back to Bob. With the gracefulness of the “Tin Man” before he got oiled, the ball flies through the air, totally missing Bob’s glove. It ricochets off the hood of a 70 Plymouth Duster and lands in “Frank form Italy’s” tomato garden. Instead of laughing or being upset, Bob just retrieves the ball from the tomato garden. He walks over to me, “OK, now I’m going to show you how to throw the ball”. Yeah, that was Bob.You have to understand that Bob’s stories and his personality were almost medicinal too. In some of the darkest days of my life I could always count on Bob to help me forget my pain. All without him ever knowing that he was doing just that.After my little sister died at 33, I had to go to Kings County Hospital and identify her body. Without a moments hesitation I asked Bob if he could come with me. And without any hesitation on his part he just said “yes”. “Hey Ronnie, did I ever tell you about the time me and my brothers climbed the wall outside the morgue wing to watch them do an autopsy?.” Although I heard it before, I would rarely say yes, and especially not today. “No Bob I haven’t.When I had to pick out a casket for my sister the next day at Pitta’s on McDonald Avenue. There was Bob with me in the “showroom” down in their basement. “Hey Ronnie, did I ever tell you the time I was at a funeral over at Cypress Hills Cemetery?” The ground is totally covered with ice, and here’s these two guys pulling the casket up a steep hill. Well one of the guy’s falls and the casket comes sliding down the hil[...]



5 Comments

2013-11-25T14:09:21.987-05:00

Back when I was a kid growing up in Kensington you rarely saw a parent taking a kid on the subway at eight in the morning. And if you did, is was probably for a doctor’s visit down on Clinton Street, or a day off to see the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. No, no trains here, we just walked up our block and made the right on Avenue C. Our loyal institution of learning was just that close,and that was “too close”.Oh, public school 179, how I hated seeing you from my front window each and every day. With your two gigantic smoke stacks rising high in the sky there was no way I could miss you, even on the weekends. And on those dark winter mornings you were there too, the classroom lights just turning on before my little blue eyes. Flick, flick, flick, “yes we’re open for business”, “see you soon!”. Oh, and lets not forget to say the “Pledge of Allegiance” an hour and a half before we said it again in class. There was that little tiny figure again standing on the roof of the school, raising the “Stars and Stripes” on that tall white flag pole.Sometimes I even used my binoculars to see if it was one of my teachers trying to send me a message. But my best instincts told me it was just the maintenance man. Forget Pre-school, Pre-K, or Special-K, it was kindergarten when you were five years old and nothing else.“Pete let go of the pole”.My cousin Pete and brother Joseph were the first to fall victim to the giant “Monster of Grout” on Avenue C. But Pete’s first day had to be the most memorable. There he was just holding on to the dark green enamel pole in the gym for dear life. My Aunt Dolores and Uncle Pete trying to un-lock his tiny arms that were wrapped tightly around it.“No, no, no, I’m not going, noooooooo!”At some point according to history my Uncle lifted my cousin up by his "Buster Browns" and held him horizontally trying to pull him off the pole. My cousin did loose a valiant battle that day, his little hands succumbing to the strength of two massive adults. But not before he scratched off some lead based paint from the green pole.And me? well I had a whole year to absorb all the horror stories about your “first day”, and the nightmare called “kindergarten”. The strange kids, the white paste, ice cream sticks, and the dreaded colored construction paper. Yes, my “Castle of my discontentment” was right there before me, and I saw it every day.And forget any “gifted programs” at 179 back in 1963; no, you were just ranked by your class number. The low digits meant you were smart, i.e.; 4-1, 4-2. While the high numbers meant you better start learning how to mix concrete, because you weren’t going to law school any time soon. But kindergarten was still a mixed bag, where they proudly paired the lawyers and the plumbers of tomorrow all in the same room.“Hey kid, do you have any “Pez Candy?”“What do you mean?”.“Lopezzzzz, Pez Candy, Lopezzzzz!”.And that’s when I started to cry. My first day of kindergarten and I was already being mocked. I tried to stay calm but then suddenly I felt rage building inside of me, just wanting to glue that kids face with some construction paper and white paste.“Ronnie, just remember the first day is always the hardest”,I could hear my mom's voice from deep inside my head,she always calmed me down when I was about get angry.So I put down the glue and just walked away.Well, the days turned to weeks, the weeks to months, the months to years. Junior High, High School, College. And the days at P.S. 179 just became a distant memory of my childhood.It’s strange but I still see the giant smoke stacks of P.S. 179 from my front window, and my son passes it almost every day on his way to school in Bay Ridge. I wish going to school for him was as easy as it was when I was a kid. Just a walk up the block and then a right on Avenue C. But that’s just another sto[...]



Hanging out on Freddie's stoop

2012-10-18T14:30:35.935-04:00

On any given August night back in 1975 you could find me down the block on Freddie Schefferman's stoop. But not just me you know, the rest of the boys also made Freddie's stoop their perpetual brick and mortar home. Glen Gruder, Robert Brennan, Neil O’Callahan, Jimmy Spinner and my cousin Pete Liria.Now most of us were anywhere from fifteen to twenty at the time, and Freddie was much older. Freddie could have easily passed for Jesus or Tommy Chong from “Cheech and Chong”. With long wavey black hair, a beard and little round glasses. It was hard to imagine what Freddie really looked like too.Freddie may have been 35 years old at the time. His mother and father owned the house he lived in. And from the stories Freddie told us all the time, we were pretty sure that he grew up on the block too. I know Freddie graduated from Pratt in Brooklyn and did work “freelance” from time to time. Hey, he even owned a 68 Triumph Spitfire convertible, so he had to have some kind of dough. But most of the time Freddie just loved to “hang out” on the block. Just looking like “Jesus” in his bell-bottoms, sandals, and yellow and white striped shirt. Leaning against the white picket fence of his house talking to anyone who wanted to “hang out” with him.Freddie did spend some time in Vietnam too; I think he told us he used to make maps there. But we never pushed it because who knew if he would “Freak out” about it. And Freddie knew just about everything you know, politics, art, religion, history, philosophy, and most important, Brooklyn.“You kids should have been around here when the Trolleys ran on Church Avenue. You couldn’t imagine the shit we used to do with the Trolleys”Freddie did share many of his Church Avenue Trolley stories with us. From squashing pennies on the rails to making late night explosions on the high wires by throwing a metal pipe up at the lines, hoping to arc them both at once, and causing something to blow. I guess it did work sometimes, because Freddie told us many stories about being chased by the cops up our block too.“What the hell are you guys doing here with me?”“you should be out getting laid somewhere,you guys are really schmucks!”Now we never asked Freddie the same question, because it wasstill a Saturday night, and the clock just struck midnight for himtoo. But we just took his insults in stride, and just listened tomore of his stories.“Did you guys check out that new program “Saturday Night Live”, now that’s some funny shit. Hopefully NBC won’t cancel it next year like they always do. Bunch of schmucks!”Freddie was a Jewish 60’s flower child with an edge.“You guys are little assholes, didn’t you seethat girl walk by and smile at you?”“Why don’t you talk to her and get her number?”“When I was your age I had a girl on each arm every night”No one ever dared to ask Freddie what happened,because we never saw him with anyone on the block.No, instead of a beautiful girl on each side of his shoulders,Freddie had us instead. And let me tell you, we were farfrom being beautiful.Freddie hated the establishment too,every President sucked,every Governor sucked,every Mayor sucked.But then again we never asked Freddie if he ever voted.On very rare occasions Freddie would let us down into his basement to see all his photography equipment. Freddie knew all about mold making and casting too. In fact he made me my first fiberglass goalie mask that I still have today. We may have even seen “pot roaches” in empty cat food cans down there too. If Freddie did smoke pot, we never knew it, because he kept his personal life in the basement. Sometimes some of my friend’s dads would playfully rib Freddie about the fact that he seemed to be blissfully un-employed. Especially my friend Robert’s dad Bob Brennan.Now Bob worked on the World Trade Center and told us countle[...]



The Rev in Action (from October 2011)

2012-10-18T14:30:48.095-04:00

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The Rev (R.I.P)

2012-10-18T14:31:02.880-04:00

East 4th will never be the same anymore, the Rev died this morning.I have known the Rev for all of my 54 years here on Earth and in Brooklyn. His loud booming voice was a trademark for our block along with his laughing. The Rev knew my whole family, my mom, sister, brother, father, grandfather, grandmother, etc. He used to tell me sometimes that they spoke to him from beyond the grave, especially my mother. He used to tell me that my mom told him to watch over me because she's no longer here and needed him to do so. And although I don't really believe in much, I always believed the Rev somehow. Because "I can speak to the dead you know, because I am a Profit sent here by God". Yeah, the Rev just had that kind of power, the power to make you believe in something."Hey Ron, you know you got to take me with you to the mountains one day, I want to see the mountains and your house in the country" Well, I never got to take the Rev up to Delaware County and I'm feeling bad about that now.One time back in the 90's the Rev drove with Bob Brennan, Tommy Brennan and I to Kennedy airport to see us off on a trip to Spain. He was hooting and hollering in the car the whole trip and made me totally forget about my fear of flying. "Hey Baby""Hey, what's going on Man?""Good morning to you beautiful""Ahhh, haaaa, haaaa, Woooooooo!""You know I'm a Profit sent here by God""You've got a dollar, I've got a dollar""You're FUNNY Boy"From giving away food that the Rev had in his trunk to just being out there polishing his car, you knew everything was always all right when the Rev was there. He kept and eye on you and he kept an eye on your house when you were gone. Yeah, thats some Rev action going on and you knew it.You know back in the 70's the Rev used to come out of the Margaret Court dressed in a long white fur coat, big old white hat with the two most beautiful black women holding each of his arms. He'd walk with them to his big white Caddie and they'd be on their way. Oh, I know what you're thinking, but no one ever really knew and no one ever asked either."Hey Ron, you know you and I got to take this show on the road and go preaching together. I got a white suit for you and a hat you could wear. We'll visit prisons and churches all over the country and preach together" Well, it all sounded good but with two kids, a full time job and a wife it may be a little difficult."Hey Rev, you got to wait till I retire in five years or so, then we'll do it!"I really thought the Rev was going to be around a lot longer, from one day driving his car to the next morning having a massive stroke. It just all seemed to happen too quickly for me. You see the Rev was supposed to live till 100 and still be polishing his car out there right now. There was a trip to the mountains for us, there were trips to the Hollywood car wash together like before. There was supposed to be more hanging out on my stoop together, no the Rev was supposed to be here on East Fourth much longer than this. This just isn't right. After the Rev had his stroke I went to visit him a few times in the hospital. While his body seemed strong his mind was not all there. He really didn't know who I was although he could stand straight up and still preach the word of God just like always. I remember giving him a great big hug before I left and kissing him on his cheek. "You know I'm a Profit, and God speaks through me"No matter how much I never believed anything else,I always believed the Rev. And I'm glad I did.Ron LopezMopar195@yahoo.comhttp://www.facebook.com/ronald.lopez.7946[...]



When the Sun Sets over Brooklyn

2014-09-18T20:49:15.613-04:00

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The old woman moved very slowly down the cold concrete sidewalk of East 4th street. Her body was bent forward as she used the tiny blue shopping cart to help steady her walk. With her knuckles swollen and her hands looking somewhat distorted, she gripped the cart's thin metal bar for dear life. Wearing her old favorite tan overcoat and dark sunglasses she had hair as white as a new fallen snow. The wind was bitter cold as it blew against her skin, she seemed to be counting her steps as she walked. The wheels of the cart squeaked quite loudly and made a sound that was almost seemed musical, the spokes just glistening in the morning sunlight. I watched her until she vanished around the corner onto Beverly Road.

She was tall and beautiful with long brown wavy hair and dark blue eyes. There she stood under the big clock at the Hotel Astor in Manhattan. “Hey gorgeous, how about a movie tonight?” The young woman smiled as she glanced back up at the clock. It was five minutes to six and her date would be there any minute. His name was Ray Ravelli, and he was a professional boxer. Tonight there would be a lot of stopping on the way to dinner, because everyone knew Ray when he walked through Times Square. As the clock struck six and the bells gently tolled, she saw Ray walking towards her.
She smiled as he took her hand.

“Hey Ray, when you going to fight Graziano again.” With quickness in her steps she pulled him along through the busy sidewalks of Times Square. Ray, unable to answer the question from the stranger just turned to her and said, “Hey Stella, how about we just get married and move to California?”. She just looked at him and shook her head "No".

She looked into the mirror and closely studied her face. The mirror just looked back at her, staring straight into her eyes. “Who you looking at you old woman!” The lady in the mirror just smiled back. With much caution in her steps she slowly walked out of the bathroom and headed towards her favorite chair by the window, her old bent finger flipped up the switch of her radio. She loved “Prairie Home Companion” on a Saturday night. Then she reached into her bathrobe pocket and pulled out her mother’s old magnifying glass. She placed it against the face of her watch and slowly drew it towards her blue eyes. It was six o’clock and time for another beautiful sunset over Brooklyn.

My Mom never married Ray the boxer. He wanted to elope and move to California, my mom just wasn’t that adventurous and instead decided to stay in New York and make Brooklyn her home. She loved the excitement of Brooklyn and especially the young people. “Do you think I want to live with a bunch of old people and hear all their stories about aches and pains? no, I’d rather live with the young, at least they help you forget that you’re old”.

My mom died on October 13, 2001 at the age of 83.
She never left Brooklyn, and I never remembered to oil the squeaky wheels of her carriage.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com
http://www.facebook.com/ronald.lopez.7946(image)



Some Bad Habits at IHM

2012-03-08T14:49:58.085-05:00

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He used to walk up my block when I was a kid. He was a short man maybe in his 50’s. He had black hair, a moustache and thick “Buddy Holly” style glasses.
Sam usually wore a brown overcoat in
the winter and a sports jacket in the summer. He could always be seen wearing a brown or black derby too.

Now Sam also walked with a cane, except most of the time it was never touching the sidewalk. Instead he used it to point at people.

“Hey ya bum ya, you fuckin bum”

those words were Sams trademark as he walked up East 4th.
And he usually uttered them when he was drunk.

Now, we were never mean to Sam, and actually liked him. Even when he called us “fuckin bums”, because we may have been only five or six years old at the time and actually thought he was funny. So there he would stand with a newspaper under his arm, his face flushed red and a bottle sticking out of his coat pocket. His old cane right in our faces as we played in front of our house.

“Hey you know what you are?”
“A FUCKIN BUM!”.

We would all start laughing at this point because Sam always had a smile on his face when he cursed at us.

“Thats Goldfeather,
Sam Goldfeather”

And then he would slowly walk up the block towards Avenue C.
Just pointing his cane at anyone he saw until he vanished around
the corner.

And then there was Sam’s brother Irving Goldfeather” who looked strikingly similar to Sam. Except Irving was always seen walking in the opposite direction towards Beverly Road. Usually on his way to work in the morning. Yet, Sams brother was quiet and businesslike and would always tip his hat to my Mom and say:

“Good morning Mrs. Lopez, a beautiful day isn’t it?.

“Mom, why don’t Sam and Irving ever walk together?”

My mom would usually just say that “Maybe Sam sleeps late”.

Then one day Sam told us while waving his cane in our faces that he was moving to Florida and wouldn’t be around anymore. He said his brother Irving would be staying, and for us to be nice to him.
Well, I guess I was pretty naive because I must have been in High School before I figured out that they were actually the same person. And Sam did a pretty good show holding a job during the day only to drink his problems away at the bars on Church Avenue, and then from his pocket before he got home. But truth is from that day on we only saw his brother Irving walking up and down the block. And he never cursed, always wished my Mom a good day, and only walked with his cane touching the sidewalk.

Ron Lopez



Free Counter(image)



Still giving thanks after all these years!

2011-11-23T20:41:16.829-05:00

It all started early on Thanksgiving morning, my brother Joseph, little sister Isabel and my cousins Pete and Denise would all either walk up or down their respective flight of stairs to our grandparents apartment on the second floor. We would then camp out on the rug in front of the TV and wait for the start of the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. My grandfather Paco would be sitting on his "Lazy Boy" right behind us all waiting for the show to start. The turkey cooking in the oven usually started in the morning too, and you could just about smell it throughout the entire house. Later in the afternoon the whole family would be there sitting around the dinner table. The voices of my aunt and uncle, grandparents, cousins, brother, sister, mother and father could be heard throughout the hallows of the wooden stairway. Not to mention the dogs barking too. So, I'm thankful for living in an attic apartment with my Mom, Dad, Brother and sister. Being able to grow up with the entire family in one big house, on one great block, in the City of Brooklyn. And still have all those wonderful memories to write about for now and the years to come.
And Hey, Still giving thanks after all these years!

Ron Lopez(image)



Donald and the F train

2011-09-23T11:10:23.571-04:00

He was tall and thin and carried a black garbage bag onto the subway car. His skin was dark and his face unshaven.I remember looking at another homeless man that day on the F. He walked on to the train at the 14th street station by Union Square, and just stood there across from where I was standing.And people gave him his “room” too, because that’s what you do when the homeless walk onto your train, you just give them their space, and hope they don’t bother you.I just stared at him and looked at his eyes, because the eyes never change, even when you’re homeless. He looked back at me, his eyes were as dark as coal,he said nothing.I know he felt strange when I saw him too. So he just walked away and sat down on a seat facing the opposite direction so I couldn’t notice who he was. The people sitting next to him all got up and found other seats in the subway car. I walked towards him though, and sat beside him.“Hey Donald, remember me? it’s Ronnie from Art & Design”He turned his head towards me, but didn’t look in my eyes this time.“How you doin man?” is all he said“I’m fine Don, I’m fine”“Yeah, well, you know since High School things have been a little rough for me”“I’m ok, but things are just not that good”I remember my first day of high school back in 1972,Donald was one of the first people I sat with at the lunch table in the back of the cafeteria.Donald always wore these really cool tinted sunglasses andhad a small goatee. While most other kids weren’t even shaving yet, including me, Don looked like he may have been about 20 years old.Along with Donald, I also sat with Ernest and Sandy. Donald and Ernest were black, while Sandy was Jewish. We were certainly a cross section of New York, but hey.That’s what made the High School of Art and Design so cool back in 1972. Yeah, the High School of Art and Design. I never knew some of my best friends were gay until my senior year. And to tell you the truth it never really mattered either. Because we were all such good friends, and all artists anyway. All going to a school were nobody cared about “what” youwere. And no one felt they were better than anyone else.We all just loved that school so much, including my friend Donald.“Hey man I’m getting off here”I reached into by jacket and gave Donald a twenty-dollar bill.Donald just looked at me and said “thanks”.That was about 25 years ago andI haven’t seen Donald since. But thememory of that day will stay with me forever,because Donald was a friend of mine.So the next time you see someone riding the F-train with a bundle of sorrow.Think about my friend Donald, and neverever feel that you’re better than anyone else.Because someday that person might just be you.Ron Lopez[...]



I always knew this...

2011-09-08T11:40:53.645-04:00

Kensington/Boro Park Tops List of Safest Brooklyn Neighborhoods
September 7th, 2011 11:55 pm
In a “Crime & Safety” report issued by DNA/Info and detailed in AM/NY, Kensington/Boro Park ranks at the top of its list of the 5 safest Brooklyn neighborhoods and is considered the third safest neighborhood in the entire city.

CRIME IN BROOKLYN

5 safest neighborhoods
1. Kensington and Borough Park
2. Bensonhurst
3. Sheepshead Bay
4. Bay Ridge
5. Windsor Terrace

5 least safe neighborhoods
1. Brownsville
2. Fort Greene and Clinton Hill
3. Bedford-Stuyvesant
4. Brooklyn Heights
5. East New York(image)



A Little Help Here??

2011-09-04T19:07:44.287-04:00

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My friends in the Catskills got slammed by Irene. No, it was no joke here and many towns were destroyed. Please help the folks up here by donating something. Here is some info about where to donate:

http://www.watershedpost.com/2011/catskills-flooding-hurricane-irene-relief-and-recovery-resources

Thanks,
Ron

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The Sewer Cap

2011-07-13T10:13:02.456-04:00

We could hear the sound of the engine accelerating from the far reaches of Church Avenue. The moan of the small block V8 was fast approaching, its demise was in reach. “This is going to be a good one,” someone said.We all quickly got up from my front stoop and ran into the street. Our eyes were all fixed on a late model olive colored Pontiac, it looked like a 68 or 69 GTO. As it raced down East 4th and approached Beverley we prepared ourselves for that horrible sound. A familiar sound we heard hundreds of times before, a sound that wounded or killed many a car engine or Torque flight transmission. Or maybe worse, ripped an entire motor from its warm enamel painted nest.As the racing Pontiac crossed Beverley, it’s front nose quickly dipped downwards towards the asphalt. From the distance it looked as though it’s four headlights and painted rubber bumper were gently kissing the black-top below. But then in an instant its face lifted upwards towards the Brooklyn skies above.BAAAAM! BAAAAM!With two quick hard hits to its stomach, the Pontiac bounced up and down like a child’s toy. Blue smoke and sparks quickly seized the area under its hot undercarriage. From a high speed one moment to a slow crawl the next, the grasp of the monster had just ripped its guts out right before our very own eyes. The sound was so loud you could probably hear it from Greenwood Avenue too. It was the sound of metal being crushed and bolts being ripped from the flesh of the car. A transmission pan being slashed down it’s belly, or even worse a heavy steel frame snapping in two. It was the sound of automotive death on a warm Kensington day.The Pontiac slowly limped down our block, spewing blood and entrails behind its broken tin shell and warm red tail lights. The 350 four barrel was just “chugging” a slow horrible song, gone was the glorious melody of its real V8 power.The driver quickly pulled over to the right in front of an apartment house, the Margaret Court across the street. He quickly got out of the car holding the top of his head. He was all right, but the force of the impact must have lifted him off his seat and into the air, hitting his head on the roof of his car.The Pontiac was still smoking and spewing both white and blue smoke. Through the mist of its destruction you could see that the body was broken in two. The nose looking downwards at the ground, while the taillights were angled upwards looking towards Windsor Terrace. Yes, this was indeed a bad one, for the Pontiac looked dead.The driver just stood there staring at the car, and then turned around and slowly walked away up the block. He made a left on to Beverley Road and was never seen again. That GTO must have been there for what seemed like months. Like the corpse of a great racehorse, it just lied there rotting in the Kensington summer sun. Until one day it was gone, leaving us only with a puddle of motor oil and red transmission fluid. Just another insurance payout in the Boro of my birth.And even today, some thirty-five years later, I still slow down before I cross East 4th street at Beverley. Just taking it real slow and gentle before I get to my house. I guess some habits are just hard to break you know.Because you see, a long time ago there was a horrible iron monster that lived in the street. It was probably just a few inches too high for it’s own good. Heavy cast iron, with holes for its eyes. And I’m sure it must have weighed well over a hundred pounds, and took more than one man to move. And it had the blood of a hundred cars on its face and always thirsted for more. It was murderer plain and simple and proudly bared [...]



Joe Mirada's Pet Store

2011-07-08T12:20:11.131-04:00

I think Joe Mirada’s pet store was somewhere way down Church Avenue near 36th street. And from what I remember as a kid, the place was a very, very long walk from East Fourth. A small, smelly pet store that may have been in “Gods Country” for a reason you know, far removed from all the grocery stores and fruit stores that lined the heart of our Church Avenue. And for anyone who grew up in Kensington, the “Heart” of Church Avenue was anywhere between McDonald Avenue and Ocean Parkway. So here was this pet store way the hell down Church Avenue and almost in Boro Park. Yeah, maybe because it smelled so much the rest of the merchants told old Joe Mirada to stay as far away as possible. But still when you’re a kid you’re going to find a pet store no matter where it is.And even if it's practically in Boro Park“Hey Joey, did you hear that Joe Mirada’s selling hamsters for a dollar?”I remember that day quite well; I was playing on my front porch with my cousin Pete, my brother Joseph and Johnny Reilly from the Margaret Court across the street. “Here, take a look at the one Kevin and I just bought”There inside a cardboard milk container with the top sliced off was this small brown looking thing that looked something like a rat. It seemed to be sniffing around with barely any room to turn it’s little body in the confines of the sour smelling Borden’s milk carton. There was also a bed of shredded paper underneath it as well; it’s tiny teeth just chewing away at the remains of yesterday’s Daily News.“So guys, what do you think?”“There only a dollar and Joe Miradasaid he just has a a few left”.Now when I was growing up my older brother always made the “corporate” decisions, not me. And maybe it was because he was almost two years older than me, I don’t know. So when it came to things like when we were going to ride our bikes, or roll tires down our driveway and hit a car, it was always Joseph who made the decisions.“Ronnie, go upstairs and see if mom can give you a dollar, tell her it’s for ice cream from Morris. But DO NOT tell her it’s because we want to buy a hamster. You understand?“But Joey, you know mom hates mice”“It’s not a mouse you idiot, it’s a hamster”.“Now just go upstairs and ask mommy for a dollar”Well, I asked my mom for a dollar, came back downstairs and we were on our way to Joe Mirada’s pet store. I remember it was a very hot summer’s day as we rode our bikes there. A caravan of bicycles on two wheels and training wheels, making their way down the hot gum dotted sidewalks of Church Avenue to the “End of the Earth”. Well, almost Boro Park, but that might as well have been the end of the earth to us.“Oh I see we have more customers, I bet you kids are here for the hamsters right?”Now from what I remember Joe Mirada was this short little Italian man who always wore checkered shirts. The store like I mentioned earlier smelled to high heaven, and given it was a hot summer’s day in Kensington Brooklyn, the smell today was worse than it usually was.Joe Mirada stuck his hand inside a cage and pulled out this little brown thing that looked something like a rat. He quickly put it inside another Borden’s quart milk container and handed it to my brother Joseph.“Here you go kid, that will be one dollar”My brother handed Joe Mirada the dollar, and in return Joseph was handed a smelly Borden’s milk container with something inside of it that looked very much like a rat. I was sure my mom was going to have a fit when she saw it. But I would never tell my brother, because it was his decis[...]



90 Church

2011-06-22T11:15:27.027-04:00

You know those subjects you can’t bring up at the dinner table, the ones that get some people mad. No, were not talking about politics or religion here, it’s something worse. You see back in the summer of 1956 my grandmother and grandfather decided to take a stab at the big fat cash cow called “Church Avenue”. Now, Church Avenue has always been excellent when it came to simple “foot traffic”, even back in the summer of 1956. Except for one slight problem according to my grandfather “Paco”. The more affluent people with money in their pockets simply made the left from the F-Train and walked along Church to Ocean Parkway. They never looked towards Dahill Road or even bothered to give it a second thought.The name of my grandmothers store was “Isabel’s”; it was located at 90 Church Avenue. Basically the cash cows “tail”, which rarely moved to swat a fly no less. My grandmother Isabel was always a working woman you see. And she usually held positions such as supervisor or “floor lady” wherever she worked. One of her specialties was hand-made lampshades, and she was proud of her position at Krasnours Lamp Shade Factory on Prince street in Manhattan. She was the floor lady there; basically supervising the workers to make sure the quality of the shades were up to standard. A job she held for many years until she decided to give her own business a shot one day. So with the knowledge of Kensington and a “store for rent” sign at 90 Church, my grandparents took a plunge into owning their own business. The grand opening was sometime in the summer of 1956. They sold custom-made silk lampshades, imported plates, crystal, porcelain figurines and various other “high end “ knick-knacks. The entire family worked there and helped to keep it a float. My mom, dad, aunt Dolores, and uncle Pete helping out my grandmother and grandfather any way they could. Making deliveries, working the register or taking the F-Train to Canal street to buy the lamp shade skeletons that gave them their shapes.I always remember my grandfathers face getting red when he used to talk about “the store”. “What a waste of money, we should have invested in another property instead”. “God damn store!”. Now you have to remember that as kids growing up we only heard about “the store”, because it closed down before my cousins and I were even born. Although we knew something had happened once, there was an entire room in the basement full of lampshade skeletons, rolls of silk material, plates and porcelain figurines. And a wonderful large old-fashioned gold cash register in the garage. A huge monster that just sat in the corner gathering dust. As kids we used to play with it, pushing hard down on the buttons to make a metal numeral flip up in a glass window. Or just hide Matchbox or Hotwheels cars in the coin slots. “There they go, never walking this way” said my grandfather Paco standing in front of the store at 90 Church Avenue. “This side of Church Avenue is invisible, this store may as well be in the middle of the woods up in the country”. “With all their money in their pockets, they just walk to their castles in the sky on Ocean Parkway”. “The people that walk past this store are the working class poor, who only look and never buy”. My grandmother just looked at my grandfather and said;“You mean just like us?” My grandfather just shook his head and my grandmother just kept working away, cutting patterns and sewing the beautiful silk shades and hoping for a miracle. Because she always believed that those who worked [...]



Goldfeather

2011-06-08T15:07:24.125-04:00

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He used to walk up my block when I was a kid. He was a short man maybe in his 50’s. He had black hair, a moustache and thick “Buddy Holly” style glasses.
Sam usually wore a brown overcoat in
the winter and a sports jacket in the summer. He could always be seen wearing a brown or black derby too.

Now Sam also walked with a cane, except most of the time it was never touching the sidewalk. Instead he used it to point at people.

“Hey ya bum ya, you fuckin bum”

those words were Sams trademark as he walked up East 4th.
And he usually uttered them when he was drunk.

Now, we were never mean to Sam, and actually liked him. Even when he called us “fuckin bums”, because we may have been only five or six years old at the time and actually thought he was funny. So there he would stand with a newspaper under his arm, his face flushed red and a bottle sticking out of his coat pocket. His old cane right in our faces as we played in front of our house.

“Hey you know what you are?”
“A FUCKIN BUM!”.

We would all start laughing at this point because Sam always had a smile on his face when he cursed at us.

“Thats Goldfeather,
Sam Goldfeather”

And then he would slowly walk up the block towards Avenue C.
Just pointing his cane at anyone he saw until he vanished around
the corner.

And then there was Sam’s brother Irving Goldfeather” who looked strikingly similar to Sam. Except Irving was always seen walking in the opposite direction towards Beverly Road. Usually on his way to work in the morning. Yet, Sams brother was quiet and businesslike and would always tip his hat to my Mom and say:

“Good morning Mrs. Lopez, a beautiful day isn’t it?.

“Mom, why don’t Sam and Irving ever walk together?”

My mom would usually just say that “Maybe Sam sleeps late”.

Then one day Sam told us while waving his cane in our faces that he was moving to Florida and wouldn’t be around anymore. He said his brother Irving would be staying, and for us to be nice to him.
Well, I guess I was pretty naive because I must have been in High School before I figured out that they were actually the same person. And Sam did a pretty good show holding a job during the day only to drink his problems away at the bars on Church Avenue, and then from his pocket before he got home. But truth is from that day on we only saw his brother Irving walking up and down the block. And he never cursed, always wished my Mom a good day, and only walked with his cane touching the sidewalk.

Ron Lopez(image)



Donald and the F-train

2011-05-21T05:57:12.695-04:00

He was tall and thin and carried a black garbage bag onto the subway car. His skin was dark and his face unshaven.I remember looking at another homeless man that day on the F. He walked on to the train at the 14th street station by Union Square, and just stood there across from where I was standing.And people gave him his “room” too, because that’s what you do when the homeless walk onto your train, you just give them their space, and hope they don’t bother you.I just stared at him and looked at his eyes, because the eyes never change, even when you’re homeless. He looked back at me, his eyes were as dark as coal,he said nothing.I know he felt strange when I saw him too. So he just walked away and sat down on a seat facing the opposite direction so I couldn’t notice who he was. The people sitting next to him all got up and found other seats in the subway car. I walked towards him though, and sat beside him.“Hey Donald, remember me? it’s Ronnie from Art & Design”He turned his head towards me, but didn’t look in my eyes this time.“How you doin man?” is all he said“I’m fine Don, I’m fine”“Yeah, well, you know since High School things have been a little rough for me”“I’m ok, but things are just not that good”I remember my first day of high school back in 1972,Donald was one of the first people I sat with at the lunch table in the back of the cafeteria.Donald always wore these really cool tinted sunglasses andhad a small goatee. While most other kids weren’t even shaving yet, including me, Don looked like he may have been about 20 years old.Along with Donald, I also sat with Ernest and Sandy. Donald and Ernest were black, while Sandy was Jewish. We were certainly a cross section of New York, but hey.That’s what made the High School of Art and Design so cool back in 1972. Yeah, the High School of Art and Design. I never knew some of my best friends were gay until my senior year. And to tell you the truth it never really mattered either. Because we were all such good friends, and all artists anyway. All going to a school were nobody cared about “what” youwere. And no one felt they were better than anyone else.We all just loved that school so much, including my friend Donald.“Hey man I’m getting off here”I reached into by jacket and gave Donald a twenty-dollar bill.Donald just looked at me and said “thanks”.That was about 25 years ago andI haven’t seen Donald since. But thememory of that day will stay with me forever,because Donald was a friend of mine.So the next time you see someone riding the F-train with a bundle of sorrow.Think about my friend Donald, and neverever feel that you’re better than anyone else.Because someday that person might just be you.Ron Lopez[...]



Catskill Webcam @ 3:00 pm Today

2011-05-20T14:33:39.283-04:00

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Big Sky Time in the Catskills(image)