Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Positively E. 53rd St...

I grew up in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York. East 53rd Street, between Avenues M and N to be exact. It was an upstairs apartment above my grandparents and Aunts. They were Greek, so it was Papou, Ya Ya, Aunt Soula and Aunt Helen. There is nothing better than growing up in Brooklyn in the 60's, as far as I know. Of course, it's the only childhood I know, so I could be wrong, but I don't think so. I remember it fondly. The corner candy store, the ravioli store, Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island.

There were always ten to twenty kids my age out and about every day. I remember going out at the break of dawn and not coming back until it was dark. I ate all three meals on my front stoop, by choice. I never left my block. All the fun was right there. My dad used to come out and play wiffle ball and stickball with all of us. I remember kids calling for me to come out and asking if my Dad can come out to play too.

It was non-stop games. Freeze tag, ring a levio, stickball (sometimes played at the schoolyard). I remember once, in stickball, John Steadman hit it three sewers. Wiffle ball was my personal favorite. My house had an upstairs porch. If you hit it in there, GRAND SLAM baby. Two hand touch football. We had real football plays like down and out, button hook, and of course, the bomb. King Queen handball, box ball, kick the can, SPUD. We would even have simple running races up and down the block. Nobody could beat Tommy Beletta - the fastest kid on the block.

Stickball at the schoolyard, with a chalk box on the wall. If the ball had chalk on it it was a strike.

A classic wiffle ball. If you knew how to pitch it, nobody could hit that sucker.

Kick the can. Not sure I remember exactly the object of the game, but it was fun.

This was the stupidest game. Johnny on the Pony. The object was to jump on kids backs and try not to fall off. Really smart, having solid concrete below us.

Some famous people grew up in my neighborhood, like Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand. I never met them.
I lived in a section in Brooklyn highly populated by Italians, and Jews. I was not catholic, I was raised Greek Orthodox, so I went to public school with the Jewish kids. My friends were Morris Greysman, Norman Weissman and Perry Rosen. Tough names for kids. Nobody names their kids these names anymore. Too bad.

This is a real sign that you see when you enter Brooklyn. I guess it's a tribute to Jackie Gleason.

Here is the sign you see when you leave Brooklyn:
I guess this is a tribute to the Italians.

Brooklyn is still famous, though not what it used to be. It was a fun time and I still miss it. Occasionally, I see some old kids from the neighborhood. We still talk about it. Some of them still live there. I think they would be too old to play kick the can anymore and they would probably think Johnny On The Pony is too dangerous.
This is a picture of the cast of "Lords Of Flatbush", the movie. I did not hang out with these guys, but I would see them at the corner candy store. I was always told to stay away from them. (if you look real close, Sly Stallone is in that picture)

Besides, I was too busy practicing my accounting skills.

Long Live Brooklyn, USA...

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