Mike How are you? I saw your name several times in various articles regarding stick ball and the old neighborhood. My name is Danny Legs. My father was Scotty ( not the Candy store) My cousins were Cosmo and Georgie Mambo. I would like to hear from you. Danny Legs
I grew up in the South Bronx in the early 1950’s, on 146th Street and Brook Avenue. When we played stickball a sewer was home plate and since cars were usually parked on the street we painted bases in the gutter next to the cars. If the cares were not on 1st and 3rd we had bases painted near the curb. Brook Avenue was center field, so the outfielder not only had to play the field but look out for cars. Any ball hit on the roof of the five story buildings was out and usually time was called until we could send someone up to the roof to retrieve the ball. We used the standard “Spaldeen” (Spalding)that we purchased at the local candy store. We would collect 5 nickels and go to the candy and hold two balls against another at about head height, drop them at the same time and pick the one that bounced the highest and then compare that on with another from the box of balls that the candy store owner had. We would go through the entire box until we buy the one ball the bounced the highest. If the ball went down the sewer we would fashion a wire coat hanger and try to scoop the ball out. Things were easier those days, we made our own fun out of the simplest things.
Pook, from 1154 Stratford Ave (bet Watson/Westchester) here. Born and raised in the Bronx, lived in the same apt until I was 21 and we moved to Puerto Rico (’65-’87). Son of Sam used to live on my block as a kid. The summers were the best…lots of good memories as a kid, playing all the street games there were. The old Ward Theatre was where we’d go watch all the Bruce Lee flicks (it later became Roller World skating rink then a furniture outlet of some type). Carvel and Hebrew National deli was down the block on Westchester across from the original Yankees Pizza. Man, a slice with extra cheese and a Carvel shake???!!! That was heaven. Went to JHS 123 (or as we called it, “The Rikers Island Annex” heh heh). We’d all go check out Bambaataa at the Zulu Nation jams in Bronx River projects. Hanging out in front of the stoop with all my friends, rapping to all the girls or snapping on each other. I’d bring my box and we’d chill out listening to 98.7 Kiss/92 KTU/BLS. Red Alert/Chuck Chillout/Mr Magic. Then we’d get 25 cents and get a “piragua” down the block (or a “coquito”). It was cool ’til the mid 80’s when crack took over and messed EVERYTHING up. Before that, it was a cool place to live and grow up. After I left, i lost a few friends who were killed in front of my old building. I went back in ’98 and ’04 but everyone I knew (except for a few old ladies like my boy Pedro’s grandmother) was gone. Although a mural of one of my boys that was killed is still there (on Stratford, near Westchester). Very sad going back to the block. Sandra, you said it right, those were the days…peace.
So, I read the July 1 article in The NY Times on the joys of streetgames, and was immediately transported back to the Bronx, circa 1958. We used to play a spaldeen game called “Captain.” The essentials included a high, smooth wall (we had one located next to the entrance of the now defunct Salvation Army Training School), cement “boxes,” and of course, the ubiquitious spaldeen (purchased from Moishe’s Candy Store, natch!). One kid would be the “captain” and stand in the first box, one box away from the wall. The rest of us (no specified number…as many kids could play as there were boxes) would form a line alongside the captain, one player per box. A reverse form of “handball” would ensue, with the ball bouncing in the box and THEN hitting the wall. The ball would then bounce into any other box, and the kid owning that space would slap the ball onto the pavement, having it hit the wall, and fall into another player’s box. If the player missed the ball, or hit it out of bounds, he/she would have to go to the end of the line, the rest of the players then moving up one box, closer to the “captain.” The goal, of course, was to get the “captain” OUT, so that you could attain that golden position. Gentler than handball, “Captain” nonetheless promoted similar skills in strategizing, strength (slapping the ball with greater or lesser energy) and dealing with serendipity (not seeing a pebble on the ground could cause your well placed shot to go seriously awry). Most of all, it was great fun. And for the few moments that you were “Captain” a kid from the Bronx learned the basics of power…gained with some skill and effort, and lost because of a lousy pebble.
What about when No Jelly appeared? First type of reeses I remember, shaped like Mounds, but chocolate and peanut butter. YUM! And Funny Bones. Some guy just started selling them out there in Colorado. What a memory boost! I remember dots on paper. I remember the juicy fluid inthat wax tube that you chewed on. I remember candy cigarettes, but remember cigarette gum? You blew through the end and a white “puff” of smoke (probably sugar powder) billowed out, then you peeled off the wrapper and chewed the gum. Anyone ever try to get the free stuff from Bazooka Joe gum? I got a batting glove once that ripped as soon as I put my hand into it! Geeze. But it was great getting it!
Sandra from 1068 Gerard Ave. (165th) (1973-1978) Building is gone now, but not the memories. Hanging out at Mullaly Park. Playing on the swings, handball. The bodega on the corner. Had my first crush there. Dr. Chan was my pediatrician. Playing in the alleys. Chelo, my best friend, the super’s daughter. Hanging out with Junie and Nancy on 166th. Had my first kiss with Francisco on the roof of the building on the corner of 166th and Gerard. Shopping on 167th. Went to school at PS 114 til 4th grade. Used to get a pizza, grape soda and a Snickers for $1.00. Then went to Christ the King on Marcy Place; Father Laracy, Father Rodrigo, Father O’Keefe, Sister Consilio. Going to the Kent Movie Theatre to watch Bruce Lee Movies. Later going to the RKO and Loews Paradise. Block parties! Those were the days…
I LOVE COFFE I LOVE TEA I LOVE CHRIS BROWN AND HE LOVES ME I MET MY BOYFRIEND AT THE CANDY STORE HE BOUGHT ME ICE CREAM HE BOUGHT ME CAKE HE BOUGHT ME HOME WITH A BELLYACHE MOMMA MOMMA I FEEL SICK CALL THE DOCTOR QUICK QUICK QUICK DOCTER DOCTER WILL I DIE COUNT TO FIVE AND YOU WILL BE ALLIVE 12345 I’M ALIVE 678910 I’M DEAD AGAIN
Spaldeens were the best. Had more zing, didn’t split as easily, and were cheaper. It was a sad day when Irv’s candy store started selling Pensy Pinkies in place of good ‘ol reliable Spaldeens. Sacrilege. Hit a Pensy a good whack and ooop’s, we have two halves. Just don’t roof it. I don’t feel like climbing.
Growing up in Staten Island in the 60’s we kids would get .25 from our parents every sat to go down to the corner candy store ‘every neighborhood had one’. Once a month, my cousin and I would take turns, one buying a Spaldeen ball and the other buying the candy, so every month we had a new ball to play with. I can remember the firt thing we did withour new ball was to inscribe it with our name so no one could steal it. When the store ran out we would end up with a pnky which was a dissapointment because the smell, feel and bounce were so different. It was something from my childhood that I will never forget. That rubber smell to this day brings back such great memories. I have been trying to find one for my grandson, now I know they are back I can look a little harder. But in the age of tv video games and romote control everything, will the thrill be the same? I doubt it, but I guess to thier generation, we are the olden days and the balls part of our nostalgia.