I grew up in Queens Village. We played “pinkball” variety of handball at Alley Pond Park just inside the Union Tpke entrance (you went under the old Vanderbilt MotorPkway bridge). This was in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Our courts were “one wall.” There was some alternation between Spauldeens and Pennsy Pinkies, but we finally pretty much settled on the Pennsies. It seemed the Spauldeens were being made smaller and the rubber thicker. They didn’t move as well. Now the Pennsies had a bit too much bounce to them, so we’d “pin” them. I carried a safety pin attached to my belt loop. When we got a new ball we’d simply push the pin through the skin and it then would bounce just right. We usually got our balls from Michael’s Candy Store on Hillside Avenue where Bell Park Manor and Terrace Apartments were (and are). The owners of Michael’s back in the day had a sign on the box holding the balls: “If you bounce it you bought it.” Oh, and yes sir, those were the days!
I played stickball on 61 street between 6th and 7th ave in Brooklyn in the late 50’s. Home plate was either the sewer near the Gooch’s house, or up by the lot near sixth ave. The latter was better because the outfield spread out at sixth ave. The leaders on the apartment house were the foul posts. The outfielders had to dodge traffic on the ave. Spaldeens were better. They didn’t egg as easy as the pennsy pinky. Max’s candy store on seventh ave would let us test bounce the balls to get the best one. Spaldeen 25 cents. Pennsy pinky 15 cents. Remember when they started to sell stickball bats with the black tape for grip. No more broom handles.
During the thirties we bought our candy in Jakies on Brooklyn Avenue between Herkimer Street and Atlantic Avenue. In the evening our Fathers used to hang out in front waiting for the bulldog editions of the newspapers to be delivered so they could check on the race track results. In those days a store like Jakies carried many newspapers and the Daily Mirror and the Daily News were the ones with the most complete horse racing results. If a kid managed to come up with a penny, he or she had a great many choices to make in front of Jakes candy case. . . a Hootens bar, jaw breakers, sugar dots on a strip of paper, Mary Janes, Fleers bubble gum, etc. If you took too long to make a choice Jake would say, “Come on kid, I ain’t got all day.” You tried to choose a piece of candy which would last a long time. Those were the days!
I don’t have much to add, so forgive me for repeating anything: Spaldeens cost about 25 cents in the 1960’s in my neighborhood in The Bronx near Morris Avenue and 164th Street. Occasionally Harry’s candy store sold “seconds” for about 15 cents or twenty cents. The Five and Ten on Morris Avenue sold P Pensie Pinkies, which I remember as softer and inferior balls — they were for girls’ games. They were not the ball of choice for the boys. And new Spaldeens had some kind of powder on them — and had a distinctive smell. And some were harder than other — those are the ones you wanted, because they bounced better. We didn’t play stick ball on my block but we played Slug — also known as King Queen Jack on some blocks — who remembers that game? It was played in the boxes on the sidewalk, against the apartment house wall — WHO REMEMBERS SLUG?
I am from Flushing Queens, where we would usually buy Pensie Pinkies and Spaldeens from Joe’s, which was the nearest candy store. Sometimes when I had no money, I ‘d swipe a Pensie from my sister, who, along with her friends, used them mostly in an activity that involved keeping the ball in bounce while reciting different rhymes that were punctuated by passing their legs over the ball before it would bounce back up. I lived on a hill where many of these balls ended up in the sewer at the end of the block. You could retrieve them using a garden rake, but if they remained in the water too long, they almost certainly went dead. We used to play stick ball, box ball, Chinese handball, catch a fly and you’re up, and many, many more games using them. As I recall, the favored brand for stickball at least, was Spalding, but I never observed too much difference between the two.
Oh, the memories. Spaldeens ruled, anything else was second rate. I keep one in my car to this day. In the Dyker Heights section we used the Spaldeen for everything,slap ball, punch ball , handball, cather-flyers-up, stoop ball, box ball, stickball. Didn’t know pensies existed till we moved to Nassau County. We would use them if local candy store was out of spaldeens or we couldn’t put together the 25 cents for the real deal.
Anyone remember Louie’s on Nostrand Avenue,near Glenwood Road, close to the Junction? The library was nearby and a fur place … what the hell was it’s name — Mitchell’s??? Louie and his wife, Bea, worked their butts off in a hard business, literally working for pennies and putting up with bratty kids like us. Thanks to Milky Ways,Three Musketeers and too many egg creams, I put on mucho weight. Best wishes to the crowd from Vanderveer Estates.
un dos tres i said an east an west I met my boyfriend at the candy store. He bought me ice cream, he bought me cake. He bought me home with a bellyache! I said Mama, mama, I feel sick! Call the doctor, quick-quick-quick! Doctor, doctor, if i die? close your eyes and count to five. One, two, three, four, five. I’m alive! on channe 5 see that house on top of the hill thats where me and my boyfriend live