My girlfriends and I would bring a pail of water (we’d load it up with table salt), a blanket, soda, and tan ourselves on tar beach. At night we’d bring pizza and sodas to the roof and hang out under the stars. The roof was a part of every city kid’s life. What great fun we had there.
TAR HEAVEN!! I had a friend in Richmond Hill,Queens (Carmine), his mom was the super in the apartment building on our corner. He snuck the roof keys from her one day and we went to the hardware store (Moblegots)or something like that, We called it Moblegots & Ghoul! Any way we would sneak up on the roof to hang out, it over looked “The Bagel Factory” and a bus stop. GOD I LOVE WATER BALLONS!!!! I guess I don’t even need to mention Holloween! “When this old world starts getting me down…”
There is going to be a Tar Beach section at the Smithsonian Festival this summer. Washington should be hot enough to get the full effect, though it will be a trip to be sitting on that blacktop in the middle of the Washington Mall!
Most people don’t realize that all the pigeons in New York City are feral (gone wild) descendants of domesticated pigeons kept on the rooftops as pets, for sport, for show and for food earlier in the century. (Pigeons of the type we know are not native to the U.S.) When you see a flock of wild pigeons spontaneously leap into the air and fly around in circles in a tight group, you are seeing the behavior their ancestors were bred to perform by rooftop pigeon fanciers. The breeders selectively intensified the natural behavior of the birds to fly out from the nest, forage for food, and return to the nest, resulting in specialized strains that can find their home lofts from long distances, covering 500 miles a day (homers), birds that can fly above their loft in circles continuously for 15-20 hours (tipplers, or as they are called only in New York, “tiplets”), aerial acrobats that spin backwards in a series of multiple somersaults (rollers), as well as the garden variety of New York flyers that circle above their rooftops in tight groups, trying to get the neighbor’s birds to defect to them. As a resident of suburban Bayside, Queens in the ’60’s and ’70’s, I kept pigeons, which I was first exposed to by “urban flight” neighbors, who came out of the inner boroughs, bringing their tradition of rooftop pigeon keeping with them. Pigeons, of course, are much maligned, especially for their dirtiness. All I can say is that domesticated pigeons, when fed dry grain and clean water, are clean animals. If you put a pan of water out on a sunny day they will even take a bath. It’s like the difference between an observer’s perception of a homeless person and one who has shelter, clean clothes, and eats good food. My Web site about Bayside in those times is: http://www.covername.net/bayside Dave T.
I grew up in the Bed-Stuy section of BROOKLYN and when we stoped playing streetgames we went on the roofs to fly pigeons! Tiplets, Bald heads, Tumblers and Homers were some of the birds that kept my head in the clouds when the streets started to get roughf. Did your coop ever get tapped off? Also known as having your pigeons kidnapped.