The BRC (Brownsville Recreation Center) late 1970’s Located on Linden Blvd. in Brownsville Brooklyn, the BRC was the coolest place to swim in the summer. Betsey Head was too crowded and scorching hot. Red Hook’s pool was full of gang violence. We lived six blocks from the indoor pool at the BRC, and the lifeguards knew us well. The place had serious ambiance that is only available in a NY neighborhood pool. Music was played, mandatory WBLS. All of our swimming lessons were executed to top-40 R&B. Our lifeguards were all fit men in their mid 30’s. All races; who though they were the center of the sexual universe. They didn’t wear swim trunks back in those days, men wore those little things that Olympic divers wear. Many a hardheaded kid broke teeth running on the wet tile floors to get to the pool bleachers. You had to swim 10 laps every day to qualify to swim in the deep water (8 ft?). The pool was mid length. Everyone else had to sit in the bleachers until we were finished with our qualification laps. I was one of those kids that became a swimming fanatic, and went on to swim camps upstate and in New Hampshire. It was a serious sport for me. Irish Brian was my instructor at the BRC. He was super strict about lessons. We called him the swim Nazi. He was full of himself, as were the other lifeguards. I miss those guys. The BRC kept so many kids out of trouble. Even the plain bologna sandwiches with school milk cartons kept many kids from starving. We used to keep a stash of rocks and broken glass to throw at the pedophiles that would occasionally drive up to the BRC fenced playground to entice kids with candy and money.
I remember growing up in Brooklyn before they had the net and public outcry against pedophiles. All the kids knew where the creeps were. You could always find some guy dressed up as a clown sitting in his car parked outside playground gates, offering children candy or balloons twisted into animal shapes. Invariably some idiot kid would be stupid enough to go to the car and the low-life would flash them. Then the bunch of us would assault the creep with rocks and glass until he drove off. The thought of calling the cops never crossed our minds back then. I guess that’s because it wasn’t talked about in public much. Later as a teen, I remember that the pedophiles were always the guys who wanted to offer you change to play video games when you ran out. And I also remember there was a short bald guy in Washington Square Park who used to try to offer young girls $50.00 to step on him with spike heels in some private place of their choosing. I’m sure their modus operandi has not changed much over the years. Accept they’re more daring and want to do alot more than flash you.