Wednesday, February 29, 2012

403 East 83rd Street ~ Hanging Out in 1969

Freddy Muller Off the Point on 83rd Street @ 1969

My friend, Matt, asked me to photographed 403 East 83rd Street. Unfortunately, that building was demolished years ago to make way for the garage ramp for 400 East 84th Street.

Here are a few pictures of the location now, and a few shots from 1969 taken by Sissy Chapman of our gang playing in the streets. The first two photos are a now and then of the spot where Freddy Muller is about to smack the ball off the 400 E. 83rd Street point, probably with one fielder in the street and the outfielder on the other side walk waiting for the ball to fly. Mrs. Walsh is hanging out her window leaning on a pillow above watching us play.

Freddy was good at all sports. Muller never got tagged out running the bases, he always ducked or squirmed his way to the chalk base or manhole cover.

There is a picture of Sparky Lyle, my dog, daughter of Monique, a poodle owned by a tenant of 403, Barbara Morgan, who gave Ginny Chapman two puppies, Sandy and Sparky.  Ginny gave Sparky to my grandmother and me.  Another picture is me in the 403 hallway on the night of my LaSalle Academy graduation holding Ginny’s cat, Boo-Boo. We had boundless fun on that street. Playing singles on the stoop first with a suitcase record player we connected with extension wires through the Chapman window, later off the outlet on the bottom panel of the street light pole, and finally on the battery operated record players that came along when we were 15,16. we played touch football year round, and ringalario when it got dark.

I can hear David Ruffin singing as we ran out of breath.

Then we started all over again.

Mrs. Walsh watching us play, keeping us safe

Freddy was very good at all sports.

same spot, no Freddy, Feb 2012

Sparky Lyle with her mom, Ann Pryor Rode

Tommy & Boo Boo ~ June 12, 1972

Ginny, Norma, Sharon on 403 stoop

403 space 2012

Normajean, George, Donna, Sissy, Sharon, Joe 1969 on 403 stoop

403's ghost

403 across the St. from Joe Menesick in the shirt we all bought @ Arbee's 1969


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lonelyville ~ Coney Island Winter

Its February 29th tomorrow, the day that extends winter for 24 more hours. I’m one of those weird doe’s that love all the seasons in New York. But near winter’s end, I want light, I want to play outdoors; I want to hang with my friends on stoops and roofs.

When I’m down, Garland Jeffreys music lets me explore those sad feelings and takes me to a safe zone.  Here are two Garland songs. One new, one old, both capture my mood this moment and inspire me.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I'm On TV @ Ch 13 @ 5am ~ Telling a Mickey Mantle Story

If you close a bar tonight, or get up early tomorrow to milk the cows, I’m on TV telling a Mickey Mantle story at 5am on Channel 13.

They’re replaying “Baseball: A New York Love Story.” I’m interviewed in the 5th episode titled: “Heroes, Pioneer, Superman and the Voice,” @ 5am.

In my segment, I have a haircut so short my father would have beamed with pride and I would have worn a baseball cap all summer long till my hair grew back. I also tucked in my shirt quite nicely.

If someone tapes it please let me know, I’d like to make a copy.  Thanks, Tommy

My scorecard below is from Mantle's 500th Home Run game in May 1967. I dragged Dad to three straight games to make sure I saw Mickey hit it. Third game Sunday, he did it, and we were in the right field upper deck. I thought the ball was coming right to me and my glove, my heart was whacking my rib cage, when it dropped safely into the lower deck and the crowd roared, Dad and I jumped, hugged, and cried for five minutes.
If you are watching the Ch 13 show, look behind Bob Costas head on the left,that's my scorecard, and my 1961 Yankees program and Mantle New York Daily News newspaper headlines are flying through the background during each broadcast.
It was a blast pulling all my stuff together, and remembering my reckless obsession with sports that made me deliriously happy as a kid, and how connected all this made me to Dad. If we were talking sports, I couldn't lose.

There Is a Rose in Spanish Harlem

Ryan family at breakfast on East 104th St @ 1941

Though my family’s been on York Avenue since 1896, my mother’s roots started in East Harlem.  She was born on 118th Street and 2nd Avenue in 1930. Her family left there for the St. Lucy’s parish on 104th Street between 1st & 2nd Avenue. Pictured here is a photo of Mom’s family in their apartment right before they moved into East River Houses in 1941. This photo is in the public housing archive at LaGuardia College. The photo was supposed to be the then photo in a now and then series the New York City Housing Authority was doing at the time to promote the quality of the new apartments their low income residents were moving into to. My grandfather was born at 239 E 113th Street, oldest of ten children, and my grandmother was born on 112th Street & Fifth Avenue in a brownstone. As a little girl her job was polishing the banisters on Saturday morning.

Patty, 10, Lenny,13, Tommy's Mom & Uncle

Last week I wrote about my walk through West Harlem on a wicked cold morning last month. That Friday, when I left the Mount Morris area I walked over to Lexington Avenue and made the rest of my way south towards Yorkville through the center of East Harlem.

 By the end of the walk I couldn't feel the tips of my fingers that worked the camera. It was worth it. Harlem, East & West are gorgeous interesting neighborhoods. 

Below are a few pictures from my East Harlem stroll along with a link to a photo album I created from my walk.

Please become a follower of "Stoops to Nuts" if you enjoy my work.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Here's My Story, Sad But True" ~ Dion & The Del-Satins

As a boy, I spent countless days and nights in bars and tavern. Typical afternoon, Dad & I would play catch throwing a ball to each other over the passing cars from each side of the street. Then we’d go inside and watch the ball game together with our regular drinks: short beer for Dad ~ coke with a maraschino cherry for me. Often enough, Mom and Rory would join us towards dinner time and we’d go eat up 86th Street or go to the Silver Moon Italian restaurant on 79th Street & Second Avenue.  Many times we’d go back to Loftus Tavern or the Old Timers. To keep us happy they’d slip us dimes for the juke box.  If they were in that special place between the third and fourth drink, where adults make decisions they don’t normally make, they’d pass a quarter or half dollar to us. With a quarter you had three songs.  I always played these: “Run Around Sue,” “Donna Prima Donna” & “Lovers Who Wander.”  If an adult felt right and gave me one of their three off their quarter I played “Love Come to Me.”  

All Dion tunes.  At 8 year old I couldn’t get enough of his records, I spent most of my money on singles and had a fine collection of 30 before I was 9 years old.  I didn’t have a record player and wasn’t allowed to use my father’s 1955 RCA Victrola. But... when Mom was pissed at Dad and he wasn’t home, she let me play my singles, and then we polish the record player so it would pass Dad’s military inspection when he came home.

This past Sunday night, I met and shook Dion’s hand. 50 years after those first dimes dropped into the jukebox on York Avenue and turned two taverns into my personal music palace. Steven Van Zandt interviewed Dion at the 92nd Street Y.  This doubled my pleasure because I love Little Steven and had no idea before Springsteen and Southside Johnny and the Disciples, Steven was in The Dovels, “You Can’t Sit Down,” another go to tune in my early 60s jukebox excursions.

This week, Dion played Joe’s Pub and sung with the Del-Satins led by Stan Zizka.  The Del-Satins sung with Dion on every one of the hits I mentioned above plus many more of Dion’s most popular records.  The Del-Satins have a special connection to me; they are originally from Yorkville my neighborhood. Part of the Del-Satins roots started inside the Yorkville Melodies led by my friend, Dennis Ferado.

The Del-Satins are playing a concert with the Brooklyn Bridge at St. Stephen’s of Hungary at 408 E. 82nd Street on April 13th.  More information to follow. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Park, Another Sunday

It's cool out but I've had it. My neck and back feel like they’ve been whacked by Lizzy Borden's sturdy axe. I need fresh air. I'm out of here.

Off to the park on the bike, I cycle through the Engineer's Gate at 90th Street across the street from the Church of the Heavenly Rest, and put my music on ~ first song is  Another Park, Another Sunday by the Doobie Brothers.
This song goes through me ~ gives me a rich complex feeling starting deep in my belly. It's sad but melodically beautiful. It's OK the lyrics get me down. It's good to be reminded of loss. Weigh where I am,  how I feel, give me a gauge. Central Park is an ideal location for me to do that. I've burrowed through its 843 acres for thousand of hours. Inside the warren, I've climbed, ran, biked, swam, made out, slept, laughed, played, lost a balloon, made promises, torn muscles, watched people, had sex, cried, sealed friendships, fell in love, got high, felt helpless, got lost, fought, made up, said things to people I love that I can never take back. Central Park is organically connected to all my senses.

I did five loops but cheated, using the 102nd Street transverse to get to the Westside. I rarely do the hill from hell at the north end of the park. I have no problem with the hill, but I don't like the long coast down.

I lost my recklessness nine summers ago, when I took a piece of meat out of my forehead over my left eye, when I fell off my bike going down a hill and waited three hours in Lenox Hill to get stitches. Met Ronny Hanerfeld and his family in the emergency room. Then, Nicky Bowen from 87th Street walked in with his group. Each had a kid that needed medical assistance. We had a reunion. It was 96 degrees outside that Saturday. I had a rag over my eye covering the wound, no shirt on, too bloody, the nurse threw it away. My running shorts crept up the crack of my ass. So, with me just shy of nude, we reminisced.

Another Park, Another Sunday  
(The Doobie Brothers)

As I was sittin' in my room, starin' out my window
And wonder where you've gone
Thinking back on the happy hours
Just before the dawn

Outside the wind is blowin'
It seems to call your name again
Where have you gone?

City streets and lonely highways
I travel down
My car is empty and the radio just seems to
Bring me down

I'm just tryin' to find me
A pretty smile that I can get into
It's true, I'm lost without you

Another lonely park, another Sunday
Why is it life turns out that way?
Just when you think you got a good thing
It seems to slip away

It's warm outside, no clouds are in the sky
But I need myself place to go and hide
I keep it to myself, I don't want nobody else
To see me cryin' all those tears in my eyes

Another lonely park, another Sunday
Why is it life turns out that way?
Just when you think you got a good thing
It seems to slip away, yeah yeah

Another park, another Sunday
It's dark and empty thanks to you
I got to get myself together
But it's hard to do

Another park, another Sunday
Why is it life turns out that way?
Just when you think you got a good thing
It seems to slip away, yeah yeah

Another park, another Sunday
It's dark and empty thanks to you
I got to get myself together
But it's hard to do, yeah


Our Next "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts" storytelling show is Tuesday, March 13th @ 6pm @ Cornelia Street Cafe.  Our near spring artists are: Claudia Chopek, Joe McGinty, John Newell, Rick Patrick, Thomas PryorWard White & Rivka Widerman. Admission is $7 and that includes a free drink of your choice.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lovers Walk ~ Central Park at Dusk

Central Park at Dusk

Lovers Walk

Sing it Elvis!  

I won't walk with my head bowed
Beyond caution where lovers walk
My love walks where three's a crowd
Beyond caution where lovers walk

Lovers walk, lovers scramble
Beyond caution where the lovers walk
Lovers step, shuffle and gamble
Beyond caution where lovers walk

Lovers trip, lovers stumble
Lovers dip, lovers fumble
Lovers lip where love has crumbled
Beyond caution where lovers walk

Lovers strut, lovers stroll, lovers leap
Lovers late, lovers wait
Making promises that they can't keep
Lovers link up arm and arm
Lovers slink up, lovers charm
Lovers drink up and come to harm
Beyond caution where lovers walk

Love is gone and it's no one's fault
Love has stopped here, lovers halt
Lovers don't walk, lovers run
Will you look what love has done
Will you look what love has done
Will you look what love has done
Beyond caution where lovers walk

Now love's limping on a lover's crutch
Looking for a hand with a personal touch
Beyond caution where lovers walk