Saturday, March 28, 2015

Yorkville Road Trip 1978

You're upstate New York in 1978 and you missed your exit on the Thruway so you made a U turn where you weren't supposed to because you didn't want to drive 22 extra miles to the next exit. You're with ten close friends (2 cars). Reaching Worchester, you buy enough Genesee Cream Ale & ice to make more trips to the store unnecessary over the long July 4th weekend. Well in to it, your friend Eddie runs out of cigarettes. Even he knows he shouldn't drive, and no one will drive him to the store 3 miles away. What does he do? He smokes four packs of firecrackers.

If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." It's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other booksellers. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. Thank you.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Sprung Broken ~ Winter's Final Hours in Central Park on the First Day of Spring

Last Friday, during winter's final hours on the first day of spring I took a long walk through Central Park in the snow. North of the Reservoir a brisk wind made swirly drifts here and there. Geese searched for food under the white blanket covering the rolling field between 97th Street and 100th Street. Same spot my Our Lady of Good Counsel's Yorkville football team practiced at in 1969. Half sleet was coming down by the time I reached the Botanical Gardens entrance. I discovered this beautiful oasis late in my life. My curled numb fingers inside my wet gloves told me this visit would not include twilight strolling.

I headed for Harlem Meer on the edge of the park and saw a nutty boy muscling his way through the snow on a small bike. Every half minute he stopped to clean his chain.  I enjoy how kids defy logic when it comes to things like what to do when it starts snowing? Of course, get my new bike out. That clash of need between using your new toy on the wrong battlefield. You gotta do it.

Children's defiance brought me back to sleigh riding on 79th Street on what we called Cherry Hill in the mid 1960s. My shivering brother, Rory, and I after countless rides rushed home to wrap our soaked clothing around the steam pipes and on top of radiators to get them dry (they stunk the place up) so we could go out a second time if Mom didn't tackle us at the doorway. We threw our clothes out the door down the landing and dressed in the hall to not give Mom a heads up we were on our way out. Because we never waited until everything was dry we usually got sick. And Mom loved the newsprint all over our asses and long johns from sticking newspaper down our dungarees and inside our boots.

March 24th is Mom's birthday. She loved snow. My family would have enjoyed the walk with me. Mom wearing her Babuska hat, Dad in his Elmer Fudd hat, and Rory sporting our Boy Scout Troop 654 approved yellow and green rubber boots we bought at Arbee's Army & Navy store on Second Avenue. A store that sold a majority of Yorkville kids' play clothing.

Want to see other Central Park photographs taken during the March 20th snowfall?

Here is a public album.

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If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." It's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other booksellers. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. Thank you.

Babushka Mom & Rory.

 Dad & Rory















90 St & Fifth ~ same spot as above 2013














Friday, March 20, 2015

Mark Bavaro Salutes Pryor's Book "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys"



Hi Mark Bavaro here. I just heard Thomas Pryor's book, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood," has 89 five star reviews on Amazon out of 89 total reviews. That's my uniform number, 89. To honor the book and Tommy, a big New York Giants fan, I pulled together his three favorite Tight Ends in nyg history, Aaron Thomas, Bob Tucker and me. We also invited five of his boyhood heroes, Frank Gifford, Yelberton Abraham Tittle, Sam Huff, Tucker Fredrickson and Fran the Man. All of us wish Tommy well, and I still hate Buddy Ryan.















Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"You Win Some, You..." Carl Schurz Park 1966

Hockey Field 2010
On my 12th birthday in 1966, Dad gave me a basketball. This was an odd present for two reasons: (1) Dad gifts to me always reflected his interests and he hated basketball. (2) I was terrible at basketball.

Right after Christmas 1965, I made up my mind I was going to change that. I would learn to dribble the ball with my right hand, drive in both directions to the basket, and force myself to jump higher. My vertical leap was challenged. When Dad and I played catch he’d sometimes throw the ball a little over my head so he could get a kick out of the short distance I put between the sidewalk and my chubby body with the dead legs. My left handed dribbling was something to watch. Each time I played a new rival I’d drive left, hit two to three baskets with a nasty hook until my opponent figured out "the lack of right" in my game and then I’d be blanketed for the rest of the match. Only reason I played basketball was for a good sweat because it certainly wasn’t pleasurable.

Dad was sick of hearing how much I wanted a basketball from New Year’s through St. Paddy’s Day so he bought the ball to shut me up. On the morning of the 20th, Dad passed the ball to me over Mom’s head as she was doing the dishes. I named it Joe, after my round headed friend, Joe Menesick, from 84th Street. It was Saturday, and I had to try it out down Carl Schurz Park. I thanked and kissed my parents, my brother, Rory, rolled his eyes and I ran down the four flights of stairs into the street.
Hockey Field 2010

As high as I'd ever go 1974
A blast of wind headed west smacked my face on the 83rd Street stoop. I awkwardly dribbled the ball with one hand towards East End Avenue. I avoided the Drive near the water figuring a gale storm was whipping the river up. In the park, at the basketball court in the Hockey Field my left hand was numb and coiled like a cripple. I took my first shot from the top of the key, a doozy. It left my hand on a high arc and caught a demonic stream of air that lifted and carried the ball over the left side of the back board. Losing altitude near the fence, it struck a spike and let out a death rattle, “whisssh,” it hung there disheartened. I walked over to the ball, gave it an up and down but didn’t bother to touch it. It was useless. Like the ball, deflated, I walked home.
*****

If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." It's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at AmazonBarnes and Noble or other booksellers. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. Thank you.
Hockey Field 1964



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

An Irishman Gave Me the Finger

Ourselves Club on East 84th Street in 1903

St.
 Paddy’s morning I woke from a strange dream. It was a spring day in the early 1900s in Yorkville. I knew this when I saw isolated wood-frame houses scattered among the vacant lots along the cobblestone street lined with trees in early bloom. I rode inside a copper colored trolley shooting the breeze with the driver.

We passed Lexington Avenue on 79th Street headed towards Third Avenue, when an Irish gentleman dressed in his Sunday best, velvet green vest, spats, top hat, the works, decided to dart out mid-block and jog theatrically across the street in front of us. The driver paid him no mind and kept the trolley at cruising speed. This forced the gent to move faster than he intended and his feet tangled. The gentleman finished his cake walk crossing with a 360 degree turn with his arms flailing and remarkably kept his balance.

The Irishman fumed when he saw us giggling at him. He marched across his lawn to his porch and pulled a large wooden contraption down the steps and out on the grass ~ looked like the catapult that the French hurled the cow at the English with in "Monty Python's Holy Grail."

He set the weapon up on the lawn and started cranking a handle on the side of the device. The driver and I exchanged a look, we expected, "Incoming!" Instead, after several "Crank, Crank, Cranks," a colossus wooden fist rose up with the middle finger saluting ~ the carved hand was giving us the finger. The Irishman crossed his arms, smirked and nodded.  Erin Go Bragh!


If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood," it's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online atAmazonBarnes and Noble or other booksellers. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. Thank you.


Central Park


Central Park


Sheep Meadow


Monday, March 16, 2015

My Favorite St. Paddy's Day ~ 1970

Buddy McMahon 1970
Just past noon, Buddy McMahon and I jumped into the St. Patrick Day parade at 61st Street joining our LaSalle Academy classmates and teachers marching up Fifth Avenue. This was non-regulation starting the parade late (we paid dearly the following day at school ~ brutal knucks to the head delivered with a smile by Brother Paul). At the Met Museum entrance we broke off and ran east to the river and spent the late afternoon enjoying a bucket of swill under the 81st Street staircase on the FDR Drive. Afterwards, five of us started a neighborhood walkabout. We ended up on the 300 block on 85th Street in front of a building where someone had thrown away a large couch, a straight up chair, and a refrigerator box.

Ekis turned the giant box into a desk, put it in front of the chair and Romano, Muller, Feldman, McMahon and I took turns hosting the Johnny Carson show, ~ Romano did a pretty good Ed McMahon. We invited people walking home from work and school to join us on the show; some did, most of the takers/guests were noticeably impaired walking back from the parade or a gin mill.






Muller was the best host. Romano served him clean “You are correct, sirs." Ekis tried to spin a plate on a stick but we told him it was the wrong show and threatened to send him over to a couple of drunks doing a Ed Sullivan Show on the other side of the street.

After we exhausted this routine and got sick of ducking crap people threw at us from their windows, we moved on. Between First and York Avenue, Muller found a standing lamp without a shade. It joined our group. Our first stop was Loftus Tavern on York Avenue.  Marching in, one of us dropped a quarter in the jukebox for two songs (a recent change from three for a quarter and one for a dime). The Beatles began, "this happened once before, when I came to your door, no reply." We sang along into our imaginary microphone on top of the standing lamp. Gathered closely around the pole in sweet harmony, we moved into the 45’s flip side, "I’m a Loser." Loose change rolled towards our feet from the bar. This was a good sign. If the coins were thrown at us, they didn’t like us, rolled meant we were entertainment (kind of). Someone fed the jukebox and we crooned Witchcraft and Night Day to our imaginary Bobby soxers before moving back into the Beatles catalogue. Done there, we pocketed our change and took our show over to Killarney Castle on Third Avenue where our reception was mixed but we blocked most of the coins coming at our heads with our arms thrown up. Erin Go Bragh!


If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood," it's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online atAmazonBarnes and Noble or other booksellers. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. Thank you.



Loftus Tavern 1962


Loftus Tavern 1974