Friday, June 6, 2008

Climbing to the top at PS 130

This morning I had to laugh when I read the story about these two guys that climbed the new Times building across form the Port Authority. They basically climbed a metal ladder that wraps around that building, because that’s how it was designed. They say it’s to save on air conditioning, but let me tell you I’d rather pay Con Ed a few more bucks a month. Because the whole design is quite hiddious, and looks like someone got the blueprints backwards.
But that’s just my opinion you know.

Yeah, two guys scaling the outside of a building that basically has a permanent ladder attached to it. No big deal is all I say.

Because you see, back in about 1975 there was little Shawn Gorman and the PS 130 chimney. And the story about what Shawn did that morning never made the headlines, because no one really saw what he did except us. And we knew better than to call the police.

The PS 130 school yard used to be a heck of a lot bigger than it is now. Before the board of education decided to ruin our roller hockey court with more classrooms. Oh, did I say board of education, pardon me, it must be my age. Because "DOE" just sounds like something my grandfather used to hunt for in the Catskills during November.
But then again that’s just my opinion you know.

It was just another Sunday morning in Windsor Terrace and there we were as usual using the PS 130 schoolyard as our practice court for roller hockey. I know we used to annoy the poor people that owned the house right behind the schoolyard too. Many a hockey puck deflected off my goalie stick and hit the side of their house, including their windows. I guess the couple that lived there weren’t big hockey fans, they always kept our pucks and cursed at us too. And on a Sunday morning no less, what nerve!

The Gorman’s were a big bunch and usually joined in on our Sunday morning games at the school yard on East 5th and Fort Hamilton. I think they lived somewhere off Church Avenue on the other side of Coney Island Avenue going towards Flatbush. They may have lived above a store too, but I really can’t recall.

Now with all due respect, the Gorman boys were great hockey players. But I think things may have not been perfect once they got home, if you know what I'm saying.

And Shawn, one of the youngest Gorman boys, was a sweet looking kid with red hair and freckles who looked like he just walked right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Except he cursed like a sailor and was always doing these crazy dangerous things to impress his older brothers, and today would be no different.

So there I am in all my goalie equipment waiting for the next puck to be shot. Out of the corner of my eye I see Shawn climbing the side of the school, with his skates on no less. I think it may have been where the auditorium was, it was only one story high and used to stick out from the back of the school facing East 5th.

He somehow climbs up to the top of that structure and then makes a beeline straight to the brick chimney on the side of the school. Now if you ever noticed the chimney of PS 130 it has these insets that almost look like steps. They are about one or two feet away from each other and go all the way up to the top. So Shawn gently places the toe stop of his skates on each step, and wraps his arms around the side of the bricks and starts to slowly scale his way up.

We all start screaming for him to get down including his older brothers who were skating with us.

Well, before you know it Shawn is almost to the top of the brick chimney, with nothing holding him except his nerve. He finally makes it to the summit and then just sits on the top. Like a red headed bird on a flagpole, there was little Shawn Gorman way up in the sky, just giving his brothers the finger, and still wearing his roller skates.

After about fifteen minutes Shawn decided to come down, scaling the side of the chimney in the same manor that he scaled it up in. One skate after the other with both arms wrapped around the bricks until he got to the ground.

Once he was on the pavement his older brothers gave him hell.
And Shawn being Shawn just laughed as they were punching him.
Just another day in the life of little Shawn Gorman trying to impress the world.

The other day we were walking home from Prospect Park and passed by PS 130. I told my wife and son about how little Shawn Gorman scaled up the side of the school with roller skates and nothing holding him except his nerve. I think they may have chalked it up to another “tall tale” of my childhood in Brooklyn.

But let me tell you, somewhere there’s a forty five year old man named Shawn Gorman. And I’m sure he remembers what the view looked like from the sky, high above Windsor Terrace on a warm Sunday morning back in 1975, while still wearing his roller skates.

Ron Lopez
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Anonymous said...


my name is James, and I was there that Sunday morning that Shawn climbed the side of P.S. 130. What you failed to mention, or notice, was that Shawn actually had his roller skates on at the time. I remember seeing him use the rubber toe stoppers (remember them?), fitting them inside the grove of each step. To prove that I was there, and knew this kid, I can share this one important piece of information: He's always fancied himself a monkey. He even used to claim that he owned a monkey.

Ron Lopez said...


You know what, he was also chucking arrows at us down in the playground. My cousin Pete Liria remembered that part.

Knowing Shawn, using skates makes more sense too. But the monkey part, I just can't recall.

Email me:


Ron Lopez said...

Sorry folks,

Chim-ney: Right

Chim-i-ney: Fools my MS Word spellcheck and also appears all over the web.

Please forgive my poor spelling!


Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember Sean Gorman he and I used to be good friends.We went to PS130,Ditmas then Grady. Sean,Kevin,Danny The Gormans lived on East 7th and Church ave on the corner above what was then I think was a laundry ...
Sean was always doing something crazy...Haven't seen him in along time. Last time I seen him he and his brother Kevin were in the City as Iron workers...figures guess he's still climbing..Mike Dilberian

Anonymous said...

Oh and yes!!!It's True Sean did have a Monkey (spider)as in species not name,I know it shit on me and bit me plenty of MikeD

Anonymous said...

Oh god, I lived next door to Danny, Kevin and Shawn when I was a kid on East 7th street. Moved away when I was seven. I remember one of the brothers did finally get that monkey he had been ranting for years about.

Anonymous said...

My brothers Ruben & Oscar Rodriguez (Oscar played handball) probably remember them, they are in their mid 40s and also went to PS 130, Ditmas than Grady - so I'll have to send them this link. What a cool story!