Saturday, January 31, 2009

My TWO bit life!

You know not much has changed for me in the
past fifty-one years. And in many ways the number
“TWO” is all I reached.

Oh, let’s see…
I have been married twice, so that’s TWO wives.
I have lived in only TWO places in Brooklyn,
so that’s TWO apartments.
And I have had only TWO jobs in my entire life.
TWO jobs.
Oh, right, TWO kids too!

Yeah, being employed since 1975 and I have never taken
off more than TWO weeks from work in one stretch.

Yeah, TWO weeks.

No month off to “collect” my thoughts or no TWO month trip
to travel cross-country. That was nine years at one place and
twenty-five years at another. All without ever getting laid off
once in my entire “TWO-BIT” life.

What the hell is it with the number TWO?

Even when I played roller hockey down at Avenue F
I was always the number TWO goalie in the league.


One of my old girlfriends used to always say;

“Oh Ron, you are so predicable”.

Ok, so maybe I am, but isn’t the sunrise too?

Does the number TWO make you predictible I ask?

Maybe that’s why most of my old girlfriends and even
both my wives lived very “unpredictable” lives before
they met me. I guess they all needed to be with someone
who was “very” predictable to balance all their

Marry someone just like me?
What the hell, are you freaking nuts?

I want to hear all the stories about the twenty jobs
and the fifteen apartments you had.
The year you lived in Mexico City, along with the
summer you spent writing in Sag Harbor.
Readings of your book along with stories about
that crazy roommate you lived with in Boston.

Yeah, it’s really true that opposites attract,
it’s really true. Because "predictable" me never
passed the number TWO.

Ron Lopez

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Readers Comments

These are some recent comments left on my blog. I am very happy to know that many past Kensington residents along with new folks are reading all this nonsense.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Kenny's Toy Store":
"I definitely remember Kenny's Toy Store on Church Ave. I no longer live in the states, but grew up in Kensington on East 3rd & Ft. Hamilton Pkway. Ron you have brought back many great memories of my days when a trip to Kennys was such a treat back in the early 60's. I attended P.S. 130 and Ditmas JHS 62 then went on to FDR High... I still have relatives that live on Caton Avenue across from IHM. I remember all the great times at the old Beverly theater every Saturday with my cousins. But most of all I remember Mr. & Mrs. Kenny you pegged them right. Thanks for the trip down memory lane"

Profenglish has left a new comment
on your post "Insanity at Ditmas JHS":
"Ciao Ron, It's funny how nothing was different in Mr. Spodeck's classes... even when I attended Ditmas from 1965-68"

Kat has left a new comment on your post:
"My Mom’s “Fonzi” scheme":
I certainly do enjoy your stories. Although I've only been in the neighborhood for a little more than 5 years, it seems like home. And your stories are not so unfamiliar as mine own growing up in small town PA. Good friends, great family, even greater memories.

Thanks again everyone,
sometimes the best things in life are free!

Ron Lopez

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Mom’s “Fonzi” scheme

You know every time I hear the phrase; “Ponzi Scheme” I think about my mom and I start laughing. And it’s not because I think that people losing their money is funny, no.
It’s just because I imagine what my conversations with my mom would turn into every time she’d hear it on the news.

Now my mom lived a pretty shitty life, all within a seven year span between 1963 and 1969 she lost her husband, son, and was told by the doctors over at Methodist that her daughter was downs syndrome. A real tough hand my mom was dealt, a real tough hand.

And my mom was strong too, with all the hard aches and “mountains” she had to climb she just kept on going. I mean I don’t know, if I had all that shit happen to me in such a short period of time I may have just looked for a tall building and an open window. Because let me tell you, that was a lot of stuff for someone to go through. A lot of stuff.

And my mom was proud too, don’t you dare ever call her an “old lady” just because her hair was snow white or her hearing was bad. No, there must be something wrong with your eyes and you must be mumbling when you talk.

“You know you mumble when you talk, that’s why I can’t hear you”

And Brooklyn, let me tell you my mom was a Brooklyn girl from the start. She was raised on Eighteenth Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenue long before the real estate people called it “Greenwood Heights”. She used to shop and hang out in Park Slope before Pete Hammill was born, and she used to dance the nights away at the “Grand Prospect Hall” during World War Two. Oh, right, there were trips to Coney Island and rides on the parachute jump with her favorite boyfriends.

Yes, my mom was a real Brooklyn girl and maybe those nights at the Prospect Hall were spent too close to the live music. Because when my mom got older, her hearing was leaving faster than all the Irish and Italians who lived in Kensington.

“You know Ronnie you really need to speak up,
and stop mumbling too”

“Mom, I think you should have your ears checked, because…”

“There’s NOTHING wrong with my hearing”
“YOU need to speak up when you talk!”

And then there was the “sounds like” but
that’s not what I really said sentences.

“Hey Mom I’m going out tonight with the guys”
“Flies? Where did you see a fly?”
“No, mom, I said the guys, not flies”
“You know you mumble”

“Hey mom, isn’t it a great day”

“Who’s gay?”

“Oh, I knew that Rock Hudson was gay, or at least
that’s what people used to whisper all the time”

“Ronnie, did I ever tell you the story about the time Beatrice and I went to a gay club my mistake. I think it was in the 1940’s somewhere in Greenwich Village. The most handsome guys in the world, and I knew something was wrong because they didn’t even look at us.”

“No, mom, I never heard that story, and I never knew you used to hang out in the Village when you were young.”

Yes there were the “books” that sounded like “crooks”
The “block” who sounded like “clock”.
The “pears” who sounded like “stairs”.

It went on and on, and no, my mom never got a hearing aid.
No, because only “old” people get hearing aids, and my mother
was not old.

So, all this brings me to this whole “Ponzi” scheme thing,
and I can just imagine what the conversation would be
like if mom was still alive.

And I think it would go something like this:

“Hey mom, what to you think about this whole “Ponzi scheme?”

“Fonzi’s team?”

“I loved that show Ronnie, wasn’t it funny? and what a shame that Ron Howard went bald, he looked so nice with that red hair”
“Oh, and your sister Isabel, boy does she love that Fonzi”.

“No, mom, I said “PONZI” scheme.


“Oh, I remember him from that show too, don’t you think that Rod Blagojevich guy looks just like him? It must be the hair or something”

“You know mom , you have a point, you really have a point”

Yeah, do I miss my Mom, and I’m sure
glad she never got a hearing aid after all.

Ron Lopez

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Monday, January 26, 2009

The "other" Buzz-a-Rama in Kensington

You know when you get older you tend to forget many things, my cousin Pete who's 52 will always remember things that I don't and visa-versa. Well, Mark from PA just reminded me that there "was" another slot car place in Kensington back in the day. Now it was not as big or as popular as the Buzz-a-Rama, but it was here. You know where that gigantic laundry place is on McDonald, right between PS 230 and Pitta's? Well, that was the place.

In Mark's words.....
"Brooklyn history? I remember when the place opened. There was competition from another track venue on MacDonald Avenue right next to the P.S. 230 schoolyard. What this place had going for it was the Triple Nickel with burgers/fries/drinks all three nickels. A short walk from Tehama Street..."

Thank you Mark, I am beginning to remember that place now!

Ron Lopez

The Buzz-a-Rama was "Buzzing"

Wow, the Buzz-a-rama was really buzzing with people yesterday. I haven't seen that many folks there in a long time. The kids all had a ball and so did we chasing their cars. The Brooklyn News Channel was there instead of channel 7. But nevertheless many of the kids saw themselves on TV last night. Pass the word on about this place, because it is sure a part on Kensington and Brooklyn history that is still with us.

Buzz-A-Rama 500
(718) 853-1800
69 Church Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11218

Sat and Sun 2-6 pm

Ron Lopez

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Channel 7 News at the Buzz-A-Rama today at 2

Ok, I just confirmed that Channel 7 will be taping at the Buzz-a-rama starting at 2pm today. My cousin Buzz said that barring any earthquake or flooding they WILL be there.

So if you want to put Kensington back on the map again, please be there to support the Buzz-a-rama and maybe get your face on TV.

Buzzie also said that PBS did a spot last week on the place and it should be airing soon. He will keep us posted.

FYI-The Buzz-A-Rama is a slot car racing place that has been in Kensington since 1965.
You will love it and so will your kids!!!!

Ron Lopez

Buzz-A-Rama 500
(718) 853-1800
69 Church Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11218

Sat and Sun 2-6 pm

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bobby Wilson and East Fourth Street

Bobby Wilson had to be one of the toughest looking guys around when I was growing up on East Fourth street. With jet-black hair and piercing blue eyes, Bobby stood about six feet tall and was kind of husky. His jaw was as square as a pizza box from Korner and his head always looked like it was on the verge of exploding into a
million pieces.

Yeah, if there was anyone who looked like they were going to kick some ones ass on my block, it had to be Bobby Wilson. Because Bobby just looked that scary.

Bobby also drove a tow truck for Al and Leo’s collision over on 36th
street right off of Fort Hamilton Parkway. A bright yellow GMC
with “Bobby” painted in script letters on the driver’s side door along
with his kids names gracing it's big steel hood.
Bobby Jr., Richie and Eileen.

Bobby would always park the truck in front of his house at 418 East Fourth Street too, right by the “Johnny Pump”. I could always hear the police scanner he had in his truck from my house, that’s because Bobby put it full blast while he was upstairs having lunch with his family. Just waiting to hear about an accident somewhere so he could quickly jump in his truck and chase it down.

You see in the days before the police outlawed tow trucks racing through Brooklyn at 70 miles per hour to be the first “hook” at an accident. Guys like Bobby Wilson were around doing just that. But Bobby never drove down our block that fast, no when it came to East Fourth Street, Bobby would never cross that line.

Now Bobby had to be about thirty-five years old at the time while we were all about seventeen. And we used to spend a lot of time hanging around on his stoop just to hear all his stories about Brooklyn and driving his tow truck.

Well, actually we used to just hang out with Bobby because we all really liked him that’s all. And besides, if your hanging out with him, there’s a much less chance that he’d kick your ass over something.

But the funny thing was that no matter how tough Bobby acted, it would all just melt away when he was around his kids, especially Bobby Jr., his oldest son. Bobby just loved Bobby Jr,. maybe it was all because he had the same dark blue eyes and long eyelashes as Bobby. I don't know, but Bobby just loved that kid the most, and we
all knew it.

Yeah, those long black eyelashes and deep blue eyes, both Bobby and his son had the most beautiful eyes that would make any woman green with envy.

And Bobby loved his kids more than anything in the world,
more than anything.

“You know Ronnie, if something ever happened to one of my kids I don’t think I could ever live” “I just don’t know how your mom can go on, I would have blown my brains out along time ago”.

Now Bobby was good friends with my mom and knew all about the fact that her son died when he was thirteen years old. And Bobby just couldn’t understand how my mom existed on this earth knowing that her son was dead and buried. Seeing him die a slow death in the hospital bed and then kissing his ice-cold face in a casket over at Pitta’s on McDonald Avenue.

No, there was no living if something happened to one
of Bobby’s kids, and he always let me know it.

Now I always used to spend a lot of time in Bobby’s apartment too. Just hanging out and bull shitting about anything and everything by their kitchen table. And I guess I kind of liked Bobby’s wife Eileen too, I mean she was more than pretty and certainly caught my eye, even if I was only seventeen while she was thirty-five.

And I’ll never forget the night I was hanging around in their kitchen, Bobby and the family just got back from Lake George and Bobby junior was complaining that his head hurt during the whole vacation.

“Ah, the kid probably needs to get his eyes checked, I but you he needs glasses”

Bobby never worried about the headaches Bobby junior was getting, no it was all going to be all right because little Bobby just needed glasses that’s all.

But the headaches didn’t go away, and little Bobby who was about five years old at the time was told to see a doctor about the pain in his head. And Bobby Wilson’s life was about to be shattered.

And then something very strange happened on the block, Bobby wasn’t hanging around on the porch anymore and we didn’t see his tow truck that much on the block.

No, little Bobby was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and Bobby Wilson was planning his death. Because there was no way Bobby could live without his son, no there wasn’t.

Little Bobby died not too long after the doctors told Bobby Wilson about the brain tumor. The Wilson’s were never the same after then and neither was Bobby. There were no more visits to his house and no more stories on his front stoop. Bobby Wilson was dead, and you could see it in his face.

I’ll never forget the day I was coming home from work back in 1985. There were just a lot of people milling around on my block and a lot of people hanging around in front of Bobby Wilson’s house.

“Hey Ronnie, did you hear Bobby died?”
“They found him upstairs in his bedroom”

The first thing I thought was that Bobby blew his brains out, just like he always said he would. But no, there was no gun and no suicide note, because according to the medical examiner Bobby died of a brain aneurism and nothing else.

And although Bobby left a gaping hole on East Fourth Street and in his family, at least he was with his son Bobby junior. Because he told me he could never live without him. And I guess he was telling the truth, because their both buried side by side over in Greenwood Cemetery.

Ron Lopez

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Open House Sunday 1-4 (403 East 4th)

Ok, so who wants to live next door to me?

And what better place to live than good old
East 4th street between Beverly Road and Avenue C.
We are Kensington and we are proud!

And to all my old friends who left the block,
now's your chance to move back. We can play hockey
on the street and hang out on the front porch
just like the old days.

Thats all because my good friend Rob has his
beautiful bottom floor apartment for rent.
And the price has been reduced to a very fair 2250.

I have to tell you this place is really nice.
And just like my house this apartment has tons of
original detail.

Thats 403 East 4th this Sunday 1/25 between 1-4 pm.

Ron Lopez

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The Brooklyn Paper Rocks!!

Ok, so these folks at the Brooklyn Paper are great.
I took the chance and emailed the suggestion that
they post my blog link on their site...and they DID!!!!

There I am "Kensington Stories" floating between some
of the greatest blogs in Brooklyn! I mean they got me
in the same square as "Only The Blog Knows Brooklyn"
over Park Slope, by birthplace.

I mean, we're even in the same sans serif typeface!

Psst...was "Smart Mom" born in Brooklyn?
Not that it matters, I was just wondering thats all.

Oh well, as my grandpa used to say;
you'll never know, if you never try.

I just added these great people to my blog roll.
Check them out!

Ron Lopez

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Move back to Brooklyn

In an effort to convince all my old friends from the block to move back to Brooklyn, I have decided to insult the places where they now live. I know it is childish and immature, but what else can I do, huh? And besides, I don’t think I ever really “grew up” anyway, or at least that’s what my mom used to say all the time.

Ok, so here we go.

Top Ten Reasons why you should move back to Brooklyn.

#10- When I’m bored all I have to do is sit on my front stoop and say hi to people I don’t know. It sure beats “constant boredom”, doesn’t it?. I bet you you'd be scared to death if someone walked by your house? Maybe call the Police.

#9- I can have my daughter cut my front lawn with her “safety scissors” in an about an hour. It sure beats buying a lawn tractor and doing it yourself in two.

#8- Coney Island is still better than any brand new amusement park by you. And if I can’t shoot the freak there, I can still do it in Prospect Park at night. What “freak” can you shoot? a deer?

#7- Manhattan is our town to visit, what’s yours? The shopping mall?

#6- Are the suburbs really called “Gods waiting room?”

#5- Don’t you feel sick all the time because of that “Radon” seeping in through your basement walls. You should really see a doctor you know.

#4- When I’m away, I can ask at least a dozen people to keep an eye on my house. Who can you ask? , that silly cement figurine on your front lawn with that freaky looking beard? What to they call them? lawn trolls, they scare me.

#3- When I get the chills and feel sick, I know it’s because of my National Grid bill. When you get the chills and feel sick, it’s because you just got bit by a tick and have one hour to live before you die.

#2- Could you imagine David and Victoria Beckham naming their kid “Smithtown?” Doesn’t sound real cool, does it?

#1- You know you’re going to default on that mortgage, and when you do just call me. Because I own this big ass three family house, and I’m sure I can find you a bed somewhere. Because some things never change, including me.

Ok, Ok, don't get mad, just move back!

Ron Lopez

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Because that's all I ever knew

School was never one of my best positions you know. Back in the days of PS 179 and Ditmas JHS, I could only remember my report card looking like someone bled all over the damn thing. Just a mosaic of red and black squares with a lot of “Ronald needs to do this and Ronald needs to do that” scribbled in between.

And maybe it was because there were a lot of things happening at home, I don't know. Between my dad and brother dying four years apart, and my mom looking after my little sister Isabel who was downs syndrome, there really weren't too many bed time stories being read at night or help with homework.

Yeah, maybe that was it, who knows.

So those 65’s I used to get on my report card were a real big victory you know. And as far as I was concerned it was all that mattered. A win is a win right? And a 65 is better than a 55, because a 55 means you failed in mister Sendick's class.
And who wants to be "left back?" no, only "bad kids" get left back.

But then there was sixth grade and mister Bernstein’s class…
You know I found a picture of my sixth grade class the other day and I’m real concerned that I may have been in some freaking special ed class. I started to closely study everyone’s face including mine and we just didn’t look “normal”. We had all these weird smiles and looked kind of stupid.

Oh, what did you say? Oh, I get it, maybe we were just happy that’s all. Ok, I’ll buy that. That sounds good to me.

God, but then there was the trip to the guidance counselor’s office and it was all falling apart.

Ok, so this time I hit rock bottom over at Ditmas. It was December 1969 and I was failing everything they threw at me. 40’s 50’s, 60’s, my report card was so heavy with red ink it looked like a Turkish flag. Just give me a pole to hang it on, because I give up, I’ll never pass another class again, I’m staying home.

I remember my mother crying in mister Cisco’s office while he handed her tissues. She was telling him along with another counselor that my brother just died a few months before, and maybe that may have had something to do with my poor grades.

I on the other hand was totally shocked to hear my mom say that because I thought one had nothing to do with the other. No, I just thought I sucked at school and nothing else.

But then something happened, and I really can’t put a finger on it. Well on second thought maybe I can, I left Ditmas and was accepted at the High School of Art and Design in New York City.

All the drawing I did at Ditmas while I wasn’t paying attention and skidding by with 65’s somehow paid off. A total stranger in a new school and no one knew who I was. And to help matters along the dying stopped in my family for a while. And my mom was starting to feel a lot better about life.

So you see, I guess what I’m trying to figure out after all these years, is that what goes on at home may actually have something to do with how well you do in school. And the funny thing is I never realized that one had something to do with the other.

Oh, but then again, maybe I just sucked at school
because that’s all I ever knew.

Ron Lopez

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Favorite Sons of Brooklyn

After almost a year and a half I finally figured out how to add some other cool blogs to my blog roll. Please check out my "Favorite Sons of Brooklyn" section for some pretty nice stuff written by some real Brooklyn originals. Scroll down and look on the right for links to Brooklyn Born and the SpinZone.


Silk Dreams at 90 Church Avenue

You know those subjects you can’t bring up at the dinner table, the ones that get some people mad.
No, were not talking about politics or religion here, it’s something worse.

Back in the summer of 1956 my grandmother and grandfather decided to take a stab at the big fat cash cow called “Church Avenue”.

Now, Church Avenue has always been excellent when it came to simple “foot traffic”, even back in the summer of 1956. Except for one slight problem according to my grandfather “Paco”. The more affluent people with money in their pockets simply made the left from the F-Train and walked along Church to Ocean Parkway.
They never looked towards Dahill Road or even bothered to give it a second thought.

The name of my grandmothers store was “Isabel’s”; it was located at 90 Church Avenue. Basically the cash cows “tail”, which rarely moved to swat a fly no less.

My grandmother Isabel was always a working woman you see. And she usually held positions such as supervisor or “floor lady” wherever she worked. One of her specialties was hand-made lampshades, and she was proud of her position at Krasnours Lamp Shade Factory on Prince street in Manhattan. She was the floor lady there; basically supervising the workers to make sure the quality of the shades were up to standard. A job she held for many years until she decided to give her own business a shot one day.

So with the knowledge of Kensington and a “store for rent” sign at
90 Church, my grandparents took a plunge into owning their
own business.

The grand opening was sometime in the summer of 1956. They sold custom-made silk lampshades, imported plates, crystal, porcelain figurines and various other “high end “ knick-knacks. The entire family worked there and helped to keep it a float. My mom, dad, aunt Dolores, and uncle Pete helping out my grandmother and grandfather any way they could. Making deliveries, working the register or taking the F-Train to Canal street to buy the lamp shade skeletons that gave them their shapes.

I always remember my grandfathers face getting red when he used to talk about “the store”.

“What a waste of money, we should have invested in
another property instead”. “God damn store!”.

Now you have to remember that as kids growing up we only heard about “the store”, because it closed down before my cousins and I were even born. Although we knew something had happened once, there was an entire room in the basement full of lampshade skeletons, rolls of silk material, plates and porcelain figurines. And a wonderful large old-fashioned gold cash register in the garage. A huge monster that just sat in the corner gathering dust. As kids we used to play with it, pushing hard down on the buttons to make a metal numeral flip up in a glass window. Or just hide Matchbox or Hotwheels cars in the coin slots.

“There they go, never walking this way” said my grandfather Paco standing in front of the store at 90 Church Avenue.

“This side of Church Avenue is invisible, this store may as well be in the middle of the woods up in the country”.

“With all their money in their pockets, they just walk to their castles in the sky on Ocean Parkway”.

“The people that walk past this store are the working class poor, who only look and never buy”.

My grandmother just looked at my grandfather and said;
“You mean just like us?”

My grandfather just shook his head and my grandmother just kept working away, cutting patterns and sewing the beautiful silk shades and hoping for a miracle. Because she always believed that those who worked hard survived, and they both survived the great depression right here in New York City. My grandfather Paco selling Good Humor ice cream off his back in Central Park and my grandmother making hand made silk flowers from their apartment on Pearl street in downtown Brooklyn. Now the site of Metrotech.

So there was going to be no giving up here,
at least not without a fight.

I remember it was something like 1984 when we sold the cash register. I think my aunt listed it in the Buy Lines. And it must have weighed at least 100 pounds. My cousin Pete and I both helped the man carry it to his car. I think he gave us 25 dollars for it. He was opening up his own business somewhere here in Brooklyn, and he liked the old fashioned register. We tried selling the lampshade skeletons back in 1990, the man who looked at them thought they were beautiful, but the rust on them was too much and would only destroy the silk. When he was leaving we even offered them for free, he just smiled and said “no thanks”.

With rent being paid on time and little business coming in, the store closed about two years after it opened. There was no meat on this “cows tail”, and my grandfather Paco always had his reservations about that side of Church Avenue. And unfortunately he was right.

My Dads 1957 Plymouth station wagon pulled up in front of 90 Church Avenue that day. All the contents of the store were hauled to our house at 399. The inventory was split between my aunt’s old room, the basement and the garage.

A month later the store was for rent again.

The lamp shades made great props for parties when we wore them on our heads as teenagers. And not to mention there was always an endless supply of porcelain doll eyes for us to look into as kids, constantly worried that they would move, or blink.

I spoke to my aunt Dolores the other day, and she said the basic story about her mothers store could be summed up as “wrong place in the wrong time”. I laughed and told her that grandma would have made a killing in today’s Park Slope with a store like that. She said that grandma would have loved to open the store in Manhattan, but just couldn’t afford the rent.

But not all family stories have crash landings like “Isabel’s”. About ten years after my grandmothers store closed, her niece Dolores and husband Buzzy opened up another place you may have heard of. Its still called the “Buzzarama” and managed to survive over forty years on the “cows tail” of Church Avenue.

And my grandfather Paco, well he always believed real estate was your best bet and bought two hundred acres of land in upstate New York. Right before the store fiasco and just five years after he bought 399 East 4th. So “Isabel’s” was just a bump in the road, a bad decision, and a “wrong place at the wrong time”. Sure they lost money with the store and it made my grandfathers face turn red at the dinner table. But hell, that one hundred pound cash register was sure fun to play with along with those dozens of lampshades on New Years Eve.

And like they say, if you never try, you'll never know.

Ron Lopez

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Monday, January 19, 2009

East Fourth House Fire

This is my good friend Jimmy Spinner's house. It took somewhat of a hit on Saturday night, but thank God everyone got out safely including his mom. Still no word on what caused the fire, but we should have an answer soon.

You know as a homeowner you never think about a fire. I guess you sometimes think the your house is indestructible and made of stone. But what happened to Jimmy's house is a wake-up call, and you better believe that I checked all the smoke alarms and bought power strips for all my tenants to use soon after. That’s because these houses have some real old wiring, and using a power strip can sometimes prevent an overload on the socket. Basically the power strip will trip before anything else. And that’s a good indicator that there’s an overload.

Also please do not use any of those space heaters that have those bright orange coils that glow like a toaster. Those things can fall sideways and easily cause a fire.

Watch those burning candles along with smoking in bed and make sure your fire escape doesn’t have all kinds of junk on it that could block you from getting out quickly.

And if you are a landlord you better take some time to look at your insurance policy, because many people carry outdated policies that don’t cover as much as they should.

Don’t be so cheap, increase your coverage and spent a few extra bucks a year. These houses cost a lot more than 200,000 dollars if they need to be re-built.

Oh, and crank up the heat too, because this will prevent anyone in your house form using a space heater and overloading your very old brittle wires.

Now once again we do NOT know the cause of the fire over at Jimmy's house. But all of the suggestions I'm writing can certainly help prevent a fire in your house.

And just remember, these houses are made of wood not stone.

Ron Lopez

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A rough time on East Fourth.

This past night my friend Jimmy Spinner's house caught fire. Well, the good news is everyone got out safely, but the bad news is Jimmy’s old house took quite a beating. I guess the firemen have to break every window in the place to vent the fire, but man it was quite a shocker to see the house wounded like that. They even had to chain saw the damn roof. But hell, I know it won't take too much time before the place is all fixed up and everyone is back.

And once again the folks on my block came through, everyone who lived in the house was offered a place to stay by their neighbors. “An extra room because my son’s in college” or “that old bedroom someone’s daughter slept in before she got married.” Real old school stuff that I always knew growing up here.

And you better believe the first thing I did when I got home was check the smoke alarms and see that the fire escapes were working. Because “fire” never has a friend, and neither does “smoke”.

Ron Lopez

Friday, January 16, 2009

Jim McMullen’s and Kensington Brooklyn

Jim McMullen’s Bar was a pretty hot spot back in 70’s on the Upper East Side. The place always seemed to attract models, movie stars and professional athletes.

“Mr. McMullen is best known as the convivial owner of Jim McMullen's, a steakhouse that had one of the Upper East Side's archetypal swinging singles bars in the 1970's. Back when Reggie Jackson was beginning his evenings being showered with candy bars at Yankee Stadium, he was ending them with his pals at Jim McMullen's.”

Now I never knew Jim McMullen Jr. myself because he was older than the rest of us, but sometimes we’d get a glimpse of his Red Corvette that he drove up the block and parked in by his parent’s house.

The girls would always seem to giggle when he drove by, and some of them would run up to his car to get a better look of him and his pretty blonde hair.

You see mister McMullen’s son Jim was a professional model and did all kinds of TV commercials back when we were growing up. He may have even been in a movie or TV show too, but we never really knew or even seemed to care that much. Because when you’re a “guy” and the girls that you have crushes on run away from you to see Jim McMullen Jr., well, you just kind of resent him that’s all.

But not his dad mister McMullen, because mister McMullen was a sweet old man that worked for the buildings department and drove a city car. No, the girls weren’t running after his Dodge Dart with a NYC Department of Buildings logo on the side. No, we could deal with that. And if I remember correctly Peter and Nuzio Competiello used to walk the McMullen's dog Sam all the time, and Sam was kind of overweight for a Beagle and the girls never giggled when he walked by or made poop in the street.

Oh, Ok, Ok, maybe we were all a little jealous back then of pretty Jim with his blonde hair and his fancy red Corvette, while we were riding ten speeds and had pimples. But come on, how would you like it if a girl ran off while you were in mid-sentence to chase a guy?
Not a real confidence booster huh?

Well time has passed and it’s all pretty funny now, and from what I hear McMullen’s closed a long time ago and is no longer there.

But you know what, just as that place exists in the memories of all those celebrities, models and professional athletes who used to go there back in the 70's. I bet you there's a guy named Jim McMullen who maybe still remembers the Brooklyn of his youth, and a street he grew up on. A street that he may remember, that was called
East Fourth.

Ron Lopez

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

-15 degrees in the Catskills

Greetings from the web cam up on the mountain.
The temperature tonight should be dropping to
about 15 to 20 degrees below zero.

The tundra is frozen and the wind is blowing, and
its all just 150 miles from Kensington, Brooklyn.

Ron Lopez

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kensington Fury 1973

The blower motor in Robert Brennan’s Plymouth Fury was on full force. With hot air blowing like a hurricane on my snow-covered boots, the heat of the Fury did little to defrost my feet and toes. No, once again my boots felt like two blocks of ice, and it would certainly be a while before they’d feel
warm again.

“Let me show you how she rides Ronnie, this ones real heavy duty”

With that Robert put the Plymouth Fury into gear and stomped on the gas. The huge 440 four barrel suddenly came alive and moaned a loud throaty sound. With the rear wheels trying desperately to grip the cold frozen asphalt, the Fury started to wildly squeal and fishtail in front of my house. I just held on to the dashboard for dear life until the Plymouth finally found its way and started rocketing up the block in a straight line.

“I told you she’s heavy duty”
“I told you”

The Plymouth barreled up East Fourth at about fifty-five miles an hour and then suddenly screeched to a stop at the corner of Avenue C. The little air freshener pine tree that Robert loved so much swung crazily from the radio knob.

“And she stops on a dime too”

“ Robert, she started skidding about six houses back?”

“Don’t worry kid, she’s seen all kinds of action”

Now Robert Brennan was one of my best friends from the block, and for some reason he always liked to buy old worn out police cars at the city auctions up by Willis Point. And because Bobby was a couple years older than the rest of the guys, he was the first to own his own car. And when you can’t drive what you don’t have yet, you just get into anything your friends are driving, no matter what.

And for my cousin Pete and I, it was a 1970 Plymouth that Bobby drove around all the time. A retired New York City undercover police car that drove like a tank and flew like a rocket.

“How about a trip to White Castle Ronnie?”

Oh God, that freaking White Castle up on Fort Hamilton Parkway. The place had bulletproof glass where you ordered, white tiled walls and floors, and the most horrible looking stainless steel tables and seats. And to top it off, it was always filled with the scariest looking people Brooklyn ever produced. Just a perpetual “freak show” that made any thing over in Coney Island look like kids stuff. Just shoot me and preform the autopsy on one of those stainless steel tables, but just don't forget to clean up the blood.

Oh, and they also had an armed guard inside the place, just standing in the corner with a black handgun in his holster. A real nice place to take the kids for a night out in Boro Park.

“ Robert why do we have to go there?”
“Why not the new Burger King over on Dahill Road?”
“One day we’re going to get killed over at White Castle”

“Ronnie, there’s nothing to fear, you got me and we have the “car”

Now because we drove around in an old unmarked police car, the truth is everyone thought we were cops. Including all the freaks over at White Castle who looked like they just got out of the Brooklyn House of Detention.

Even the security guard who worked there used to salute us. So when it came to feeling safe, I guess there was nothing better than driving an old police car and looking like a bunch of undercover cops.

And Robert, well he stood at six feet five inches and bigger than a bear. Yeah, I never felt tall or big around Robert, no not even at six feet three and two hundred pounds.

Robert always seemed like an older brother to me too, and in many ways reminded me a lot of my brother Joseph who passed away just a few years before Bobby became one of my best friends. He was loud like my brother, he sometimes bossed me around like my brother. And he always had the last word like my brother. Yeah, maybe a friendship that would never work for others, but somehow oddly worked wonders for me.

Yes Robert filled the void that was left after my brother died, and I certainly loved being around him all the time. But most important, I always felt safe around Bobby no matter what.

We made the left on to Fort Hamilton and drove past the brand new Burger King on Dahill road. I could see the blue and white logo of White Castle way in the distance by Forty-second Street in Boro Park.

“Oh God, that freaking place again Bobby?”

“Don’t worry kid, you’ve got me and we got the car”

Robert made a hard right into the parking lot of the White Castle. And as usual the place was chock full of “hard nighters” and the scariest residents of Brooklyn. The Plymouth made an abrupt stop against the concrete slab by the front tires. Once again the little fragrant pine tree swung wildly on the radio knob. Robert shut off the now hot 440 engine, my feet were finally warm.

“You ready for action?”
“I guess so, lets do it”
We both opened the door and walked into White Castle.
Just another night in Brooklyn, the year was 1973.

The other day I was in an auto store with my son, we were standing by the counter when I happened to notice one of those little green pine tree air fresheners. I picked it up and threw it on the counter with the rest of my stuff.

"Dad who's that for?"

"It's for an old friend son,
it's for a very old friend"

Ron Lopez

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Save IHM from closing!

There was an article in the Times today about the most recent rash of Catholic School closings in Brooklyn. And it seems like IHM up on East 3rd and Fort Hamilton may be closing by the end of the school year.

Yes, IHM, the school of the O’Callaghan’s, the Spinners and many other good old Kensington Catholics back in the 60’s and 70’s. Oh right, IHM was also where I used to go for “religious instructions” too, but let’s not bring that one up today. Because today is not a good day for many parents who send their kids to IHM. And besides I’m told that nuns don’t wear those black and white habits anymore.

Who could forget all of those IHM church bazaars we used to go to all the time huh? The rides, the “legal gambling” inside the gym, mister O’Callaghan’s voice echoing throughout the bazaar calling out the numbers on the roulette wheel. How about all those Mets that the school used to get to show up every year to sign autographs?

Well, although I didn’t go there full time, I heard all the stories from my friends. And more importantly what I’m hearing from many parents who send their kids there today is that it’s a wonderful school, and nothing like it was back when we all went there. No, the ear pulling nuns are long gone, replaced by teachers that both parents and students really like and are thrilled with.

So what can you do to save IHM, well try writing a letter to Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. Roman Catholic Diocese, 241 Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205. (718 230-1789).
Because hopefully the wheel that squeaks gets fixed first.

Ron Lopez

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

“Snow Days” in Kensington by Paul McNally

Here's another story from one of my best friends.
Former 403 East 4th resident, PS 179 and Ditmas
JHS schoolmate Paul McNally.

Thinking back on the winters we had in the old neighborhood, brings to mind a few of the things we did to stay busy and have fun in the snow. Any time the snow fell was a good time, but it was especially good if the storm occurred on a school night, cause this meant…SCHOOL CLOSINGS! That’s right, we all stared at the sky hoping and praying that the snow accumulation would be enough to cause school to be closed the next day. I know things change, but some things stay the same, because my kids feel the same way today. Any time you have a choice to either play in the snow or go to school, the winner will always be, play in the snow.

Once again, this meant playing outside of course, because anytime you had to stay and play indoors was usually some form of punishment. And the pain of being stuck indoors on a snow day was the worst form of punishment possible. So, Mom, if you are reading this I was scarred for life those days I had to stay in and watch from our third story window as my friends made first tracks in the virgin East 4 Street snow. I specifically remember a few storms that dropped enough snow that the streets were completely closed down. Maybe 2-3 feet of the stuff would cover everything, leaving the cars parked on the street submersed under a blanket of white, only recognizable by the antennae popping through the crust.

This meant a whole new set of games to be played. Gone were all the rubber ball games, replaced by snowball games. The first thing you checked when you went out was to see if the snow was good “packing” snow. Good packing snow was the first ingredient of any quality snowball fight. Once you knew this, then it was game on. When trying to strategize my attack, I always felt that a good offense was my best defense. Get the first shot in and your opponent now had to play catch up. With the street closed down, it made the playing field that much larger and safer. As you looked up and down the street, the only cars were the ones snowed in on the side of the road. It gave me a feeling like we owned the street it was ours alone. No interruptions of passing cars to disrupt the flow of our games. A kind of quiet that only happened on snow days.

Of course with the snow came other things to do, including building snowmen and busting down other kids weak attempts at snowmen. Building snow forts and tunnels out of the mounds of snow built up by the shoveling efforts of our Fathers and Grandfathers. And who could forget trekking up to Church Ave. to go to the A&P for milk, eggs and bread. Staples your Mom didn’t want to be without on a snow day.

These days all seemed to be perfect in isolating the block. We were snowed in and couldn’t go anywhere except up and down our street. It all was ideal until the first big Buick came barreling down the street plowing through the snow as if on a mission to be the first to get the world moving again. And after that, it felt like the snow day would soon be over. How long before the huge garbage trucks fitted with the plows would come by and clear the streets, meaning once again that school would soon be open.

So, the snow day was over. But the next time you saw a single snowflake, your thoughts and gaze shifted to the sky thinking, “pleeeese let it be enough to close school”.

Paul McNally

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Old Kensington Days (70's and 80's)

Here are some more pictures from the good old days of Kensington. The hockey ones are from me, while the East 8th pictures are from Will Roll. It looks like the boys over by East 8th used to climb to the top of Caton Towers quite a bit. Nice pictures Will. I think the highest I've ever been in Kensington was the sixth floor of PS 179, and looking out the window was surely my favorite subject in school.

Ron Lopez

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thanks again for reading (30,000+) hits

For many people who read this blog it's all about the past history of someplace that's totally new to them. While for other's it's a step back into their childhood and the neighborhood they grew up in.
I get so many wonderful comments from people who used to live here, as well as many from people who are totally new to Kensington and East 4th.

Here are just a few of the comments from some of my readers. And I have to tell you this stuff really makes me feel nice, it really does.

"I stumbled upon this site and feel like I found a Christmas gift! I grew up on Albermarle Road and McDonald Ave. and am 48 years old. I'll keep reading-Thanks and Happy New Year"

"Hi. Just came across your blog. Thanks for your time and efforts. Brings back lots of memories. An office mate (here in Wash DC) and I were discussing "appetizing stores" and a google for "Saul's" gave up your site. Lived on E. 2 and E. 5 St. Grandfather ran a fruit and vegetable store on Church Ave. Gosh, I feel ancient. But, nothing whatsoever like a NEIGHBORHOOD !!!! Don Tartasky"

"Great input by Paul, I think its amazing how we all knew the same games from block to block back then. Y ou can only imagine how many years it took to spread to so many neighborhoods, and stay consistant, without all the cell phones, and kids didn't really leave the block, no need to. Maybe our parents were visited by the spaldeen aliens, but I find it amazing. The sad part is that for as long as people took to pass those games on from generation to generation, it all just ended almost instantly. I can tell you that on E 8th. st. it was a right of passage to play stickball, you couldn't play till the old timers moved on, and you had to be at least 16 to get in. Well thanks for the memories, youv'e got me craving the smell of a new spalding, ( am I the only one who loved that smell, I doubt it) Happy holidays to all, keep it comming, Will"

"You just made my day. I was eating my lunch and decided to google Ditmas Ave and your blog was an option so I checked it out. My name is Eddie SInger and I am a 48 year old guidance counselor living in Keene, NH, but I grew up on Ditmas Ave and East 7th St. Imagine my surprise when the picture of your hockey team from November 23, 2008 included my father Gus, seated lower left and my brother Scott, standing right behind you. Scott is three years older than I am and we both went to Ditmas JHS. My mother Ruth even worked there for a while as a school secretary. And by the way, Mr Fink on Ditmas Ave. made a pretty sick egg cream too."

"Ron, I'll always remember Isabel and her music. Eight tracks and cassettes of Kiss, Airsupply, and Wham. There she was sitting in the front window on the third floor, music blasting and jamming to her favorite songs.

"Mmm,the famous Ebinger's blackout cake, awesome with a cold glass of milk. I remember it well. Living closer to Ditmas Ave and going to St. Rose I usually went to a small bakery on the way home from church on Sundays on Ditmas bet. E 5th and O.P. Donuts and cheese danishes and the Sunday Daily News with the huge color comics section. I don't think those great bakeries exist outside of Bensonhurst and Staten Island anymore really. It's sad. I can barely find a cannoli out in NJ. We were lucky indeed. Joe, former E 5th st guy"

"I love reading all your stories about the way Kensington used to be. We lived at 625 beverly Road before Ben Gluck who owned 625 and 629 Beverly passed away...we know live around the corner but love Kensington with a passion since moving here 11 years ago from Park Slope...We are so upset that Falafel Fusion closed...Looking forward to hearing more about Kensington and the way it used to be. Our son adores Kensington as it is such a melting pot these days... This is truly a small town!"

"Jimmy writes a great story. I searched the net looking for a blog of some sort from him. (nothing) Can you direct me to where I can find more of his stories... I knew Tweety and Quinlan from the nabe.. keep em comming we will keep reading...Mark s in P.A."

"Thanks ron! I just moved here and have found the residents to be very nice. I even live doors away from you on E 4th st. Keep up the good work. I enjoy reading them."

"Morris - what a nice guy....I specifically remember how, when you only had a nickel, he'd take a 10 cent two-stick ice pop (still in the wrapper) and smack it against his truck's bumper so he could sell you half! He was a gem....not like the jerk in the Good Humor truck whose first words to us kids was "Let me see your money" thinking we were all poor street got so bad that we'd wave him down, show him our money and then tell him we didn't want any of HIS ice cream - we'd wait for Morris. And we never ate from the Bungalow Bar guy even though he had a cool truck with a house roof on the top ("Bungalow Bar, tastes like tar, the more you eat it the sicker you are"). I will admit, though to eating Mr. Softee many times - soft serve was just something Morris didn't have. Pete"

"wow wow wow. I am a student at St. Johns University, and for my English class, I have to write a place portrait and I picked kensington to write about. I grew up here. I am 19 now. And as part of the paper, i needed info how the place has changed and I across your page. and I read everyone of your story. And wow i am speechless. I simply loved them all."

"Wow, reading your post sure brought back memories. I was a suburban kid in the 70's, but every summer I would become a city kid and stay with my parent's friends in their Church Ave apt, on the 3rd floor above Scarollas. I remember going to the Beverly all the time. I remember a park with metal swings on McDonald. Ther was a swimming pool on mcDonald too, I think. I even went to the Buzz once or twice."

"This reminded me of going to cathecism from public school on Long Island. We were excited about leaving school early, but none too happy to see the nuns. Our were at Our Lady of Mercy and all wore the long black habits with the thick black belts. My younger sister remembers Sister Mary Theckler who was feared by all public school kids. SM Theckler was known for the giving a fierce whack to any boys who caught her displeasure; this was especially true when we rehearsed for confirmation. Boy did her slaps echo in the church! The bishop was a piece of cake compared to her.
Thanks for sharing your memories."

"I really love your stories! It makes me glad I picked such an awesome neighborhood to live in. :)"

"Those were awsome stories dude, My two sisters and I were there (ps179) from '73 to '83 and then to Ditmas. I remember all of the stores on Church Avenue near the McDonald avenue side. Most of my later memories was post '77 blackout Kensington, when all the Jewish store owners on Flatbush left after all the lootings. Things changed quite a bit afterwards. About half of all the Irish and Italians left, I don't remember any wasps (unless you mean after Dahill Road). It became mainly PR, Black, Caribbeans, Asian and Yugoslavian (now Croats, Serbian or Bosnian) and Russian. There were still alot of Jewish classmates. Being of Guyanese East Indian descent, I was part of that change. But what memories."

"Man I still call that place the Sanders, it was pretty scarry up there in the early seventies. Youre description of the train is dead on, do you rember when the GG would go all the way to Church avenue? will the F express ever run again? Will"

For some bizarre reason the name of a 4th grade classmate popped into my head. Then I just decided to google "P.S. 179." I went to there between the early to mid-70s after I was bussed out of my Bed-Stuy neighborhood.

"That's a nice class photo! I wish I still had my photos from my days at 179. I still remember the names of my classmates, and I can still see their faces in my head too. Which is why if I'd located my 4th grade classmate, I know I'd recognize her, even after nearly 35 years."

Hey, what can I say.
I guess "thank you"
and nothing else.

Ron Lopez

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Louie from Kensington

Louie was standing outside Izzy and Bennies luncheonette near the corner of Church and McDonald Avenue. The smoke from his cigar blew gently into the Kensington sky. Like white snakes dancing a gentle waltz they only lasted a few seconds and then just vanished into the night.

Louie looked down McDonald towards Avenue C, the lights of another F-train could be seen far in the distance. The yellow headlamps of the train slowly moved out from the Ditmas Avenue station and downwards towards the tunnel opening near the Gel spice company.

Down, down, down, until they disappeared under the street.

Louie continued smoking his cigar and was now trying to blow smoke rings from his mouth. Out of his lips they came, but not the kind of rings Louie wanted. No they all had a break near the top of the circle. Probably the result of Louie’s mustache that was getting
in the way.

“Ahh, fuckin rings!, why doin’t dese God damn tings woik?”

By now the rumble of the Manhattan bound F-Train was right below Louie’s feet. Not liking the feel of the sidewalk vibrating beneath his soles, Louie squashed the cigar against the red brick wall outside the luncheonette, leaving another tell tale black mark along with thousands of other cigars he squashed. He then made his way back inside and sat on his favorite chrome stool, his cup of warm coffee was still there untouched by the counter.

Now Louie was what us Brooklyn guys
called a real Brooklyn “character”.

Louie was about fifty years old, stood no taller than five foot one, and combed his thinning black hair straight backwards. He also used some type of grease to slick his hair back, because it always looked shiny and never seemed to move. Louie always had a cigar sticking out of his mouth sideways too, sometimes the tip would be a glowing orange while at other times it was black and un-lit.

But what had to be the funniest thing about Louie was his thick Brooklyn accent. Louie had the thickest, deepest, Brooklyn accent you have ever heard. It was just so “Brooklyn” that it even amused us, a bunch of Brooklyn boys ourselves.

Louie also made Izzy and Bennies luncheonette his second home. He could usually be seen sitting on one of the chrome-plated stools by the counter with a cup of coffee and a small spiral notepad and pencil. Most of the time before he saw us walk in, he would usually be scribbling in his notepad unaware of anything around him.

Although we were probably too young or stupid to realize it at the time, by all accounts Louie was probably a good ol’ Brooklyn “bookie” and ran his “business” from the luncheonette on
McDonald Avenue

“Hey, what chu guys doin here again?”
“I tout I toll you’s to stay on East Fort?”

At that point we’d all start giggling
because Louie was speaking “Brooklyn”

The language of our forefathers.

“Hey what you boys smiling at?”
“Did I just say sumptin funny?”

At that point Louie would get off the stool and charge towards
us like a raging bull. Well, actually a raging bunny, because
Louie was a real sweet guy and was was always laughing
when he saw us.

He especially liked my friend Glenn Gruder, and would sometimes show up at his hockey games down by Avenue F to cheer him on.

“Hey Glenn, you gonna score a goal for me today?”
“Because if you don’t, I’m gonna kick your ass”.

Glenn would usually pat Louie on the shoulder
and assure him he’ll score that goal.

“Don’t worry Lou, I got you covered, I got you covered”

After finishing our egg creams we’d all say good night to Louie at the candy store. Sometimes I’d look back and see him quickly immerse himself into his little notepad and start scribbling with his yellow pencil.

Just another night for Louie in Kensington Brooklyn.
Just another night.

It’s been over twenty-five years since I last saw Louie, and the luncheonette once known as Izzy and Bennies is long gone too.
Now some kind of nameless cell phone store on McDonald Avenue.

But the funny thing is there’s still all these black marks on the red bricks that used to surround the entrance to the candy store. And I can’t help but think that they’re the old burn marks from when Louie used to squash the tip of his cigar.

Just the “drawings” on a cave wall from a real Brooklyn guy.
A real Brooklyn “character” that we simply knew as Louie.

Ron Lopez
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Monday, January 5, 2009

Whats happening 150 miles from Kensington

This picture was taken about five minutes ago.

The snow in this picture will eventually melt and run down little brooks and streams until it reaches the Pepacton reservoir about a mile away. Just about where the first line of mountains are and out of view from this picture lies the mighty Pepacton.

Now for those who have never heard it’s name, the Pepacton is NYC’s largest reservoir. When full she packs in about 140 billion gallons of water. That’s enough water alone to keep New York City wet for about 140 days if it stopped raining for five months.

But don’t worry we have other reservoirs and it always seems to be raining or snowing in the Catskills anyway.

Ron Lopez

A New Year's resolution worth keeping

I’m really bad with New Year’s resolutions because I usually try to start them before Christmas and then they fall apart by New Years day. Oh, don’t worry their nothing extraordinary, nothing that’s going to change the world or even Brooklyn.

Oh, let’s see…
Not talking back to my wife.
Doing the dishes every night.
Making sure the kids brush their teeth.
Doing the laundry and remembering to
turn on the dryer and fold the clothes.

No, just boring stuff you know.
There’s no “got to quit drinking”,
“got to quit smoking”, “less drugs”,
“got to donate more of my time at the soup kitchen”.

No, nothing juicy, because it’s all very boring.

Oh right,
But then there’s a couple that work wonders.
They don’t cost anything and just make other people feel better.

‘Thank you” and “I’m sorry”.
They are so easy to say and don’t cost a dime.

When someone holds the door open for you.
You say…thank you

When you step on that person’s foot on the F train.
You say………I’m sorry.

Those four simple words work wonders and are
The easiest New Year’s resolution to keep.
And they may just change someone's world
today in Kensington Brooklyn.

Ron Lopez
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Friday, January 2, 2009

A Web Cam to Happiness

You know people use web cams for many things these days.
Security for their homes, keeping track of the baby or the baby sitter,
or even an extra eye to make sure your pet is safe at home while
you’re not there.

Oh, right, there even used by those triple X rated sites for
“happiness” of another kind. But I’ll leave that one for your
imagination and nothing else.

Now for me it’s something totally different, and a “happiness” of
a very different kind. Because all I want to do is stare at the mountains.

That’s right just stare at the mountains like some crazy old man with nothing better to do. Watching the sun rise in the morning from Kensington and watching it snow like hell from my office here at Rockefeller Center. Look for that ever-elusive black bear that walked by my wife last year, or even count how many wild turkeys or deer prance around on my front lawn during the day.

From the second floor window of our house in the Catskills I mounted a Web Cam and I couldn’t be happier with the money I spent.

Just an IP address and BOOM!, instant gratification all through a DSL line. Well, actually an ethernet cable to a modem to a DSL phone line and then all the way to Brooklyn to my computer screen.

Probably hundreds of miles of fiber-optic wire, but hell, who’s counting anyway?

And the funny thing about all this is that when I’m actually upstate, I really don’t spend much time staring at the mountains. No, I’m usually working on something or digging a ditch somewhere. Because just sitting and relaxing scares the hell out of me and that’s something only “old” people do before they die.

Oh God, my mother used to stare out the window at 399 East Fourth all the time and watch the sun set over that factory in Boro Park.

Oh no, is it happening to me too?
I’m only 51??

Oh, that’s right, it’s only through a computer monitor.
So it really doesn’t count, right?
I said, right?

Anyway, I have to get back to work here.
Now where the hell did those wild turkeys go?

Ron Lopez
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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Old Kensington by Will Roll

Here are some photographs that were given to me by Will Roll, (a loyal reader) By the looks of them they were all taken around East 8th around Caton Avenue sometime from 1979 to 1987. Here are just a few, I will be posting more in the future.
Please note the little kids playing in front of their house with no parents in sight. Yeah, that was the Kensington that I remember too.
Thanks again Will!