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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Cousin Pete said...

Congrats on 30,000 hits on the blog!

I can see Louie clearly in my memory, with his thick black plastic reading glasses, and his cigar. I can still hear him yelling at Glenn through the chain link fence at Avenue F.

Anonymous said...

Did Louie live in the apartment building on Albermarle Road and McDonald? Never married, lived with his mother?

Ron Lopez said...

You know what, Louie lived in one of those small sandstones on Avenue C between McDonald and Dahill road. And yes, he did live with his mother.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ron, As a kid I hung out with Louie on the corner of Ave C & McDonald along with several other guys(friends). Louie still lives in Bklyn and doing fairly well for his age. He's frozen in the past and has not changed at all, if you were to talk to him today you might think you are a teenager again back in a time loop or something. it's both said & funny at the same time.

0. Louie is still living in Bklyn, and doing fairly well for his age. Also he has not changed at all, he is frozen in the past

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there will be more comments about Louie! Believe it or not, Louie is still alive and kicking and still talk'in Brooklyn. When I first started hang'in out in Louie's neck o-da woods, it was right around the time when the local guys in the area were getting into the smoking of the weed. Louie always blamed me for it, saying I brought it into the neighborhood! Louie, being old school, by a wide margin, didn't think much of the weed. He actually had a wierd "values" hierarchy. You see, for Louie, smoking pot was a really, really bad thing to do. You could steal, kill somebody or down a pint of J&B, that was ok, but if you smoked "da pot" as he called it, betsy-toe-zon! Yeah that was Louie's favorite word, after the F-word of course. Louie could throw around the F-word about as good as anyone I ever met. We were always worried if one of our parents would come by our nightly hangout on Avenue C and McDonald, under the Chevron sign. We'd say hi, but without thinking, Louie might say, "Ay, how the fuck you do'in!" One of us would always have to be ready with a quick elbow to Louie's ribs, to cut off the F word! Sometimes we were quick enough and sometimes not. We'd scold him if it slipped out at the wrong time and he'd say something like, "Wa? Wa? I didn't fuck'in mean nu-tin by it!" Louie had stories like you wouldn't believe and they were usually wrapped around his friendships with mobsters! I'll leave those for someone else to talk about. Louie was always a good guy, even though he had some crazy ideas. "Character" if you want to define the word, you could say that the meaning is: "Just Like Louie" The word was made for him. When I used to cut class at FDR High School, I could always depend on Louie's basement haven in the winter! He'd let me hangout until school was over, so the Truant Officers wouldn't get me. Yeah, see, when I was on the "lam!"
Charlie Gili

Anonymous said...

Hay Charlie, it's Sal; how about all the fireworks Louie would buy all us guys for July 4th(like mats & cherry bombs, M80's) because we didn't have money, and he didn't want us to miss out on the fun!.
Louie has always had a loud dirty mouth and hitter attitude, but really has the heart of a kitten; That he tries to hide;
Looking Back: Louie in his way took care of us guys on the corner. especially "THE KID" Aka:"The little Jew boy" that Louie loved like his own son (in the Louie way)even to this day.
Yea we have hundreds of storys from that corner and even some from the Ave F park hockey games. Like when Louie got hit in the face with a Puck and he was cut over the right eye, and his glasses broke!. He called his doctor from some store phone both on Ave F; "Hello Doc!, This is Louie!, Louie Mattera yea Mattera! M-A-T-T-E-R-A!! FUCKING BASTARD!"
I'm laughing now just thinking about it.
For better or worse it seems Louie made an impact in our lives, I don't think anyone realized it until this BLOG?.