Tuesday, May 26, 2009

PS 130 and Shawn Gorman

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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BrooklynBorn said...

Great story!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Sean Gorman he and I were good friends.
We went to IHM,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 10+ years ago he and his brother Kevin were WORKING in the City as Iron workers...figures guess he's still climbing..

Oh Yeah Ron I have a couple of pics of Sean when I find them I will send them to you.......
Mike Dilberian

Matt M. said...

Living across the street from PS130 My brother and I spent a lot of time in that schoolyard and on that little roof, but the highest we ever climbed up on the chimney was to the top of the second floor. I remember when Gorman did that. He was nuts.
Hey Ronnie- the guy that lived in that house next to the schoolyard was named Gus. Not only did he keep all pucks,balls etc that went into his house/yard he was always calling the cops on us and actually removed the rim from the Bball court. I guess he got sick of all the noise from those slapshots hitting the metal plates behind the schoolyard fence next to his house.
Our neighborhood has a bunch of Shawn Gormans didn't it?
Nice Job
Matt M.

jimwebster1015 said...

Yes, Shawn did live above a store on Church Avenue and East 7th Street and he did do crazy stuff. I remember chasing that monkey of his up a tree to try getting it back in the vacant lot on Church Avenue that the kids made into a bike obstacle course.

Jim Webster (Webby)

elizabeth said...

Yes, Sean was a crazy bastard, still is, I know because I married him. I've known Sean since we were 6 years old and he hasn't changed a bit. No one believes this story but I know it's true. He is indeed an ironworker and still climbing.

Ron Lopez said...


How cool is it that you found this story! Tell Sean that all his hockey buddies are looking for him and to come down to Avenue F this Sunday 11/15 at 9 am. I remember all the Gorman boys and we all used to play roller hockey all the time together.

Ronnie Lopez (goalie)

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago I found my good friend Sean, or should I say he found me on facebook, thanks to his wife Elizabeth. We chatted by phone and it was a blast to reminisce about the old days. In talking I told him about this website(blog)and this story and that He should look it up and read, glad He did...Mike D