Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And the colors keep changing!

This picture was just snapped on the Catskill Webcam
today at 2:12 pm. Check out those Fall colors!

Ron Lopez

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What’s there not to understand?

I get a kick out of all these people against anything that’s trying to be done to correct our shitty ass healthcare system. I’ll put it to you in simple terms:

If I lost my job and had to pay health insurance for my wife and two kids I’d be looking at something like 2500 - 3500 bucks a month.

So what’s there not to understand?

Most people are not in my position to pay this kind of money so they just don’t pay it. If they get sick, they go to the emergency room and pay nothing. Thus good old Ronnie Lopez ends up paying for them through my high premiums.

So what’s there not to understand?

If everyone had to have health insurance like car insurance more money would be in the pool and the premiums would be much less than 3500 bucks a month. Because let me tell you there are a hell of a lot more people walking on the streets than lying in hospital beds.

So what’s there not to understand?

Yeah, lets just keep it the way it is and let me keep paying for you.
Because that just makes sense, right?

Ron Lopez

The Nassau Coliseum

The other day I heard this story about how Gary Bettman called the Nassau Coliseum the worst facility in the NHL. And that Nassau County needs to build a new building before the Islanders move somewhere else in the country.

Well, the funny thing is when the team was winning Stanley Cups back in the 80's, I never cared once about the ugly concrete building they played in. In fact it was kind of tough looking and rough just like the Islanders were back then.

No, give me a winning team before a new building,
because the building doesn't win Stanley Cups,
no, the players on the ice actually do that.

And you should know better Mister Bettman.

Ron Lopez

Monday, September 28, 2009

500 East Fourth and the Cornfields of Kensington

Last week my good friend Patty D told me a story about 500 East Fourth street. The story was basically about all the VW's he used to keep in the driveway along with the small barn in the back of the house. The owner of the house was something like 95 years old and actually grew up in the Kensington as well. She used to tell my friend Pat about how the area was just farmland and cornfields when she was a little girl. And about all the land her family owned before they sold it to developers around the turn of the century.

And thinking back it all makes sense now, because most of the wood frames here were built around 1905 or 1906, so being that this woman was 95 years old in 1975 puts the time line in order. And even the house too is coming back to me, I remember in the 70's there was this small wooden house on East Fourth with a dirt driveway and grass down the center. Something straight out of the Catskills rather than Kensington Brooklyn. And it looked nothing like the other houses built around it either. Small and square looking, plain and simple, rather than overstated like all the large Victorian houses to the left and right of it with their high peaks and Southern style front porches.

No, the farmhouse was just this small functional looking wooden building that was just a place to rest and sleep after a hard day of tending to the cornfields of Flatbush Brooklyn. And maybe even a place where a little girl can dream about the future, and how her world might change around her someday. Yes, that was the little house I remember, and it's all coming back to me now.

Oh, but don't go looking for this house today, because the other day we drove by and it was replaced by a large three story brick Brooklyn "McMansion". Complete with a concrete driveway, concrete front yard,
and no place for the corn to ever grow again.

Gee, imagine a time when a little girl could run though cornfields
in Kensington and not run into a 99 Cent store or Nail Salon
every fifteen feet.

It really makes you smile doesn't it?

Ron Lopez

Sunday, September 27, 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 Robert 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 Robert?”

“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

Friday, September 25, 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

Almost Fall in the Catskills (Webcam shot today)

This year Fall is arriving a little early in the Cakskills. The locals say it's because of all the rain we had along with the cooler weather. Either way you got to love it. This picture was taken a few minutes ago from my webcam mounted in the house. Too bad I'm here stuck at work, but then again at least I'm working.

Ron Lopez

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Readers Comments, you got to love them!

Ron -

Just came across your web site today, and couldn't get enough of it. Not sure how our paths never crossed, at least I can't remember if they did. Here are just a few mentions of common references.

I was born in August 58 in Brooklyn and lived near Caton Ave,
betw E7 & E8. My father was born in that house in 1917.

Inky was in my class at IHM, I graduated from there in 1972.
His mother was I believe a crossing guard.

My mother taught at IHM from 1965 - 1981

The Gili twins I believe were a year older than me.

Eileen O'Callaghan was in my class, too, as was Ralph Pabon,
Peter's older brother. Joey Matera was in that class as well.
Somewhere I have a class picture from either 6th or 7th grade
that I'll have to scan in

From 75-78, I worked at the Grand Union on McDonald Ave. Think a Paul McNally may have worked there too. Have a distinct memory of closing the store down the night of the blackout of 77, thinking I caused it by turning off the outside lights.

Don't have access to a lot of photos right now. Here is a short video of my christening at IHM, about 1/2 thru, I'm being carried into the E. 4th st. door to the church. My kids look at the video and ask 2 questions, where's the sound and how come there's no car seat!

Also, spent many a Friday evening racing slot cars at Buzz-a-rama. I remember the owners there and they were on the tall side. Years later I remember the son playing basketball at PS 230 playground.

Never was a big fan of Korner Pizzaria as I recall they placed a screen under the pizza and it was usually soft.

I'm sure there was more, but hopefully these establish my credibility.

Mike Murphy

Thanks for the comments Mike, I'm sure you also worked with
Nunzio Competiello over at Grand Union back then as well.

Ron Lopez

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A word about Inky from Mark O

"You know it's interesting that Inky was the one who grabbed me at the 2005 reunion game, where he made an appearance but couldn't play, and asked me what ever happened to the slides I took and used to show at awards nites at the old 70 PYC hall. He thought it would be cool to see some of those shots again. Well, his request finally got me digging through some old metal boxes of slides going back to the early 70's and there they were. Then to bring the images into the 21st century my brother Neil and some of his folks took on the task of digitizing them. Lo and behold we all have something to take us back to a simpler time in our lives. I think it is really appropriate that we take this opportunity to remember Inky and the others we have lost from that era in our lives and I want to thank Inky myself for getting me off my duff and getting these images out there where more of us can enjoy them"
Mark O

For those of you who didn't know Inky, he was a fellow goalie down at Avenue F who volunteered down at the WTC site after he retired and came down with lung cancer a few years later. What ever kind of crap the EPA tried to sell us was total bull shit. Those poor people who worked on that pile of "poison" are paying for it now.

And in Inky's case he did already.

On October 4th 2009 from 9 am - 12 pm we will be holding a reunion game in Inky's honor. We will be making a collection for his family and all proceeds will be sent to his wife in Florida. BTW, she's getting NOTHING from the city, because they still claim his death had nothing to do with the WTC work he did.

Can you smell the "bull shit"?
Well, I can, and I hope you do too.

Ron Lopez

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Terrorism, Kensington, Park Slope and petty crime

So this morning I heard on the radio that the New York City subway system is once again in the crosshairs of another terrorist attack. And once again I have to laugh when I hear about these congressmen from “Hayseed Iowa” looking for money form Homeland Security to make their grain silo “bomb proof” or have enough iodine pills for the cows when that “dirty bomb” goes off in the middle of their cornfield.

Um, sorry Gulmer, I think I’ll end up splattered on the white tiles that say “Church Ave” long before your cow gives birth to a two headed calf with webbed feet. So fuck you and your quest for Homeland security money, no, we are still the target and the bulls-eye still
says “NYC”.

Oh, and petty crime…
Ok, I blame the shitty economy on the rash of car tires being stolen and dashboards being ripped apart on the side streets of Kensington and Windsor Terrace. Did I ever tell you about the time we had our copper leaders stolen right from our house here on East Fourth in the "depression" 80's? It’s a good thing I have the cheap tin ones now, because they’re not worth shit at the scrap metal yard. But still I stress that it’s much safer here than in my birthplace Park Slope. In the land of the beautiful brownstones where every parent and child is “smarter” and "funnier" than you are. They usually find thieves in their apartments late at night rather than the front seat of their Toyota Corolla parked on Prospect Park West.

So count your blessings folks, even if Church Avenue sucks and we’re not as "witty" as those who live on the streets of “slant”. At least we don't have to leave milk and cookies out for that 3 am burglar watching TV in our living room while choosing the best jewelry
to steal.

Ron Lopez

Monday, September 21, 2009

Here come the 80's again

Sorry to hear about all that stuff happening just a couple blocks North of me up East 4th. Living here my whole life I have seen 77 Caddie bumpers vanish overnight, 79 Chevy Impala tail lights stolen, and even a 71 Plymouth Fury drive shaft taken from good ol Doctor Langsam's car one night. But don't take this stuff lightly folks, car owners or not. Because after the tires and gps's are gone, these people may end up in your living room at night as well. Yes, in the late 70's and 80's we experienced all that here in Kensington.

From Joy Rich...
"The theft of car wheels is being reported to at least one other police precinct. The article "Cops busy with 'hot wheels,'" on the front page of the September 17th issue of the newspaper "Kings Courier," talks about the theft of car wheels in the 61st Precinct, which covers Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, and parts of Midwood.

In that precinct, the wheels most frequently stolen are from the 2009 Maxima. "Trying to stem the tide, the precinct identified 120 residents in the 61st Precinct who own '09 Maximas and alerted them to the spree of thefts. In a letter sent out by the precinct, Maxima owners were encouraged to invest in tire locks, as well as other precautions, like making sure their cars are parked in well-lit areas."

You might want to go to a meeting of your local precinct's community council, your local community board, and your local neighborhood association. For Kensington, the meetings are listed http://karmabrookly n.blogspot. com. For Windsor Terrace, they're listed at http://windsorterra cealliance. org/calendar. html.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Ignorance is Bliss on Eight Little Wheels

I remember feeling somewhat perplexed and insulted when this older ice hockey goalie over at Skyrink asked me why my goalie pads and catch gloves were all torn up and dirty looking.

“Oh, I use these pads and gloves for roller hockey”

“Well, your pretty good kid, I saw some of the saves you made, you ever think about playing ice hockey instead?”

“Ah no, I think roller hockey’s it for me”.

“Well, you know there’s no future for you in roller hockey, if you ever want to get anywhere you need to be playing ice hockey”.

I just said nothing as he skated back onto the ice and returned to the crystal clean confines of his crease. Looking at his perfect un-torn jersey along with his un-blemished, and un-ripped Cooper goalie pads.

And me, well, I got back on the ice and skated to the other goal,
I laughed to myself when I looked at my crease, it was as brown as a pig sty and looked like someone just took a shit in it. And that’s because the grime and dirt from Avenue F which was still on my goalie pads and gloves was being slowly cleansed by the cold ice below me every time I made a pad save on one knee.

What the hell does this guy know about Avenue F and especially roller hockey? Who’s he to tell me what’s better for me? Screw ice hockey, I’m a roller hockey goalie and one of the best around. And when I play at Avenue F everyone knows my name. Screw you and your college jersey and clean pads, you don’t know nothing!

That was probably around 1973 and I had to be no older than
sixteen at the time.

You see although we all played roller at Avenue F, sometimes Steve McNally would rent out the ice on a Saturday night over at Skyrink on 33rd street in Manhattan at these strange times like one or three in the morning. And that’s because those were the only times the ice was available, most other times either the Rangers were using it or pretty young figure skaters were. Maybe training for the Olympics or just doing what their parents wanted them to do.

And us, well, for us this whole ice hockey thing was one big joke, just a way to have some fun and laughs together and not take the game so seriously as we did at Avenue F.

Now, usually the night began on the corner of Church Avenue and East Fifth Street by Royal’s with the likes of Willie Ratka, Jimmy Webster, Hank Holloway, Drew Thomas and the rest of the boys. Piling in the back of my 73 Buick Century or my cousin Pete’s 69 Pontiac with hockey sticks out the side windows and smelly equipment in the trunk. Headed towards the Brooklyn Battery tunnel with the "Cars" playing on my 8-track, just looking to have a total ball playing ice hockey over
at Skyrink.

Yes, ice hockey was a blast, and thats because
we never ever took it seriously you know.

But then Sunday morning came and it was back to business, yes very serious business, because we had a roller hockey league game down at Avenue F. And the coach doesn’t want to hear about being out all night or the fact that you slept for just two hours. No, you have a game at Avenue F and you better be prepared.

Because the hockey we played on McDonald
was "professional" hockey in our eyes.
and always played on “quad skates” and
asphalt rather than two silver blades
and cold clean ice.

Lets see…we had our own 1980 Olympics when the Americans beat the Russians at Avenue F back in 1975. And that happened when my cousin Pete’s Terrace Rangers took down the mighty 67th Pct. Blues in the playoffs. With a rag-tag team of no more than seven players on their bench they defeated the Blues with their roster of twenty players and endless amount of talent. Yes, Robert Brennan the goalie for the Rangers playing the best games of his life, stopping everything and anything the Blues shot at him.

“Do you believe in Miracles?”

Well, that line was probably uttered down at Avenue F, five years before the Americans beat the Russians in Lake Placid.

And no, never once was there a pro scout
watching us or a chance for a college scholarship.

No thats for wimpy college kids,
and we were already in the "pros"

And Avenue F was our own Madison Square Garden too. Oh, lets see, we had orange seats in the form of old plastic milk crates, green seats being the park benches, and blue seats on the subway train that used to roar above our heads.

So there mister fancy ice hockey goalie, we
already played at Madison Square Garden.
Where did you play?
Some unknown college arena?

And the Stanley Cup you ask?

Well yes, we had our own version of the Stanley Cup; except it was called the “Kenna Cup” and yes I raised it high above my head too back in the spring of 1975. Always feeling kind of bad that we won the championship against my cousin Pete and Robert’s Rangers.
Seeing Pete in my house and Robert on the block kind of kept me from fully celebrating you know. Feeling kind of bad that I beat my two best friends.

And friendships you ask?

Well I made more friends down at Avenue F than you could
imagine, and many of us still keep in touch with one another
after all these years.

And guys like Bill Webster, Fred Allen, Louie DeBiasi, and
Jerry Cartolano?

I know your fancy college doesn’t have guys like that around; no these were guys who just did it because they wanted to and not because it was their job.

And we had hockey dinners with Bill Chadwick over at the Farragot Mannor, skate dance parties on Friday nights, and dozens of hockey players and sanitation men chanting my name after I made a great save against the "dreaded" Blues.

“Ronnie!, Ronnie!, Ronnie!”

Oh yes, it was such sweet music to my ears and
never once did my mother see me play hockey.

So skate back into your crease mister clean pants ice hockey goalie, and don’t ever tell me what’s good for me and my game called “Roller Hockey”.

Because after you fade into obscurity on your ice skates,
I’ll still be living in my world of roller hockey where
everyone knows my name.

And "Blissful" as ever,
on my eight little wheels.

Ron Lopez

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mid Life Hockey Crisis

I'm proud to say that I am officially going through my mid-life crisis.
I guess it should have happened when I was forty, but for some reason it never did.

Well, at almost fifty two I can feel it in my bones, and maybe thats why I am even trying harder to do the things I did when I was seventeen years old.

I carry my hockey stick, hockey gloves and skates with me when I go to lunch at my office every day. Finding myself shooting hockey pucks at concrete walls in school yards or low fences in the "skate dancing" area of Central Park during the hottest time of the day. Getting the strangest looks from other associates on the elevator in my building along with little school kids and German tourists at Central Park.

"You play hockey at lunch?"

"Well, you got to have fun you know"
is usually my standard response.

And I got it down too.

I was telling my cousin Pete that I developed this technique of shooting the puck as hard as I could at the high curb in the skate dancing area of Central Park, and then making a goalie save with my forward stick when it deflects back at me.

Real sad stuff you know, but at least I'm doing what doctors say you should. Get that 30 minutes of exercise every day even if it means looking like you are totally insane in Central Park or some school
yard downtown.

I know, I know, I should just ride my bike to work more often.
But then again there's something just so wacky and crazy about playing hockey at lunchtime that won't let me go. Maybe it's my own Catskill trailer "Meth" addiction that I just can't break. And now I'm even thinking of wearing my hockey jersey when I do it,
because up to now I have just been using t-shirts.

Hey Charlie, how about a transfer to Central Park?
You shoot lefty or righty?
Maybe we can hide the net in bushes behind Strawberry Fields?
No one will notice, I promise.

Oh, and buy the way Bernie Parent was my favorite goalie
when I was growing up. And maybe some day I'll tell him that.

Ronnie Lopez

A Comment about PS 179 from Dr. Alfred Cresci

It was exactly 50 years ago today, Monday, September 14, 1959, that I started school with my first day of kindergarten. My teacher's name was Mrs. Steinic. I can remember my mother taking 8mm home movies of me at around 8:45am that morning at the front stoop of the school right up the three or four stairs leading to the front door on the left. I was very brave until the camera was turned off, and then I cried and cried.

It was a tough day, but soon afterwards, I began to love kindergarten and school in general. I went on to Catholic School at nearby IHM and then to Holy Innocents.

Today, I am an administrator in New Jersey, and I hold six college degrees. I'm still very active in the neighborhood as well, as I serve as Organist and Director of Music at Holy Innocents Church, where this year, coincidentally, is the parish's centennial.

It all started at PS 179 and Mrs. Steinic's Kindergarten class. I've been thinking about her and the school all day today, and I never forgot my short experience at the school!

Thank you, Dr. Alfred E. Cresci, BA, MS, MS, PD, EdD, ChM Cert.

Please check out my educational foundation, "Education Through Renovation" at:

Thank you Dr. Cresci
Mrs. Steinic was also my kindergarden teacher as well.

Ron Lopez

Mike the Greaser

Back in the 80’s there was a building on the south side of Church Avenue between East 5th and East 4th street. It was just called “SUPERMARKET”

As far as I remember it only opened
up when it was dark outside,
and the hours of operation were
very sporadic.

Most of the food inside was usually covered with dust, and most everything was past it’s expiration date. The floors were pretty dirty and I didn’t think they were ever cleaned. It was a fairly big place, about the size of “Rite Aid”, yet there was only one employee.
And this person was no one other than “Mike the Greaser”.

Now Mike was about forty years old at the time and stood about five foot nine. He had thinning black hair that he slicked back most of the time, and of course his favorite shirt was a “greaser style” t-shirt. Mike was also very hairy, thick black curly hair covered most of his body that normally would have just been reserved for flesh for you and me. He also spoke with some type of accent that we could never figure out. It could have been anything, Italian, Russian, Greek, Turkish, Arab. We had no clue.

And to this day, I still don’t know how he did it, but he used to park his 1978 Buick inside the store. Between the beer and the chips. There was probably a back gate to get it into the store with, but we never saw it and never asked. We would only buy food at Mikes when everything else was closed, and for us it usually meant buying beer and chips for a late night card game over at Glenn Gruder’s house.

Mike never asked anyone for ID either, but then again my cousin Pete had a full beard when he was 15. So he was usually our “mule”, sort of speak. Mike’s prices varied depending on what day it was or what kind of mood he was in. And he usually charged us 5, 10, 15, or 20 dollars. His numbers were always in even dollar amounts, "no tax" he always said. I don’t think he even had a cash register in the
store either.

One night while we were hanging out on my porch at 399. There was a lot of commotion up on Church Avenue. Tons of cop cars, flashing lights and a few ambulances. The next morning when I woke up, word on the block was that Mike was shot something like 5 times the evening before. Some kind of an armed robbery. So all the cop cars the night before made sense. Thinking the worst, we all started reminiscing about Mike, figuring he was dead. Thinking about him in that dirty shirt, the stale chips, the expired milk and the Buick Skylark parked in aisle 5. And not to mention the rare occasions when he lost it, and threw us out of the store. But through it all we loved Mike and were surely going to miss him.

So that same night we decided to take a walk to the avenue, and visit the scene of this horrorific crime. “Hey remember the time Mike threw that tuna fish can at you” “What about the time we rolled Mike’s car into the Ice Cream freezer” As we made the right onto Church Avenue from East 4th, we could see the store. Yet, there was no crime scene tape, and in fact the gate was up and the store was open. So we decided to go inside and see what was happening.

As we walked into Mikes I noticed a few holes in the front window. They looked like bullet holes too, very round with tiny jagged edges on the inside of the hole. There was someone behind the counter, he was bending over and was fiddling with something on the ground. He had what looked like a white rag wrapped around his head too. And then, he stood up, and our jaws dropped. We couldn’t believe our eyes, it was like we were looking at a ghost. There he stood in all his “Greaser Glory”. With his head bandaged up, his arm in a cast, and a large stained gauze pad on his side, taped to his skin with silver duct tape. It was no one other than “Mike the Greaser”

“Hey, you thought I was dead, huh?”
“You think five bullets can kill me?”
“Bullshit, that’s what I say”
“I shot the guys eight times”
“You see that blood?”,

Mike was pointing to where he usually parked the Skylark, so it was hard to see the blood because of the oil on the floor. “That Fuck died right there”. At that point Mike motioned us around the counter to take a look at something. There inside a small pigeon hole shelf right under the cash box was the handle of a black pistol.

“Dont’ta fuck with me, huh?”

We all looked at Mike and smiled and then celebrated his survival by buying some expired chips and beer.

"20 dollars, no tax".

I gave him an awkward hug before I left, trying to stay clear of his blood stained gauze pad at the same time. And then just said our good nights and went on our way back home to East 4th.

I think Mike eventually sold the property and today
in its place are a nice row of clean stores.

But along time ago there were stale chips,
old beer and a Buick in aisle 5.
And a man we once knew,
a legend by no other name.
And he was simply known to us as
“Mike The Greaser”

Ron Lopez

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Apartment House on Avenue C

When I was growing up in Kensington we only knew
this place as “The Apartment House on Avenue C”.
No, forget an address or anything like that, it was
just “The Apartment House on Avenue C”.

I could tell you that in the 60’s this place was a mix of
young parents, children and the elderly. Many of my
PS 179 classmates lived here and it was not uncommon
to find their grandparents living in the same apartment.
With white pillows propped on concrete windowsills
they’d wave to their grandchildren as they walked up
Avenue C towards school.

And the “Apartment House on Avenue C” was mostly
Jewish too. During the holidays when East 4th was
ablaze with Christmas lights and plastic Santa faces
nailed above doorways. The “Apartment House”
was chock full of brightly lit Hanukah Menorahs”
with orange bulbs in just about every window.

I had friends there; my Mom had friends there.
It was just a wonderful extension of my block,
and was a very solid pillar that made Kensington
that nice in the 60’s.

But then something happened in the 70’s and like
every other “great exodus” it just happened
without warning.

The "Apartment House on Avenue C" had changed,
all my friends were gone and there were no more
elderly leaning on the windowsills. Yes, other people
were living there now and they weren't exactly as
nice as my friend "Harold Levy" from PS 179.

No, instead of placing an orange bulb in a plastic
Hanukah Menorah late at night, a 38-caliber bullet
was being placed in the cold chamber of a handgun.

And seeing a Police car racing down my block and
parked in front of the “Apartment House on Avenue C”
was the norm. And don’t ever mess with
“Lucky and his gang” because he always had a handgun
that he’d flash us when he walked by my stoop.

Yes, the houses on my block were being robbed,
people were getting mugged and my block was changing.
It was time to leave Brooklyn folks, this was it,
and it’s never going to be the same again.

And they did leave, they left in droves.

Now, I’m not going to say that that apartment house
was all to blame for everyone leaving. But it certainly
must have played a major role in some of my friend’s
parents deciding to move to the suburbs. I mean having
the cold barrel of a gun placed on the side of your
temple doesn’t speak kindly of Brooklyn at all.
And I’m sure it “somehow” prompted that real
estate page to be looked at touting the wonders
of “Kings Park Long Island”.

Yeah, forget about East 4th and especially that
“Apartment House on Avenue C”.
a safe place is where we want to live.

So let’s pack up the station wagon,
And say goodbye to the neighbors.
Goodbye “Motherless Brooklyn”,
Kings Park here we come!

Wow, it was amazing how one building and
a few shootings could scare away my whole block.

But then there were those that “stayed”.

And just like in that movie “Escape from New York”,
we sat around the fires we made from burning
car tires and kept ourselves warm at night.

Yeah, some huddled masses never left.
Doomed to suffer on East 4th and Kensington.
All because of the “Apartment House on Avenue C”.
Just waiting for the world to end.

But then something happened.
After a while there were no more police cars racing
down my block, and no more shootings.
Lucky and his boys were finally gone and we heard
the “Apartment House” was going co-op.

It was all so baffling, because East 4th was
headed towards oblivion you see.
And we were all supposed to go to
Hell along with that “building”.

But it never really happened.
Because it went co-op.
Yes, because it went co-op.

And even today some thirty years after
“Lucky and his boys” left that “Apartment
House on Avenue C”, I’m still amazed at how
that placed has changed. Young parents
with children along with some the brightest
minds around always stroll down my block.
All living in a building that would
make 60’s Kensington proud again.

And me, well I'm feeling good these days.
Because instead of "Lucky and his Boys"
walking by my stoop, there are warm smiles
and "good mornings". And no one from
"The Apartment House on Avenue C" ever
flashes a 38-caliber handgun when they
walk by my house.

Ron Lopez

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Miracles On Ice

Anyone who is a hockey fan and is about 35 or older or is in anyway affiliated with the greatest sport on earth, knows the significance of 1980. We’re talking ice hockey of course!

I remember exactly where I was when the game known as “The Miracle on Ice” took place, the day the 1980 US Men’s Olympic Hockey Team beat the vaunted team from the Soviet Union. Ask any in the group that recognizes this feat and they will tell you that it was absolutely the single biggest upset in team sports history. It was certainly the most insurmountable obstacle in Team USA’s road to winning the Gold Medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics held in Lake Placid, New York.

I was living in an off-campus apartment in Corvallis Oregon attending Oregon State University. Oregon was not then, nor is it now exactly what you’d refer to as a hockey hotbed. The game that would become the game for the ages was being played 3 time zones away, back in my home State. There was no cable TV in Corvallis. Fellow Kensingtonite, hockey teammate and Corvallis neighbor of mine Josh Seff, occupied the apartment right next to mine.

As the US Men’s Team progressed through the preliminary rounds, we followed the games as closely as we could, catching a news clip here and there. None of these games had been televised in our part of the country, so for a couple of former hockey players from Kensington, the situation with the men’s Olympic hockey coverage or more precisely, the lack of it, was unbearable.

Josh and I remained hopeful of some TV coverage and of the men’s chances to get some sort of a medal, but we knew that both were long shots. Team USA beat the Russians? Not a chance in hell. The same US team had played an exhibition against the Russian team at Madison Square Garden just a couple of weeks before the 13th Olympiad opened. Final score: Russians 10, USA 1. The Russians had won every hockey Gold Medal since 1960! They had even beaten pro teams from the NHL during their warm-ups for these Olympics. Since then, this powerful juggernaut had won every single game they'd played in Olympic competition.

Well before the new-age Dream Teams and pro athletes being allowed to compete in the Olympics, the Iron Curtain countries had stacked teams. Most players from these eastern-bloc nations were in their military, so technically, these guys were considered amateurs and thus eligible for Olympic competitions.

In the US and other democratized countries, the best athletes went on to play in professional leagues and so our stars were not eligible to compete in the Olympics. Communist countries had no official professional leagues, although their best athletes would surely have been professionals had they lived anywhere in the free world.

The guys playing for the US Team in 1980 were basically the same as Josh and me. They were college students, who played ice hockey and the ones deemed the best at a tryout earlier that year, were picked to play for the team. Average age on Team USA was just 22!

The Iranian Hostage Crisis taking place at the US Embassy in Teheran had become a nightly broadcast of its own, unemployment was lousy and the general mood in our country was very down. In this atmosphere, a mere handful of our peers were about to play a hockey game in a small town in New York's Adirondack Mountains and in doing so, turn our world on end and give our national morale a huge shot of adrenalin.

I think it was a Saturday morning in Oregon and I was in the shower. We hadn’t heard if the USA-Russia game would be televised, but we kept checking our TVs for news. I heard a frantic banging at my apartment door and my wife Beth calling for me. The other familiar, excited voice and the author of the door pounding was my pal Josh. He kept yelling to put the TV on. “The game is on!” “The game is on!” I came stumbling out of the shower with a towel wrapped around my waist, still soaking wet and I made a bee-line for our television.

We were glued to the screen for the duration. It was a back and forth struggle and as time clicked off the clock, the young Americans were giving the Soviets all they could handle and the unthinkable, the impossible, started to creep into our consciousness as a possibility.

The game went to commercial with about 14 minutes remaining. Instead of an add, we were presented with one of those special news briefs. A reporter for the local ABC affiliate popped onto the screen and stated that the US Men's Hockey Team had stunned the world and beaten the Russians in Olympic Hockey, "Details on the six-o'clock news!"

We looked at each other in disbelief trying to confirm if we each had heard the same thing from the voice on the TV. WHAT, did she say? Could it be true? We began to realize that the game we were watching was probably on a tape-delayed broadcast and that just maybe, there was truth in the news report. Holy shit was the emotion of those moments, but the thought was so incomprehensible that we still didn't believe it. We didn't see it, so in traditional hockey-player superstitious mentality, just shut up and let's just get back to the game to see for ourselves!

We watched in disbelief and a few minutes later, USA team captain, Mike Euruzione scored with just 10 minutes left in the third period to break a 3-3 tie! The young Americans held on, as they played one of the most inspired hockey contests I have ever seen. “5, 4, Do you believe in miracles! YES!….” Was the wonderful call made by play-by-play announcer Al Michaels.

David had struck down Goliath, West had defeated East, Democracy had defeated Communism and Good had vanquished Evil...and it all happened in a hockey game! The incomparable celebration had begun. The next day, the American team wrote their final chapter by beating Team Finland 4-2 to lock up the Gold Medal.

I have been coaching hockey for nearly 20 years and I’ve been on the bench from rinks south to Virginia and north to Vermont, Canada and the Mid-west, but I have never been to the Olympic Rink in Lake Placid.

Last week I had a fatherly task to perform. Get my 15 year-old, hockey playing daughter to the US Olympic Training Facility in Lake Placid. She had been invited to spend a few days there with some other very good female hockey players as part of a prestigious women's hockey training program.

Lake Placid is just about a six hour drive north of Brooklyn. We made it to registration on time and Katie got checked in to her assigned room. I actually had to leave and go back to Brooklyn as soon as I could due to work responsibilities. Getting the paperwork done and the room stuff knocked out left little time for anything else. We were instructed to bring Katie's hockey gear directly to the rink. All players were assigned a locker room for this purpose. Katie had to be back for a player briefing in 40 minutes, so we really had to hustle.

We plugged the rink address into our GPS and headed over there. This mind you, is the same rink where the 1980 Games took place. It's one thing to visit the site of the Miracle on Ice game and it's another to be bringing your own kid there to play hockey as part of an invitation only program. With all the running around and driving, the specialness of what was happening hadn't dawned on me until just about then.

We parked in the rink lot and followed the instructions around to the side door. A friendly security guard greeted us at the door and asked, "Which locker room?" "Locker room #6." said Katie. He pointed the way and said, "It's all the way down on the end. On your left."

Locker room six was at the end of a long, quiet hallway under the stands. When you're in a place like that, a narrow, ill-ventilated space, you can clearly smell the rubberized mats that make up the flooring. After you visit enough of these venues, you can even smell the age of the place by the kind of smell in the hallways and locker rooms. It's not a bad smell. It's a hockey smell. It's a smell that brings memories of hockey games past and connects them with the current day. If you are a baseball player, what I'm talking about would be similar to how the smell of cut grass makes you feel.

We had been hurrying around for nearly 7 hours at this point and we were still up against a tight schedule, but here we were finally slowing to a walk as we both realized where we were. The building was nearly empty, so there was that kind of quietness in the place that allows you to hear the echoes of your own footsteps.

As we passed the first ramp to the arena itself, I could almost hear the distant, 29 year-old chants of USA! USA! USA! still reverberating through the rafters. I could feel the ghostly presence of Coach Herb Brooks extolling his young team and saying, "This is your time." I turned to look at Katie and did my best to put the hustle and bustle of what we were about to rest for a few minutes and to enjoy that walk down the corridor with her. This, is her time I thought to myself.

There is no doubt in my mind that the ripple effects of that 1980 game had brought us here together at this moment. My daughter had been invited to train and play hockey at one of the US Olympic Team Training Facilities. The daughter of a Kensington roller hockey player! This moment was in many, many ways, a second miracle, our own personal miracle on ice. I didn't need a TV or a commentator to tell me that. What was even better, was that Katie knew it too.

PS Back in Oregon: Once Josh and I were secure in knowing that Team USA had actually won the game, we called the local ABC affiliate to let them know how upset we were that they had prematurely blurted out the score of the game, before the local tape delayed broadcast had ended. Due to our efforts (and a little help from Team USA), hockey led off the six o'clock news that night in Oregon. Probably the first and only time that has occurred. The station made a public apology for blowing it!

Charlie Gili

New one by Charlie Gili coming tomorrow!

Stay tuned!


How about a new look?

Well, instead of buying a new Dodge Challenger today I spent nothing on giving the blog a new look.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Remembering Drew Thomas

Drew Thomas was one of my roller hockey friends down at Avenue F back in the 1970’s. A real sweet kid with a wicked sense of humor and more intelligence than all of us put together, yes Drew was a real smart kid and we all knew it.

Now Drew was real “cool” too, with long brown hair and good looks, Drew was our own “Peter Frampton” and certainly had a “Rock Star” look even while wearing his light blue Penguins jersey. Drew was also the captain of his team, which really meant a lot in our world of “Avenue F” roller hockey. Being the captain of your team certainly propelled you to a much higher level in the eyes of the players and everyone else.

I was on the senior Northstars and was probably three or four years older than Drew, so we never got to play together in league games. But once the “real” games were over many of us hung around afterwards to play “choose up” games, which always-included Drew Thomas. In fact for me most of the fun I had at Avenue F was probably during those choose-up games, because most of the time we were laughing and having a good time with each other, rather than trying to kill one another.

Now most of us never played organized ice hockey, but at times we would rent the ice at Skyrink on 33rd street at these weird times like 3am. And Drew was always part of our late night trips into the “Big City”. Sitting in the back seat of my 73 Buick Century looking like a “Rock Star” on his way to Madison Square Garden rather than a hockey rink on the West side of Manhattan, there was Drew Thomas. Always a smile and never a bad word out of his mouth. Yes, Drew Thomas was one of those people that you always wanted to hang out with. Be it on the hockey rink or at Cosmos diner afterwards, we all liked it when Drew was with us.

I remember seeing Drew in the lobby of my building at 9 West 57th street once back in 1987 or 1988. We had a nice conversation and then went our separate ways, that was the last time in my life I ever saw Drew.

I don’t remember who told me about Drew passing away. But when I heard it I was in total shock, and I thought about all the times we played hockey together and those late nights at Cosmos Diner after renting Skyrink.

Yes, hearing about Drew Thomas sent shockwaves through our little world of roller hockey and through us as well.

I just wanted to let Glenn Thomas, Drew’s brother, know
that Drew was a very big part of our “roller hockey youth”.
The kind of person you will always remember and never forget.
Always feeling fortunate that you knew him once.

And from me, who lost a brother a long time ago as well.
All I can say is; you never forget your brother, never.

Ron Lopez

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Take a Walk (by Peter Pabon)

My point of destination when I started my walk was Church Avenue. For those of you unfamiliar to the world of Brooklyn, Church Avenue was a major thoroughfare running about five miles through what was at that time known simply as Flatbush. Today, however, I think the area names change every five blocks or so. But that’s irrelevant.

As I approached Church Avenue walking south on Ocean Parkway, a voice calling my name rang out from a third floor window of one of the many apartment buildings that make up Ocean Parkway. The voice was that of a relatively new acquaintance named Lloyd who had relocated back to the east from Oregon, where he had been living with his widowed father and younger brother. I had been introduced to this former Duck by his older brother, Vince, who wanted more age appropriate friends for his young brother. I had known Vince both as a competitor and a teammate in various athletic venues and it was Vince’s hope that Lloyd would be a fit with my crew.

Apparently, Vince had decided to move out of the apartment he had graciously shared with his younger brother and they were in need of some moving assistance. Not having anything of great importance on my agenda that day, I allowed myself to become mover number three. The move passed without incident and Lloyd ended up with his own apartment some 3000 miles away from where he lived only 12 months earlier.

Some fifteen years later (just about nine years ago) I was finally persuaded to move from the city to the sprawl (by Brooklyn standards, anyway) of Monmouth County. It didn’t take long to acclimate myself to this active suburban lifestyle which, when it all boils down, is not that much different than that of the busy urban lifestyle. You work, you take your kids to school and little league and CYO basketball, and to travel sports games in far away towns. You go to PTO meetings, you go bowling and play softball, and you meet your friends at a pub to watch “the” game of the week. Take into account that people are people wherever you go, with their individual habits and idiosyncrasies and biases, and their funny accents, the transition was not all that difficult.

The major difference in all this lifestyle relocation is the sprawl of it all. No longer was the distance between these social points measured in blocks, it is measured in miles and half-miles and quarter miles. So it became easy, to the point of habit, to simply jump in the car for the simplest of jaunts. Not only do we drive the ½ mile to the local sports field or rec center, we drive through our bank (where we wait in line in our car as opposed to waiting on line inside the bank, which is oftentimes faster), we drive through for meals and even for our groceries. We’re even prohibited from getting out of our car to pump our own gas.

Life was becoming a point to point existence; home to work, work to home; home to school and back; home to supermarket and back; home to the ball field or gym or rec center or dance studio and back. This, of course, is not terribly different from the urban lifestyle from which I had hailed and it is certainly a way of life which you could make work. It is at these social points that we make our acquaintances and foster new friendships. And as these acquaintances and friendships overlap at different social points, meaningful relationships are forged.

But what’s happening between these points? As we drive to our next stop we acknowledge our neighbor mowing his lawn with a friendly honk of the horn or offer a quick hand wave to that familiar face from the PTO passing in the opposite direction in her car. Life in a passing lane.

And then it dawned on me that what was missing from my social diet was the pedestrian interaction that no longer takes place between the points, the interaction which makes up the fiber in our social diet; the type of interaction which makes you the third mover or the caring ear or shoulder; the type of interaction which replaces the friendly honk with a friendly voice; a voice that may have the answer to your tree fungus and crab grass problems.

Over the past year, the energy crisis has come crashing into our everyday lives. It is no longer something that we only read about in the newspapers. The cost of energy has had a severe inflationary impact on the budget of every working American, even though the Government discounts the rising cost of energy from its inflation index.

So, with the weather settling nicely into spring conditions and gas prices making a run at $3 a gallon for the second time in 12 months, maybe it’s time we all put a little social fiber in our diets. Let’s not be so quick to jump in the car the next time we need to make a bank deposit or buy a quart of milk. Instead of loading your little leaguer or soccer player into the car, take the kid for a walk to the field. You may be amazed at the wealth of information you can get from your kids during a 15 minute walk. (Now that’s Fiber!) And think of the wisdom you can impart to the child in those same 15 minutes. And you never know who you might meet along the way. Maybe someone whose life you can impact in ways you never would have thought; or maybe someone who could impact yours in the same way.

What better time than now to decide to stop living life in a passing lane.

BTW, Lloyd is now someone I consider a Life Long Friend. We’ve vacationed together, participated in each other’s weddings, attended a dozen or so home openers at Shea, as well as playoff games and Met - Yankee World Series games. We’ve played innumerable rounds of golf and some good softball. And when it was time to relocate, the house I bought I bought from Lloyd.

You never know where a short five block walk could lead!

Peter Pabon

Thank you for the great tale Peter!
Ron Lopez

Saturday, September 5, 2009

ELO, Queen and the F express

In a time when ELO and Queen ruled the jukeboxes of our local Windsor Terrace and Kensington bars, we had the F-Express to Manhattan. It was our own European “Bullet Train”, and it stopped right here, at Church Avenue.

Now I was a pretty lucky kid you know. Back when all my friends were either getting mugged or beat up at Erasmus on Flatbush Avenue, I was going to the “High School of Art and Design” on Second Avenue and Fifty Seventh Street in Manhattan. Talk about culture shock for a boy from Brooklyn. A school where kids of all races just got along with each other and never had a fight. A school where some of my best friends turned out to be “gay” without me ever even knowing or even caring. A school that had to have the best-looking girls in NYC hands down. It was such a wonderful place that was so different from anything you could have ever imagined, including Ditmas JHS, where I had just graduated from earlier
that year.

The guys from the block just could not comprehend what I was telling them when I described the “Halloween” party there in October of 1975. Guys in drag, girls hardly dressed, and a walking condom squirting milk. Not to mention we actually "voted" not to have a prom. But then again what would you expect from the Alma Mater of Harvey Fierstein and Tony Bennett. We were just too cool. Oh, A&D, it was just the best school in the world, and much more fun than "Commuter College."

But back to the F-Express, the train I took every day to High School. The F-Express stopped at Church Avenue, 7th Avenue, and then Bergen Street. It was really a time when hardly anyone got on at Fort Hamilton Parkway or 15 Street Prospect Park. Maybe all the Moms were home and the Dads worked in Brooklyn, who knows. But bottom line, those stations were not very crowded back in the early 70’s. And I know because I was there every day if I missed the F-Express.

Next Stop Seventh Avenue, Methodist Hospital

Then there was Seventh Avenue. The “Park Slope Pioneers” just walking on to the F-Train with their New York Times. Why the hell would they all want to live in that “rat-hole” of a neighborhood for? A place where all the streets are on a slant and no one has a driveway? How many times this week did you get mugged? You can keep that joint, I’d rather stay here in Kensington. Imagine we actually had better schools than Park Slope in the 70’s.

Next Stop Bergen Street.

I remember the train used to barrel out of the 4th Avenue tunnel at speeds well over 55 mph. The F would pass the platform in less than 5 seconds. The local would look like a blur as we rocketed by it. Before you knew it you were passing Smith 9th street and going down the big curve. This is when I would be lucky enough to see the progress on the World Trade Center. Just a skeleton of a building getting higher every week. It was really history seeing that building go up on the way to High School every day. So sad what happened.

Forget Carroll, next stop Bergen Street.

Now the characters that got on at this stop, I don’t know. Just a bunch of tough guys either going to their construction site or maybe to my school to kick some “sensitive” artist's ass. All I can say is they all wore black leather jackets and did not look like "yuppies." Yeah, how ya doin, are you some kind of artist or something?

Next Stop Jay Street Boro Hall.

Ok, so that was it. Even though I still had over a dozen stops still ahead of me. But let me tell you, I was at Lexington Avenue and 53rd street from Church Avenue in about 45 minutes, no kidding.

So remember the F-Express and a time when ELO and Queen ruled the juke boxes in Kensington. A time when PS 179 was the "school" and PS 321 was not.

But hey, I bet you that Denny’s still has ELO and Queen on their jukebox. And how does that saying still go?
Just two dollars and a dream, just two dollars and a dream.

Ron Lopez

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Friday, September 4, 2009

The Best Medicine

Although it’s long gone in the world of roller hockey the “Scotch 88” holds a dear spot in the hearts and minds of many old and gray roller hockey players. The smell of the tape, the feel of the sharp edges, along with the “Quoop” sound the plastic container makes when you open it up for the first time.

Hey boys, you know up in Brooklyn the days are starting to feel crisp again in the mornings. And I’ve even seen some leaves dropping off
a few trees here and there.

So why don’t you get out some “3 in 1” and start dripping it into those bearings, change those old laces that have more knots in them than a new groom before he gets married. And fetch that old stick in your basement that has a player stamped on the side that retired over 30 years ago.

Because the best medicine in the world smells like PVC
and still makes a “Quoop” sound when you open it up.

Ron Lopez

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wrong week to be working

Last week while we were upstate it rained six out of the eight days we were there. Today's webcam shot is just like yeaterday's and will pretty much be the same through Labor Day. It's real nice sitting in my "cubicle" at work while it's sunny as all Hell upstate.
I guess I picked the wrong week to be working, but at least
I have an hour for lunch to roller blade in Central Park.

Ron Lopez