Oh What Fun It Is

When I was about 13 years old a couple of my friends
came to my door and asked me if they could borrow my guitar.I had a white Harmony western guitar.The type
with the f-holes on the top.My parent's had bought it for me as a Christmas present.
 I used to strum and sing the song Mule Train on it;
but I didn't know any chords.
 Anthony a friend of mine was teaching the fellows chords outside by the factory stoop/loading dock.
  I told them I was practicing with it and lied.I then
went outside and watched as Anthony played four chords for them.The chords stuck in my head like glue.
 I then went in the house and tuned the guitar with a tuning mouth piece.
  I began to practice the chords I had seen him play.
 It wasn't easy and I kept playing and practicing until
I had it right.My fingers started to bleed.
  I then noticed as I got better at playing that the
chords matched a song I knew called, Happy Day.
 They also matched many rock n roll songs.
  I discovered that not only did I have a musical ear
for playing a harmonica but I could pick out a song on
the guitar without playing the chords.
  By this time the young fellow I had refused to lend
my guitar had aquired one.This was my buddy Richie.
 Richie and I would play all kinds of songs on the factory.We would  pick and strum all day long.
 Sometimes we caused arguments because the ladies who
looked out the windows wanted to hear the music and the
men who wanted to go to work the next day would yell
at us that they were trying to sleep.
 The ladies would then yell at them and tell them that
they wanted us to keep playing.
  The Factory steps.That was some place.It was like our
stage in life.There was nothing like it and I Thank God
we at least had that in our lives.It was our way of
being happy.After awhile we would play lots of Elvis
Presley songs and try to imitate him.
  My buddy Richie had a voice and a half.If ever there
was a match for Elvis or Frank Sinatra it was Richie's
voice.Like an angel and he never realized how really good it was.He could have been big if he had self confidence.
 Richie's life was no bed of rose's. and we all knew it.
I am so happy to state that Richie has a beautiful wife and family.If you saw Richie you would think he was
Clint Eastwood when he was younger or even a David Bowie
type.He definitely had talent.I think all of us had it,
in our own way.We were versatile and we were honest.
Well more another time.Thanks for reading.


Time Changes Everything

     Getting back to panic attacks.When these occur it
makes your mouth very dry;so dry you begin to choke and
feel like your dying.This caused me to begin carrying
around a bottle of water at all times so my throat
wouldn't get dry when and if it occurred.
 A friend of mine pointed out to me that nowadays everybody carries around water in a bottle.
 We smiled at that one.
Oh! Another thing back in the forties was my school books. I had quite a number of them and one day my Dad
who had a military knapsack from WWII told me I should
use it for my school books.Actually I would have settled for an inexpensive school bag.I always carried the
knapsack filled with my books on my back.
 Today I smile because all the school kids use knapsack's. No longer do you see school bags.
 Time changes many things.
When I was young boy a pizza was a pizza.I don't recognize pizza today because they are so different from years back.They certainly aren't so delicious as the old days.I don't know maybe it's my taste buds that have changed after smoking for so many years. Yes most of
us inhaled cigarettes and we bought what were called
loosie's.About three for a nickel from Frank's candy store.It took me many years to get rid of those crutches. I never did get the withdrawal symptom's they talk about.I just went cold turkey and stopped and I
have never turned back again.
 Time changes many things.
Well I'll try to collect my thoughts about the old days
and write about them when I get the chance.
Have a great day.


Filling Cream Puff's

Filling Cream Puff's As a teenager working at the Pastry Shoppe I was often placed at the cream puff machine.I had to fill dozen's of cream puff's with custard cream and get the cream puff tray's ready to deliver to Paul's Marion Manor or Victory Hall which were both wedding hall's. This usually happened on Saturday which was my day to go to the Hillside Roller Rink with my friends. My friends were Mikey & Charlie La Capria,Richie Frick, Bob Migliorino.We were the neighborhood Barbershop Quartet.Not all of us went to the Roller Rink and not all of us sang.But all of us always had a thing we said, and this would drive me up the wall."What are we going to do tonight?"These were the choice's,play hamball at Grover Cleveland Park,go to a movie,take a walk up Myrtle Ave and do window shopping or just hang out on the factory platform. I liked to go to the roller rink because I enjoyed the music and we would roller skate with the pretty girls in time to the music. So you can imagine how fast I was filling those cream puff's. The center of my world was the Pastry Shop and from there did I go on. I was waiting for the store to open one morning and I saw them take a person off the corner bus in a body bag. The people around there told me a man had gotten on the bus and passed away while on there. What? The bus route began about four block's away. Was this life? You get on a bus and then within four block's you die? This began to bother me quite a bit. Not long after one evening the local druggist was outside in a chair and the folks told me he had a heart attack.We were all waiting for the ambulance.It was too late the druggist passed away sitting in a chair, outside the drug store.(Remember- air conditioning wasn't rampant like it is today.) A few days later I had a race up the block with a fellow who was a fast runner.I was very fast but when I reached the half way mark I had to stop from shortness of breath.I began hyper ventilating and passed out. An ambulance took me to the local hospital; Wyckoff Height's. They determined I was suffering from malnutrition.Yep,I was a very picky eater and practically lived on potato chip's and apple sauce. Once I got out of the hospital I began to suffer with panic attack's. I used to think I was dying and suffering a heart attack.It took a long while to get rid of the ridiculous panic attack's but I did get rid of them like you get rid of a bad nightmare. Well another time and we'll continue on.It's been quite awhile since I stopped this blog. I am no longer the administrator of the Brooklyn Friends web site because the company that had it online got rid of it.I guess Facebook became too much competition.


The Pastry Shop on the Corner

When I was a teen a fellow who would become a dear friend
and who was ten years older than I asked me if I wanted to work
in the pastry shop on the corner.All I could do was nod my head
yes and was more than happy he asked me.
I started the next day and met the owner a Mr. Montalbano.
The fellow who asked me was Frankie Messina and he was the
baker.Frank was a wonderful baker and although he disliked the
product he was making he did a great job of making cookies and
cakes,decorating birthday,holiday and wedding cakes.
My job was to clean the pan's,assist at the table where we made
the cookies and cakes,pour items as directed into
the mixing pot's and general cleaning which consisted
of cleaning pot's and
pan's,pastry bag's and tubes and sweeping the floor and washing
the long baking table. I also had to handle the oven.
Life at the bakery much fun when I remember back but not
too much at the time.
Frank was a self disciplined guy and he pointed this out to me
because he wanted me to do work without having to be told what
to do.
Frank was also a horse player and he taught me to play the
ponies.We were two dollar bettor's and he would drive to the
various racetrack's in the area.I can't say it was a bad experience because many times I would win.I haven't played in
years and as a matter of fact I'm not really a gambler.I don't
enjoy gambling.Back then it was different and more exciting.
It was more about friendship and interrelating with the world
around me.I guess you could say it's growing up.
Frank was an excellent baker and once he was offered a job
with Ferrara in Little Italy.Frank stayed at the Pastry shop
with Montalbano and when it was sold to Peter and Manny Serro,
Frank remained with them.After awhile Manny and Pete parted
ways and Frank and Pete became partner's.In the end Frank bought
Pete out and Frank was there until he passed.Frankie had raised
ten kids with his wife Marie while working there.Mixing
the dough,cutting it,shaping it,baking it.He was very fast with
his hands and was a real production baker.Each cake and cookie
were the same size and looked alike and they were made by hand.
The aroma of the bakery was indescribable and if I don't have
tha smell closeby at Christmas Time it just isn't Christmas.
The people,the bakery,the store are all good memories in my
memories.Good memories.


Frankie always in white with a friend Joe Rizzo.Joe was a real nice guy always helping someone in need.


Some of the things we did back when.

The Jolson Story was released in 1946 and I saw it in 1947.
I was about ten or eleven back then.Afterward all the boys were
singing like Jolson when we were on the block.But there was only
one Jolson and we listened to him on the radio Thursday evenings.
I remember the film showed in April and it was raining.
Toward the end of the year the day after Christmas the Blizzard
of 1947 occured.It was a bad one but for a kid it was a joy.
We built igloo's in the street next to the sidewalk.There weren't
that many car's in those days.When the weather began to get warmer
the igloo's were melting and the top was removed.
The front became a barrier fort for the many snowball fight's
we had.The terrible part was that some boy's would make ice ball's
rather than soft snowball's. Ice ball's hurt and will
break skin when hitting you.Eventually the snow melted and then
the boys would play marble's and skelly's. The girls would play
potsie and boxball and a game called giant step's.
We were never bored with anything and we didn't know what a
computer was nor an x box. There was a game machine in some
stores but they were quiz games and nothing more or less.
Our hand type computer was a game made in Japan and it was a few
bb's that you had to get into some holes on the board beneath a
round glass window.It wasn't electronic.
Many of us read comic book's.Read, not saved them as
collectible's. Boys and girls alike enjoyed comic book's of all
types.Super Hero's,Teen,Love,Cowboy,Biography,classic stories,
cartoon animal's,war,supernatural and mystery you name it
and there was a comic for it. We traded the comics with
each other.
We never ran out of the comic book's.
Another game we would play is flipping card's.
Baseball card's.
We never ran out of baseball card's either.
Many of them were saved because we were fan's
of the player's.


Growing Up ~ Williamsburg/Bushwick

They say that children can be cruel.I have found that in my
past but adult's can also be cruel. I was born with a deformity
and was made fun at until the age of 17 when I removed the one
thing that had caused me pain.Since the age of 17 no one has ever
remarked about my past deformity because it was no longer there.
I had some surgery to cure the problem that other's had with
my look's.I went to bed many night's praying that I'd wake up the
next day without it but it was always there in plain site.
I often thought while growing up that I would work as a person
in a side show but this never came to pass.I liked myself the way
I was but the world seemed to be disturbed by my deformity.
The day the deformity was removed I cried from happiness.
No longer would there be name calling.It would end and the ugly
duckling would now be a swan.It didn't happen over night - but it
did happen.
Now that I am old I find that the most important thing is the
beauty not outside but inwardly that we as human beings have.
People are basically good and I've found out that what makes
some bitter is the life they've led and the abuse they suffered.
Animal's are no different.
The neighborhood's I grew up in and the folk's that lived in them were a great part of shaping my personality.I had some really
wonderful people in my early youth.They were of all nationalities
and religion's.They influenced the person I would become.
Some of the people had broken lives and weren't able to cope.
This too was a part of my life as much as their's.


NOTE* Thank you for the many reponse's on here.
The only picture I have available of the Commodore on
Broadway is this.It is no longer a movie theater.

Commodore Theater, Brooklyn, NYC


Growing Up

Going to PS 123 was a strange experience. I didn't get along
with the teacher I would have for the years I was there. I don't
want to mention her name because this would give her some sort
of fame. She definitely doesn't deserve it. She was a sadist.
I received all D's and U's from her. I probably deserved them
because of the dislike I had for her.
I was supposed to go to another teacher at PS 123 but instead
my Mom took me out of the school and I went to PS 74 where I began
the sixth grade not the fifth grade. I'm not sure how this
I loved going to PS 74.The teacher's were really nice. Of course
there is always one bad apple in the bunch and I did have one
there but avoided him like the plague. I won't mention his name
either. The man was very heavy and out of shape,yet he thought of
himself as a jock. He wasn't.
After graduation I went to Bushwick High School and I wasn't
academically inclined.
After half of the term I transferred to East New York Vocational
High( The Annex). My school average was very high and I had
a run in with school tough's ala “The Blackboard Jungle”
again I transferred to GWVHS downtown Brooklyn.
At sixteen I found I didn't care for the courses at the high school
and decided I would drop out and go to work.
This may seem concise and it is but rememberI was influenced
reading comic books of all types,listening to music of all types,
riding the subways of New York and visiting the many neighborhood's.
My voyages were on the Staten Island Ferry which was FREE and
train fare was ten cent's.
Riding trolley car's was a great experience,fishing in Canarsie,
crabbing at Broad Channel,trips to Coney Island and riding in the
first car with the front window open to view all that was going
by.Riding my bike all over Brooklyn and seeing all there was to see.
I considered this part of my education a big part of it.
Not to forget the many television show's I went to in Manhattan.
I would wait outside and receive free ticket's to them.
Movies on 42nd St were numerous and inexpensive.They weren't
X-rated when I was a kid,this came much later on.
There was a theater on 42nd St called the Laff and they showed
cartoon's and comedy film's all day long non-stop.




I moved to Dekalb Ave between Wilson Ave and Myrtle/Central Ave.
I was enrolled in PS 123 on Irving Ave.We visited my grand
parent's on a regular basis back then.The person I loved the
most other than my Mom was my Grandpa.He was a very happy and
interesting man.There wasn't anythinghe wouldn't have gotten me.
I never really asked him for anything though.He always offered me
candy,malt's and would carry me all around the whole neighborhood.
Sadly I lost him of cancer when I was ten.I never forgot the
scourge of a disease that made him ill.He was too nice for that
to happen to him.I've always felt the good go before their time.
I passed the time of day playing with my new found friends.
It took them time to get to know me.For some crazy I would fight
fistcuffs with the one boy who was to remain my lifelong friend.
I was a street kid and I don't know what that really mean's now,
but I feel it was doing things that weren't normal to other's.
I was a little wild kid and eventually through the years I
calmed down.As I grew up I always averted a fight if possible.
Fighting never made sense unless you did it professionally.
I was never a hateful person and if I ever got into an
argument I forgot about it quickly.On the other hand I don't like
to bother someone that doesn't want to be bothered.This include's
member's of my own family.I'm getting ahead of myself now so I'll
quit and continue my growing up in Bushwick later.


Leaving Williamsburg

Before I move on to Bushwick I'd like to add that my sister
Mary was born when I was five.My Mom had her in St. Catherine's
Hospital.I still remember the day she bought her home.
It was a happy day and my Dad was still in the Navy at
the time.The year was 1942.Those were the years of the air raid's,
because of the War.
I remember my Mom leaving her with the lady upstair's.Her
name was Ruth and when my Mom came home she had changed my
sister and found black and blue marks on her butt.She accused
Ruth of hitting my sister and this led into an all out brawl.
Ruth a big woman compared to my Mom was being dragged down the
stair's by my Mom and my Mom kept hitting her.
I could never figure out why Ruth did such a thing.Ruth used to
have sugar when no sugar was available.Sometime's she would share
some of the sugar with my Mom.I hated saccherine tablet's which'
was used to replace the sugar back then.Sugar wasn't available.
AlsoRuth had a piano and her husband used to get drunk.
His name was George. I never did see George standing up.
He was always sleeping it off on the coach.Ruth had a piano,
but I wasn't allowed to touch it.Itried playing on a few key's
once but she yelled at me and told me to never touch the piano.


Williamsburg - The move

When I lived on Lynch St I always waited for my
Dad's letter's because he was in the Navy.My Mom
would read them to me.
I remember the day he came home for good.
He greeted everyone that came to see him in my
cold water flat with the mice and roaches hiding
during the day.
I knew he wasn't going to stay in Williamsburg
and that he'd move us closer to his parent's in
Bushwick Brooklyn.The person who I'd miss the most
was my cousin Catherine because she had been good
to me and very generous.
We did move not long after and I wasn't to see any
of my Williamsburg friends or many of my cousin's
We visited my aunt and Uncle Lillian and Blaise
often and I enjoyed riding on the trolley car.
After our visit Catherine always had something
for me.Comic's or toy's or book's.She was so good.
The thing I remember about my Uncle Blaise was
that he had pile's whatever they were and also
he had a hernia whatever that was.At the time I
was young and these things were only word's to
me.Thething I remember well about my Aunt Lilly
was that she had no children.Catherine and her
sister were being raised by them because their Mom
had passed away and their father was detained.
What I remember real well about Lynch St was
the many dog's and cat's I bought into the flat,
and the many I had to take back to the lot's where
I found them.
Lynch Street was the place where I the son of
my father wasn't liked very much if at all because
my father wasn't liked at all by my Mom's family.
My cousin's liked me but most of the elder's
couldn't care one way or the other.
Only Uncle Blaise and Aunt Lilly really liked me.
Now we were heading to Bushwick Brooklyn.


Willimsburg Part 7

When I think back I'm reminded that I was a child
during the horse and wagon day's in Brooklyn NY.
The milkman,the fruit and vegetableman,the iceman
worked with a horse and wagon.
I remember the stable where a man named Joe the
Stableman would shoe the horse's.I would watch and
would always think that the nails were hurting the
horse.He always assured me it wasn't before he told
me to leave.
One day the local boys were getting fruit boxes
and when I asked them what they were doing they told
me they were making shine boxes to shine shoe's for money.
I went tothe fruit store and the man gave me a box when
I asked for it.I took it to the block and got a hammer
and some nails and made a very primitive shine box.
My father had shine shoes wax,brushes and rags in the
house and I filled the box and went hunting for customer's.
I must have been about six years old.
When I sat down on by the bath house on Broadway two
fellows about twenty years old asked me for a shine.
The one fellow threatened me about the shine.He didn't
want me to get any polish on his white sox.
I proceeded very carefully to make sure no polish was
being placed on his sox.Afterward,when I was finished I
told him the shoe shine was ten cent's.He began yelling
at me and lied stating I had put polish on his white sox.
He refused to pay me and began swearing at me.
In the box was liquid black shoe cleaner.I walked about
ten feet away and lobbed the bottle of black cleaner in
front of him.He was then covered all over with the splatter
from the bottle.I proceeded to run as fast as I could with my
box in tow.He never did catch me but I would believe he
would respect shoe shine boy's lot's better afterward.
I'm pretty sure the guy grew up to be a cheap crook who
picked on defenseless people.


Williamsburg Part 6

I never forgot my boyhood home in Williamsburg.The memories
are still fresh in my mind.I loved going to Rubin's on
Harrison Ave where I would buy movie star picture cards from
a machine for a penny.I remember going to Lizzie's Grocery a
few door's down.I remember Waldo Brown a young African American
child who often got into fistcuff's with me.Neither of us were
winner's during those boyhood squirmish's.I remember the twin's
who lived on Broadway.I remember Murray the strange and deluded man who came around now and then.He always wore a suit but seemed
to be mixed up with his thinking.
I remember Uncle Blaise and Aunt Lilly and how he used to be
playful with her and give her a bear hug and say,"Say,Sugar and Spice and everything nice".
I remember my cousin Catherine who would give me the shirt off her
back.Comic Books,Toy's,the latest toy she was given by Uncle
Blaise.So many things to numerous to mention but always giving.
Catherine never took.She was a giver and I loved her til this
day.She was the best cousin a person could ever want in their life. And she was very beautiful.
The forties were good years in my life and I only wish I
could have them back again.Some things were painful but for the
most part they were beautiful years.