Jackie Prendergast lived in A-Section, a block before the A-Section Playground. On her block lived Bobby Meyers, on the next block over lived Richy Crowe. Now together with those two guys, we hung out with Tek Wheat (Terrence Farrelly) and the Mc Ardle brothers; Phil and John and Jody Stroell, from Miles Avenue. Bobby Meyers was the leading wheelie king and patch out artist on a bike. And together all of us would hang out evey day and ride our bikes. The one thing we all had in common was that we were all in love with Jackie. Her father, Jake, was a FDNY Fireman and Jackie and I were in the same class, along with Jody Stroell. Jackie and I were both learning guitar, along with Jody Stroell. So there was alot going on there.
Now as far as Jackie was concerned, none of us even existed. But that didn't stop us from trying to be the coolest in front of her house and if she didn't live there we wouldn't have even have been on Bobby Meyer's block hanging out. 20 inch bikes with banana seats and high rise handlebars were brand new back then. Prior to that people had 26 inch 3 speeds or 1 speed. So Bobby had this bike, and he had a slick on it. (Some tires even had red walls, like the cars did). He'd lean forward a little and spin the rear tire. You know, patchin' out, as they used to say. Another thing he could do is pull a wheelie. He was the champ. He could go half a block or more. Being all this was new and we were young and trying to impress this girl, we'd practice every day in front of her house. It never did any good.
Another thing that we liked to do was play tag. And one of our favorite places was the garage roofs (Which used to drive Joe crazy). This hydrant was one of the main ways to get up there and we played hard and fast. You'd climb up on the hydrant and jump up onto the roof. The guy who was "it" would be right behind you. We'd run down the length of the roof and either go off the far end or down behind where the 2 different roofs joined up. Getting down was alot easier than getting up but we became excellent climbers! The "bounds" were all the roofs and once you were down from one you had to decide in a hurry where to go next. We would run to the next set of garages and climb up on the fences in the back to get up on those garages. Or we would run around to the back of the gas station. In those days the hardware store had a shed that was connected to the side of the gas station. It was real easy to get up there but the gas station roof was high and we only used it to get to the connecting garage roof. From there we could
easily get down onto the big rock. This rock is where we would have played "King of the Hill" on school mornings on the way to the bus stop when we were younger. I'm sure every little kid has played on this rock at least once during their childhood. There was one garage that was opposite the gas station (the back of the Deli now). There was a pipe that ran up the wall and we'd use that to get up on that roof. Sometimes we'd just sit up there and watch what was going on up in front of the stores. The roofs were a good place to smoke cigarettes.
This is another thing we loved to do. When we were bored we'd wait up the bus stop for a bus to come in. Back then the bus route was the Number 6 and there were two destinations. One went to Fort Schuyler and the other went to Locust Point. We really didn't care because normally we'd only hitch it up to Shell. We had to watch out for cops. I can remember one time we took it to Locust Point and the guy stopped the back of the bus in a huge puddle and came out after us. We had to run and he got us all wet. We could hitch it almost anywhere though and we had bus passes for the return ride. I guess it was the adrenaline rush that we liked. We'd hitch buses, Parcel Post trucks, and fuel oil trucks.
For the fuel oil trucks which had a very high bumper and you would hold yourself up under it and skate across the pavement on double taps that we used to have Angelo, the Shoemaker, put on our shoes and boots. They made a nice sound walking but they were really for hitching. Yea, after school there was always something to do. We'd go up the Sand Dunes and built forts. You'd dig a big hole in the sand, then cover it with plywood, and cover the plywood with sand and nobody would know it was there. Forts on the Sand Dunes was a big thing. Naturally, someone would find it, destroy it and take your wood. People would light fires on the sand dunes. The Firemen would come, put it out and if they saw a fort they would destroy it. They said they were dangerous. We didn't care though.
Another great place to hang out was the Boat Yard. But we had to wait until the guy left, about 4 o'clock. Then we'd go hang out in a boat. Most of the boats were from the 20's and 30's. They were funny looking and looked like they hadn't been touched in years and years. I wish someone would send me some photos. Those boats remained there until Mike Puglesi took over the yard.
Good Ole' Murphy
If you were a guy, born in the 50's and lived in Edgewater in the 60's, you gotta remember Murphy, the UPS guy. Murphy was an old guy, about 60. He was short, thin, balding and wore glasses. He delivered to Edgewater regularly. It was his route.
Now Murphy hated us. We used to hitch his truck everyday. Some days, there would be a few of us. Other days, a crowd. He would come into Edgewater and make the first right into E section. By the time he came up the middle road, we'd be waiting for him at Harris' Store. His routine was to then make the first left into D section. He'd see us running and he'd try to take off. We'd all jump on the bumper, the lucky guys got the door handle or the gas filler neck to hold on to. The rest of the guys would grab the top lip of the back roof. Murph would wheel that truck around like Mario Andretti. He would do his best to throw us off. He'd go up the first road in D section to his first stop. After he stopped. we'd all get off and he would come to the back, open the door and get his package. No words were spoken between him and us. Ever! He'd come back to the truck, get in, we'd all jump back on and off he'd go. Every stop was like this! I rememeber he would usually stop outside the O'Flanagan house and Patty, Debbie, and Gerry would usually be sitting on the stoop, and there would be between 3 and 7 of us standing there, waiting for Ole' Murph to deliver his package to someone in the area. He'd come back, we'd pile on and off we'd go. Different days he had different delivery blocks but he usually snaked around to the first road in C section. This was Gullo's block. If he didn't have a stop on this block he'd fly down it 'till he got to the hump on the main road between B and C section, by Killie Rock. This is where he would lose most of us everyday and we all tensed for it. When he hit that hump we'd all fly in the air and come down in a pile. Oohing and owwing from the pain, we'd get up. Sometimes 1 or 2 guys would manage to hold on but usually he'd lose us all. This was a regular thing. Good 'ole Murph.
One of the greatest things Edgewater had were it's alleys. To a kid, looking to play bike tag, this was the ultimate. We'd fly down these alleys, with the guy who was "it" right behind us. Sometimes the only way to tag someone was to wait until he cracked up. The lost alleys of C-Section were really great because they snaked around and intersected in so many spots that if you got some distance, you could disappear on the guy easily.
During the winter, when winters were colder years ago, kids would dress up with wool coats and even wool pants to go ice skating. If there was snow on the ground boys would wear rubber boots or galoshes. These were high boots that went over your street shoes and has a bunch of latches up the front to close them tight. There were a few different places we would go ice skating at. One was by the Square Club, which was a building out by the last turn before going up the hill at the gate. When I was young the building was in a state of decay and was partially open, revealing a piano. The water, which emassed in the field, even ran under the building to form part of our "rink". The building was taken down in the mid 60's. Another place was by the side of the Dunes, behind Billy Britt's house. This, unlike the Square Club area, was only about an inch or so thick where as by the Square Club the water could get a little deep.
By far, the best place was the A-Section playground after our Volunteer Fire Dept. filled it with water. It was big and the top was uniform, real smooth and plenty of kids were into ice skating. I would say anywhere from 20 to 30 kids. Kids with figure skates doing all kinds of moves and guys with hockey skates getting together for a game. Everybody got along.
Stickball. A popular game everywhere. We'd get our bats and balls from Mrs. Harris.