Thinking of a Place

Tough stuff.


his is a bit of an email I wrote to a friend of mine; I’m not sure why, but I needed to tell these stories. I’ll tell them to you.

We are in Cobble Hill. Brooklyn. The home of my home. I took both of my traveling partners to my old neighborhood. I showed them the schoolyard where I used to play stickball. I told them about my world’s greatest hit. The schoolyard where we played was below the normal height of the surrounding buildings. So if you were on the playground you could barely see the street.

Home plate was at about 14th Street. The school building was sort of the left field wall. If you hit the ball over the school’s roof you were out. A lot of people did that. There was an outfielder who played beyond the far schoolyard fence on 15th street. Just because you hit the ball over the fence didn’t mean you were safe

My at bat.

I could hit pretty far so the defense backed up. I got a hold of a good pitch and hammered it. I watched everybody’s eyes looking up as I started to run. The ball kept rising and rising and rising. It came down in the middle of 12th street near 5th avenue. It crossed a corner of the school’s roof. I hit a long out.

Then, I took them to 16th street. My street. The beginning of my beginning. The upper part of the street is gentrified, the lower part not so much. I’m from the lower part.

Our favorite bodega is now a cafe. My stoop was across the street. We used to shoot paper clips into the store and bounce them off of a fruit scale. Yeah, I was that kid. So were my friends. Once, there were about six of us hanging out on the stoop. We aimed and fired. It sounded like a machine gun as those paper clips hit the scale.

We got yelled at in Spanish.

Then we walked to 3rd street. That street used to be dangerous. All the hitters went to the bar on the corner. A hitter is a guy that could win any fistfight. No guns back then, and only a few knives, On the other hand, they always had the backs of everyone from our street.

I showed my companions the interstate that passed by the very tip of 16th street. I told them about the great lobster incident. We used to drop cobblestones down onto the interstate. We never hit anything. We didn’t try.

I was home when it happened. Luckily.

One of another group tossed a cobblestone onto the road. It hit a truck in the windshield, which shattered. The driver lost control of the truck, which turned over. Lobsters everywhere. The whole neighborhood ran down to get free lobsters. Before the NYPD could arrive, the lobsters were gone, the driver was patched up and he left the truck where it lay. He left too.

And, nobody saw nuthin’.

These stories are starting to seep out of me. If you want more please let me know in the comments. It would help if you told me the year as a prompt for me to take a trip inside my mind.



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