Just the other night I was interviewed by a college student in regards to my history in Greenpoint for a paper she’s doing. I’d never been interviewed before (why would I be?) but it was a pretty cool experience. I told her about the things she wasn’t able to read online or find at the library. Experiences.
She was particularly surprised to hear that McCarren Park was a shithole back in the day. Which it totally was. There were no Sundays in the park with picnics, dog runs and jolly games of petanque (don’t ask me). There were hoodlums, drugs and rapists in that place. Or at least that’s what we were all told. An old girlfriend of mine went to McCarren Park with a guy and he totally forced her to second base. It was all the confirmation I needed back then.
Which by the way, Tom Gilbert has a great article on McCarren Pool in his Beside the Point ongoing piece in The Brooklyn Paper this week that is a must read. And just for shits and giggles check out the Village Voices photographic journey of The Back Tattoos of McCarren Pool. My personal fave is the “psychedelic blimp” reference.
I told her about the old man bars like Goodmans and Walkers. And how me and a few of my friends had to run and hide in the basement of Walkers one night because the cops were raiding it for underage drinking. I think I was 16. Fighting at The Pit, watching the fireworks at the Alamo and drinking 40’s at 34.
I never see any kids down by The Pit anymore. The Alamo is burned down or at least even more dilapidated than it was fifteen years ago. And all the schoolyards are chained up so tight after school hours that Houdini wouldn’t be able to get in them. I wonder where all the kids do hangout nowadays.
She was curious how everyone got along. Back in the day it was mostly the White kids, the Polish and the Puerto Ricans. It seemed like the White kids were fighting both the Polish kids and the Puerto Rican kids. But I didn’t really remember the Polish and Puerto Ricans fighting.
In fact, a bunch of them were making sweet love and created quite the baby boom of Polo-Ricans around town.