Carl Laferty and I grew up together. We were best friends from
the earliest I can remember until sometime in highschool when
we went our seporate ways. I lost track of him while I was in
the Navy and then heard that he committed suicide.
Carl was easy going and always a good friend. We were always
together and might as well have been brothers. He had a speech
impedament until he was in his teens but I could always understand
him. I would often have to translate when we were with others.
We would play in about a 3 square mile area around our homes.
Some favorate places I remember were Keanan's lot, (A vacant
lot next to Panzarino's). We would throw rocks at the dog house
in Keanan's back yard to anoy his watch dog. Old man Keanan would
inevitably come out to yell at us and threaten us.
We liked to hide in the shrubs around the Presbiterian church on
Glenwood road. I remember getting cigaretts and going there to smoke.
The subway bridge further down Glenwood road was another hangout.
We would play hand ball for hours at the St. Rose of Lima Catholic
school yard. Carl was always a little better than me. The rules were
that you could "challenge for the court". If a game was in progress,
you "had winners" meaning your challenge was against the winner of
the current game. If you were good, you could play for hours. I remember
having a calouse on my right hand that lasted for years from playing
hand ball. Girls were anoying. They couldn't play well but would take
winners. It took time to polish them off but was no fun. There was
one who played a respectable game. Her name was Barbara.
When we had skates, we would skate all over the neighborhood. The
skates would clamp on to your shoes and had steel wheels. When they
wore down, square holes would form on the tread surface. When we
could get orenge creates, we would make skate scooters by nailing
the skates to a 2 X 4 and nailing the 2 X 4 to the orenge creat.
Our house at 1094 Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn had a pantry off
the kitchen. The pantry must have been added onto the house at some
point because it was not over the basement. Instead it overhung into
the backyard about 4 feet, and was supported by cement block pillars
that were about 3 feet high. The result was a 3' x 4' x 8' crawl
space under the pantry. We discovered the space when we were about
7 or 8 years old. Befor long we had carpet on the floor, cushins to
sit on, curtains to enclose the space, and had named it "the fort".
I remember using my brother Joe's wood burning tool to make a small
sign that hung over the enterence. It said "NO GIRLS ALLOWED". Carl
and I spent many hours playing there and I think it must have been
the earliest expression of my independaqnce. It was "our fort" and
was indeed born of our imagination, and created from our own resources
and ingenuity. It was a place that we held sacred until we could no
longer sit upright in it.