What is it that makes us happy? I am not exactly sure but I do believe that it is a state of mind that everyone can find. The first way to look for it is to be not selfish. By directing everything in yourself to others is a path to finding yourself.
I grew up in Brooklyn in the 50’s and 60’s not a great time or maybe it was the greatest time? I have 4 brothers and 3 sisters and we lived in a house in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, most people would say it was a townhouse or attached house three floors including a basement about 1800 square feet. My youngest brother lives there with a very nice wife who I find to be a person that is not selfish. A lucky guy!
It was 1952 on a cold February morning that I showed up in this world. I lived my first year in my grandmother house on 89th street in Brooklyn. I do not remember anything from those first few years. The youngest I can remember is around 6 or seven years old and I hung round with my older brother Jimmy. He was a character that would always get caught and in trouble the opposite of me. We smoked and did things that were really mean. I learned how to get around the neighborhood going thru allays, getting on garage roofs, hoping fences and being yelled at and chased a lot.
My mother was not happy with the way we were turning out so I became what I consider a Mommy boy. I stopped hanging out with my brother, quit smoking and getting into trouble. I took up reading which I loved. I could read three books or more at a time and I would finish a book in one day. But I was not happy, I had no friends and just look out the window trying to find happiness. No luck!
I think that my life really began around the 6th grade in OLA, at that time the boys and girls were separated in different classrooms. I cannot remember being in a class room ever in my life with girls in the class. What a shame this was growing up. I never learned how to talk or hang out with girls. Now I did learn how to hang out with guys. During my elementary school years 6 – 8th grade I do remember things. I hung around with Steve Murphy, Jerry and a few others I have to look up there names.
Jerry was a trip, he knew and did things no others would do. He had a red mark on the right side of his face which I am sure caused him trouble with other kids. He told me about Pot and things in life I did not understand. Even after telling me about Pot I still did not know what it was. The last time I saw Jerry he had broken into a apartment (more later)
During these years we treated our teachers bad and I always got into trouble. in the six grade I got caught reading a comic during class and the teacher slapped me and I hit my head against the wall and cut it open. He had me stand outside the classroom and the only thing that scared me was my parents finding out.
I think that I got slapped and beat up in the 8 grade the most. I did deserve it however! I was always joking and fooling around during class and never did homework or opened a book. The funniest thing I remember is one day Brother Shamus said that we could sign up for testing to get into Brooklyn Technical High School and I raised my hand and said I will take the test. Everyone laughed and Brother Shamus asked why would I take it? My answer was the test is 3 hours while a school day is longer, I am not stupid!
A few weeks later Brother Shamus got the results from the tests and only two people were accepted at Brooklyn Tech. James Sullivan a straight A student and now other than myself. Everyone was shocked they did not make it and I was accepted. I turned it down because you had to go thru a rough neighborhood from the train to the school and I was not going to be that dumb.
I entered up going to Bishop Ford High School which was an all boys catholic school in South Brooklyn. What a time i had there, I hated it. I did not have very many or any friends as I was always broke and trying to get money from people to eat, as I was always saving my lunch money to drink on the weekends.
Those 4 years from 1966 to 1970 I did a lot of things in my life good and bad. I walked down a lot of dark allays. I knew Junkies, drug dealers, Alcoholics, mental ill people but no one that seems happy. To get to Bishop Ford I had to take two trains one which was on a line with another school that was mostly black students. (I would say African American now) on that train there were two stops and it was always a scary ride. I would never go to school without a knife in my pocket for protection. Thank God I only used it to scare off attackers.
Riding the subway in Brooklyn was no fun I hated it. During my first year at school I joined the track team and I was fast for a small guy! The problem was that we ran until 6 PM and then I have to take the train home by myself and I would get home really late. I did not last long on the team, but I believe that I could have used that talent to have a great life if I was smarter or luckier.
Around the eight grade I finally made some friends. The closest ones that I stayed with for years was Stevie Murphy, Charlie, Rich and George. There were a lot more people I knew and places I hung out but they were my only real friends (except I liked RL and his brother a lot). I also hung out with Brando for a few years but I heard he passed away around 1970 drowned in a lake? His older bother fell in front of a subway train, the family had no luck but I did stay with them for two weeks at there farm in upstate NY.
I hung out on corners in Brooklyn mostly 78 St and 3 Ave, 52 St and 8th Ave, Bliss Park and a few other places. We sit and drink beer and a lot of times the police would come around and throw us against the wall and search us. They would also take our beer. The only times we knew that we had to go hang out at the park was when the Brooklyn South Task Force was patrolling the neighborhood you knew they try and arrest you. I was very lucky in my life I never get arrested or even taken to the station house! Thank God for small legs that were very fast at running