The Old Neighborhood

My sister went through a “Hitter” stage before she became a “Hippie.”

Like most of Club 21, Laura was not an academic student. She knew Club 21 from her classes so she kind of fit in.  After all, we do have an Italian last name.

Tony remembers one late fall evening: I was walking home and a group of Club 21 thugs surrounded me intending to rob me and kick my ass. Then Tony allegedly said, before they pounced “Yo, Patsy, dis guy is Laura’s Brutther.” The group then left me, without incident, looking for another Leaf-Rack Jee-Bow (Jew Boy) to molest and rob.  I remembered it as well.

Interesting aside, then as now, I don’t identify with being either a Selectoid (Jewish) or Spaghetti Bender (Italian.)  When I mentioned this to Tony he looked me straight in the eye and said: “You got an Italian last name, but you ain’t no Italian.” He meant it as an insult, but I took it quite differently.

I then told Tony a story:

“Hey Je-Bo, which part of youse is Italian?” I remember someone later identified as a Club 21er condescendingly asking me during my first week at Newtown High School. We were in the gym and somehow he knew I just moved to Lefrak City.  It was a direct challenge.





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