From: Fred Mockler
Date: 01 Jan 1999
How many of you people out there, reading this stuff, remember the Sat. matinees at the Graham Theater??? Remember the different color tickets they gave out during the week? When we were going home from PS 194, and Resurrection, we would stop by the movie house and collect a strip. When you showed up on Sat. afternoon, the proper color strip was posted in the ticket booth. If you had that color, you got in free.The matinee always had some suspense serial playing. Tom Mix, Don Winslow, Terry & the Pirates, always some installment to keep you on the edge of your chair.
Hey, who remembers the St. James Minstrels? Boy, you just couldn't wait till it came around. And it was put on by the people who went to that church, and a few outsiders also. If they put a show like that on today, the cast would be locked up, and called "RACISTS". But, it was just clean fun, and there were many black people in the audience in those days. It was a "MINSTREL", and a great one at that. Its a pity that the pleasures we had in that by-gone era are looked upon as "undesirable" in toadies society. We seem to lose so much by being "Politically correct"!
Back in those days in Gerrittsen Beach, there was an aura of "Belonging", when people asked you where you lived, you said "Gerrittsen Beach"! They would look at you in question??? Where the hell is Gerrittsen Beach??? When I was in the Coast Guard, in 1960, I was on a weather cutter, "The OWASCO", out of New London, CT. We would once a year do search & rescue stand-by in Bermuda, at the then "Kindly Airforce Base" One day, while I was on Liberty, I was scooting around on one of the motor bikes they used on that Island, I passed a very pretty girl, sitting in front of a house in St.George. Now, you know darn well I would not pass this up. So, I turned around and rode back and struck up a conversation with this young stranger. WOW, she was from the states! She was there visiting her uncle, who was the head of Customs in St.George. She asked me where I was from. Now, thinking she would not know where Gerrittsen Beach was, I said I was from Sheepshead Bay. Now, you could have knocked me over with a feather, she says she was from........, you guessed it,.."GERRITTSEN BEACH"!!!! She lived on Gotham Ave.
Well, I did see her again when I got back, but, as most acquaintances go, she wasn't the one. OH, yeah, a small world,... I met Billy Paladino's sister in Bermuda, on her honeymoon. They lived on Bartlett Place & Dare Ct.
Now, how many people out there remember going around "BEGGING" on Thanksgiving??? Yeah, there was a time when we would get dressed up, just like Halloween,.and go from house to house asking for something for "Thanksgiving". We mostly got pocket change. Some of us were luckier than others. Joe Germer had a pocket full of quarters one time. Iloh & Earnie Civil cornered the market one year. Now, talk about times remembered, who could not forget Bernie Oberg. And his Mom PEG! Bernie was one of the nicest guys you ever had the pleasure to have as a friend. When you were around Bernie, something funny was bound to happen. I remember one time, Bernie had the "outs" with his next door neighbor. I forget the guy's name, but they were arguing over some stupid thing. Well, this guy decides to snoop around Bernies house one night. Bernie sees someone in his yard, goes out and tackles this guy, starts yelling to his MOM to call the cops. Well, Peg comes out, and clobbers this guy with a piece of lead pipe. He jumps up and runs like hell. Bernie and his Mom go back inside. About a half hour later, up pops the cops, and they haul Bern and His mom off to the 61st station house, where they spend the night in the lock-up.
Bernie was a deck-hand on a tug-boat in the Hudson. He was decorated for bravery by the tug company for saving some people from drowning. I don't recall all the details. I miss Bernie; he passed away several years ago. He was a true friend, and they are hard to find. His mother Peg, she was an icon on the beach. She bartended at Jack O'Connors, she was the bouncer, and she was the porter, when the place was closed. Jack finally sold the place and opened the "Club-car" down on Atlantic Ave, near the L.I.Railroad station.
Now, let's get back to our childhood buddies. I can honestly say that my closest friend was, and is still Frank (Francis) McDonald. Me and Franny went everywhere. We got in trouble together, we swam together, fished together, dated together, and I am proud to be the one who introduced him to his wife of 32 years. (I think its 32.) And he still talks to me,...Ha,... OH, he was the best man at my wedding, and my wife and I will have our 36th anniversary in this coming April.
Hey, how about the Gerrittsen Beach Huskys??? I bet you don't remember them??? They played football in the mud, just down the road from Resurrection.. Red Finnegan played, one of the Howells,???, cant' remember the rest. Seemed like they only played when it rained.
Anybody remember "Tony" the fruit peddler, with his horse & wagon??? He came out of Canarsie. He would lead his horse up & down the streets in the old section, yelling his fruits & vegetables. One time, me and Carrot Demello, DeDe Norris, and Andy Olson were hiding in the hedges by Messerschmitt's house. (on Bartlett Pl), along comes Tony & his horse. Andy hits the horse with his sling-shot, off goes the horse, Tony yelling and fruits and vegetables all over the road. We run out, grabbed all we can hold and hid under my dad's house and had a pig out on apples, peaches, grapes and what ever we grabbed from the street.
Now, life traveled on in the beach; we all seemed to grow up too fast. It would have been great if we could stay 9, 10, 11 years old. But, I guess as we grow older, we seem to rack up new experiences with each new year. When I look back, I think my teen-age years were the most frustrating. We came of age; as a boy, I noticed girls. I was awkward, acted silly,never said the right things, and the girls I fell in love with (almost every day, a different one) seemed to think I was a jerk. Maybe I was!!! But, I guess that was part of growing up. The girl I married must not think I'm a jerk, she is still with me after 35 years. And God knows she is not a jerk!! She can out spell me, think me, dance me, and when I need guidance, she is there to lead me. I guess what's meant to be, IS!!
Well, I guess I mumbled on long enough. I'll be back. I have plenty of time on my hands. I can sit here and jar memories. I'll be retired 2 years now from a career of a Federal Meat Inspector. 32 years to be exact, and a very rewarding career if I may say so.
Happy New Year, from my home to all of you, past, present and future Gerrittsen Beach-ites!!