by Artie Richard

I now remember the Park Tavern, which we always referred to as Tagney's, on the corner of Devon. I just could not come up with the name until now.

I now also remember a cleaning/pressing store run by one George Durand known to all as George. It was always hot and humid in the store and George, ruddy and rosy-cheeked, always wore just an undershirt, of course with trousers, and was always smiling and cheerful.

There was a bar in the old section known as O'Connor's. That would be Jack O'Connor.

In the interest of accuracy Dave was the original (for me anyhow) owner of Dave's on the corner of Allen. Kenny was the original owner of the same kind of store on the corner of Devon. This later was owned by Fran & Izzy Israel. Cardboard Joe from either the next store or the one after was often in visiting his pal Izzy. Their daughter was the first person I actually knew who had contacts.

There was a well-known, though unlucky, cop who often walked the beat. He was officer Tommy Fox and every time he got caught sneaking a smoke etc. they would pull him out of the patrol car and make him walk the street.

By the way, these were the days of the black, green and white police cars with a small, taxi-like light on the roof. The police would often park in dark of night with this roof light turned off (against regulations) and snare unwary speeders. Also these cars were all 2-door so suspects had to be jammed in the back. How do I know. One night John K. and I suffered that fate at the hands of the same officer Fox. That's another story.

There was another beat cop, name unknown, who would walk up to the corner (Gerritsen and Florence at that time) and yell : "Gimme the corner." We would duly slink rapidly away. One night the cop arrived and made his usual request. There was an older kid, a young man really, named Walter Bakker, who happened to be waiting for the bus. It was our habit to wait on the store side of the avenue at least until we saw the bus leave the end of the line only a few blocks away. Walter was not part of our nightly gathering and was just waiting for said bus so innocently ignored the request. WHAM. That was the night stick against a good portion of Walter's butt. I forget how that was resolved. I learned later that it was standard, though unofficial procedure, to smack the biggest, toughest kid to make an impression on all the others. Of course in those days there was no such thing as police brutality. If you survived the cops chances are you would have it even rougher from dad. I know this sounds like a cliche but it is the honest-to-God truth.

I do remember a barber shop but nothing much else except that there was one. It may have been next to the pool room which was not far from Devon Ave. going south. I seem to connect the barber pole with the pool room.

I do remember Vinny's radio repair. I also remember standing with John and his mother in their kitchen while we watched the wrecking ball demolish our beloved handball courts. There was not another event to equal it until the destruction of the Berlin Wall. That's how large a role it had played in our lives. More on that later.

A local character around the saloons was one "Mush" who had not a tooth in his head and thus could almost totally swallow his chin at will. He could easily put his bottom lip over his nose. Can't wait to get old enough to do that one. Should give these little Texas kids nightmares.

Submitted 9/14/98


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