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More tales from The Bowery

Growing up in the West End, no jobs and little pocket money, we used to hang out at The Bowery, corner of 12th and State, right in front of Howden’s Sporting Goods, right next to Warner’s Bakery right next to Leonard’s Barber Shop (“Leonard the Butcher”) right next to the alley right next to the Cabin Restaurant. The floating cast of corner characters usually included Billy G and Kick and me and guys frequently like Kinney and Sully and Dougie and guys whose names I’ve forgotten and occasionally the legendary Duke, whose father, Merle, used to drive by and give us the finger, which always had us rolling on the sidewalk laughing because he had a middle finger the size of a cucumber. The best time was when he drove by on Christmas Eve dressed as Santa Claus, a really elaborate costume, not some department store cheap costume, and gave us the finger. Me and Billy were laughing so hard we were crying. Peace on earth, good will toward men.

We would once in a while scarf down a pie (that would be a pizza, not a pie like you were thinking) from Warner’s and then throw the box on the sidewalk just to piss off Stub Junior, who was the son of Stub, Stub being the guy who ran Howden’s, I’m not sure anyone knew his real first name. Stub Junior lived in the apartment upstairs and we at the Bowery spent lots of time sitting right on his front stoop, which he usually didn’t mind except for the times he’d try to pour boiling water on us from out of his front window on the second floor so we’d go away and except for the time when Honsey would do his “human siren” and traffic would pull over, it would actually pull over because of Honsey sitting on the stoop making siren sounds, and we’d all laugh at the drivers and then Stub Jr. came down and said, “The next time I hear that goddam human sy-REEN there’ll be a gallon of gasoline and a match to follow” instead of boiling water, and that’s just how he said it, “Sy-REEN.” And we laughed at him, even though he wasn’t kidding completely.

It was kind of like the time — well, it really wasn’t, come to think about it — anyway, one time Stub Junior pulled his car up and parked it and went upstairs, acting madder than hell that we were on his stoop, and then Billy G noticed a drip drip drip from Stub Junior’s car and he walked over and a gasoline leak it was, and after a while it started making this trickle in the gutter, and a little while later a guy walked by and tossed his cigarette butt in the gutter, and pretty soon that trickle of gas trickled pretty close to that still-smoking cigarette butt, and we all thought it would be a good idea to move down to in front of the Cabin for when the gas hit the cigarette butt and the car exploded, so we did that and we waiting expectantly, kind of hopefully, really, and then Stub Junior came downstairs and Billy G yelled, “You’d better move your car before it blows up,” and Stub Junior just said something like “the hell with all of you, why don’t you stay down there” and got in his car and drove it away before it blew up, so because we didn’t have an exploding car to look forward to anymore, we all went back to The Bowery and resumed spitting on the sidewalk, hoping barefoot hippies would walk by so we could distract them until they walked right into the middle of the spit, and we’d point down to the sidewalk and laugh and laugh.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 27th, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
Reminds me of A Bronx Tale.
You know...without the racism and killing and all.
Jun. 27th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
We were just Merry Pranksters, but without the drugs.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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