I am new at this and so please be patient with me. I suspect those who I want to reach are also fairly new to blogging.
Who are the people I want to reach? Any body from my old neighborhood, Vinegar Hill. Where is Vinegar Hill. Well if you Googled it, it would show up as what is now known as Dumbo, down under the Manhattan bridge. That is not my Vinegar Hill. Nor is the Vinegar Hill in County Wexford, Ireland. My Vinegar Hill is at the top of Amsterdam Ave. and 136Th Street in Manhattan. It comes for the name of what was once a very popular Irish bar of that name. What put Vinegar Hill on the map was the terrific basketball teams of the early 40's. They were invincible teams and created a great reputation for our neighborhood. The Hill also fielded some great football teams and soft ball teams.
My generation started in the middle forties when we started going to Annunciation Grammar School on 131st Street, between Amsterdam Ave. and Convent Ave. I guess I should say my male generation went to that school because the girls of my age went to what I want to call Annunciation Girls School. We were segregated from the girls and the only time we did anything together was First Communion, Confirmation and Graduation. We also went to Mass every Sunday as a group. The girls were on one side of the church and the boys were on the other. Boys on the right and girls on the left.
The story that I remember about how the girls came to be separated from the boys was that the Madams of the Sacred Heart, the order that taught in the Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart, wanted to do something charitable. Their solution was to build a school for the young girls of the neighborhood.
Before I go any further, let me explain a few things about this blog. What I write is from my memory. All that I have written so far is , as I recall it. What I would like is that if I write something that is not accurate, please correct me.
I grew up on 135Th Street. Our building was 500, on the south west corner of Amsterdam and 135Th Street. My dad had the camera store which was diagonally across from us. The address of the store was 1519 Amsterdam Ave. and as I recall his phone number was Edgecomb 6-7373. We didn't have a phone in the house until about 1950 so every time Mom wanted to call some one, she had to go to the store. If the store was closed, no phone. In our building, 500, we had a candy store. During my era it was owned by Tom Tighe and Mary Devlin but for years we called it Tony's Candy Store since it was originally owned by Tony DeGracia. He had a son named Boppo and also a daughter but I don't recall her name. Anyway, when we were little, almost no one had a home phone and so if you wanted someone to call you, you gave them the number of the candy store. We always hung out at the candy store and when the phone rang there was always a mad dash to answer the phone. You knew that you had to go fetch the person who was being called and there was always a tip involved. I remember that there was a girl in our building, Mae Wenz, who was always getting phone calls. I must have cost her a fortune. She was a great dancer and one year she and her partner, probably the guy who was calling her up, won the Daily News Harvest Moon Ball dance contest for the Tango or the Rumba. She was beautiful.
On the 135Th Street side of the building we also had a Chinese laundry, a shoe repair guy and one store that was always changing owners. The only two that I remember were a guy that set up some kind of ham processing shop. He sold hams but he cooked them some way that created a terrible odor. The landlord was forced to throw him out, the smell was so bad. The only other tenant was a beauty salon.
On the Amsterdam Ave. side of the building there origninally was a dry cleaner and when he went out of business Mr. Miller moved his liquor store from 1512 to the corner. Next door to him was Mr. Coynes grocery store. He was the nicest man. When you bought your groceries he would always write down the price of what you bought and then add them up. I was determined to catch him in a mistake but it never happened. When Mr. Coyne passed away they laid him out in his apartment which was just below ours. We were on the third floor and he was laid out in the corner of the living room. After that I would never sit in that corner of our living room because Mr. Coyne was right below me. I think I was six or seven at the time.
Mr. O'Rourke took over the grocery store after Mr. Coyne passed away. I think he came from Peter Reeves and he wanted to go out on his own. All of this before Safeway moved in on us and changed the neighborhood. Next to O'Rourke's was Jimmy the Barber. But Ma, I don't like Jimmy the Barber, I wanted to go to Anton's up the block. I went to Jimmy because I think he was cheaper. 500 was a great building and the people who lived there were the best.