Mischievous Youngsters

by Jack Keegan


We did many things that we would not have our children or grandkids do.

  1. Referring to Little Criminals. The day before our internment in the Third Precinct, we had been riding those ice flows down the river. We skipped from one to another enjoying the thrill, not worrying about the dangers involved, Great sport for a bunch of kids from Downneck. All went well, no casualties from our junket
  2. Our next great thing was hitching rides on trolley cars that ran down Ferry Street. When the trolley stopped to pick up passengers we would climb on the back , on to the mechanism that held the rope that controlled the trolley wire. If the car did not stop where we wanted to get off, it was a simple matter to pull down the pole and the vehicle would coast to a stop. At this point we would take off, mindful that operator could not leave his conveyance, Generally we were home free.
  3. The project to repave Brill Street by WPA workers began with the laborers removing all the red bricks. They then graded the underlying dirt to make the roadbed level. At that time a Watchman's Shack was installed on a vacant lot on the corner of Brill and Ferry Streets. It was his job to see that all the equipment for the planned job was secure. When he was inside with a fire going we slipped a clothes pin into the hasp on the door lock. Then a can was placed over the chimney, soon the shack was filled with smoke. The agitated watchman now attempted to emerge but was frustrated by the locked door. After a short time we pulled the pin and he was free. No fatalities.
  4. In Lake Placid Downneck we talked about toboggans. You remember that they were made from corrugated sheet iron turned up in front with a rope for steering. On Ferry Street an independent bus company operated along the way from the Island to Dutch Neck. In the winter when snow covered the streets, we would wait for a bus to stop. At that point a rope was thrown over the real bumper and off we went as it proceeded down the street. Near a turn at one end of the run the line was released and we glided to a stop. A part of taking chances.
  5. The last and most dangerous of stunts. The Pennsylvania Railroad freight line ran on an embankment from before Hawkins Street to the Passaic River. Many the times we hitched rides on the freight trains that traveled down those tracks. It was great fun to jump on at Hawkins and ride past Foundry. We all enjoyed the thrill until disaster happened. One of our neighborhood youths slipped beneath the wheels , lost a leg an bled to death. That ended our hitch hiking on railroad cars.


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