The Trunk Sewer and Soap Box Racing in Vailsburg

by Bill Juliano


I moved to Underwood St in 1959 when I was 6. What a great neighborhood. I lived up on the hill between Sanford and Stuyvesant Streets and from the time I was 8 until 13 yrs old the Ol Trunk sewer was my playground.

It was when GI Joe came out and me and my buddy Danny Cullinane would dress up like soldiers complete with helmets and Rat Tat Tat machine guns and venture into the sewer on our imaginary "combat Missions". We would go down the sewer at 9 in the morning and not emerge until dinner time and race back home wet and smelly to our mothers wrath. As we became teenagers the sewer was a test of our "manhood". Heading south into Irvington, if you walked long enough, you would come to the "tunnels" under Springfield, Lyons and Chancellor Ave. Pitch black long tunnels with 2-3 inches of "slime water in them, tales of crazy people in them and 5 lb "sewer rats" that would

The further you would walk in, the more "stripes" you earned. One time a bunch of older kids dared us to go in. Once we were in there they proceeded to throw in cherry bombs and M-80s. The whole tunnel lit up and the noise rattled my brain. We were trapped in there and waited like an hour hoping they thought we ran all the way through to the other side. Once we emerged, I think I ran the 2 miles home in world record time, but of course i was down there again the following Saturday. lol

When we weren't in the sewer we would be building our go carts out of milk crates and wheels we pulled out of the garbage that were attached to old baby carriages. We would race down Lenox Ave (the street next to Underwood) because 3/4 the way down it had a side street (Mead) we could turn into before we hit busy Stuyvesant Ave. There were many crashes and bruises, but boy we had a blast !!


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