Just a Little Story

by Carol "Petrucci" Falsetti


Just a Little Story (With a Big Meaning)

Written on April 20, 2010

We had our reunion! Our Highland Avenue reunion on Sunday (past). I can’t even begin to explain how wonderful I felt about it. Since Sunday I have been back on Highland Avenue and am a kid on our street growing up all over again.

I didn’t go to Comus International today or wasn’t at home yesterday and I am not 58 years old today. I am on my block laughing, playing ball against the wall, “Russia” we called it, jumping rope and singing, “All, all all in together girls, how do you like the weather girls, and jumping to “pepper”, 1-2-3-4- faster and faster!

I am playing “War” on the corner house of Parker Street and Elwood Ave. It was a huge house and it was “Ours”. The kids from Highland Avenue and even some kids from Parker Street too! The boys being soldiers and the girls nurses- what a charge we got out of each other- We were all “in the war”!!!!

I am also sitting under the Tommy and Paulie Palumbo’s porch in their backyard, the rain coming down and all of us playing “Monopoly” – The Best! It was Summer! No school, no books, no more teacher’s dirty looks (or nuns as I should say) .

I am in my backyard on a hot steamy summer night and the other kids in their yards. Most of our houses are in a row so at an eyeball distance we could talk and yell to each other with no effort at all. Some of us were in big boxes that we made into houses, or a couple of sheets held up together with either chairs or some kind of poles. This was our sleeping quarters for the night. We were camping outdoors for the night. I am walking now down Highland Avenue and turning the corner on Elwood Avenue and proceeding to turn on to Lake Street( with all the Gang) . The Gang at that time, were the usual suspects, myself(Carol Petrucci (Falsetti now), Mary Ellen Barrett, Patty Barrett, Donna Legato,my brother John Petrucci, Carmen Legato, Paulie Palumbo, Tommy Palumbo, Joey Capezio, Jimmy Capezio and Michael Daly) .We decided that before we slept under the stars to take a stroll in our pajama’s !! Ahh!!!! So exciting, exhilarating for all of us. We were in “Our own little people’s Heaven” All of us together- Just loving it. “The kids on the block” in our PJ’s. As they say today, “Priceless”.

Now I am in Mary Ellen and Patty Barrett’s basement. It is me, Donna Legato, Mary Ellen and Patty Barrett. We are playing “Nuns”. We have on long cloaks (probably robes or sheets or something and our rosary beads pinned on us. God, we looked just like the nuns! Except Good Counsel nuns had the biggest rosary beads we ever saw and we could never “get them”. That head gear that the nuns wore was something from outer space, and there was no way we could imitate that. –Only shawls over our heads. I could still see us walking “so slowly and calling each other, “sister”. Never knowing that in the future “We wouldn’t be able to stand those women in black!” In our early days, we FEARED THEM!

I am riding my bicycle down Highland Ave.- sometimes with Tommy Palumbo, we are riding side by side. I had such a crush on Tommy. He was Ricki Nelson to me. It was probably his beautiful blue eyes and he kind of looked like him too.- So in my child’s imaginative mind, yea! I was riding my bike with Ricki Nelson of the Ozzie and Harriet show. How great was that!

Now, we kids are sitting outside of my steps, the Palumbo’s steps or even sometimes on Joey and Jimmy Capezio’s steps (Not too often on their’s) but Jimmy and Joey Capezio did exist in our neighborhood. Jimmy was a little older but still part of “the Gang”. Oh, those steps, the gathering place, I should call it, we laughed, told stories, the boys pitched their baseball cards, and we even had a block fight at one time each of us sitting on opposite sides to show whose side they were on.

I am now sitting on the warm summer sidewalk with my skate key. I am screwing on my roller skates. The skates were the kind that went right over your sneakers. The girls, only wearing plain white or black sneakers and the boys wearing high top sneaks, of course only “PF Flyers”. I am skating up and down on the sidewalk with the light wind blowing thru my hair. Some of the pavement being slate and I like that the best because it was so smooth on my feet and you got a much smoother even ride. These were so much better to skate on than the newer sidewalks that were more gravely and gritty and you certainly didn’t get that smooth ride. Up and down I went, up to the top of my block and down to the end, where the McSharry’s lived. They were an older family that moved off the block in the early “60’s”. Hey guys, remember Marie????????

The McSharry’s Joe and Marie. ?????? How is that for a blast from the past! Joe McSharry went off to Viet Nam in the 60’s and actually wrote letters to me. He was kind of nerdy but we did hang out with him now and then. Of course, the nice girl that I was I cordially accepted the letters. Now back to the skating. It was fun. I imagined everyone on Highland Avenue was watching me skate and I felt like I was a pro! Almost like I was on stage and performing.

Now it is snowing and it is night time. Probably about 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. We are all a little older and we are in the street, of course, with our sleds brought out immediately.

We cross over Elwood ave, because there was a small hill there coming into Highland Avenue. We pull our sleds to the top and start sleigh riding down across Elwood Ave, Highland avenue intersection and back into our street. It was kind of dangerous going through that intersection, but we did have our “look outs” to make sure no cars were coming. We may have been taking a chance, but there was really no fear in us at all, just excitement and happiness. Ah!! The carefreeness of youth. By now the street was just perfect for a little sleigh riding ! Our faces all red with the cold and enjoying the fresh falling snow, what fun. And of course all hoping and praying that it would turn into a hugh snowstorm so that we wouldn’t have school the next day. Hey guys, remember listening to those “no school” broadcasts on the TV or radio!

I am in the street again playing handball with the boys. It was me, Patty Barrett, Mary Ellen Barrett, my brother John Petrucci, (who was called “brother” always by me and still to this day.) And there was Paulie Palumbo, Tommy Palumbo, Michael Daly, Donna Legato, Carmen Legato, Joey Capezio, and Jimmy Capezio. Stevie Palumbo and Robert Legato were too young yet to join us. And there were the boys from Parker Street too, Jerry Napolitano, Little Joe Napolitano, Peter Timpano, Joe Francesco, Angelo Intonti, and Carmen Forti. How is that for a handball team.

It is now Easter vacation. This was always a fun time because we were starting to get restless in school, now, thinking of summer days soon to come. We kids would all be outside during the day as in summer and playing till dark. Hide and Go Seek was especially better to play at night, it was more exciting. On Good Friday, though the girls, Mary Ellen Barrett, Patty Barrett, myself and Donna Legato were in church from 12:00 noon till 3:00 pm , those were the hours that Christ lay dying on the cross. We were supposed to be quiet and not talk for all those hours, but , yeah, right, let’s get real, all we did was talk and laugh!
(Always peaking our little beanied heads and making sure none of the nuns were sneaking in and watching us. God, would we be in hot water.! We had a lot of fun on that vacation and got sad when we had to go back to school.

We are now outside on another hot, steamy, summer night with the stars glistening and not a hint of rain in the air, just the moonlight. It was lightening bug catching time.

Picture all of us running around and waiting for one of those buggers to light up so that we could catch it and quickly proceeded to put it in a jar. Oh, success, the kill, the adventure, we were the proud conquerors. Our eyes getting bigger and bigger watching them light up in the jar. We didn’t want them to die, so we got a can opener ( the old fashion kind and punched holes in the covers of the jars. We were cool , happy and proud hunters!

I must also speak of the “firebug”, that was a guy that used to walk through our neighborhood at night, probably coming home from work, and we all labeled him the “firebug”. Someone was setting fires around the area and of course, no doubt about it, IT WAS HIM!!!!!!! WAITING FOR HIM TO COME AROUND EVERY NITE WAS SO EXCITING. We would all huddle together and make like we were really scared, but of course we weren’t. We just made believe, it made us all feel closer or something. We had fun!

I am now standing in line with all the kids in front of Tony’s ice cream truck, waiting to get ice cream. We were all sweated by now after another hot, sunny summer day. Tony’s ice cream was the best. Tony was really our first ice cream man, but then the Good Humor man came into our lives, and many a fight was fought over who was better, Tony’s ice cream or the Good Humor????? Actually, Tony won out.

There is much, much more, that I can’t even get into. Mostly good, maybe some kind of bad, but we were not bad, we were the “kids on the block”, like the Jets in West Side Story, the greatest!! We all can tell tons and tons of stories.

So to end my story, we will always be “ the kids on the block”. Our young minds are older now, but when we put ourselves back then, “we are forever young” . God bless us all. May we always be friends and never, ever forget our beautiful childhood.

“Hey kids, let’s go play some monopoly” !

Written by Carol Petrucci Falsetti


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