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
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
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
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