Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Memories: When Third Street Was Still Third Street


Before Third Street Music School moved to 11th Street and before it became a shelter run by the radical Catholic Worker, this is where we spent years of Saturdays and a couple of Wednesdays.

The block was no different from all the other blocks in the neighborhood - tenements and lots of dog doo on the sidewalk. With one exception. The Hell's Angels which mean it was the safest block in the East Village. Except if you fucked with them. Once someone parked near the bikes and accidently touched one of them. The bikers picked up the car and dropped it down and almost beat up the driver who was just a father dropping his kid off at the music school.

That rarely happened since most of us got to Third Street by bus or train.

Trudging past the Angels from the Avenue A bus stop, sidestepping the doo, and once tits were evident, sidestepping the bikers' looks, Saturday was an entire day of misery filled with theory classes, violin lessons, and orchestra rehearsal.

But in the cracks between all these obligations we raced up and down Second Avenue, sneaking into the exotic pet store, pooling pennies together for treats at the small and solitary candy store, and once in a blue moon blowing everything on a hot dog at the other famous kosher deli place on 5th Street. Karen's father said that if you checked any of the garbage cans on Second Avenue you'd find the bologna sandwich that Florence had made me for lunch. We never went further than Moishe's which was closed for Shabbas anyway.

The best part of the day was when our motley crew of mostly girls gathered at the top of the landing. There the handsome neighborhood boy sat making sure everyone got everywhere they needed to go. A viscous game of knucks would ensue, leaving bloody knuckles and swooning hearts and secret crushes which in my case didn't abate for years.

5 comments:

cityofstrangers said...

Hi CO -

Sweet memories of 3rd street . . .

Like I mentioned in the post on the Mars, when I first came here in 89-91, I had a friend from Canada who'd been on third for a few years. It was a nice street then, a lot of families out on their stoops, kids playing in the street, a last vestige of an East Village which was already starting to disappear . . .

And I remember the Hell's Angels. In Canada - French Canada in particular - they're mostly scumbags. One night, when we were coming home, some young guy was trying to either break into his old place, or maybe get into his girlfriend's after a fight. He was kicking the door and yelling up the building. A couple of bikers went round, told him to calm down. The kid, still wound up, got mouthy with them. So they kneed him. It was kind of intense.

My friend said they didn't bother you if you didn't bother them, but that once they'd let off fireworks in the street on the 4th and apparently hit one kid.

Where have they gone now?

Tim

c.o. moed said...

Tim, what great memories... and the Angels are where they've always been -- on 3rd street. They were some of the first building owners in the neighborhood. Sadly, there were recent stories from several years back of them beating someone up. And I think they still do some 4th of July deal. However, the police have curtailed that a bit.

Walking down 3rd street now I am astounded by some of the renovations. I'm not exactly sure what city I'm in. So grateful Mary House still holds on.

cityofstrangers said...

CO -

In a way, I'm glad to hear the Angels are still on 3rd. It's true not much else remains from that era. They must keep a low profile now.

I think the EV Angels, since they were after all, in the EV, were a little cooler than the variety I grew up with in Canada who were either plain thugs like out West, or organized thugs who almost took over sections of the province like in Quebec. A friend of mine shot some footage with them back in the 80's - they have an appearance in 'Gringo' and another film which was never released.

I know the feeling of going back to where you grew up and not knowing where you are. One of the towns I grew up in has been abandoned, another semi-abandoned then made over. It seems like there is very little continuity in our world right now . . .

Tim

c.o. moed said...

I remember Gringo, the man...

and the concept of ghost towns either abandoned or inhabited by others... intriguing. What if we are the ghosts? I certainly feel like one at time. I don't want to wander through my neighborhood nostalgic but I also feel like I died and haven't quite caught on. Oh my gawd. ... I'm like Bruce Willis in that movie....

cityofstrangers said...

CO - I never met John, but I worked for Lech Kowalski, the guy who made the film, so I spent a lot of him on video . . . I've often thought that the erasure of that mural of Gringo on St. Mark's Place was a turning point in the Village . . .

It is curious how our cities have gone through these faces of being abandoned, then remade - or rather homogenized. There seems to be less and less in-between. It must be very odd to go back an area you grew up in and see it so completely different. Our society has changed so much in the last ten or fifteen years, it's hard not to feel left behind. I guess there is some consolation in knowing that many, many, MANY people feel this way, even if they didn't fully recognize. Dislocation, more than ever, is part of the modern condition . . .

Tim