Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Friend Indeed...

My Facebook homepage recently alerted me of people that I “may know” out in the virtual ether. Despite the word “people” being plural (meaning two or more persons), I received the name of only one soul who might or might not be familiar to me. And a day or so later this very same person was suggested to me as a potential Facebook friend.

Admittedly, I was intrigued with this person’s peculiar name: “Mosholu Parkway.” The surname was certainly unfamiliar to me. I don’t remember any Parkway family living in the old neighborhood, or a kid by that name in my high school class. I, too, just cannot recall anybody named Parkway that I worked alongside. No, I never had an editor named Parkway parsing my words, either.

Hey, wait just a minute here. Mosholu Parkway isn’t a person after all. It’s a leafy Bronx thoroughfare that I’ve driven on countless times. In fact, it’s where a flesh-and-blood person drove up an entrance incline to the parkway (near the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx) in the wrong lane. Having just purchased a spiffy new set of wheels, he wanted to avoid at all costs a small pothole—“the bump” as it was dubbed—in the wrong but all too literal right lane.

As we inched up the hill on our way home from a Mets' game at Shea Stadium, the car’s two passengers were for—one brief shining moment at least—terrified. Good fortune, though—fate’s huge and generous hand—intervened. We weren’t met at the hilltop by a fellow driver in the left—when we really should have been in the right—lane. Courtesy of a long night game and the lateness of the hour, we were spared a head-on collision on the typically busy Mosholu Parkway—not an actual person, I know, but a friend indeed.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Catch of the Day on Life Support

With the 2012 summer season effectively in the dustbin of history, I can add a further nail into the “having a catch in the backyard” coffin. Once upon a time in this neck of the woods—the Northwest Bronx—baseball mitts rested in countless front hallways and were called into action regularly during the spring, summer, and autumnal months. Playing largely on concrete, though, our gloves’ neat leatherwork and lacing took a beating, eventually beyond repair.

When we utilized bona fide baseballs on fields that weren’t green, their stitches and coverings took a licking. It wasn’t uncommon to see us playing with hardballs wrapped in black electrical tape to extend their lives. Eventually, the rubber hardball came along, which supplied us with the ideal orb to have a catch and play games of “errors” and “pitcher and catcher” in our concrete backyards. Sure, the concrete is still there today—albeit a cheesier, monochrome variety—but very few kids are having catches atop it.

Actually, outside of seeing today’s youth staring into iPhones on the mean streets, I didn’t notice much else going on throughout this urban summer. Walking about while simultaneously staring into these technological gizmos paints a rather depressing picture to me. It conjures up images of tacky horror films from yesteryear with human automatons bloodlessly roaming the highways and byways. If we were becoming a smarter and more interesting people, perhaps a winning case could made for walking around while texting, tweeting, and talking on the cell—and not looking where one is going—but that ain't exactly happening.

So, the backyard catch is no longer the catch of the day. And on life support, too, in the big city—it should be noted—are clothes hanging out on clotheslines. Well…longstanding as this old tradition may be, its demise just might not be a bad thing. Progress…yes...let's embrace it.

(Photo from the personal collection of Nicholas Nigro)