Thursday, August 28, 2008

Old Memories From The Coney Island Houses

A big thanks to Omar Robau who posted our site on his blog.  If you haven't been to KINETIC CARNIVAL - The Coney Island Blog, please check it out.  Past, present and future Coney Island stuff.  Here's what he wrote:

Here's a rather new website that focuses on the memories of Coney Island from a group of friends who lived at the Coney Island Houses in the 1960's. The Coney Island Houses holds wonderful stories with more to come on an era of Coney Island long gone.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Coney Island Memories

I have so many memories... where do I begin. How about all of us riding the Surf Ave bus to Nostrand Ave, headed to Jahn's for the kitchen sink? Playing Johnny on the Pony against the red brick house in the Big Park, or the make-out sessions in Jodie's house, with her parents sound asleep in the next room LOL. Joey, you having a crush on my mom and I remember that you used to blush so bad every time you saw her! Hanging out sometimes at the "Spot" in Sea Gate, Tuesday night fireworks, pizza at Larry and Vinny's, or the knish place. The back room at Nathan's. Oh my gosh, I could go on and on. If only we could go back to those days...Garguilo's. Do you all remember when we were cheerleaders at the "Y" for the basketball games, the outfits, learning the cheers? Oh my gosh...come on guys, let's hear some more memories.
Audrey Blackburn

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Steeplechase Memories

My grandfather Matteo Barbaro (top)

We were young when Steeplechase closed in 1964. Imagine the fun and memories if it had closed in 1969? My grandfather Matteo Barbaro worked on the Caterpillar ride. Remember when the cover closed and at the end of the ride it opened and people were making out? When my cousins would come and visit, they would want to go to Steeplechase. We would go by the old post office on Surf Ave and 17th St, which was the entrance to Steeplechase and we would try to get our grandfather's attention. He always ended up looking over and he would motion for us to wait until the ride stopped. He would come over and say something to the guy at the gate and they would let us in when no one was looking. He would then give us a handful of tickets with a few punches left on them. All the rides had a number of punches to get on and when he took tickets that had the correct number left, he would pocket them to give to us. Like this one:
In addition, he would tell us which rides were operated by his friends and we were instructed to say that we were Matty Barbaro's grandchildren. These were all elderly Italian men so they would make a fuss over us and let us on without a ticket. My grandfather told us to ask every ride operator if they knew him. If they didn't, we used a ticket. We usually had tickets left over but I never paid to get into Steeplechase or go on any rides. A while back, I got a tattoo as an homage to my grandfather and to Steeplechase. I used the ticket above as the stencil and I changed the ticket number to his birthday, March 29, 1894. Here it is:
I loved Steeplechase. I still remember the smell. Last thing....when you exited the Caterpillar, there was a sign asking if you dared see the rare red bat! You climbed the ladder to look in the cage and there it was....a painted red baseball bat!
Joey DePinto

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Music Of Our Memories

How much of what we remember about our neighborhood is influenced by the music we listened to everyday? There are so many songs but I thought it fitting that this be the first one. The opening words say it all. When you initially open the page it will play. Hit Reload or Refresh to start it again. Enjoy.
Joey DePinto

I've added more songs. Let me know what you would like in the playlist and if it's available, I'll add it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Coney Island And Those Endless Summer Nights

My memories of growing up in the Coney Island Projects sit so clearly in my mind. Warm Summer days at the beach with a bunch of great friends, horsing around, getting thrown in the ocean, sitting and sunning with those visors of course and the baby oil with iodine....watching 'the guys' playing slapball, or basketball in the cheese box...handball courts...hanging on the swings...the sprinklers .....then at night we would all come down to the "big" park all showered nice and fresh ready for the night of hanging out sitting on our benches...or by the flagpole, everyone was there and everyone talked to everybody...among other things that I won't mention....Tuesday nights up on the boardwalk, go to Larry and Vinny's for a slice and a Mountain Dew...put a quarter (?) in the jukebox and sing along with the music....go out watch the best fireworks, more horsing around...hanging out...some serious talks too between friends...Lets not forget the 'Y'...Friday Night "lounge" listening to music, playing bumper pool, dancing, talking, live bands (if you want to call them that). The basketball games we went to, the bus rides to those basketball games.....great memories....Surprise Lake, Brickman Hotel....just to name a few. I have such great memories, didn't need to go far, we just had to walk down stairs, be a few feet away from the beach and the park where we all just hung out and needed nothing but our friends to have a good time. As the song goes...those were the best days of my life...back in the summer of "69....but before that as well...great, great unforgettable memories. You had to be there!!!!
Jodie Degen Capezza

Saturday, August 16, 2008

You Had To Be There

I had a discussion today with Eddie about growing up in the Coney Island Houses. We were talking about the pictures that Merrill sent me (they're posted to the right) and how young we looked. Eddie's daughters were amazed at his lack of chest hair! We spoke of how lucky we felt to grow up there and how wonderful it was to live in Coney Island during that time. We had so many friends and never a lack of things to do or places to explore. The funny thing is that no matter who I've talked to from the old neighborhood, we all have the same feelings and recollections of our childhood. I've been a social worker for over 30 years and I know that no childhood is without pain and frustration. My conclusion is that we aren't all suffering from group amnesia. It was a wonderful place to grow up and I hope that all who did will contribute to this blog. You know those days are long gone if you've been there recently and see what things are like now. However, in my mind's eye nothing has changed and I still feel the breeze and hear all the sounds coming from the Big Park. Oh, and most of us didn't have any chest hair either.

Here’s a video I shot of the old neighborhood in June 2000…. before everything changed forever.
Joey DePinto

Coney Island 2000 from Joseph A DePinto on Vimeo.