Fond Memories

 

January 10, 2007

The site stimulates so many reactions.  What, for example, would a family have to pay today for all we had back in those days in that neighborhood?  We must have had a bargain education.  What must they have put out for our elementary education.  With over 60 in a class in must have cost between 2 and 3 dollars a year for our schooling. Only kidding.

On the Lions Brewery I think of it this time of year when the Christmas trees are being discarded.  The empty lot awaiting the building of the junior high school was, as I recall, the site of all the old trees going up in flames.  Ecologically unacceptable today but a lot of fun.

And on the canned beer I remember my fathers friend who thought it was one of the great advances in technology.  As he said with his west of Ireland brogue you could "put tousands of them in the ice box."

All the best in the New Year.

Mark Mooney '51

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April 19, 2006

Dennis:  Thank you for the Rusty Can website.  My family moved into the neighborhood at 60 West 106th Street in September 1943.  My brothers and I had to walk past the brewery every day on our way to attend Ascension which I started out in the 3rd Grade under Sister Ruth.  I remember the Bakery there between 107th & 108th Streets where we would gather on Sunday mornings to buy Hard rolls and sweet buns.  It was a tough time growing up there but we managed to survive and move to Brooklyn in 1954.  Best regards,  Donald J. Greeley 49'

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April 9, 2006

From the guest book.

It's been too long since I've said hello to ALL those that I grew up playing with, working for, learning from and just plain being with. From the sports nites, to the singing groups to the public speaking competitions to all those great "secret parties" that were always uncovered by monday morning, we simply "had a blast". I look forward to seeing everyone from Jake & Nancy Barrett, and Johnny my very early "best friend", to the guys that made my childhood, Jim O'Rourke, Jim Cunningham, Jackie McCarthy, Ken Mahoney (my best man) and the list goes on and on. I'll be in touch going forward, but where's all the grads from the 60's...From 1963 - 1969 were some fabulous years for the many guys & girls of 107th Street.....Hopefully, you'll finally sign in like I'm doing and will turn out at the next reunion.....See you all soon. Regards, Mike (Aglora) Aglialoro....

Another note!

My memories were of trying to get passed the brothers each year. Passed them with the weekend parties

(we had a 7pm curfew Monday thru Thursday & 9pm on weekends and the brothers policed the

neighborhood), the homework, the singing groups/talent shows, the public speaking (competition throughout the borough), the sports and all for the sake of having fun.  From Brother Andrew in 5th Grade, to Brother Thomas in 6th, back to Brother Andrew in 7th and finally, to Brother John in 8th grade.
We truly knew the "real meaning" of corporal punishment!!!!

The core group with me was Ken Mahoney, Bert Belasco, Desmond Maxwell, Steven Narvaez and Edgar Perez.

In my class, however, my actual group included  Jim O'Rourke (class of 65), John Templeton (class of 65), Ken Mahoney, and a few others not in Ascension. Wow, "where are they now"?.....
That's it for the moment...
Regards,
Mike
Michael L. Aglialoro

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July 18, 2005

I found out about the alumni association from father Duffell after going to mass at Ascension Church after 44 years. My Family and I had spent the weekend in the city attending the wedding of our niece. I was overjoyed to know there is this organization to keep the spirit of our school moving forward. I have so many memories of our school, teachers, classmates and the neighborhood. I hope to contact the people that played such a big part of my past. I would like to give a sincere thank you to all the brothers and sisters of Ascension for such a great education.

John J Pellegrini  mailto:JohnJPelle@aol.com

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May 17, 2005

I just had lunch with Larry Califano, '53.  Not only did we talk about the old NY, 109th St., as well as people from the past, but he gave me his Ascension Alumni Voice.  I've been checking out the web site all evening.  I've lived in Oregon for the last 25 years.   Growing up in NY in the 50's was like being on another planet from here.  I often tell people out here, it was a little village.  Everybody on 109th St and Columbus knew everybody else.   If you crossed the street without looking both ways, sure enough  somebody would tell.  By the same token playing in the back alleys was an everyday happening.  A poor neighborhood yes,  but we were safe.  What about the games.  We all were gone from morning till dinner time.  Kick the can, stickball, double dutch, melting crayons in bottlecaps, walking with soda cans on your feet.  Summers at Booker T.

I fondly remember being in choir in Ascension in the 7th and 8th grade.  It was fun being up in the choir loft. Thanks for sending that photo of Clem. 

We lived on the 4th floor on 109, then moved to 114th across from St Lukes.  That was a 6th floor walk up.  And who can forget the "Hill" in central part and 105th St.  We all got out exercise.

If anybody wants to get in touch.  My name is Ellen Smith '58.  My brother is Tom Smith '57
   ellensmithwilliams@msn.com

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May 14, 2005

A WEST SIDE MEMORY

by

Mary Hennessy Trotta

 

Growing up on the West Side of Manhattan during the 1940's was to me, as a child, very pleasant and as I think back very happy memories.

 

As an only child I was always made to feel comfortable and secure, with a loving mother and father.

 

I lived on the top floor of a 4-story walk up.  Top floor was always cool in summer and cool in winter.  When the steam heat wasn't sent up.  Boiler was broken a lot in those days.  Rent was always cheaper too!

 

Our neighbors were our friends and so were the children.  Most of our apartment families were from Donegal.  So it was 910 Columbus Avenue, the "Donegal House."

 

There was no air-conditioning in those summers.  Our cooling off time was spent in Central Park, under the trees.  No pools, or sprinklers, either.  We had a good six block walk over to Central Park and then up at least 100 stairs to a spot called "The Hill."

 

Our fathers spent time playing cards, slapping and yelling, "trump," "No trump."  I think the game was called "Uker."  A lot of the men played horseshoes and shuffleboard too.  The women sat on benches and crocheted and knitted and talked about the latest news from Home, church goings on, births, weddings and deaths.  A bit of Irish gossip.

 

We children were left to play tag, roller skate (there was a great rink), play hide and seek, dig in the dirt, run around under the cool trees.

 

Lunches or drinks were very seldom brought.  There was always a clean drinking fountain.

 

Lunch was usually had back home.  Down the Hill stairs over the six blocks and up to the top floor again, for lunch and maybe a rest.

 

A radio could be listened to, no TV.  Of course, everyone was anxious to hear the war news and saddened by it.  We had no one in our immediate family who was in the service, or fighting, but we felt for them and friends we knew who were "over there."

 

In the early evening after dinner we would walk back again and up the "Hill" and enjoy the pleasures of Central Park again, just as we had earlier in the day.

 

On our way home from the park, the children were treated to ice cream from a local German ice cream parlor, where the man made his own.  A favorite of mine and my  friends was a large flat cone, the top the size of a saucer, topped with vanilla ice cream and a scoop of orange ice, and it only cost a nickel.  I have never seen the same since.  It was way before the "mellow roll" which has also disappeared from the New York scene.

 

We children would have our ice cream, and our dads, and sometimes the moms too, would stop in the local bar and have a cool draft beer to finish the day.  The families could sit in the back and at tables, in the back.  The children could eat the pretzels and drink sodas, and of course on weekends there was always fine Irish music, which we all grew up listening to.

 Mass was held on Sundays only, at Ascension Church on West 107 Street a good 4 long block either way, and nary a complaint.  It was the thing to do.  Saturday evening we would be there to confessions, and we would not forget our Monday afternoon novenas.

The Church played an important part in our lives, summer and winter.  There was a great faith and devotion to God and "Our Blessed Mother" from our family and friends during the 1940's because of the War and the faith that our parents had instilled in them, which they brought from Ireland.

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February 10, 2005

THE VISIT

Gene ’25 and Margaret-Murphy ’24 McInerney

 

The class PICTURE

 

I had the distinct privilege of visiting the oldest Alumni on our list. Their son- also Gene, had sent an email saying that “Speaking of Alumni, my parents graduated in 1924 and ’25 and they live in New Port Richey, Florida for 31 years.” Low and behold, we have a place there also. I called son Gene and asked him, would it be all right if I stopped in to see his parents when I get down to NPR from NJ. He said “That would be great- their short term memory is not so good but the remember a lot about Ascension and the neighborhood.”

Well, Gene is an active 95 and Margaret is a slowed down 96. She has trouble with her knees.

We sat in their living room for an hour and a half talking about their memories. I felt like a kid in a candy store.

Margaret lived on 106th Between Amst & Bdwy next to the bakery.

Gene was an orphan at about 4 years old. After a stay in an orphanage in Tarrytown run by the Sisters of Mercy, his aunt took him in, her three kids graduated from Ascension too, her name was Hanrahan. They lived at 157 W 108th , between Amst and Columbus, across from the Lion Brewery. He talked about the horses and how they pulled the wagons with the beer barrels. Big like the Clydesdales of Budweiser.

“My uncle told me to get some of the manure for my aunts flowers. I didn’t like that job.”

“We played immies in the street ‘til late at night, in the manholes.”

“The ice house was down the street. They tore down those houses and put up a big garage.”

“We moved a lot. We didn’t have the $14 or $16 rent one time. Then we lived at 214 or 218 108th- a couple of houses in that block. Moved up to 112th. People moved a lot in those days.”

 

I thought about it for a minute and figured out that when they started in Ascension it was 1916

and 1917, the time of the first world war. For cryin’ out loud! The school was almost new.

 

They got married in Ascension in 1935 and moved up to Washington Heights on Wadsworth Ave.

 

“I think I remember the Toolans ‘’26 & ’27 from 102nd Street”. Gene was a nice lookin’ guy.”

 

“Every summer we went down the shore to Asbury Park on weekends. We went to a restaurant in Ocean Grove. The line was so long!”

“I think I remember going to Ascension Church in Bradley Beach.”

 

“The parish house (PAL) was a great thing. They held the Golden Gloves there. I was active in the parish too. I helped down there. I seen this one fella there, a nice lookin’ guy, he got a smack in the nose, it was a mess, I got sick and had to get out of there. It was an awful sight”.”

“Gene Irving was a classmate, his brother was a fighter- he had some pro fights in the Garden.”

“We know Jim Blaney ’40 in Palm Harbor. We met him in our church, Queen of Peace, at some affair we had.”

 

Lookin out the window I saw 4 cops beat the hell out of a kid one night. I don’t know what he did”.

 

“The Little Sisters of the poor were in 106th Street.”

Margaret says “I ran errands for them. My mother was there to stand guard. I was good that way!”

 

“We had Msgr. Donahue. There was another Msgr. Donahue in Holy Name.”

 

“There were a lot of bars.” Margaret says “ Where there’s Irish there are bars.”

“There was a Reeves grocery store on 107th & Amst.”

 

“ I had this fella in the 8th  grade- I was supposed to get the gold medal for the alter servers. But what happened- he went into the priesthood, and he got the medal. He became a priest.”

 

“He had it rough,” Margaret says.

“In the home in Tarrytown the nuns were Ok but they would leave these big guys with sticks in charge. They’d hit kids in the head when they moved around in bed or talked. One of them threw a shoe at a kid and tore his ear. He made one of the orphans say that he threw the shoe so he wouldn’t get into trouble. There were a lot of orphans at that time.” (What a memory)

“You’d be surprised at how many poor priests there were, buried in a potters field down near the Battery.”

 

“What high school did you go to?”

“I went to Julia Richmond” Margaret says. 

"What high school", Gene says, “I went right to work!”

“I got a job in St Lukes hospital delivering the water jugs around the wards. Then I went to the IRT subway and never quit.”

“They used to give me free rides on the buses.” Margaret says. “I road on the top of the Fifth Ave buses- and the trolley cars on Bdwy.” She must have been a doll!

 

“I got a picture of our class 1925!!!!! out in the garage. We had 40 or 42 in the class.”

Margaret says, “How could they do it?” -and then we figured out that they had double seats in the classroom. No more boys side and girls side. Margaret had to deliver things to the boys side sometimes . “Oh! I did it all!”

 They went up on the roof for recess.

 

“What happens- there was a  little candy store next to the boys side. He made out good.” (???)

 

Margaret lived in the rich block on 106th Amst & Bdwy.

“There was a big bicycle store. A United Cigar Store too.”

“I was on the baseball team too. We used to hang out there to get coupons. When we got enough we got a baseball.”

Where did you play?

“On Riverside Drive, 104th Street but mostly over in Central Park. We had a good team. We had this guy named Nowiki. He was a great star in running. He held a record down the Garden.”

 

Margaret says, “Have a cup of coffee.”

 

“Come on out in the garage and help me get the graduation picture.” Gene says.

 

“We had two brothers named Pickel in the class.’ (in the picture) remembering some of the kids. “45 kids in the class. Monsignor Donahue, I remember him as much older. I stayed in the parish a long time ‘til 1935 when we got married.”

 

“My father used to work in the cathedral of St John the Devine before he left us.”

 

Some more lookin’ at the picture- some of the names-

“Barrett, he was a plain ordinary kid like me, his father was a superintendent of a house on Riverside Drive on 109th. They lived in the basement.”

“Monahan was a tough kid. He had a brother who was ahead of us.He got his brother to fight me down on 108th Street. A fistfight. All of a sudden I musta’ hit him hard and he quit. I was a tough kid. I had to work- choppin’ wood- pullin’ up dumbwaiters. In them days they wouldn’t let you go up the stairs with groceries, they had to go up the dumbwaiter. The ice had to go on the dumbwaiter too and the garbage at night.”

 

“I hung out in 108th and we played stickball on the block.”

“That was the block I lived in for years and years.

“LOU GEHRIG used to play stickball with us. What happened- he used to play baseball in Morning side Park there from 110th to 114th.

“We had a block stickball team. GEHRIG was bigger than us but yeah he played there.”

 

Talked about the Columbus Ave EL- at 110th street turned around and went up 8th Ave.

“How old were you when you went to work for the subway?”

“Oh I was young. I got a job in the office. That lasted a few years and then I went up to the shop at 145th Street. Then they moved us up to 207th.”

“When I worked up there, there was only one block that was colored- 135th Street. That and 99th were the only blocks that were colored.”

 

“Did you ever go to the Rose Theater, that was a great place. 102nd. After every show they came around with the spray can.”

“Then we went to the Manhattan on 109th Street.”

 

Where did you work Margaret?

“I worked in John Wanamaker’s for years.”

Gene tells me that she moved from 106th, after Ascension, down to 75 W 101st.

 

We talked about The Drive. “Were the tracks covered up when you played down there? At some point they were covered up.”

“We played baseball down there on the other side of the tracks right by the river. There was nothin’ to that- goin’ over the tracks.”

“What happened- there was an entrance in our area at 108th. There was the boat house.”

“I delivered groceries there from Pat Shanahans, the grocery store on Amsterdam 107th & 108th. I was 10 years old maybe.”

 

Time to leave.

“I have to get this picture reduced so I can put it on the computer.”

“ I think Whalen’s drug store does that. No let’s see Walgreen’s I mean”

 

“Well my wife is comin’ by to pick me up, I’m gonna hit the road. I’ll be back to see you.”

“Oh any time! We’ll be glad to see you.”

 

(A week later on a short return visit)

 

“We had Monsignor Sweeney before Father Donahue. He wore white gloves. He wouldn’t shake anybody’s hand without the gloves.”

“When Cardinal Hayes died, Bishop Spellman came down from Boston.”

“ He got off the train at 125th and they had a parade. All the Catholic school kids lined up in the different blocks. I can’t remember what block we were in.

The parade went down Lenox Avenue I think.”

 

“We had plays in the auditorium.”

Did you have an orchestra?

“No we had a piano player- Mr. Hess. I think he taught some kids the violin.”

 

How many priests were in the rectory back then Gene?

“Oh I remember some of them. Let’s see- Father ???”

How about Father Paloni?

“Oh yeah- he had to sleep in a room off the stage in the auditorium until there was room for him in the rectory.”

 

“We took the ferry across the Hudson from 129th. There was a beach there. We swam there.”

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July 19, 2004

Hello to fellow Ascension School Alumni,

I attended Ascension School for eight years as Loretta Reilly, graduating in 1955.  While attending Ascension I lived on

Columbus Avenue between 108 & 109 Streets.  For a few of years my father owned the candy store on that block.

I remember some of my teachers: vaguely believe First Grade was Sr. James???;

2nd Grade was Sr. Margaret Regina whom I loved and who has stayed in my memories; 

Third and Fourth Grade was Sr. Elizabeth;  Fifth Grade was Sr. Ancilla???,  Sixth Grade was ???,  Seventh Grade was Sr. Cecilia;
Eighth Grade was Sr. Margaret;  The Principal was Sr. Julia whom I also loved and who has also stayed in my memories.

A favorite memory of Ascension was going up to the roof in the month of May to say the rosary.   Spring in New York City is wonderful!

I remember the classes standing on the tiled roof on a beautiful spring day, with flowers in front the statue of the Blessed Mother, saying the rosary.  I also remember Mrs. Raptor (Sp?) from whom we bought supplies; movies in the auditorium on occasion;

assemblies with Bishop Donahue visiting in his robes and allowing us to kiss his ring and we would sing Ecce Sarcerdos (sp?) with Sr. Julia playing the piano;  lining up on 108 street on nice days until Sr. Julia rang the bell for us to enter (I guess we lined up in the basement on rainy days);   released time on Thursdays; confession periodically on Friday;

9AM Mass on Sundays in the lower church.  For a while there was a traffic policeman named Bill at 108th and Amsterdam.  When he was transferred we were all heartbroken because he was so very nice to all of us.

One of my friends was Bridie Hogan with whom I had a great friendship.  My close friend in later grades was Marion Adams who graduated in 1954.  She and I were great buddies.  Marion and I are in contact now and email and talk on the phone occasionally.

My sister Eileen and my brother John followed me through Ascension School until my family decided to move to California.

For me the move was true culture shock, living in a suburb where the bus ran once an hour and not knowing how to drive.

My parents were married in Ascension Church and some of my aunts and uncles lived in the parish when I was a child.

I understand that Ascension has reunions periodically and would be interested in attending some time.

I am wondering if there is anyone planning a reunion for the 50th reunion of
the class of 1955 next year. If so, please let me know.

Loretta Reilly Smith ’55  mailto:21smithhome@sbcglobal.net

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July 16, 2004

Hey Guys and Dolls,
I am an alumni class of 68' (should've been 67' but Brother Michael left me back. I use to live on the corner of 109th Street and  Amsterdam. My best  friends were the likes of Tom McCrossan, Vinicio Morales, Freddy Jawarski, Milton Carrion, Paul Irrizary and Julio Soto. I use to  remember we hung out at  Carmello's restaurant on 110th and Amsterdam with his kids Charlie and Elsie. We use to play handball on that very corner. I remember seeing the Con Edison building going up between 109 and 110th street Amsterdam. I remember all the different seasons we use to have like pea shooter, Tops, water balloon, yo-yo, trading baseball cards, flipping baseball cards, I remember crack top and scully board.

Mary's candy store on the corner of 108th  street. Woolworths and John's Bargain Store where my dad use to buy me my imitation converse sneakers(hated them damn things) St. John's the Divine and  playing tag in the aisles and flinging those souvenir coins that were at the  door before you walked in,(ouch man that hurt when they hit ya).

Water balloons from the roof tops. Playing chinese handball against the wall of the Con Ed building. Stoop ball and Johnny ride the pony or the dreaded sadistic game of Hot Peas and Butter. Where we use to hang on to the city buses on the back for a  safe free ride for a block. Playing in Riverside Drive in the little league or  the monkey bars.
Mr. Softee and Good Humour Bars, egg creams and Trick or Treat, Penmanship class and the likes of Brothers Kevin, John, Micheal Benedict Coonan or Sisters Mary, Theresa, Ms Warom, and Father Thompson and Colmena and Glenn,  Welby and as an Altar boy all the times I served Mass, Funerals and Weddings (big money).

The choir like Mr. Romero or the Ascension Rectory. Costello Photo Studios and Kennedys Funeral Home. Farrell Lumber Yard and I remember Sports Night at the Ascension Gym and the Plays and the dances in the Lower Sacristy.
But most of all the Great memories of all who had respect for each other and thier property and the way we spoke to adults and the respect of  your elders and the manners we had to express just because we mostly had parents  who cared(unless you went to P.S.165) LOL. If there are any of my peeps out there that remeber those days please feel free to contact me.
Thanks for the Memories
Donald Girard    mailto:Strengthtrainer1@aol.com
Class of 68'
 

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June 7, 2004

Hi fellow New Yorkers,

It's been a long time since I last spoke to or saw any classmates. 

I have fond memories of living on 107th street across the street from the church and rectory. 

I often wonder how all my elementary classmates are doing and where they are living. 

Anybody in CT?  Would love to hear from you. 

Julia Van Ells class of 1951

mailto:JULIA.VANELLS@SNET.NET

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June 7, 2004

STICKBALL

When a group of guys, a few sewers, your mother's broomstick, and a spaldeen joined together on a summer afternoon. You could hear the cheers of several generations echoing off of manhole covers, turning a quiet New York City street into a major league stadium.

Ellen Fuchs Dear Diary, NY Times- June 7, 2004

Might add that my parents constantly threatened me with summer camp but I didn't want to miss one of the summer games on the street.

Mark Mooney  '51

mailto:MMooney987@aol.com

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May 26, 2004

Peggy - I just received the Alumni Voice and found that one of my longest friends had past away, Jack Tully.  My heart is very sad.  I feel like I just lost a family friend.  I've known him since I was in the 5th grade.  I used to go to his house and we would play ball together.  We hung around different crowds when we got older but we use to talk when we run into each other.  Please pass on to the Tully Family my sincere sympathy and know that my prayers are with them. I too lost my mother last June.  We lived on 109th and Columbus up until I joined the Marine Corps, almost 25 years.  While in Vietnam my family moved up to 142nd and Riverside Drive

    I am about to submit my application to become a Deacon.  I've been trying to accomplish that for, it seems, a long time.  The man running the program is being replaced.  The Bishop called me after I came back from Japan and let me know that he was very sorry that things got hung up in the paper mill.  I have my pastors blessing and we are about to get a new Bishop in NC. Bishop Gossman is retiring after 25 years as the Bishop of Raleigh.  He's done a lot.  Please keep me informed if there is going to be a reunion in the future.  I was going to go last year but I now work for the Department of Defense and it was difficult to get away at that time. 

    As always, I will keep you and your family in my prayers.  I will keep everyone whoever had anything to do with Ascension in my prayers.  Lot's of them, all of them.

Take Care, and may God's Blessing be on all. 

Les Boone ’60   mailto:TopBoone@worldnet.att.net

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May 26, 2004

Ed

My wife and I met at ascension school in 1968. And both are the class of 69.

George & Arlene Lamorena ’69   mailto:GEORGE_LAMORENA@MSN.COM

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May 2, 2004

Hi Ed,

So happy to find out about this website.

Boy does it bring back memories.
I lived on West End Ave and 103 the first 20 years of my life  and went to Ascension from '61 to '68.
Everything I know I attribute to the great Sisters of Charity. 

I was at Ascension when Mother Elizabeth Seton was Blessed

and when the Pope first visited New York City in 65 I believe.

Believe me, my fondest childhood memories are from Ascension.
I was in NY in June of 2001. And straight from the airport my friend drove me to Ascension School.

I hadn't been there in over 20 years!

My mother was an active member of the Mother's Guild so we were part of just every activity at the school.

I now live in Miami, Fl.
Please include my e-mail address. I found some friends there from the past and I would also like to be found.
Thanks,
Frances Anestiades
Class of 1968

Frances44a@yahoo.com

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April 16, 2004

Hi,

I entered Ascension in 1975 as a Kindergarten student, as did the three brothers before me. My mom was very active in volunteer work at the school for many years. Through out all my years of schooling, my most memorable ones are those at Ascension. My best friends today are those friends I made at Ascension.

What I remember most; As an upper classman being on the third floor, the teacher would open the windows on hot days and at 2:30 Mr. Softy would come around. We couldn't wait to get out to have an ice cream with sprinkles. It never failed I always got chocolate on my nice spring uniform (blue dress). It always brings me a smile to think of the times I shared at Ascension.

Lisett Baez (Rivera) '83

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November 15, 2002

 

     We Griffiths remember 23 West 106th Street. Our family lived on the 4th floor- oh those three flights of stairs! But what a great place to grow up, we had the biggest and best backyard any kids could ever have- Central Park on the “Hill”.

     Every afternoon Mom would take us up those steps, there had to have been at least 100,000 of them or so it seemed to me. As we got older we pretended to be mountain climbers and go up the rocks. I’m sure Mom didn’t know about  that, but then she always seemed to know what we were doing. Our mother had a grapevine going, second to none. She often knew what the boys had done before they got home.

      When we were old enough to go off on our own, there was Riverside Drive for sleigh-riding. Then off to clems for the best hot chocolate and toasted pound cake with butter- heavenly.

      My husband Pat McKeown always felt that he got an additional education reading all the magazines and newspapers at Clem’s and never buying any of them. Although Clem often seemed grouchy, I think that he liked us a lot to put up with so much.

     Clem was only one of the many wonderful memories I have of the “old” neighborhood.

      Sincerely,

       Peggy Griffith Donohue

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Dear Ed...
I guess the older we get the more important the "THE OLD SCHOOL TIE" is...especially growing up in NYC..when it was safe and clean...no doors locked...not too many of us with telephones..but there was always "Gussies" on the corner of 109th and Amsterdam..next to Murphy's Bar and Grill...we could use the phone booth at Gussies for a nickle. Anyway since the last reunion...and our short trip around the olde sod...I was amazed to see how things have changed...but the old buildings did get a face wash. Where did Kennedy's Funeral Home go??..Apparently it had a magic changeover into a Karate studio. And the gross color of yellow?...whooo! My old stoop at 983 definitely changed...no more brass railing...changed it into wrought iron. Anyway..I will never forget it and the good times spent sitting there on the stoop on a hot summer evening....or playing stoop ball or jacks on that stoop. Over the years, I started painting in different mediums.. no portraits (I can't draw) but landscapes and seascapes and still life....whenever I do a house or anything like that (my trolley painting) I use the numbers 983....To this day, I use this for every code I need in the book. That railroad flat with pot belly stove for heat...that at one time I couldn't wait to move out of with my dreams of a house with grass and trees...is now constantly in my dreams. We were all poor kids...but for some reason we didn't know it. We collected milk bottles and soda bottles for $$$. As I recall now, we even used to play in alleyways...that were soo safe and call to each other from a window in one building to another through the (air shaft)....Annemarie Leo was one of my call mates...None of us had many rooms, but there were certainly large families like the Leo's and the Kilcooley's etc...incl. the McClain's. How did they do it?? Kids today think it can't be done. One or two kids are almost too many. These should talk to my brother Jim and wife Evelyn McCla in Brawley..also Ascension grads..with 14 kids. I myself have raised 9 and feel like a pauper family wise. Anyway...why do my thoughts go back to those times..that old 983? After years of wondering, and almost 5 yrs. of being a Secular Carmelite...I think I have the answer. As a Carmelite, we dwell on detachment from material things and seek the things of God. In today's world, overcome by TV ads...Internet ads..etc etc, we end up wanting and getting much more than we need...useless things. Now 983 Amsterdam (bet. 108th and 109th St.) was a time when we did not have these temptations and illusions. Most of us had hand-me-downs (as my 9 kids had)...and we were HAPPY with them. Yes...happy to have friends, great neighbors and loving families with stay at home moms...baking cookies or God forbid kidney stew if it was on sale. We did not need much..just a broomstick for the boys to play street ball...or a wrench to open the fire hydran ts (johnny pumps) on a hot sticky day, a corner to hang out on...a simple life.. That is what I am now looking for...that simple safe wonderful life with no locked doors and the ability to let the children travel as we did uptown/downtown and crosstown by bus...in total safety. Adults who smiled and said hello..The ability to pop into Church "Just For a Visit"...when the doors were always open. I know we will never be able to recapture those moments, but by the letters and notes on the Ascension Site...it seems that we are all looking for the same thing...the same simplicity....detachment. However, I don't think I will be able to detach my self from such happy memories. Thanks Ed and everyone who built this wonderful site...this Hall of Memories. May God bless you all and have a wonderful and joyous Easter...and next year at reunion time..."Let's Roll"...Everyone...time is too short. Because of the Ascension Reunions, that started before thi s site (sorry Ed) I have met my old classmates who for sure I never thought I would see again in this life. God is Good! Sorry this is so long..I just got on a role, and when I do...watch out..my typing can be as fast as my big mouth. Blessings to All.....
Bernadette Brawley Powers '51
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Bernadette Brawley Power's beautiful memories sure brought many of my own back to mind. You see Bernadette, My family the (Kearneys) lived at 985 Amsterdam Ave. in the early 40's. We had a coal/wood stove for cooking and heating water as there wasn't any hot water. I believe they called them cold water flats. You are so,so right we were poor and really didn't know it. My Mom said, years later in talking about rents back then that rent there was only $18 a month. I remember Gussie's Candy store. He had this tray of Chocolate Cremes he sold for a penny each. You picked the one you wanted in hopes of getting the "Pink" cream.. There were pink ones mixed in and if you picked a pink one you got a nickel candy bar.along with it. What a treat that was. I also remember when Macy's would set up their floats and things on 109th St. between Amsterdam and Broadway the day before the Thanksgiving Parade. My mom would take us over there so we could watch. We had a good vantage point from our fire escape to see the Parade go down Amst. Ave. past our house to 106th St. & turn East to Central Park. Peter Reeves was the large Grocery accross from 985. A few years later we moved around the corner to 161 W. 108th St. The Killcolley's lived there then. Years later our last moved was to 105th St. I would like to Thank Ed & everyone else involved for putting together this wonderful site so we can All take the walk down Memory Lane. Wishing all of you a Happy Easter! Helen Kearney Harding 47'
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IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY

I WALKED ONTO 107TH STREET AND AMSTERDAM AVENUE WITH PEARLY WHITE CONS. A NEW KID TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD. THE SMALL GROUP OF GUYS AND GALS ACCEPTED ME INTO THE CLAN BY STEPPING ON THEM.

THE GUYS WERE HAD NAMES LIKE JOEY, MANNY, CORNELIUS, VINNY, WALLY, THE TULLY TWINS JOEY AND JACKIE, BERNIE MC CROSSAN, THE BARRETT BROTHERS MICHAEL AND BILLY, ANDY MANOHAND, AND EDDIE O'CONNELL. JOHN O'DONAHUE, STANLEY AND TOM SMITH. ONCE A POLICEMAN SMACKED TOMMY. THE POLICEMAN ASKED HIM FOR HIS NAME AND TOMMY IN A SMART TONE ANSWERED "TOM SMITH". BAM! I WAS KNOWN AS TONY. A NICKNAME GIVEN TO ME BY AN ELEVATOR OPERATOR AT THE DEVONSHIRE HOTEL ON 112TH STREET AND BROADWAY. MY FAMILY HAD A ONE ROOM APARTMENT THERE. ON COLUMBUS AVENUE WERE THE LIKES OF DOUGLAS "DOUGGIE" MERCARDO, TONY VIRGINALS, THE ESTRADA BROTHERS, MELVIN, HECTOR, RAMON AND EDDIE, LESTER BOONE, RAUL CRUZ, RENE VELEZ AL "BUTTER" HERNANDEZ AND CHEO.

THE GIRLS WERE CARMEN ESCOBAR, PAT CLYNE (MY FIRST GIRLFRIEND), LUPE, JO JO, AGNES, PAT SULLIVAN AND TERRY COBURN. FROM COLUMBUS AVENUE IT WAS THE NOVAKS, ANNA. FRANCIS, BETTY AND FLORENCE, AND PAT BOONE. CARMEN'S DAD WAS A FAMOUS BOXER "SIXTO". HE STILL HAS A STADIUM NAMED AFTER HIM IN PUERTO RICO.

WE HUNG OUT AT CLEMS NEWSPAPER AND CANDY STORE ON 106TH STREET AND AMSTERDAM AVENUE. CLEM ROGOWITIZ WAS A PLAID SHIRT, MIDDLE AGE MAN, WITH GLASSES AND NO HAIR IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS HEAD. BUT CLEM MADE THE BEST CHOCOLATE AND VANILLA EGG CREAMS IN THE WESTSIDE.

WE HAD AN ARCH RIVAL AND IT WAS HOLY NAME ON 96TH STREET. NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN WERE THE BASKETBALL GAMES AT PS 165'S TOP FLOOR GYM. WE HAD A SLIGHT ADVANTAGE OVER VISITING TEAMS. WE KNEW WERE THE SIX PILLARS ON THE COURT WERE LOCATED. MANY A TIME A VISITING WOULD CRASH RIGHT INTO A PILLAR. AND WHO COULD FORGET THE BITTER GAMES/FIGHTS WITH GOOD SHEPARD.

BROTHER JAMES AND BROTHER PATRICK HAVING US TO GO TO THE RECTORY ON 106TH NEAR RIVERSIDE DRIVE AND CLEAN IT UP FOR TALKING IN CLASS.

AFTER GRADUATION SOME OF US WENT TO PAROCHIAL HIGH SCHOOLS LIKE CARDINAL HAYES AND BISHOP DUBOIS. WHILE OTHERS LIKE ME WENT TO
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, HUGHES AND ART AND DESIGN.

SOME OF US TOOK THE NUMBER 20 BUS ACROSS TOWN TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL, LOCATED AT 116TH STREET AND PLEASANT AVENUE. A VERY ITALIAN NEIGHBORHOOD. ON MANY OCCASIONS WE HAD TO RUN TO AND FROM THE SCHOOL FROM THE SAFETY OF THE BUS. OTHERS TOOK OLD RELIABLE "THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAYS."

WE WERE NO STRANGERS TO THE BOOKER T. WASHINGTON J.H - SCHOOL YARD. WE WOULD LEAVE HOME AROUND EIGHT AM AND WOULD NOT STOP UNTIL FIVE OF SIX PM. THIS WAS AFTER A FULL DAY OF TOUCH FOOTBALL, SOFTBALL, BASKETBALL, HANDBALL OR STICKBALL. A MAN THAT WAS A STAR AND NEVER BECAME ONE BECAUSE BLACKS WERE NOT ALLOWED IN THE NBA. HIS NAME "EDDIE THE PARKIE YOUNGER."

WE WENT TO SATURDAY CONFESSIONS AND CHEATED A BIT. WE WOULD COMPLETE OUR 15 HALE MARYS, 15 OUR FATHERS AND THE ACT OF CONTRITION ON THE WAY OUT OF THE ASCENSION.

WE WORE COOL CLOTHES TO CHURCH BUT NEVER BLUE JEANS OR SNEAKERS!. LOOKING BACK IT THINK THE SUITS WERE RATHER FUNNY LOOKING.

SOME WEEKENDS WE WOULD HEAD TO THE TULLY'S HOUSE IN THE ROCKAWAYS. MR AND MRS TULLY OWNED A BOARDING HOUSE AND WE STAYED IN THE BASEMENT. THAT WAS UNTIL MRS TULLY WOULD THROW US OUT BECAUSE OF ALL THE NOISE.

AS WE GOT OLDER WE BEGAN TO GO TOM FELLES BAR AND LIFT WEIGHTS. I REMEMBER THAT THE OLD GUYS USED TO HARASSED US UNTIL THE DAY THAT WE GOT BACK AT THEM. WE COULD NOT WALK INTO FELLES WITH FOOD BECAUSE THEY WOULD TAKE IT FROM US. SO WE MADE A BATCH OF DELICIOUS TUNA FISH SANDWICHES LETTUCE/TOMATOES/MAYO. WE FILLED A GRAND UNION BAG AND WALKED INTO THE BAR. WELL, THE BULLIES GRAB AND ATE THEM ALL. ON THE WAY OUT THE DOOR, MANNY AND ME HELD UP A COUPLE OF LABELS THAT READ "PUSS AND BOOTS CAT FOOD". WE DIDN'T RETURN TO FELLES FOR A FEW MONTHS.

WE HAD ROTTEN FOOD AND WATER BALLOONS FIGHTS. OUR CAMPING TRIPS TO SPRING LAKE WERE NOTHING MORE THAN A TEST OF HOW MUCH FOOD COULD WE CARRY UP A STEEP HILL AND THROUGH WOODS TO OUR CAMPSITE.

OUR PARTIES WERE HELD IN A DIMLY LITE APARTMENT AND WE POORLY HARMONIZED TO THE DUKE OF EARL, SONGS BY LITTLE ANTHONY, THE TEMPTATIONS AND THE BEACH BOYS.

THEN WE BEGAN TO GROW UP. SOME BECAME NYC COPS OR FIREMEN, MOVIE ACTORS, AND NURSES. SOME BECAME PARENTS AND MOVED AWAY. OTHERS WENT INTO THE SERVICE. WE LOST ANNABELLE AVILES WHO JOINED THE MARINES AND FOUGHT IN A VERY UGLY WAR IN VIETNAM.

BUT IF I CLOSE MY EYES - THE SITES, SOUNDS, AROMAS, THE LAUGHS AND TEARS OF THE OLD NEIGHBORHOOD ARE WITHIN MY REACH. OH YES, IT WAS A LONG TIME AGO, BUT TO MANY OF US - IT WAS ONLY YESTERDAY!

SWEET MEMORIES THAT CAN NEVER BE REPLACED.
SWEET MEMORIES THAT BRING THE PAST INTO THE PRESENT
SWEET MMEMORIES THAT I WILL CARRY BEYOND MY FINAL SLEEP.

WRITTEN BY JOHN "TONY" VARGAS
MARCH 15, 2002
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Yo Joe:

How's it goin ! Fugedabowdit !

Gelson's now, but da A&P between 108 & 109 on Amsterdam Ave.100 years ago.
Remember Joe ?
Loew's Olympia on Bway. betw. 106 & 107 and the Nemo on Bway betw 109 & 110
Hang out on the corner 108 & Amsterdam outside of "Dave & Salley's" candy store.
Kaplan's candy store to buy a piece of chocolate Hooten's for a penny, betw 108 & 109 on Amsterdam
Brother Victor, "that warm wonderful humanitarian loved
by all that crossed his path" smacking every kid's hand with a ruler until it swelled up.
We were the Shamrocks and the guys on Manhattan Ave. & 108 St were da Puerto Ricans
Croke Park uptown and Gaelic football
Da Knicks played at the 69th Regiment Armory on Park Ave.around 63rd St. before they reached the big time at the Garden
Pizza at V&T on Amsterdam betw 110 & 111 St.
An ice truck with an open back would come the street and an Italian guy would get those giant forceps, grab a big block of ice , put a burlap bag on his shoulder and carry it op to Danny Curran's top floor apt at 211 West 108 St. . While he was up there chopping up the ice to make it fit in Mrs. Curran's ice box we would climb up on the truck and grab one of ice picks and chop away on the ice which was our substitute for Haagen Das.
Anyway, da good old days !! Our whole world was within 3 or 4 blocks of where we lived. Now we have to concern ourselves about what's going on thousands of miles away in Afghanestan.

Sometimes I think we should all move back to 108 St., go back down to the basements of all the apt. houses, grab all the janitor's brooms, break off the broom part, shoplift a couple of Spaulding's ( a couple of white ones and a couple of pink ones) from the 5 & 10 on Broadway betw. 109 & 110 on the other side of the street and spend the rest of our lives playng stickball while we eat hot dogs wth sauerkraut, mustard and onions. I just hope Joe the hot dog guy is still there with his wagon,washing his dirty
hands in the hot dog water!!

Give me a call Joe Hilly, the next time you go to Gelson's and stop in to say hello.
By the way, I went to P.S. 165 across the street from Ascension on 108 St. I couldn't sing "O' Danny Boy" or do the jig so they wouldn't let me in to Ascension. I wouldn't have lasted anyway !!

Dick Anaya's e-mail message to Joe Hilly in Calabasas CA

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Jim De Berry
"Memories" Ascension Parish in 1954, a few memories, out of thousands more.

Coney Island, Rockaway and Tar Beach,
Riverside and Central Parks were in reach.
Al,s & Sal,s, Clem's candy store,
Joe the "HOT DOG" vendor, movie theaters galore.
Allen Freed on 1010 WINS a new radio show,
Doo Wop, a rock & roll begining, how were we to know?
Windows open, fire escapes to beat the summers heat
Friends
out late when it was safe on every street.
Gangs? Sure, each block a territory,
stickball, not guns was our goal for glory.
Bro. Gabriel, Edward, Joseph, Victor and Augustine,
paroled the streets like cops "a bustin"
There was Sunday Mass, as well as family dinner,
No big deal but it made us each a "winner".
Yes, there were negatives and problems, and often little hope,
but the positive memories helped us to cope!

Dedicated to all who REMEMBER!
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