1636 University Avenue
First of all, there’s no way the court between the buildings could’ve been that narrow (1636 is on the right). Somehow they shrunk the entire courtyard in the 40 years since I lived there.
Long before we had heard of squash or racquet ball, we had a version that must’ve been annoying to the – yes I remember grownups yelling all the time while we bounced a ball from wall to wall.
And that stoop, which I looked up the derivation of once, Dutch, has also been shrunk down.
So that was University Avenue. I never knew why it was called University. I never saw any University around there, but I found out later.
Anyway, University Avenue was a wide boulevard, still is, with a concrete island in the center, and plenty of cars and buses going by.
And my friend, George Rothe (and here’s where GR is really useful because he can tell you which part of this story or any other story is true and which part is a figment of a confused imagination). My other fault, and you may have noticed this already, is that I tend to favor long run on sentences that meander around before getting to the point, sort of like what I’m doing now. And this is the age of attention spans geared to memes so I’ll have to call on my other friend, Andy Gordon, who was a school teacher for 30-something years to fix all this meandering up.
So, to the point. University is a wide blvd. I lived on the first floor on one side of the avenue, facing the avenue, and George lived on the other side. Either the 4th or 5th floor?
One of us, probably me, got the idea of taking a spool of thread, I remember his mother was a seamstress, and seeing if we could get the thread to go from his high window, across the blvd and into my window on the first floor.
It required a lot of planning, and an understanding of the traffic signals, and how high were adults with hats on. I would compare the undertaking to building the Brooklyn Bridge. With the caveat that there was absolutely no purpose to it.
It was like a bridge, given that it would connect two sides of a sort of gulf, but that’s about it.
I DON’T RECOMMEND THIS TO ANY KIDS WHO COME ACROSS THIS
1. George ties one end of the spool of thread to the window guard and tosses the spool out the fifth floor window to me. I’m waiting on the sidewalk below. The spool immediately gets tangled up on the window below George’s.
He has to go down to his neighbor and explain that accidently his mother dropped some thread out the window. And it’s caught on the window guard.
In case you didn’t grow up in the city, you should at least be told about window guards… [Ed. Not here you don’t].
Well, the neighbor was puzzled about how a spool of thread, (and it was black thread btw) had wound up on her window sill. But George untangled it and was able to unwind enough thread so that I could get the spool which had rolled off the sidewalk between two cars.
Oh, did I have a mop or broom handle with me? Yes, I think a stickball bat, and I had stuck a thin nail in the top to act as a spindle for the spool of thread.
So by holding the stick with the thread in the air, I ran across to the concrete island while we had the light…
And voila. Halfway there.
END OF PART ONE