Saturday, November 20, 2010

PS120, The Grammer School on "The Hill"

Way back when Queensborough Hill was still in it's infancy PS120 was the neighborhood school we went to from Kindergarten to Eight Grade. The classes were marked A and B and we got to know our classmates since some of us were together for more than Eight years. Not only did we get to know each other but our teachers got to know us. This created quite a family like existence.  The school had a yard that was fenced in certain sections by a fence that was maybe a story  and a half and in other sections by a fence that was a little over five feet tall. Before classes, for about forty-five minutes in the morning and at lunch time, every one went home for lunch, all the students would congregate in the yard until they were summoned by the teachers to line up and go into classes. If the weather was nice, and I mean sunny and dry not necessarily warm, each class had a time for exercise during the school day. The school yard had enough room for two softball fields but usually only one at a time was used. There was a full court basketball court right in center-field which was always in use even if softball games were being played. Sometimes there were full court games but most of the time half court games with two or three men on each side. In left field of the main softball field some two hundred feet or so away were two handball courts. To the left were the steps going into the school where some used to congregate to talk sports, girls or play craps after school. In certain areas were fast pitch sites. These only needed two guys and a sawed off broom-stick for a bat. A tennis ball or high bouncer (Spauldeen) was used since we all could throw curves with them. A box was drawn on the wall from shoulders to knees representing the strike zone. A game could be played by two people, sometimes four with an outfielder being used. We played ring-a-leevio, tag, Chinese handball, in this school-yard.

After school we'd go home to change into our play clothes and return to the school-yard to play until dinner time. Weekends would see Roller-Hockey and Moose and the big guys would kill one another. In the summer the big guys would go there after work, they were sixteen and up, to each chip in a dime for a new clincher and play softball with the winning team keeping the ball. Back then we never threw the ball away. When the cover would come off we'd tape it with black tape. When a bat split we would try to nail it and tape it using it until it became useless. We used wooden bats only and they were expensive, maybe anywhere from a buck to three or four dollars. The kids heard that the Babe used a bat that was around forty-four ounces and at least thirty-six inches long, so we used heavy bats, usually about thirty-six ounces and the same length. The games were quite good. One game played between 8A and 8B resulted in an one to nothing win for 8B with the potential tying run on third with no outs.

At least three or four times a week there would be fist fights. Somebody went home bleeding. Funny but no one was sued and no parent got involved, unless of course it was really a dirty gang fight. But then who would want their parents involved. If you lost Mom would usually beat you up for fighting; if you won you didn't let them know. Somehow you got the feeling Dad didn't mind if you got into a fight. The cops would raid the crap game every so often. The guys would scatter and the cops kept the money. You didn't want to be brought home by the cops because then even Dad would become incensed. Cops, Teachers, Priests and Nuns were never wrong and you always were and that goes for any adult neighbor, if they had a gripe.

Naturally there were girls in the school-yard before school commenced but never after school was over. It wasn't because they weren't invited but for some reason they deferred, especially if they wanted to keep their reputation. One named Helen could beat most guys in a good fist fight but when she got a little older she refrained because her reputation as a tom-boy was keeping the romantic ones at bay.

Little by little Queensborough Hill matured and more room was needed for the emerging student body. New wings extended out into the school-yard until there was very little room left to do anything. The roller-hockey games, the softball games, the crap games, handball, basketball and the fights are all gone. Only echos from the past are heard but the ones hearing them are dwindling. But I believe somewhere there is a school-yard where the guys and gals can get together . Everybody knows each other and there is always something to do, someone to talk to, lots of laughs and youth reigns supreme.
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