Frizz’s challenge this week is the letter H. H for home, which was the objective not only of brave Ulysses, but also of every man who gets on base (spring training has already started so get ready for more baseball references). In fact the following H piece that I submitted to Frizz features my beloved stickball field (the field of dreams) of my home town.
My Home in the Bronx
My home in the Bronx sat at the bottom of quiet street – alongside the trestle of the IRT Bronx Park East station. It was Sagamore Street, a short but wide block that ran from Unionport Road and the border of Bronx Park at the top of the hill down one block, then under the train station, and then one block more until it ended at White Plains Road. I always see the neighborhood as a forgotten little pocket.
Together with three apartment buildings on Unionport Rd., an old farmhouse, a large empty lot of weeds behind the apartment buildings, a couple of stores up the block under the trestle, and a newsstand, we formed a self-sufficient neighborhood. It was large enough that the people down at the farthest building, 1980, formed their own group – although both groups mixed freely. Today it looks a bit different. They’ve built on the lots, torn down the farmhouse – as well as the one in the back, old Mrs. Yates’ place – and built small houses, which extend into the open area behind the park.
It’s still recognizable though. The park is still there, although the terrain has shifted a bit over the years. The three apartment buildings still stand, as well as does my house, 662 Sagamore St. – still alongside the trestle and sided now by five little houses instead of two. The street is still wide, and remains ready to host a stickball game. But it looks like they’re not playing much; the plate and bases aren’t marked like before – by chalk and by etchings from sharp rocks.
It’s much quieter now.
What it used to be was the greatest place on earth. For me at least. Those stickball games on the long summer nights, those endless days of playing ball, wasting time, sitting on the benches, being on the block. It was eden. The memory of that neighborhood, my block, still burns with so soft a flame in my heart.