Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Now and then.

This blog is by Frank Verdi, an old, old friend.

Greg was one of my best pals when we were young teens growing up in Coney Island, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Greg had a magnificent 1951 Schwinn Black Phantom and he let me sit on it once in a while. I also had a bike and we would ride around all the Coney Island hot spots. Hot dogs and clams at Nathan’s. Delicious creamy frozen custard at Pappas.Egg creams at Mr. Birbil’s Luncheonette and chocolate shop. Knishes at Grabstein’s. I have to tell you that my buddy Greg was a chubby little kid as evidenced by these photos but when he grew up he became a lady-killer. Go figure.

We had Steeplechase Park and the boardwalk. We had the roller coasters, the Ferris Wheel, the games of chance, amusements and Nishizaka’s Skeeball alleys. That’s the world we lived in and that was Coney Island.

We also had the Brooklyn Museum for culture and painting. Going into Manhattan on the subway and seeing all the wonders of the city. Even going all the way to the Bronx Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. Sometimes with my kid brother, sometimes with Greg and sometimes with Billy Nishizaka, who’s family I used to dine with and ate dishes with noodles, shrimp and other wonderful Japanese delicacies. Billy’s father used to own huge skeeball alleys where I used to work also.

For me, growing up poor, it felt like I was rich to have all these wonderful things to do and places to go. And I worked all summer and in Coney Island there was always a job for a kid because kids worked cheap. I was a Barker at a “Guess your weight” game, worked at “Walking Charlie”, sold Ice Cream in the blazing sun walking the hot sands on the beach and of course the Nishizaka skeeball alleys. What a place to pick up girls. I bet you’re wondering “what the hell is Walking Charlie” I will tell you in another article.

Then there was Greg. A great guy. He got married. I got married. Then for 50 years we lost touch until one day we found each other. The amazing thing was that with the entire world that Greg saw and all the things he did, when I saw him after 50 years had gone by; he was the same kid I grew up with. And you know what, I knew he would be.

Then Greg said, come to Greece. And I did and stayed at the beautiful home that Greg built. I had a wonderful time. My only regret was that we weren’t 15 again so we could hop on our bikes and cycle all over Greece


  1. i have heard this story many, many times.. and it still touches me.. you guys are so lucky to have each other..

  2. Frank is a very sentimental guy, he brings it out in all of us

  3. Thanks Greg. You bring out the best in me.
    The worm is right.

  4. Frank, this is truly a wonderful piece and in your remembrance of a time, a childhood gone by bring back vividly to us all the way it was to be a kid in Coney Island.

  5. Thanks Jeannine,

    I'm glad you enjoyed it.