Looking To Buy Fireworks
Columbia Street is paved with the cobble stones and you could hear the cars and trucks rumbling and approaching from several blocks away. In addition, we could see a peddler with his horse and wagon selling fruits and vegetables. The peddlers call out to potential customers with a cry for attention “Grrrrrrrr-Yes, I have fresh fruits and vegetables today”.
Most windows had to be open because of the hot weather. The sound of the peddler’s cry announcing his arrival would invite housewives to hurry and buy their daily produce before the sun took its toil and cooked everything on the wagon. The horse pulling the wagon would leave a residue of pee and manure as they traveled along the cobble stone streets. Combined with the 90 degree temperature we experienced the pungent sent of live stock smack in the middle of Brooklyn.
Continuing our journey we passed a large number of condemned three and four story apartment buildings that were scheduled for demolition to make way for the construction of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Even in the daylight these abandoned buildings looked haunted. The security guards were not very diligent and many of the kids in the neighborhood would sneak into these buildings sometimes during day and sometimes during the night to strip them of copper and led or any thing else they could find that they thought could be turned into cash. It beats collecting 2 cents bottles. My mother warned me that I better not follow the older boys into these dangerous dilapidated buildings where I could fall several stories and break a couple of legs or die.
She also went on to say that if by chance I survived the fall I would face the death penalty when the police brought me home. So either way I was dead. My fear was that she would really kill me but I am still tempted to one day sneak into one of these buildings and gather what ever valuable materials I could find on the ground floor. I daydreamed that I would collect a mother load of copper and led, bring my stuff to the junkyard and walk away with as much as $50.00. I could then buy a new bike to replace the old bike I didn’t have.
As I was in this state of never, never land. I was daydreaming of all my loot and what I could do with it. Suddenly, I could hear Pecker saying. “Hey big head what the hell are you thinking of? At this rate we’re never gona find this guy.” I came back to earth and said “okay, okay, I was just thinking of how many ash cans, cherry bombs, whistlers and firecrackers we could buy.” So he gave me a look and I knew that I better stay focused on our mission.
As we crossed Carroll Street we could see the corner of Columbia and President Street where Louie the hot dog guy was setting up shop. Louie boiled the best hot dogs in Brooklyn with or without sauerkraut. But his homemade red sauce spicy onions were the best he had to offer. Louie would stack his homemade onions on to his unbelievable hot dogs and my mouth started watering just thinking about it. People would come from all over, dock workers, factory workers including their bosses and line up for lunch at his hot dog stand. Louie’s customers would order as many as three or four hot dogs with onions at a time. I was getting hungry just smelling the aroma of Louie’s hot dogs.
I kept thinking over and over again, hot dogs or fireworks? Okay should we get hot dogs or fireworks? But we couldn’t afford to give in to this temptation and waste part of our loot just to stuff or faces with Louie’s hot dogs. We saved our money for months and after all, the 4th of July holiday only comes around once a year.
“Hey Louie!” I was just trying to get his attention. “How many? How many?” “No hot dogs today Louie, we’re just trying to find the guy who is selling fireworks. (Can you point us in the right direction?)” “No way, you’re too young to be shooting off fireworks. If I tell you where to go and you blow off one of your hands or loose an eye, you’re father will come looking for me and smash my head in.” “Come on Louie we’re old enough. We saved our money and we’ve been looking forward to buy and shoot off these fireworks for months”. “No way kid, use your money to buy a hot dog or egg cream or just go to the movies. Hop along Cassidy is playing around the corner at the Happy Hour Theater. I can’t help you and even if I could I wouldn’t tell you where to buy fireworks.”
Strike one, Louie will not help us. So me and Pecker started to lay low walking around President Street looking for teenagers with brown bags. A teenager with a brown paper shopping bag could be solid clue as to where we should look for our fireworks dealer. I needed Pecker to have a keen eye of an Eagle, even though he looked more like a chicken, in order to spot the building where the teenagers were coming from. No sooner than I completed going over our strategy with Pecker I spotted fat ass Roger walking toward us with an overstuffed brown paper shopping bag this maybe the big break we need to find the fireworks dealer.