Hopscotch, an ancient children’s game although nothing new, can be traced back to ancient Rome before it ever came to Red Hook. Ancient Rome was where children played it first. The kids in my neighborhood, however, were not the first English speaking children to play, that honor goes to the 17th-century English children, who named it: “Scotch-hop” or “Scotch-hopper” as they called it.
It’s a long day but it is worth it. We’ve finished six carpet gun pistols and two rifles. We brake up for the day and as I am starting toward home I notice that Joanie and some other girls are playing “hopscotch”. I will not admit it to my friends but I like playing Hopscotch with Joanie. Joanie is about ten years old and lives across the street from me on Luquer Street. Joanie is a pretty girl, and she’s a little taller than me. She has brown eyes and brown hair, made up in pigtails. She likes to wear farmer jeans and sneakers.
(Pic) Playing Hopscotch With Joanie.
(Pic) Hopscotch Game It’s A Girl Game.
I am calling out to her to say ‘Hello’. She looks up at me and says: “Hey Pippino, come play Hopscotch with us.” Well, I’m looking around and I don’t see any of my friends hanging around, so why not? “OK.”
I’m running over to her side of the street and she gives me a roller skate key to play with. The Hopscotch boxes are already laid out in chalk on the sidewalk with boxes numbered from one to nine and a winner box at the top. You can play with two, three or four people. The first player has to toss a bottle cap or roller skate key into the first box. Then hop with one or two feet over and around the box with the key in it. You are not allowed to have two feet in a box or touch any lines with your foot when hopping or you’re out and the next player gets a turn. If you hop into each box, turn and hop all the way back you go again and toss your key into the next numbered box (#2). If you don’t make any mistakes you can continue to the next box (#3). If you are able to hop in all the boxes before anyone else, you win the Hopscotch game.
I’m pretty good at this game but I can’t beat Joanie (a girl). If my buddies found out that I lose to a girl they will laugh and tease me to death. That’s why I play this game when my buddies aren’t around. Joanie and I play a couple of games and Joanie wins every game hands down. I’ve had enough, being whipped by a girl is no fun so I’m crossing the street and going home.
As I climb the stairs I can hear Roger talking to his mother Emma. So I’ll keep climbing the stairs all the way up to the top floor apartment where Roger lives. I never knock on Roger’s apartment door it is always open. So I walked in and asked Emma where Roger went? She says: “He’s in his laboratory”.
Roger’s family has a double apartment or a total of eight rooms. It is big but it always looks crowded to me, after all, nine people lived there. Roger’s laboratory and bedroom combination is a small room about eight by ten feet. The room is located a way in the back with one window. Roger notices me coming into his room and says: “What’s up Keyno?”
I tell him what our gang is working on all day and that we are making carpet gun pistols and rifles; he comes alive and says: “WOW! You guys had a busy day!” “Yeah, but we’re stuck on how to make a carpet cannon.” Roger looks at me and says: “Well maybe I can design one for you.” He sits at his little table while I’m sitting on his bed. He takes a pad and pencil and starts drawing. Quickly transferring one idea after another, ripping at least six or eight drawings before he says: “I GOT IT!”
(Pic)The Carpet Gun Cannon Design Will Be Like The Rifle.
It is amazing to see all the details and instructions he is putting together on his drawing. I say: “WOW! This looks great but I don’t know if me and my pals can make this thing?” He says:
” I make the Cannon pretty much like the rifle. The big difference will be the size and the fact that we will use an old bicycle tire instead of a rubber band. I have to work on the trigger because the close pin is too small to hold a tire tube. Just put all the materials together and I will be there to help you guys make this cannon once I figure out how to make the trigger.” He continues to say enthusiastically:
“You need to find a couple of two by fours, an old bicycle inner tube, nails, some small sticks, a rubber ball, rubber bands, rope or twine, etc, etc.” I respond: “Roger, wait a minute, I’ll never remember all this stuff.” “OK, OK, I will make a list for you to follow.” “Thanks, Roger, I can’t wait to work with you on the carpet gun cannon.” Roger looks like he wants to ask me something, so I suggest: “Roger, do you have something on your mind?”
“Matter of fact I do. What would you say if I asked you to help me build a small pigeon coop on our roof?” This takes me by surprise, I am lost for words and it takes me a couple of minutes to respond.
“I had dreams about making a coop on our roof, but for one thing my parents will be against it. The Defonte’s who own the building will be against it. The women in the neighborhood will be against it. I will be scared shitless trying to sneak all the wood, tarpaper, shingles and chicken wire to the roof. Then there’s all the banging to put all this stuff together to make a coop. If we could do all this without getting caught, then there’s the money we need to buy all this stuff not to mention the cost for the birds and the feed.” Roger doesn’t say anything until I finish talking.
“You know what, you’re such a dick head. How did you come up with all this stuff? Maybe you should go hide in the toilet. Look at you! You had the balls to go find Blackie Parisi in that shithole on President Street to by fireworks. You may be just a kid but you have to take some chances in order to get what you want. Just think about it and try not to pee your pants. Meanwhile, I will work on putting some money away for the material and the birds. So maybe one day when you stop being afraid of all this stuff we’ll talk about this again.”
Stunned, I don’t say another word. I leave his apartment and go downstairs to my apartment on the second floor. I have dinner, and then I listen to some radio shows before I go to bed.