Chapter 01 – (A Place Called Brooklyn/Red Hook Stories)



Pepino AKA FJCorn “A Place Called Brooklyn” Story Narrator.

I recall Pepino an Italian Molesi kid who lives with his mother, father and teenage sister. Its summer of the late 1940’s and he’s talking to himself while he is trying to get to sleep during one of the hottest summers on record….. He is trying to sleep one night while thinking…….

“Hot, hot so freakin hot…. I’m lying here thinking to myself, that it’s summer; the World War to end all Wars is over. Everyone around me seems happy that our soldiers are returning home from Europe, Africa, Asia and who knows where else. But the heat is unbearable. It must be 1 AM I’m lying here with only my fruit of the loom shorts trying to get some sleep.”

“No way too cool off, it’s about 93 degrees and its dark. So what do you expect at 1AM? I can’t sleep while lying here in the middle of the night, I could barely see except for the glow of the street lamp shining through our third floor apartment window. Why did my father, mother and sister emigrate from Mola Di Bari Italy during the great depression about ten or twelve years ago and settled in this God forsaken coldwater flat in Brooklyn, New York? Tonight it was more like a hot sauna flat. I came into the family picture years later. I am the only one in my family born in the USA. The neighborhood we live in wasn’t much to look at. We live close to the docks and industrial area. We’re surrounded by a verity of factories. The row houses in our neighborhood have seen better days. There are no trees or grass except for the weeds growing in vacant lots intermingled with an assortment of discarded garbage and assorted junk.

Francesco $ Friends Taking a Break

Francesco $ Friends Taking a Break

The families and groups of single men who lived in this area were primarily blue collar day laborers and dock workers known as longshoremen. Since I can’t sleep because of the freaken heat I’m just lying here wet from head to toe thinking of who knows what.

My body is just trying to help me cool off with all this perspiration which is not doing much good. So now I’m not just hot I’m wet too. I wish that my Mom would let me sleep on the fire escape like my teenage friend Roger does who lives directly above me. When I ask her she just yells at me “whata you crazeee, you can falla off anda breaka you neck.” Maybe I should do it anyway. But if she finds me out there sleeping my Mom will break my neck anyway. So I’ll just lay here and try to think about how nice and cool Roger must feel.

Red Hook Brooklyn Dock Workers

Red Hook Brooklyn Dock Workers.

No matter what I do I can’t sleep it’s just too damn hot. I’m here in the middle of the dining room on a cot which miraculously coverts into my part time bedroom when the lights go out. I’m thinking well I’ll just reflect on the “good things in my world” such as school is out for the summer. It’s July and my buddies and I have to get ready for the big 4th of July celebration. After all, I’m the first American in my family. I just keep thinking about the fireworks, big explosions, and the smell of gunpowder. What a wonderful feeling, maybe with any kind of luck I’ll fall asleep with a smile on my face.

No such luck, my body is running out of water and I have to refill my tank or dehydrate. After all I do not want to disappoint the mosquito vampires who love to suck my blood from my wet hot body. Sleep, get up, fireworks, sleep, drink water, get up, I tell myself over and over again. I keep telling myself to just get out of bed and get some water from the kitchen sink and just maybe I’ll fall asleep.

So I set the plan in motion. I head towards the kitchen. I keep saying to myself. (Don’t forget to make some noise. Try not to wake everybody up and get some water.) Yes, noise is important to let the mice and cockroach gangs, who are forging for food, know you’re on the move. Water is my goal this hot humid night but I also have to remember to rinse the water glass several times so that I do not swallow any roach protein in the process.

Good work I made all the right moves without waking everybody up, stepping on a mouse or inadvertently eating a cockroach in my quest for water. So now I’m back in bed, oh sorry, my cot, it’s about 2 AM and I’m longing for sleep. I just keep thinking of all the good stuff and adventure that I planned for tomorrow morning when I hook up with my best friend Pecker. I’m so tired, even with all the heat, sweat, and bugs all over my body, it didn’t stop my eyes closing and I finally drifted into a deep sleep.

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8 thoughts on “Chapter 01 – (A Place Called Brooklyn/Red Hook Stories)

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  6. Hi there, i’m from Mola di BARI my name is Domenico,or mimi’ I went to Canada’ in 1969 Iwas 22 years old already so things were a bit different that they were in Brooklin after the war which was when i was born. Things like you said they were the same in Mola I remember very well no flushing toilet no heat and forget air conditioner,all i’m trying to say is that i can relate to the life style you guys went through i can also say that it was hard living,unless you’ve been there don’t know what is like.But when i was growing up i thought you guys had it made in the US whoom ever cameback from there was well dressed was buying house and other things i’m talking in the early fifties now,so i never thought you people went through hell just the same as us. At any rates you’re story is quite amazing and is good to tell people like me what was really like back then.I’ve been in Brooklin i still have an aunt which lives on Smith close to
    the molese club

  7. I love your stuff. We came to Brooklyn NY in1949. Everything was like you write about. Even down to the unbearable heat in the summer. Boy do I remember.
    I will be reading every day what you write about, I love it, thank you 😊

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