Boyle-ing Points by Kevin Boyle
No wonder so many people from Brooklyn move to Rockaway—there’s a certain sameness to the places. There are the people. Friendly and funny. And then there are the characters. Rockaway’s got Beach 116 street; Brooklyn had the Junction.
I was heartened to learn (in recent Wave editions) that Rockaway had a movie theater popularly known as "the itch." Sounds familiar. Brooklyn moviegoers got their feet stuck to the floor in places called the College, the Graham, and the Nostrand. I can still feel the spring in the seat in a movie house in Bay Ridge, I think it was the Alpine or the Fortway.
I was also reminded recently that there’d been a candy store on Beach 129 Street known to the kids as Dirty Irv’s. Of course, I wondered immediately if it could measure up to Dirty Sam’s on Flatbush Avenue.
Sam’s was so esteemed for its grime, a song was started in its honor. Although it’s impossible to capture just how catchy a tune it was in this space, I can tell you that decades after the store’s demise, the song is as memorable as the one we used to sing about "Bungalow Bar." Surely, you recall that one. For those of you with advanced senility or just of a different generation or planet, Bungalow Bar was the ice cream truck with a shingled roof (much like a bungalow), which competed with the Good Humor man and Freezer Fresh. I remember the song but can’t remember exactly why Bungalow Bar was the object of such derision. I think they must have sold second rate stuff. They were the Hydrox cookies to Oreos. They were the C & C cola to Coke and Pepsi.
Or maybe we just didn’t have money to buy their ice cream and the song was just a musical sour grapes response.
I can’t remember the ice cream but the song? Well, that was a classic. Bungalow Bar tastes like tar, the more you eat, the sicker you are. Sometimes somebody would add a verse, Bungalow Bar tastes like tar, Take a bite and spit it far!
Kids, today? Ah, what do they know about disgusting places and things. Back in the day? We had anthems. Take Dirty Sams. All together now: When you open the door and you fall through the floor, you’re in Sam’s… Dirty Sams!…When you ask for a Coke and you start to choke, you’re in Sam’s….Dirty Sams!…When you ask for blue ice and you get some dead mice, you’re in Sam’s…Dirty Sam’s!
If the store didn’t get you—it was the kind of place your mother told you not to eat the candy even if it was wrapped—Sam, himself, would do the trick. You’d go in with a nickel for a Charleston Chew and this cigar-smokin’ little baldheaded creature from the black lagoon-lookin’ dude would come around the counter and make sure you weren’t gonna pocket anything without paying. As soon as you picked out your candy, he stuck out his hand—which was at least a couple of digits short of five fingers. He had two, maybe three fingers cut off at the knuckle. You were too skeeved out to actually count but you had to be careful to drop the coin in the middle of his palm.
You’d leave the store, take a peek at your own hand, making sure everything was in place. As you walked down Flatbush, you or one of your friends would softly start the hymn, "When you open the door and you fall through the floor…"
Boyle-ing Over: The Graybeards, a grassroots non-profit, will descend upon the Claddagh Inn on May 17 for a top-to-bottom spring spruce-up. Maybe those folks (Benjamin-Beechwood) across the street who are developing Arverne-by-the-Sea will donate a couple of dumpsters? Although the Claddagh is on the lookout for a new home, a spiffier place in the meantime might make the whole place look more appealing. What do you say, oh ye beneficent developers? Call 1-877-GRAYBEARDS (472-9232) to chip in.
***That blur that just passed you by might have been Matt Redden. The Xavier High School senior has set a number of school records (he’s either at the top or among the all time school leaders in the mile, the 3000 meter run, and the 3000 meter steeplechase). After setting a school record by running 9:08 in the 3000 meters he was invited to the prestigious Penn Relays. All he did there was completely obliterate his school record time—he ran a blazing 8:48. That’s almost two miles! (to us metrically challenged). He’s ranked nationally and will likely take his fast feet to Fordham to St. Francis College.
***Speaking of fast feet, Jim McVeigh vows to have faster feet next year and vows to regain the top spot in the Ocean Run. The question is, is this hall of fame runner faster than Father Time?
***Many readers will remember how I correctly picked War Emblem for last year’s Ke ntucky Derby (ok, so I picked the horse after the race). Details, details. Well, this year, go collect your winnings after putting your money on Ten Most Wanted.
You readers still in need of a good laugh? Well, Suntan Dan Edwards likes Funny Cide out of Sackatoga Stable—no misspellings there. Actually, I know some insiders like this pick because of the behind-the-scenes skill of Gus Williams (who helped build Sunny’s Mansion in Saratoga). It so happens, I like this horse, too, because he’s the son of Distorted Humor. (No relation).