Hoppin’ the Tracks

Freight train

A few months ago before I published The King of Kreskin Avenue, I was looking at Facebook pages dedicated to Buffalo, NY and came across a FB group called “I Grew Up in North Buffalo”.

Since the book is a coming of age story mainly set in the late 1960’s that features a neighborhood in North Buffalo, I was intrigued, and I joined.

It has been an absolute blast!

I’ve reconnected to people I have not seen in fifty years, one of whom (thank you George) even shared a 4th grade classroom photo that was simply awesome. Funny, my grandkids could not pick me out of the lineup, but that still did not stop me from regaling them with my tales of my Mexican Hat Dancing Prowess learned in the gym at PS 21. Even today, when the spirit strikes, I like to bust out a Mexican Hat Dancing move.

I took the opportunity to reconnect with classmates, neighbors and places, many now long gone.  Street games, winter follies, best places to eat, home grown shops and their owners, public schools within walking distance. I even got notes from some folks who remembered my Dad as their Scoutmaster.

I got a real kick out of one post that asked, “Who remembers hopping the trains behind the cop station on Linden and getting shot by the guy in the caboose with rock salt?”

I remembered. In fact, I used hopping the tracks in the book as a little slice of life anecdote to illustrate what growing up in North Buffalo was like. I offer that anecdote here.

For you North Buffalo purists, please note that I’ve fictionalized the names of the streets but you’ll instantly recognize where I’m talking about, as well as reliving all of the lectures you received from your parents about the gruesome consequences of having a moving train sever the limbs of those children for whom safety was not – or ever – first.

Full confession: I never paid much attention to those lectures even though losing legs to a freight train would have meant the very end of my Mexican Hat Dancing career.

Me and my friends just wanted to get to the ball field as fast as we possibly could.

Hoppin’ the Tracks

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