When my brother and I were younger we played games in our room, usually an assortment of made-up things to pass the time, but the feats to see who was stronger or faster, were serious business!. When the weather shed it’s snow and cold, we could be found outside, on the playground. He in the sandbox, playing with matches and fluid to light the barbeque (yes, he was a pyro) and I on the swingset or hot metal slide. There were also those “family” ocassions, when Pachisi or the checkerboard for a game of checkers was brought out of the coat closet for the four of us to battle one on one with the roll of the dice.
I can remember my father telling stories of his youth, which was so very different than ours. He grew up in New York City, Washington Heights to be exact. I thought it was a cool place, but then again, as I child I always fancied the more odd or bohemian and thought those children were lucky to have so much within their reaches, but i quickly learned that the city is no place for childhood, according to my dad.
The one place that I found most interesting was the roof of his apartment building. That is where my father practiced playing the drums. It is actually a great place to play them, for the city’s hum, drummed out, no pun intended, the racket he was surely making.
One of the most unusual uses for the city rooftop, can be found in the buildings that house the schools. Dad didn’t grow up with expanses of land between buildings, so where else were they to put the gymnasium? That’s right, he had gym class on the top floor, which was the roof. A few years after telling us this fact, we saw firsthand what he meant. On a trip to see my parents good friends who lived in Brooklyn, we drove up and down the streets of his old neighborhood. Dad was always pointing up, to show the gargoyles that donned the facade, but we slowed down to a stop, when he pointed up, it was a school, his old stomping ground. Where he dribbled basketballs, learned a proper push up, and played the all-time kids favorite – Dodge Ball.
My brother seemed bothered by this and asked why there was a fence on the roof, and Dad said that they’d lose too many balls if it weren’t there. Of course they would, not to mention that someone may fall off themselves!.
-dld January 24, 2011-
*P. S. #187, Public School #187
ThinkingTen – On Location, Mondays: On the roof