A Bronx Boy's Tale

A Bronx Boy's Tale

by Jimmy Newell


Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Self-Help/Relationships, Biographies & Memoirs/Memoirs, Parenting & Families/Family Relationships, Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description


A BRONX BOY’S TALE is an account of what it was like to live in a very special place at a very special time. If you came of age in the Baby Boomer Era or just want to read a story of what it was like, you should read A BRONX BOY’S TALE.

If you grew up in the Bronx, you will recognize the stores, the streets and avenues. You will remember all the events I describe. In short, you will recognize yourself. You will see yourself playing triangle and stickball and ringalevio. You will remember The Mick. You will remember Broadway Joe changing football forever.

Sample Chapter

We had about forty minutes for lunch, and then it was back to class for our weekly spelling test. The afternoon dragged until, thankfully, Sister Margaret handed out the week’s Young Catholic Messenger. This was a magazine with short articles about current events and other topics. We were allowed to read this quietly to ourselves until one thirty, when we would have a group discussion on some of the articles we read.

Like everyone else in the class, I turned to the back page first, which had a joke section. I didn’t hear anyone laugh, so I imagined that everyone found this week’s entries as stupid as I did. I then turned to a story about the future. It described how people in the twenty-first century would have to wear space suits because the earth’s atmosphere would be so polluted. Next came sports.

The annual Army-Navy game was coming up, and though I was a Notre Dame fan, I read an article about President Kennedy attending the game. Since he was the commander-in-chief, he would sit on Army’s side for the first half and then Navy’s for the second half. They wouldn’t even let him watch a game in peace.

Sister Margaret then got our attention and we discussed some of the things we had just read. Even though Kathy wasn’t in my class, I did my best to be clever whenever the opportunity presented itself. I had learned back in sixth grade that the surest way to a woman’s heart is by dropping a funny line at just the right moment. This was an absolute necessity for those of us not blessed with being overly cute. So, as we began our discussion, I was armed and ready with a few well-chosen witticisms hoping they would somehow be relayed to Kathy later that day. But no sooner had we begun than Sister Irene Mary’s voice came over the PA system, and my opportunities to be funny were soon done for the day.

Sister Irene Mary matter-of-factly announced that President Kennedy had been injured in Dallas. As we all looked around at one another confused as to what the big deal was, I yelled that he had probably gotten a nosebleed just thinking about sitting in the cheap seats at the Army-Navy game. The class thought this was worthy of a giggle or two, but their laughter was soon interrupted when Sister Irene Mary once again turned on the PA system.

The minute we heard the crackle of the PA coming on, we sat still and did not utter a word. Sister Margaret, seated at her desk, did not have to tell us to pay attention when she raised her head and looked straight toward the rear of the classroom. This time Sister Irene Mary’s voice was noticeably different; she said in a stern, monotone, “I am sorry to report that President Kennedy is dead.”

People often say that everything slows down when you’re in an automobile accident. Maybe that’s also true when we hear shocking news, such as the assassination of a beloved president. I can still see Sister Margaret with her mouth wide open in shock and her head swinging backward, almost hitting the blackboard behind her desk. The girls were crying, and the boys didn’t know what to do. No one seemed to be moving, but during those brief seconds on an otherwise quiet Friday afternoon, fifty or so thirteen-year-olds suddenly aged, if not matured, right before one another’s eyes. We were completely unaware that an old world was ending as a new, uncertain, and scary world took its place.

After the initial shock wore off, if it ever really did, our class just sat there not knowing what to do or say. Sister Margaret suggested that we pray, and I guess we did, but for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what prayer was said.

Friday afternoons are notoriously slow, especially between the hours of two and three o’clock. It is believed by many in my class that the earth, at least the Bronx portion of it, drifts into a twilight zone where all movement ceases and humankind, at least the eighth grade portion of it, enters a state of suspended animation. It is thought that while in this state, our hearts stop beating and time comes to a crushing halt. Yet, on this particular Friday afternoon, time seemed to defy the laws of physics as we leapt forward to three o’clock in the blink of an eye. For no sooner had Sister Irene Mary uttered, “the president is dead” than Sister Margaret followed with the refrain “through Christ our Lord, Amen,” and we were walking down the stairs with our books and filing out of the building.

One of the girls suggested that we should go over to the church to pray for President Kennedy. I don’t know if it was because we were especially religious or because we just didn’t want to go home yet, but a bunch of us went into the church. It seemed like the right thing to do.

Later, the guys and I still had our regularly scheduled football game, but no one seemed too excited as we merely went through the motions. It wasn’t until a little later that we were made aware just how deep our malaise ran.

There is an unwritten, though sacred, rule that states that all play stops with neither team being charged a time-out when a particularly interesting example of God’s handiwork, as expressed in a rather appealing form of femininity, comes within viewing distance of the field. We had indeed become slaves to our newly acquired hormones. There were, in fact, two regularly scheduled biologically induced time-outs: one for K. Boff and the other for Stretch.

K. Boff was, how shall I say, healthy. Though Mike found her bordering on plump, PJ, Trent, and the rest of the players would gladly suffer the extra girth she bore. Her propensity for wearing skintight jeans and extremely tight sweaters delighted us sufficiently enough to break off play no matter how critical an impact it might have on the outcome of the game.

Stretch was another cause for footballus interruptus. Unlike K. Boff, Stretch was tall (hence her nickname Stretch) and slender; she was quite statuesque, really. Her overwhelming attributes, to which none could gainsay, were her legs. (Did I mention that I am trying to use all the vocab words we are studying for the COOP exam?) In furtherance of accentuating her God-given attributes, she took to wearing extremely short, red skirts accompanied by sheer, black stockings—the pièce de résistance. Well, you get the point.

Today, however, the game proceeded without female distractions. When PJ noted that we hadn’t seen either of our expected sideline attractions, we all stopped what we were doing. When Trent chimed in and said that they had in fact passed by, but that we had kept playing without taking the time to pay attention, that’s when we gave up on the game and decided to go home.

When I got home, my mother had the TV on, which was not like her, but given the day’s events, I really wasn’t surprised. Every station had somethingabout the assassination.

Whether it was the new president being sworn in on Air Force One or a discussion about the guy they arrested, Lee Harvey Oswald, every channel carried something about what had happened to President Kennedy. Of course, there were those who thought the Russians or Cubans had done it, but it did appear that Oswald had pulled the trigger even if someone else put him up to it.


Excerpted from "A Bronx Boy's Tale" by Jimmy Newell. Copyright © 2013 by Jimmy Newell. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Jimmy Newell

Jimmy Newell

Jimmy Newell was born and bred in the Bronx during a time he calls the Golden Age of New York City in postwar America,

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