Monday, November 7, 2016

Rites to Manhood in the Bronx

“AS PANTHERS, WE MOVED IN PACKS. Whether it was going to Frank’s Pizza on Jerome Avenue, or to the nearby David Marcus theater, or to Schweller’s or Epstein’s deli for a corned beef on rye, we felt like we owned that stretch between Gun Hill Road and Mosholu Parkway, that it was an extension of our neighborhood. But when it came to meandering up and down Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse, going to the Loew’s Paradise movie theater or Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor, trying our hand at shoplifting in the aisles of Alexander’s department store, perusing the 45’s in myriad record shops, it was a different story. Even with five or six of us Panthers banding together and strutting our stuff, we kept our eyes ever peeled for the infamous Fordham Baldies gang who were known to hang out between the Army and Marines recruiting stations situated on the Fordham Road overpass. Even when we moved out of our Gale Place turf to the playground, or to EM’s candy store, we sauntered through the streets of the neighborhood, ignoring the catcalls from some of the older guys, while reveling in the disapproving stares from the adults and the wide-eyed awe in the faces of the younger kids. Like all true gangs, we forged our identity in opposition to another group, who we began to harass and challenge every time we saw them. Visit or tommydonovan@therail1950.

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