In those late 1930’s and early ’40s
The Great Depression still clung to all of us
You could feel it all around you,
You could smell it and taste it.
Few families could afford a telephone,
The corner candy store our communication link
Fewer still owned automobiles
No parking problems on our streets.
It was on those streets where stickball games
Were played with laughter and some shouting
A sewer cover was home plate,
Another sewer cover, second base.
First base and third base
Were chalked onto what we called the gutter
A rare auto would chance to park upon a base
"Move it mister, will ya?"
Neighbors, elbows on pillow
Watching from second and third floor open windows
Spectators enjoying a game, free
From upper tier boxes
A kid who could hit a ball
Was the local DiMaggio or Ott,
A big man on the block – a "Three Sewer Man"
But occasionally a problem arose
An old lady tired of the noise
And affluent enough to own a phone
Called the police.
The crank call, the "dreaded stickball game run"
Disliked by every cop in the NYPD
Yet, the sector car would have to respond slowly.
"Break it up boys, the game’s over."
Years later, a cop myself
The radio directing us
To another stickball game, played by other kids.
How cops hated that call
I always wondered
How many kids over the years,
Were banished from those dreaded stickball games
and introduced into something far worse.