Red Hook Childhood   24 comments

   I was reading of the devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to Red Hook. That got me thinking of what it was like to grow up there in the 50’s and 60’s. Red Hook the name terrified people from out of the area. After all it had given the world Al Capone and Joey Gallo. For those of us living there it was just a working class small town. Everyone knew everyone and their parents and grandparents all knew each other. Most had grown up together.  We kids could always go out and play. We never had to worry about kidnappings or anything more serious than a fistfight with another kid. There were plenty of those. They would be fought and forgotten within an hour. Any stranger trying to take a child off the streets of Red Hook would probably be found floating in the harbor a few days later. Our streets were cobblestone and we had no subways. Most families didn’t have a car. Our parents worked on the docks or factories in the area. We had the pool, the fields, Coffey park, the waterfront and the streets to play in. We took full advantage of them all. We had local teens singing a capella on the corners in the early days. Some such as the Echoes and the Passions would go on to have hit records. Many would say we were a poor neighborhood but we didn’t think so. We had great friends and great times. I have since lived in a few small towns. None of them have been as close as we were. Red Hook was the smallest of small towns in the largest of cities. Now rich and famous people are moving in for the cobblestones with no subways and the views of the city. They speak of themselves as Red Hookers but most don’t even know their neighbors.


Posted November 8, 2012 by kevingcox in Uncategorized

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24 responses to “Red Hook Childhood

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  1. Great job, Kevin! I loved reading about our Red Hook. You did an amazing job of describing our life growing up in Red Hook in the 50’s and 60’s. Such details brought back so many sentimental memories. I look forward to reading more! Thanks for sharing such wonderful memories, Kevin!
    Kathy Murray

    Kathy Murray Olson
  2. Hi – I’m so glad I stopped to read this. You are so right – maybe it was simple, maybe we weren’t rich in money…however we had the richest of childhoods.
    Have a wonderful day!

  3. Brother You Did a Great Job describing our Wonderful Childhood. I Miss Those Days and the People, especially Our Wonderful Mother!!

    Karen (Lolly Cox) Sluser
  4. Great writing Kevin. Your depiction of our neighborhood was so visually descriptive, and in very few words. I was in Gregory’s class in Visitation. Thanks for sharing this.
    Kate Graves Mentlik

  5. Your words are so true . I always loved to go back to the Hook and stay with my grandmother. I would hang out on the corner with the kids that I knew . My Grandmother or Aunts would yell for me when it was time to come in I miss them so much.

  6. I am probably older than most of you, I know I am older than Donna, and I remember so many great times growing up in Red Hook. Eight families lived in the building and I was related to 5 of them and the other 3 families were like our extended family. No one locked their doors all day and part of the night. When you made spaghetti and meatballs you made sure there was some for the Henesey’s next door. If you ran out in the street anyone of your neighbors could yell at you without repercussions. I wish my kids grew up in times like that. Thank you for this Kevin it makes me feel good to know so many people appreciate what we had. People don’t appreciate what they have today and with the little we had, we had so much.

  7. Hey Kevin,great job, It took me right back to the Hook. Born in 1944 I grew up @402 Van Brunt during the 50’s and it WAS a small town.Everybody knew everybody ,and kept an eye out for the kids. Even the beat cop (I remember SHAGLES The cop) cut you some slack , because he knew the families and if you did something wrong, he would bring you home (where you probably caught a few wacks) rather then the precinct house. I went to Visitation and graduated in 1957. I wish my kids could have experienced what we did,it was a magical time and I miss it every day!

  8. Good Job Kevin. Great memories! You expressed life in Red Hook just as it was. I am looking forward to reading more. Mariann

  9. Almost all of my family (Mothers side) lived on Walcott Street between Van Brunt and Conover Sts. I still my some family there. It was wonderful being raised there, our street was a play street because of PS 30. How many, Spalding and “Pimple balls wound up in the sewer or on the balcony of Christ Chapel Church. When we had no money to buy a new one, which was almost always or we had no Coke bottles to cash in, we would lift the sewer cover and retrieve one or two or, some brave sole would clime up the the Church and throw down a half a dozen, which eventually wound up right back up there again. You’re right, it was great growing up there.

    • I was a “spaldeen” kid myself. I considered the pimple balls as second rate. I remember going through the streets looking for bottles to cash in for one. We recycled more than the yuppies now in the Hook do.

  10. I left jersey and spent my summers in Red Hook ,with my cousins. It was a very good time for me. I do return to visit family in Brooklyn.

  11. Kevin, I have now read all of your posts with excitement and look forward to following future posts. I especially liked the pic of you and Henry. You are a good writer and I’m glad to know you are following your dream of writing a book.

  12. Thanks Denny,
    If you ever feel want to head down for a vacation we have room.


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