I thoroughly enjoyed many World Cup games this past month in Brazil. I was a big fan of the NHL as a kid and quickly understood the importance of precision passing, tight defense and sharp goaltending. A 1-0 game can be a brilliant contest if those three aspects of a hockey game were executed well. The same goes for soccer. A low scoring game does not necessarily mean boring. But an NHL hockey rink is 85 feet by 200 feet, and a soccer field can be as large as 300 feet by 390 feet. In hockey if you don’t have a man advantage it’s usually not easy to keep the puck away from your opponent, the size of the rink encourages engagement. In soccer, a sharp passing team with a goal or more advantage versus a weak defense well they may as well be playing Salugi. What’s that’s? Salugi is a keep-away game in which children throw around an object with the aim of keeping it away from a particular child (often the owner of the object).
In 1969, I was spending half my time in Yorkville, and half my time in Sunnyside, Queens. This was the same year Panasonic came out with a $39 portable record player/radio combo. Well, Tina Fridheim had one, and Artie Peters and I thought it was a great idea to play Salugi with it on 83rd Street. Unfortunately, we started the game near my curfew. I had to be home in Sunnyside by 11pm. We moved the game off the block and started working our way up to the subway stop on Lexington and 86th Street with Tina and her girlfriends trailing after us trying to get the record player back, but we’d have none of that. Throwing it back and forth, nice and high, over the parked cars we almost dropped it several times, impressing the heck out of each other with tremendous catches. At the subway station we went down the stairs to the local #6 level and I passed it to Artie one last time. After putting my token in the turnstile, I went down one more flight of stairs so I could be half way between the local and express platforms. Waiting there, I was semi-aware Artie was still playing the game without me – running away from the girls chasing him around the token booth. Once or twice, he faked throwing the record player down to me over the railing. And then he’d disappear out of my sight. I heard an express train coming and flew down the staircase. Behind me, I heard plastic and metal exploding as the record player hit the concrete platform. Artie did not fake that time. What could I do?
I caught the train, went to 42nd Street, got the #7 to Sunnyside’s 46th Street/Bliss Street stop. When I walked into my Skillman Avenue apartment, Mom with a puss on was waiting for me with great news:
Tina called my grandmother from the Chapman’s house (the other girls with Tina), then my grandmother called my Mom and let her know what we did. The next Saturday, I worked 12 hours for free for Milton and Marty at the Corner Pharmacy on 79th Street and York. My earnings, twenty bucks, went towards half of Tina’s new Panasonic portable radio/record player.
ps small photo on top: Artie Peters & I, Local #6 subway train, 1969
Thomas Pryor’s blog: Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts
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