The Dreams of Youth

Originally Published 04/18/2011 06:07:19 AM

Studebaker

Photo Source: Jessica Beebe

“Hey, who’s pitchin’ t’day?” Tommy asked from the passenger side.

“Newcomb,” replied Frankie. “I tole’ya that arredy! What’sa matta witchya?!?”

“Hey, don’ make me split ‘ya lip open, ‘ya bum!” Tommy yelled. “You ain’t got nothin’ to be a wise guy about drivin’ this hunka shit! I could WALK to the park quicker!”

Tommy and Frankie were bucking across the Manhattan Bridge in Tommy’s ’34 Tudor.  They lived in the city on W. 44th now, since they worked graveyard at the post office. But they grew up in Bushwick, rooting like crazy for the Dodgers.

The car ran, for the most part, but the shocks were completely gone, as was the upholstery, because the shocks were completely gone. There was a hole in the floorboard right in front of the gas pedal, so Frankie had a nice view of the bridge deck.

“Yeah, yeah, I’d like’ta see ‘ya try it!” Frankie said, giving Tommy a sock on the arm. “Hey, ‘ya seen the new Studebakers? I heard Vito’s dad got one. Brand new Champion, with the bullet nose an’ the straight 6. Man, that’s a sharp car!”

Frankie negotiated off the bridge ramps and on to Flatbush Ave, heading toward Ebbets Field. He fished a Lucky from the pack in his front pocket, lit up, flicked the lid of his Zippo closed on his leg, then passed the pack to Tommy.  A pothole on Flatbush made the Tudor bounce and land with a sickening thud.

“Man, that is a sharp car,” Tommy agreed. “Wish I had the dough for it. Costs almost two grand.”

“Yeah, Vito’s dad must have some loot stashed” Frankie said. “Ain’t he a lawyer or somethin’ like that?”

“Yeah, I think so” Tommy agreed. “Somethin’ like that. He ain’t workin’ at the post office, I know that.”

They negotiated the traffic circle around Grand Army Plaza, with the magnificent Sailors Arch glowing in the brown haze of the early afternoon, and continued on Flatbush with Prospect Park on the right. Getting closer…

“Well, whatever he’s doin’, its workin’! You imagine all’a tail we’d get with those wheels?” Frankie rather liked the scene he was painting for himself. “Livin’ inna’ city, takin’ birds to the clubs in a brand spankin’ new ’52 Stude? We’d be fightin’ ‘em off with both fists!”

Tommy felt that same tug he always felt in the pit of his stomach as he got closer to the park: the thrill of going to a ball game, and actually seeing his idols. Sure, Red Barber called a great game on the radio, but to actually see Pee Wee at short and Jackie at second, Hodges at first, Furillo in right, big Don Newcomb on the mound…MAN, what a thrill. You couldn’t see sweat on the Philco in the living room.

“Man, you ain’t kiddin’!” Tommy yelped. “Wheels like that we’d be SET! What color would you get? I love that seafoam green.”

Frankie thought about it a moment. “Prolly cherry red. Definitely white interior. Don’ wanna spend all summer sticking to the seat. I’d love to get a hardtop, though.”

“Yeah, or a convertible,” Tommy added. The wheels were really turning in his head now…

Finally, there it was: the beautiful, Roman gothic façade of Ebbets Field. Ballgame today! Programs here! You can’t tell the ballplayers without your scorcard! Dog and a beer over heah! Frankie parked the Tudor on Bedford Ave, right behind the right field wall, and they made it back on Sullivan Place to the rotunda. Baseball, broads and Studebakers. The dreams of youth: just out of reach, but not untouchable.  

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