Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A special friend

I have a couple of places, myspace, facebook for my business figure8studio. I would like to begin the blog on a personal vintage history. Maybe the internet can help in my search to find my friend Robert E Black.

After moving from the east coast and going through the content of my storage unit I found letters and photos of friends realizing I lost touch with a special friend.

Bobby & I grew up in the Bronx. Bobby's last letter arrived when I was still living in St Petersbug FL. Some time later I wrote to his last known address, the letter was returned and I have not heard from him since. I am hoping this just means that my friend is healthy and happy.

My family lived in a two story brownstone on Croes Ave in the Soundview neighborhood of the Bronx. Our pass times were playing handball, street football, dodge ball, taking the subway to Central Park on Sundays kicking-the-can from the Bronx to Manhattan and back, hanging out by The Fountain listening to Richie Havens and just hanging out on our stoops.

Richie would sit near the fountain playing his guitar, we would sit around him, at his feet...

The Alice in Wonderland statue was one of our favorite spots in the park. We climbed trees and rocks to watch concerts in Central Park's band shell. we spent time listening to Led Z Zeppelin, CSN, Grateful Dead... in our friend Brian's 'Psychedelic shack' across the street from our house.

My neighbor Brian painted his window shades black, hung neon posters, the obligatory black light. We played hookey, on occasion, that's what we called skipping school back in the late 60s. Those were the best years of my childhood.

This was us; Bobby, me, Brian & another buddy of ours behind me, Curtis, (back) on Friday March 13, 1970

I remember one particular funny story about us playing hookey. We decided this day to go up to my place. Mom and step father were out but my step father stopped by and surprised us, we were just hanging out, when he opened the door he froze by the door, not knowing what to say or do. A few seconds went by and no one moved. I think everyone was in shock. Moments later my step father closed the door, began walking down the steps (we lived on the second floor) by the time my step father had reached the sidewalk Bobby, Brian and the rest of my friends had jumped out of the window and ran across the street to Brian's house. If I remember correctly Brian hurt his ankle. I don't remember why we chose my apt as the spot to hang at for cutting school that day as Brian's place across the street would have been much easier but anyway, that's what we did.

I think my step father was going to call the cops, I don't know why he went outside to do so, this was before the days of cell phones and I do not remember any pay phone anywhere near our home we lived in a residential neighborhood. I guess he was still 'in shock', besides, I was a good girl for the most part, never gave my parents any serious trouble and had pretty good grades.

So my sf walks back upstairs and when he opened the door I am sitting in the living room watching tv, he asked me 'Where did all your friends go?' and proceeds to check under the beds, in closets....I told him I didnt know what he was talking about, that he really needed to leave the bottle alone :)

We laughed about this story for years after.

We all managed to graduate from James Monroe High School.

I had a crush on Bobby, or 'Bzo' as Brian used to call him, for many years. A girlfriend of mine, Yvonne, who lived on Fteley Ave and I would play Santana records and giggle from her window as Bobby walked by her house every day on the way to work or school.

Bobby was extremely shy, as Virgos sometimes are, he never ever flirted or gave me any indication that he was interested, years later I found out that he also had a crush on me but because I was dating someone he knew he didnt think it would be cool to say anything.

Sometime while we were still in HS one of Bobby's friend's asked me to go out with him. I ended dating his friend. Later Bobby told me he had been trying to figure out how to ask me out but after I began dating his friend he tried to put his feelings away.

After HS I lost touch with those guys for a couple of years, moved to Greenwich Village while attending college and had a son. My son is now an awesome young man.

After my son's dad and I parted ways in the summer of 74 and while visiting mom on Croes Avenue one hot day, Bobby walked by while my son and I were on the same stoop we all hung out on when we were kids ourselves. We were getting ready to go to the neighborhood community pool on Soundview Ave and Bobby joined us. I still have the photos I took of Bobby playing with my son who was only 2 years old at the time. My son still remembers the pleasant memory, how sweet and caring Bobby was to him. Bobby had joined the army and was home on leave that day. That was when my son and I fell in love with Bobby.

Bobby and I spent days talking about our childhood, comparing times when we each had wanted to say something to the other but didnt. He was the gentle sweet soul I knew he always was.

Bobby went back into the service at the end of his leave, we wrote to each other. He shared his paratrooper adventures with me. When he came home for good I was thinking of moving to upstate NY.

Although we still loved each other very much some things were going on his life that I did not agree with, similar to what was going on in my brother's lives. I had a very young and impressionable son, it was one of the reasons I was looking forward to raising him outside of NYC. Bobby and I remained in contact through the years. He told me I was his first love and I think he was the same for me. I will always remember that summer of 74 as one of the happiest of my life.

Mom moved from Croes to Parkchester some years later, she was a teacher at CS6 in the Bronx, she retired after 30 years. She purchased a house not far from Bobby's mom's home on Havemeyer St. but she always kept her Parkchester condo and later sold the house and moved back to Parkchester.

Bobby's grandma who lived on Taylor when we were kids, moved to an apt in Coop City, Bobby lived with her till she passed.

The last time I heard from him was in 92 and I think he was living on Havemeyer.

I'm glad Bobby was a part of those great Bronx memories. I hope he is well and maybe even someday we will reconnect.

He once was a true love of mine.

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