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March 08, 2007


Don Z. Block

"The Amboy Dukes" mentioned a street I was familiar with because my grandparents lived on it between Sutter and Pitkin, and it was one horrible neighborhood, and they just would not move. It scared the hell out of me every time I went there. Even when I was teaching at Eiseman I.S. and played basketball at Marcus Jr. High, I hated driving into that neighborhood.

The other forbidden fruit book we read when we were PS 217ers was Harry Grey's "The Hoods." I loved that book. It was full of sex and danger and had a great ending, one slightly happier than the one in "The Amboy Dukes."

Splooge Gainsbourg

John Hand is correct about the hair-style being described in the novel. It writes: "The boys sported duck-tail haircuts: long, shaggy, and clipped to form a point at the backs of their heads." It also describes protagonist Frank Goldfarb coiffing his duck-tail to make it prominent. Readers may enjoy consulting an interactive historical map of Brooklyn placing the story venue in a broader context, at [remove line-break] https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1cL8gO_EsSvYjQOS9-EyRy_dZF_Q

John Hand

Correct me if I am wrong since I don't have a copy of the book, but I believe that the so-called 'Duck Tail, aka Duck's Ass, haircut was described in that book and throughout the 50s imitated by youth across the nation.

Splooge Gainsbourg

Mr. Starbuck,

The film adaptation, 1949's "City Across the River," was the first movie in which Tony Curtis (credited as "Anthony Curtis") appeared. In the exterior shots, Williamsburg stood in for Brownsville. Today in 2016, WorldCat reports knowing about less than 100 libraries which hold at least one copy of one or more of the many versions of the novel.

Paul Starbuck

I've always remembeered "The Amboy Dukes" and vow someday I'll lay hands on a copy. It's a morality play, really--set in alleys, with a cast of irredeemable delinquents run wild while their parents work overtime in WW2 defense industries. Interestingly, the tough guys, by and large, wind up dead, or in the crosshairs of even tougher guys. Why this book wasn't made into a movie, I'll never understand; it makes "Rebel Without A Cause" look like a schoolyard game of mumblety-peg.

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