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January 29, 2019


Don Z. Block

Yes, manhole covers were called sewers, and we measured stickball and punchball prowess by the number of sewers the ball covered. Our big games of punchball were played on East 9th Street and Avenue H. It was an avenue that Mrs. Ennis lived on, and some of us dreamed of hitting her with a spauldeen as she walked home. Another famous educator who took that route home was the immortal foreign language teacher in Midwood, Mr. Friedland, who had the build of a sumo wrestler with no neck. He was not someone you would want to assault with a spauldeen. Home plate was a sewer at the halfway point on 9th between the railroad tracks and Avenue H.The next sewer was in the middle of the four-way intersection of H and 9th. The longest shot I ever hit in punchball was past the H sewer out to right field 4 1/2 stories up the apartment house known as 901 Avenue H on the other side of the street. The longest shot I have ever seen was hit by Monte Spellman, who played running back for Midwood. He hit the sixth floor. Like Mantle's shot that almost left the old Yankee Stadium, Monte's appeared to be heading for the roof. It didn't quite make it. Punchball was a great game. Those pink spauldeens were alive and wonderful. Oh the catches we made. Oh the windows we broke.

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