In spite of living in a world that was just about completely paved (150 Crown Street, corner of Bedford Ave., 1942-1951), I saw myself as a great fisherman and hunter, the to-be Ernest Hemingway of Brooklyn. The lake in Prospect Park offered limited prospects of world record fish, but the Botanic(al) Garden(s) were another story entirely. The pond at the Japanese Garden fairly teemed with large and willing prey: gold carp, yellow perch, and even several sizable black bass, hand fed and waiting for the intrepid and fearless angler. The only catch was that fishing there was totally forbidden, a ban enforced by a cadre of large, mean-spirited guards ("parkies," in the local parlance).
And so, necessity being the mother of invention, the handy-dandy Mark Buchheim pocket fishing system came into being.
The program was fairly straightforward. Take one Mongol #3 pencil, wrap 10-15 feet of line (with hook) around same, stick the hook into the eraser, and place said contraption in pocket. On the way to the fishing grounds, stop at the A&P on Franklin Ave. to purchase a loaf of white bread, being sure to have the clerk put it in a large bag. Upon arrival at the pond, be sure that as the parkie makes his rounds, he observes you feeding balled-up chunks of bread to the unsuspecting denizens of the deep. Accept his warm glance, acknowledging you as a good citizen and fine example of the younger generation. Carefully observe his movements to insure that he is following his usual beat, which, based on earlier intelligence, keeps him away from your chosen spot for at least five minutes. As soon as he is out of sight, you strike!
In a single, practiced movement, the pocket fishing system is unsheathed, a ball of bread placed on the hook, and the cast is made. A bite, usually within seconds! The victim is quickly pulled from the water, and placed in the bag (remember the A&P) under a nearby bush. Possibly time for a second kill, but when the parkie returns, we are back to innocently feeding the fish. At the end of the session, the fish-laden bag is squeezed under the iron fence bordering Washington Ave., to be retrieved on the way home.
Since those days, I've caught Tarpon in Florida, Salmon in Alaske, and Peacock Bass in Brazil. None were as exciting as the fishing adventures of my youth in Brooklyn.
12 July 1999
Brought up in Red Hook, South Brooklyn. Went to the Red Hook pool, lived in the Red Hook projects. Went to P.S. 30 public school, went to Bay Ridge H.S. I remember Coffe Park, Visitation church, the Clinton movies and the Pioneer movies, walking along Court Street to get to downtown Fulton St. to the stores. Loved it, best memories in the world. Moved to Bayside Queens in senior year of high school, traveled back by train to finish up. Worked in McCrory's dept store downtown. Got married, moved back to Bay Ridge on 73rd St. & 12th Ave., shopped on 13th Ave. and then moved to S. I. I ended up in Ronkonkoma, Long Island. Still have relatives in Bklyn. Best memories of my life are in Bklyn. Prospect Park, Brooklyn Dodgers, Ebbets Field. Bay Ridge High School. Downtown Bklyn. Watched them build the Battery Tunnel. Anyone remember Nick's sandwich shop on Luqueer St., still there, same owners. I drop in now and then and drive around.
13 July 1999