Nothing to do with China or Beijing or pole-vaulting, discus throwing or skating. We were a group of 12 boys about 13 years old living in the East Bronx. We played baseball in Crotona Park (courtesy of the Police Athletic League - Precinct 41- Fort Apache, Simpson Street - they loaned us uniforms - the only uniform I ever wore); basketball (we joined the Fulton YMHA and played in a league - Herby, our tallest guy, was 6'1"); and football (between all 12 guys we could outfit only one football uniform - pads - shoulder pads and a helmet).
We were well organized and we had weekly Friday night meetings, alternating in everyone's house to discuss events and athletics.
For each misbehaviour at a meeting it was a nickel (5¢). Five outbursts and you were sidelined for a week. That was tough punishment. No suiting up for the games. Some guys who got fined a quarter (25¢) were thrown out of their own house. It was cruel but it kept order.
And then we decided to buy "club jackets." It was a major event. After much hassling and discussion, the colors were selected. They were to be maroon and gold. Very striking, with gold piping up the sleeves. "Olympics" in script was written across our backs and each name was inscribed on the chest in gold lettering. A yellow felt circle with an Olympic discus thrower also was a chest ornament that we were all proud of.
We had traveled to the Manhattan Garment Center to fit the jackets and discuss the purchase. As I said, we were well organized. After the jackets were picked up we decided to stun Herman Ridder Junior High School (P.S. 98).
We met across from our Junior High and 12 boys in maroon and gold jackets walked slowly to the school. Everyone (especially the girls) oohed and aahed. Wearing that jacket was "heaven on earth." We were part of something worthwhile and we were proud of it.
The years passed and as we reached 20, Wedding Bells Broke Up That Old Gang Of Mine. One day while hanging around the neighborhood, I saw a strange man wearing our Olympic jacket.
I knew our club was over when Abe's superintendent was wearing our beloved jacket. Abe's mother was cleaning out the closet and presented the super with a jacket. Abe was married and had no use for it.
I don't know what made me think of this saga, but it was a pleasant stroll down "Memory Lane."