bobby johnson
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     A history of Clarissa Street conjures up images of people,

places and things. . . ESPECIALLY PEOPLE!

Delbert Thomspon (Adelbert to the un-informed); could a been

a lawyer, what, with his smooth talking ways / Big Stoop, the

number man, the top banana, HIGH-POCKETS; his favorite phrase,

"set em up; drinks for everyone. . .run-it barkeep."

Gibson Hotel/Annex; Mr. Perry (clubfoot, lame but game),

Square Club (all the beautiful, sophisticated ladies), Len's

garage (Smitty, his right hand); Uncle Jack (old before the

war, but erect, proud and polite. . .going blind; opaque

cataracts), /Aunt Maria (hard to predict, she refused to be

ignored, changing like a sudden storm; gentle and kind, then

suddenly profane and feisty), Mrs. Wallace (the owner), Olive

Johns (quiet and freckled); the Griffins, James (wild man from

Borneo) and Marian (shy and elusive), Mrs. Griffin (long

suffering; she kept the faith). . . Michael Moore (at age ten,

he scrubbed the wooden floors and learned of mysteries undreamed

of). Foster Lyles, Troup Street, past Prospect, past the General

Hospital, one of the few colored families in the Bull's Head. . .

"I miss the Kimball Mansion, the high, gray, stone walls, the

forbidden and most of all the secret, sexual pleasures, in the

dark of the forest, hidden from the Clarissa Street strollers,

just a few feet removed."

Richard Alexander. . . Helen and Alice of Beaver Alley; we

won't call it a street. / Jimmy Simpson, Dorothy Glover, Robert,

Bertha, Pinkie, Lucille Mosby, Spike (Hart's Grocery) /. . .Richard

left town, moved to DC, when he returned 30 years later his

neighborhood was gone, damn! "What do they mean. . . Historic

Corn Hill District?; What do they mean Ford Street Bridge?;

I don't like dem changes."

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Beaver Alley; Count Jarrett (call me the Cat's Ass is what

he said; he was a funny little half-pint who amused us kids

for days. . .his wife made three of him; she whacked him soundly

when he mis-behaved, which was often since he loved the sauce.)

/ the Duke (Durell Franklin) ended up on the front porch, across

from Kaplow's new liquor store. Albert Sherman (tall, dark,

slim, hair slicked back, forehead shining; he could dance now),

fastidious Willie Cage, motherly Mrs. Roberts, handsome Doctor

Roberts. / Remember?. . .the hot, sticky, summer day when that

despondent, white man, slit his throat and bled to death; he

drew a hushed crowd to a surreal circus. . .all the grown-ups

tried to shoo us youngsters away. . .they wanted to spare us. . .

it was a losing battle. . .we kept breaching the defense.

Beaver Alley; little John Ashford walking with his dad

(William), headed for Levis Music Store and a new trumpet.

John imagined himself strutting with Scottie's Drum & Bugle Corp.

Ashford and son stopped by dad's garage where they discovered

an old forgotten violin. "Look," said Bill, "my pop's old fiddle. . .

he could sure make it talk." He dusted it off and looked at it

with admiration. Little Johnny began to learn the taming of

the violin but he never out-lived his disappointment of what

might have been (but for the lack of a horn. . .).

Jiggy Jefferies, a.k.a., Hubert. . .left Prospect Street, near

Pop's Grill, The Rex and Saint Lucy's; he had a whole, brand

new ONE DOLLAR BILL in his eager hands. He had a wonderful

time at the Rivoli Theater (Jefferson & Bronson); the price

was right (12); the popcorn a bargain (5); the movies exciting

(Red Ryder, Little Beaver and Lash LaRue). Jiggie's running

partner was Marie Boyd's little darling, Gary.

Helen Brown lived on Tremont, west of the railroad tracks.

Stay on this side of the bridge; stay away from Clarissa Street,

Scottie's Poolroom and those mannish boys, she was warned.

Carrie and Vivian McNeil (fresh from Ithaca) were told to

stay on Clarissa Street and east of the Bronson Avenue Bridge.

What you see is what you get.

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Chuck Price (later to become Rochester's first brownskin

cop) lived on Adams, west of the railroad tracks; he remembers

his Aunt Bessie (Uncle Bob and cousin Elliot too). She lived

on Clarissa near Atkinson. Bess was the one and only colored

teacher in the City School District for a long-long time. She

graduated from the Normal School (University Ave.) in 1928

and taught for many years at number 4 school. I miss her warm

smile and gentle ways.

Ronnie and Joan Houston lived on Clarissa & Bronson. Joan

graduated from the city school system and eventually became

a principal (WOW!). Ron recalls playing ball at the Bronson

Ave. Playground with his good buddies; Roosevelt, Billy Irving,

Gisler, Slew, Roy McCurdy, Black Jack and especially Donnie

Johnson, the all-around athlete, the dusky speed merchant.

"Donnie was our idol and our leader," says Ron with conviction

undimmed by time.

Jocqualene Smith lived on Adams; west of the tracks (Little

Italy). She had no problem recalling dances at Montgomery Hall

(Mr. Johnson running the show); the Grand, the Capital, Superman,

the Eyes & Ears of the World, Lowell Thomas. . .

Anna Licata (Rose & Joe) lived across from the Mount Olivet

Baptist church on Adams St. "I loved everything, the freedom

to roam, free and safe; ride my bike all over the place, feel

happy and at ease with my many friends."

Alton Owens; fun at Brick Church. South on Ford Street, past

Adams, Ford becomes an alley; up old wooden steps to Tremont

and smack-dab into Tatlock's.

My name is bobby johnson / memories at random / i moved a

lot; Adams (the Sherman Block), Clarissa & Bronson, Ford,

Clifton. . . Into my life romance came; Livingston Park, the World,

the Strand, Bishop's Pool Room, Elite Club, Fred Jentons, George

Jentons, Anna Jentons, Howard W. Coles, John Coles, Truman Coles,

Stanley Thomas Sr., Stanley Thomas Jr., Jackie, Delores, Phil

Johnson, Corky, Marion, Dobby, Mr. Banks, Liz, Laura, Johnny

Pennington (Chicken Shack), Donny Dinkle, Bobby Dinkle, Ruthie

Dinkle. . .

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Chauncey Curtis, Stanley Curtis, Mary Curtis, Pat Curtis,

Dorothy Curtis, Seward Street, Madison High, Russell Lovely,

#3 school. . .

West Side Y, Foots, Mr. Marshall, Bill Geter, the Shadow,

Tom Mix, radio, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Larry Marshall. . .

Vallots; Sue, Lucky, Pico, Johnnie Burnette (roll em pete). . .

Bring your memories to the re-union. . .

What is remembered does not die but is carried with us on

our endless quest. . .