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CLARISSA-STREET RE-UNION # 2
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
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."
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. . .