Very early, not much past dawn, Me and my cousin just finished our paper route in the Parkchester area of the Bronx. It was Sunday and the paper was huge. Every other day during the week the trucks would drop a section for the Sunday paper along with the days issue. When the section for Sunday came all of the sections would have to be collated before deliver could begin.
When we had completed or last building, Johnny,that’s my cousin, pulled a huge marker out of his pocket. I had never seen such a marker it was wide and thin, a strange site indeed. He said that he “bogarted” it from his older brother. Then he took a turn off our usual route home and when I saw where we ended up I was surprised. All around me were mail trucks, we were in the lot behind the post office where they park the mail trucks overnight, and on Sunday morning at this hour nobody could be seen or heard back there.
I can’t recall his name, or “tag” but I knew it was my turn to use that ‘Miniwide” in a minute and I needed a graffiti name quick or he would think I was square, or a wimp. The smell of that ink as he handed me the marker is a memory that lingers to this day some 43 years later. without skipping a beat I wrote Z I G, Zig that was it , that was my graffiti name, blurted out in a mere moment on a Sunday morning behind the post office. An ancient meme if you will. We hit a few more trucks, and jumping back and forth across the big flat rear bumpers mail trucks had those days, almost like an Army vehicle if you ask me, we were gone.
In 1971, in the Bronx, or maybe in my mind, graffiti was in it’s infancy, pornography was a toddler, Vietnam raged across the sea in a place I couldn’t have pointed out on any map or globe. Dying was easy, happened all the time but living, despite our pleasant memories now of that time, living was hard and soon to get harder. It would not be long before us and our vices would all seem to hit puberty at the exact same time, and booze and drugs had already joined in. Our gang took it all in stride and rode that wave as far as it would go. And looking back I’m amazed there are still so many of us alive. Well, mail trucks turned to trains, inside,outside, layups. the yards. And you can just imagine how all the other stuff went?
Most of my friends growing up went to one of the three Catholic schools close by, St. Anthony’s, St. Raymond’s, or my grade school St. Helena’s. There are a millions stories that go along with that part of our lives also, as you can imagine. I’m tired now, seems that way a lot these days. Think I’ll just rest a bit before I get into some of the real stories. Stories that would hurt your dear Mother if she knew about it.