Thursday, April 12, 2012


Just-hangin'-out-ma, was one word in the neighborhood where I was raised. It was the chant that our poor mothers heard for our every whereabouts or activity. We kids spent our whole growing up indulging in that one all encompassing activity – Just-hangin'-out-ma ... ain't doin' nothin', just hangin' out.

We had lots of buddies and lots of street corners and the street corners were never closed. And they were free!

I have no idea what we would have done if we didn't have those street corners and the ability to hang out on them.

I spent more growing up on a street corner than in a house. I met my best friends there. I received counseling there. Most of my memories hover about hangin' out somewhere.

I went to a reunion a few years ago. It wasn't a high school reunion, or a college reunion. It was a reunion of all the guys who hung out on the local street corners where I grew up. It was quite a group.

Some of the old gang are now hangin' out in places that I have yet to see. But if there are light poles and granite curbing out there, I'll know where to find them. And I am sure when I find them, they will be leaning up against the gates of nowhere, pitching pennies or playing Outs against the walls of eternity. And when I scream, "Hey, what the heck are you guys doing here?" There will be a chorus of ... Just hangin' out, Nobes! We're just … hangin' out!

We’re hangin’ out. There’s Jack, Jim, Dick, and Chuck.
There’s Grecsey and the Coze.
We’re hangin’ out.
We’re shootin’ a few hoops down at the schoolyard.
There’s Burnsey with the swisher.
The swisher that is never a misser but always a swisher.
And there’s B.J. with the steal.
We’re over Costy’s playin’ a little tag-rush.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

“Where ya goin’ son?”

“I’m goin’ out. Down the Corner. Just hangin’ out.”

We’re playin’ a little Forty-fives,
Or just tossin’ pennies up to the wall.
We’re listening to old Walter.
He’s down the Red Sox summer camp tryin’ out.
We got orange phosphate, sarsaparilla, lime rickey, all Curran and Joyce.
We got potato chips from the Granite State,
All wrapped in a silver bag.
We got sheet-paper candy, nigger babies,
And sweet rock on a string.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

We’re over Nell’s givin’ ‘em hell,
Sittin’ on their curb or up on their steps.
We’re bouncin’ a ball off Alma Meter’s wall.
We’re havin’ fun ... until the cops come.
Then it’s time for a little walk around the block.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

It’s winter time.
We’re hoppin’ cars.
We’re hangin’ in hallways.
We’re down the English Social settin’ up duck pins.
We’re at Liggett’s drinkin’ hot chocolate.
We got Walter talkin’ about World War II.
It’s snowin’ and blowin’ and we’re hopin’ he never gets through.
We’re down the Corner, we’re hangin’ out.

We’re just hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

There’s a screech and a skid and a mashin’ of gears.
There goes a car slippin’ and slidin’ and kickin’ up dirt.
Old Walter is at the window throwin’ up his hands;

“That’s Dobson! He’ll be on a slab...
On a slab, I’ll tell ya. He’ll be on a slab.”

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

We’re down on the Corner, we’re hangin’ out.
We’re up at the Howard Playstead.
We’re on the park bench.
Willie says that he needs just two more cents.
We’re spittin’ in the sewer.
We’re watchin’ the cars.
We’re layin’ up on the hill.
We’re lookin’ at the stars.
Hey, there goes Joe’s sister, Betty, in her new,
tight sweater.
Man oh man, life’s just gettin’ better and better.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.
I’m goin’ up to the Corner ma, just gonna hang out.

We can listen to Russ.
He’s in love again.

“She’s the kind of girl who likes to darn socks.
She makes biscuits and cakes and homemade bread.
She has those eyes, the kind that make you want to cry.
And when she sighs, God, I nearly die.”

What’s her name Russ?
“Oh, I think it’s Sherry. No, no ... it’s Terry.
No, that’s not right.
It’s? Oh ya ... it’s Fay ... Fay Berry.”

We’re hangin’ out ma. We’re just hangin’ out.

We’re goin’ to the Corner.
We’re hangin’ out.
It’s Friday night and we’re goin’ to the dance.
We’re goin’ to Rock and Roll and look for romance.
We’re goin’ to give Central Catholic just one more chance.
We’re gonna be cool.
We’re gonna slick down the old D. A. with some Charles Antell.
It’s got lanolin, wow!

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

Tonight we’re goin’ to get Togie to get us some brew.
He’s sixteen but looks twenty-two.
A quart of Black Label or a G.I.Q.
A couple of pizzas and a meat filled pie.
If Togie can’t do it, we’ll find old Billy.
We’ll go to Cronin’s and get Billy the Bum,
Or maybe one of his chums.
We’ll buy him a pint or maybe a quart.
We’ll promise not to tell, even if we get caught.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

It’s Sunday morning. It’s Mass at King Tut’s;
Vanilla Cokes and red pistachio fingers.
Dutch is readin’ over at the rack.
Grecs wants to go to church.
He wants to watch the girls.
He wants to oh and aw and dream of playin’ with their curls.
A nickel in the jukebox,
Listen to Fats and The Elvis sway and swing.
Or maybe somebody will play My Ding-a-ling.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

Hey, let’s take a little walk down to the Y.
We’ll play sidewalk tennis or shoot a little pool;
Maybe some checkers?
We’ll see Harry the Walker, General Mills, or John the Thinker.
Somebody will yell BOOM, and we’ll all be gone.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

We’re goin’ down to Kap’s; it’s Tuesday night.
We’ll stare at all the girls and get ‘em up tight.
Then maybe over to King Size, or Lawton’s by the Sea
For a dog or two on a grilled, buttered bun.
Then go for a walk or maybe back up to the Howard.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.
We ain’t doin’ nothing; just sittin’ on the wall, hangin’ out.

Today it’s sunny; we might thumb to the beach.
Fried clams, onion rings, lamb on a stick;
A trip to the arcade; a walk on the beach.
We’ll go down to the Black Rocks and buy us a Foam.
Then before it gets dark we’ll thumb on back home.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.
We’re up the Corner, just hangin’ out.

It don’t matter the time of the day.
There will always be someone goin’ up that way.
You can play if you want or just sit on the bench.
There’s never a hassle.
There’s always a joke.
There’s always someone to listen.
You may be right; you may be wrong.
But, nevertheless, you’ll always belong.
Sometimes you’ll find a new point of view.
Just something that Pete, Red, or Gerry might have said
With a grin or a smile.

It was a long, long time ... a long, long time
That we were all kids, just one of the guys.
Just hangin’ out, sittin’ up on the wall.

Just hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

Sometimes we were just there.
Sometimes it was a ball.

Now I’m older and that’s all the past.
Often I wonder if it is my memory’s lapse,
Or did I really know any of those guys.
Were they really pals, buddies, friends?
Their memory gets fuzzy.
I tell myself that there is only today.
They never knew me and I never knew them.
They’re just a bunch of ghosts in my memory’s way.
But then when I’m huddled in one of those lonely
With all the dark shadows, hard knuckles and calloused hearts,
I hear a sigh, a creak, a crack, a cry,
And then there is a tear in my eye.
I see a laughing face, then feel a slap on my back.
It could be Tom or Dutch, Chuck or Jack.
And all of a sudden,
I’m up on the Corner. I’m on the wall.

I’m hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

I’m on the Corner.
I’m in Costy’s yard.
I’m down at Nell’s,
Or in Michaud’s back seat.
I’m up Joe’s cellar;
Or behind the English Social, a little stickball,
Or down the beach.
I’m just standin’ on the Corner,
Or in the middle of Lawrence Street.

I’m hangin’ out ma.
I’m just hangin’ out with my friends, my buddies.
Up on the Corner,
Hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

I’m on that old bench.
I’m with my old buddies.

I’m hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.
...I’m just hangin’ out.

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