Growing Up on 42nd Street – A Serial Story – Part 5

Back to Verplanck, a.k.a 42nd St. North.

Whenever there was space in the new Pontiac woody station wagon, my friends tagged along. We often had 13 people squeezed in. This was way before seat belts. By that time Matt Lagana had started the Marina, which Pop practically built on his own. It was just a short distance from Joe’s Beach and the Clay Hole. We helped hauling poles and nailing planks in the docks.

As our first boat, Pop bought a surplus one-man inflatable raft. We all took turns paddling off the beach. It was not enough so Pop then bought a 12 runabout with a 12 hp Evinrude outboard. It really moved! He built an aquaplane which was like a surfboard except it was towed behind the boat. We all learned to ride it. Lots of fun.

Across the road from Joe’s Beach was the Clay Hole.

It was a deep, spring fed pond formed from digging out the clay for bricks way back when it was a brick making hub. There were trees along the shore which soon sprouted ropes for swings and a platform for high diving. The evil ones (myself included) would take an empty coke bottle, cover the opening, and dive deep into the icy cold spring water at the bottom. We would bring up the icy water and pour it on the girls amid running around and screaming.

Ah yes, the girls; locals. Somehow we discovered each other as boys and girls always do. Now going upstate was much more fun. Besides having someone to pour icy water on, we would go to the Verplanck Firemens’ Fair with fire works, the 4th of July fire works, or just hang around.

Back to the Marina. Pop tired of the speed of his boat with the 12 hp outboard, so he bought a 25 hp! That speeded things up. The aquaplane really buzzed along. Jumping the Day Liner waves became heart stopping. The passengers on the Day Liners waved and enjoyed our antics.

Having a boat on the river was not the safest thing around.

We used to load the boat up with about 10 or more kids (it was a 6 passenger boat) and cross over to the other side of the river. There was a bar there that would serve us beer. After spending too much time there, our trip back was in the dark. There were no lights on the boat. What could go wrong? About half way across, we found a very large tanker bearing down on us. With no lights, they didn’t know we were there. We either had to go back or make a run for it. With Joey driving, we made a run for it. Since I’m writing this you may assume we made it. We never tried that again. If Pop found out, our boating days would have been over. No one squealed.

Our family, 5 or 6 of us at the time, camped out in a tiny trailer at the Marina. We only went inside to sleep, otherwise all cooking and eating was done outside. By then, Matt had installed “facilities” so it was possible to do… Matt eventually had 5 cabins built on the property. For a few years all the cabins were inhabited by the 42nd St. crowd so it was still growing up on 42nd St.

The cabins were eventually torn down except for ours. Mom and Pop lived there for years.

It should have been bronzed as a memorial.