The Bronx and Small’s

Rose from the Bronx

Typical uptown tenements

Typical uptown tenements

     Once in the late ’60s, when returning to Philly from New York on the Trailways bus, I noticed a super fine momma sitting a few rows ahead of me. She was checking me out by viewing me through her makeup mirror. When we arrived in town, she made it her business to hit on me. We exchanged numbers, and I met her at her mom’s flat in the Bronx the following weekend.

     She was a fair skinned dame of black and white parentage. Her name was Rose, and she could have easily passed for a Rican. Once she surprised me when she had referred to some Puerto Ricans as spicks. My take was that she looked like one herself, so why was she being so critical.
     Some years later when Rob and I were escorting a couple of dates to a pad in a rundown neighborhood in the Bronx, we were targeted by some young punks who were attempting to pelt us with rocks and bottles from a roof top. As we walked toward the tenement entrance, neither the girls nor Rob seemed to notice. All three of them were chit-chatting back and forth with little regard to their surroundings. As for me, I was dodging and side stepping to avoid the missiles that were touching down around us. Luckily, from five stories up, none of the objects landed near us, a phenomena Rob and the girls seemed to anticipate. I was reminded of a war zone, where troops chance that an incoming will not result in a direct hit on their position. In fact, when the flick Fort Apache, The Bronx hit the screens in ’81, I was already hip to what was being conveyed in the film.

Harlem Nights

Entertainment at Small's Paradise

Entertainment at Small’s Paradise

     A few weeks later, after hooking up again with Rose, she suggested we go out stepping downtown to Small’s Paradise. I found out that from the Bronx, Harlem is considered to be downtown. So we boarded the metro and rode down to 135th Street. When we arrived at the club, we noticed multitudes of players in fine array. The guys and gals were dressed fly.

     A few Cadillacs and other long framed vehicles were temporarily double parked, while the guys escorted their dates into the club. After paying the cover, we strolled over to the bar; where I sat Rose in an empty seat, while I stood behind. We weren’t as fly as most of the other folks; but my head swelled because my date was one of the finest in the club.

two tinhorns

     I had looked around for Wilt Chamberlain, who was part owner of the club at the time. I use to see him often in West Philly, where we went to the same high school—Overbrook. I use to be amazed at how easily he was able to see over neighborhood fences as he walked down the streets. One time I saw him walking with a shorter pudgy guy. The view reminded me of the characters in the comic book strip—Mutt and Jeff. Obviously, he would’ve stood out easily in the club because of his height.

     Meanwhile, I noticed some dapper looking dude sitting in a booth with three super fine chicks—an assorted female posse consisting of a black sister, a Rican and a gringo. What really caught my attention was the way he was eyeballing Rose. After a few drinks, I had to empty my bladder, so I excused myself. Upon returning, she had informed me that the same dude had sent some goon over to pull her away from me. She told him that she came with me and intended to leave with me. I immediately puffed up, and wondered why that super player was so intent on making it with my woman; since he already had his own small harem. Would he ever be satisfied?

To view and read more information about Small’s on a separate page click here.

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