By Terry Golden
I have always looked back on my years growing up in Morningside with a sense of amazement and wonder. Whether spending entire summer days at the field or evenings playing “release” or “hide and seek” in the back alley, it seemed to me that there couldn’t have been a better place to be a kid in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The field was mecca for any kid interested in whichever sport was in season. Whiffle ball games in the showers or against the fence adjacent to the third base bleachers were common; rules were determined and enforced by the kids (I always liked that). The basketball court was the place to be after 5:30, with 4 or 5 teams lined up to play. If your team won you kept playing; lose and you went to the end of the pack to wait.
The field itself was reserved for minor and little league baseball from 5-8; then, men’s softball usually took over, under the lights after ‘ 74. If you played baseball you either played for Stumpf ’s Market, red; Al Heyl Cleaners, blue; Stanton Federal, green, or Moose The current interior of the former Marooney’s Bar that will become the Bulldog 46, black. Summers passed by quickly and fall meant Joe Natoli, Baz Fitzpatrick and the Pub & Grill. It is under renovation and expected to open in October of 2012. Morningside Bulldogs. As a kid, I was in awe and more than a bit frightened by the Bulldogs. Joe and Baz were larger than life, and the teams were a combination of energy and fearlessness that to me, at 10 years old and 62 pounds, were daunting. Joe was serious, strict but approachable; he commanded your attention without asking for it. Baz was no less a coach, an intellectual with a passion for detail and a nocturnal flair that brought many a young Morningsider to seek his counsel at 2 or 3 am (especially when home for college breaks.)
Getting to play for the Morningside Bulldogs in ‘74 and ‘75 (once I got over the fear factor) was one of the highlight of my teenage years. I wonder how many Morningside kids from my years stop to think about the many men and women who gave so much of their time without pay to make sure there was a place for kids to go, have fun, and maybe learn a thing or two along the way. People like Russ Kirk, Fran Laffey, Joe DiLorenzo, Dan Bradley, Dave Taylor, Milford Kuntz, Dom Stratiff, Buzzy Stack, Lou and Olga Lombardo, Don Sauerwein and Mike Suska just to name a few.These were men and women with families and commitments that found time to give back to the kids of Morningside, and perhaps that is what made Morningside such a special place.
So here I am, about to begin restoration of the old Petrelli’s Bar and eventually open the Bulldog Pub & Grill. The name is an obvious nod to Joe, Baz and the others mentioned above. We want to honor this legacy of Morningside sports in the decor, so if you have any pictures or memorabilia to contribute, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My business partner and I will be putting in a new kitchen with a full menu, which you can view on our website, which will launch in the next few months at MeetMeAttheDog.com. We hope to offer Morningside and the surrounding communities a comfortable, first-class restaurant that is family friendly and feels like home. I hope to meet you and begin new friendships in the fall of 2012 at “The Dog.”