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City Play: Section guide

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"We lived on a busy street in New Hyde Park, right on the city’s border—-it was a through street so right in front of our house it was safer to play stoopball than stickball—you were less likely to get run over by traffic. The stoops were mostly two steps high, so you only had two steps to work with. And the stoops were worn thin by people walking on them—-so there would be worn stoops and chipped stoops and you got to know those things. These became part of your strategy.

Kids playing stoopball
1987: Playing stoopball
(Photo by Sara Krulwich, New York Times)

"If you were going to hit a fly ball you needed to hit a chipped spot; for grounders you needed rounded spots. There used to be Pachysandra shrubbery next to most of the stoops, on my stoop there was a chip on one corner which I could conceal for my opponents' turn, and just casually brush aside when my turn came around. And for your own stoop, you could take a rock and chip a corner. It was never conceived of as an unfair advantage to tailor your stoop."

- Michael Kanarek, born 1948, New Hyde Park, NY

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Taken from City Play, copyright ©1990. Used with permission by Streetplay.com.

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