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Lobby, 1636 University

An entire book could be written about Fat Junior and his family, and possibly someone has written one. I won't attempt that, but here are a few highlights:

The "Fat Junior" family lived directly across from us -- across the back courtyard. They were a family of giants. And they weren't really fat -- just big. All through my childhood, Fat Junior was my arch nemesis. Batman had the Penguin, I had Fat Junior. There was no reason that I could ever discern for this antagonism. The first day I saw Junior, he simply came running towards me like a slobbering St. Bernard and jumped on me, knocking me to the street. What I remember about him, was the glee he took in pummeling me. He was a foot taller, and probably out-weighed me by fifty pounds. He had a huge face for his size -- all teeth. As I would leave to go to school, I would often sneak out the back way and look in both directions to see if Junior was there. After several fights, I began to develop a technique where I would somehow get him in a scissor lock with my legs around his neck.

Our fights began on the sidewalk, and ended up anywhere. One day, we ended up struggling in this very lobby. As we tumbled into the lobby, I got Fat Junior into my patent-pending "scissor lock" with my legs around his neck and was squeezing his fat neck and watching him turn colors asking if he'd had 'nuff. Every time he said "no" I squeezed tighter until finally he couldn't speak. But he continued to smile at me until finally he passes out with that sick smile on his face.

Terrified that I had killed him, I ran into the apartment and told my father that Junior was lying in the hallway -- and that he might be kilt.

When my father walked out into the lobby, Fat Junior was still out cold. There was also a pool of urine under him. Equally terrified, my father got water and spilled it on Junior who slowly came to.

So, you'd figure that Junior would leave me alone after that. But the following day -- he teamed up with his sister Fat Linda and they both came running after me and gave me a good pounding. Fat Linda was famous in the neighborhood for having been hit by a bus and walking away unhurt.

Many years later, when we were in our twenties, we met and immediately recognized each other on Fordham Road. He was attending Fordham College and studying to be a male nurse.

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All photography copyright Dave Beckerman.