Handball: New York, 2006


In 1961, Harvey Sherback and I went to New York when we were 18 years old. It was over the Christmas holidays, we stayed at the “y” on 34th street, walked the streets, hung out in the “Village”, drank lots of coffee and Muscatel and generally had a very good time. It was the beginning of a love affair with New York that has lasted to this day.

At the corner of Avenue of the Americas and 3rd Street, there was this handball/basketball court, the image of which has stuck in my head for over 40 years. I don’t know why this was so but it reminded me of a painting by Ben Shahn of a similar subject and also because there was not anything like this in Montreal. This was the ultimate inner city entertainment complex and I knew someday I would be taking photographs here. All I had to be was patient and wait for the right time which was a few weeks ago on a recent visit. We were walking through the village one Sunday afternoon, it was hot and steamy and there was this crowd at the courts watching a basketball game and handball players in the adjacent court. I hung around taking pictures for about 15 minutes until Sharon, looking visibly bored, encouraged me to leave. As we walked up the Avenue of the Americas, I reflected on how beautiful it was to revisit a scene from my youth after an abscence of 40 years and it was just as beautiful as the day when I first saw it.

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