“Stoop kids afraid to leave the stoop” – Hey Arnold
Stoop- n. A porch with steps in front of a house or other bulding
Manifesto- n. A public declaration of policy or aims.
In recent days, I have had the feeling that I am a member of a dying breed of New York natives that forget the monumental object of development known as the stoop. Though sparse and mundane, many dwellings in and around the metro New York had a small series of steps leading to the entry way of the dwelling, which held great value to those coming of age throughout the past century. I dedicate this post to the unsung hero of many a borough kid’s maturation process: The Stoop. Whether it was the stoop leading to you house or a friend’s stoop, those cement or brick stairs were a commodity, which shaped generations of children and adolescents.
Certain neighboorhoods had salons, others had street corners, Brooklyn kids had a Stoop. For those who have seen my standup, the stoop was pivotal to the person I became. Having a bad day? Wondering what the amazin’ Mets had in store for spring training? Figuring out if the new people who moved to block were in witness protection? These and many other questions were always well received and answered with friends and family while sitting on, you guessed it, the stoop. I write to tell that we need to bring it back, badly.
Our current reality is illustrated via social media, reality television, text messaging and online dating. The communication we rely on lately is defined by distance and lack of connection. I find myself lucky to have been in a generation that witnessed the rise of the internet, while still having the connection with others faciliated by the local neighborhood stoop. During the stoop days, one could even promote or demote accordingly. A friend made fun of your mother behind your back? They lose their stoop privileges. The stoop was the pillar of communication in urban neighborhoods in Brooklyn and most parts of the contential United States.
Emotional and physical health was learned and preserved on the stoop. If you wanted a workout, all one would have to do is head down to the local drug store grab a blue “sky bounce” ball (Spaldeen was overrated), a broom and presto! Hours of fun for the entire family. Complete with a stoop designated “strike zone.” A person could find out who their crush was talking to by information received on a stoop and even the grandmothers could share the accolades of their grandchildren by shouting to neighboring stoops where other grandmothers would spend their time.
When I look back on my relationship with stoop we went through a great deal together. We could even argue that it was an introduction to my first committed relationship. The stoop was there in good times in bad. It saw my joy on warm summer afternoons where the Mets had a shot at the playoffs and the game was broadcasted on my grandfather’s radio. The stoop was also there when I sought refuge with the impending passing of my grandfather following an imminent cancer diagnosis. When the reality sank in the “ugly” cry took over it was the stoop which held the weight of grief for me. It was a place to sit, reflect and accept the challenges a “gal” had to face in this roller coaster called life.
When reflecting on the ups and downs of childhood and significant life lessons, I would not be able to discuss the innocence of development without pausing and taking time to thank the stoop. Pure innocence and joy was preserved on the stoop. In addition, human connection was cultivated between loved ones both living and deceased on the stoop. In a world full of social media likes and defining our worth based off of the number of friends we have on facebook, or trying to get that special someone to swipe right, even though they could have bodies in the basement, we could all learn a thing or two about what “the stoop” taught us about ourselves and life. We need the stoop and the lessons it bestowed on us all.
Remember the stoop from your childhood? Post in the comments.
Wishing all a day filled with joy, nostalgia and “stoop”endous vibes!