Janey Way Memories #163

The Last Janey Way Memory

I published my first Janey Way memory, The Story of the Janey Way Gang, on July 2, 2009.
Then, I thought the column would last perhaps a few years. I guess my memory proved much better than I imagined.
During that time I have shared many stories about this incredible one-block neighborhood on the fringe of East Sacramento.
Remember the one about playing sandlot baseball in the vacant lot one house down the street from my home. It is amazing that we never broke a window doing that. Remember the stories about escaping from old man Charlie, the watchman of the pit (the vacated sand and gravel plant behind the houses on the east side of Janey Way? We thought Charlie was an ogre who might lock us up in his ramshackle house if he ever caught us. He never did catch us, and when we grew up, we realized that he really wasn’t that dangerous.
I also related many stories about playing at Phoebe Hearst Elementary School located just across M Street from Janey Way. There we climbed the roof and ran around among the air conditioning units and vents. Sometimes we just sat on the edge of the roof and watched the cars go by on Folsom Boulevard. Fortunately the police never drove by. We also played roller derby at the school, raced our homemade scooters and had heated tackle football games on the grass patch on its western edge.
The funny thing is we spent most of our time back then playing right on Janey Way. We played touch football on the street in front of “old Joe’s” house and poker at the Ducray house or in Dan Rosenblatt’s backyard. We held boxing matches, Big Time Wrestling events and ping pong tournaments at the Relles house.
We even staged a real Broadway-style production the Puccetti’s back yard. All our neighbors paid a quarter each to see that show.
During the seven years I wrote this column, I also told many stories of the exceptional people who made Janey Way their home. Remember Dom Costamagna who treated our skinned knees, sprained ankles and cut foreheads when we injured ourselves playing too roughly or Big Lou Viani the mayor of Janey Way? He kept order on our block.
Then there were the stories of our great adventures or capers like playing the hubcap trick, scaring the O Street boys out of the Senior League dugout and confiscating their beers, or driving all the families in the neighborhood crazy playing “doorbell ditch.”
We had a world of fun growing up on Janey Way. Since we didn’t have video games, cell phones or computers, we pretty much had to entertain ourselves and we did that well.
Sadly though, all good things must come to an end. I have reached the point where I can’t think of any more stories to tell. As this is volume number 163 of the column, you have to admit that I did a pretty good job of it.
Now it is time to move on to other things. So for now I bid you a fond farewell.
Hope to see you soon in the newspaper.

(Editor’s Note: A few years ago, Marty said he couldn’t think of any more memories. But he kept on writing. I hope he can conjure up some more stories. Perhaps, another column idea is on the horizon for Mr. Relles. Stay tuned.)

One Response to Janey Way Memories #163

The Last Janey Way Memory

  1. Bill Jones says:

    Marty, thanks for the memories. The football games, Christmas tree forts, the Pit, sleeping in the backyards, summer days at the American River, door bell ditch, the hub cap trick: all this was greet stuff to read about. You also provided a of facts about Janey Way that I either did not know or had forgotten. Thanks for a great column.

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