Saturday, May 25, 2013

Miniature Golf... Mondello Style

Okay, here we have myself, older brother Joey, and younger brother Michael transforming into neanderthal Cavemen right before
your very fucking eyes!

We had a great childhood.
And here's proof of just how awesome
kids can be!
It's unbelievable we made it this far!

Miniature Golf... Mondello Style

My backyard as a kid was like Lon Chaney…… Man of a Thousand Faces.

You never quite knew what to expect when you walked through that gate. Would it be grass and a pool? Grass and rocks? Or you could’ve even witnessed grass, a big brown circle of sand,
and rocks.
(No pool, for those of you having trouble
keeping up!)

Tommy Mondello and family layin' down the sod
There's the round spot where the pool goes.
We were in the middle of laying down sod at this point.
The tree is still a tree and not a stump... yet. The shed to the left with the rabbit cage.  That's my brother Michael to the left looking up at my mom or dad take the photo. I think that's my cousin Kevin leaning in as my dad or Uncle Kenny cuts a piece of sod. I'm kneeling over to the left sodding away. That's gotta be my brother Joey in the back against the tree. Looks like we have a fire going behind the tree. Looks like smoke to the left of the tree. We dug a fire pit and all our friends would gather there and we'd bake potatoes in the fire. Colud be wrong though. We may have filled in the pit at this point. But I'm tellin' you guys, we did fuckin' everything in this yard!

But by far, the best look had to be the all sand days. The entire backyard was just sand.
Fuckin’ beautiful!

The backyard was about fifty feet long, by about twenty-five feet wide, with a shed and a tall tree (later to become a tall stump) at the rear.

Also on occasion you would find a boat and a large homemade rabbit cage. (And yes, one winter we forgot to bring him inside, and we found him a frozen block at some point along the way. Sorry Bugs!) The yard was fenced in on all four sides with the house covering half
of the fourth side.

This was our Yankee StadiumMadison Square Garden and Giants Stadium all rolled into one.

Today it was football. The next it was wiffleball. It could’ve been anything. I remember one winter we shaped some kind of sheet metal and rubber lining into a circle, filled it with water and by the next morning we had ourselves an ice rink. Instant hockey game.

Michael Tommy Joey Mondello on backyard hockey rink
How cool is that!? Michael on left, me than Joey.
Madison Sqare Garden right in our own backyard. This was early 1970's.

The yard also served as my very own private construction site.

One day, my friend Franky and I turned the yard into the Panama Canal. We dug a horseshoe shaped trench about twenty feet long, two feet wide and about two feet deep. Now here’s the best part. The only tools we used
were our Tonka Trucks.

Bulldozer’s, dump trucks, and cranes! That’s it. We had a lot of free time on our hands back then dont'cha know.

But by far, the most creative use of the yard had to be when my two brothers and I constructed the miniature golf course. It was a thing of beauty my friends.

Michael & Tommy Mondello & friend Doreen backyard mini golf course
Oh man, I can't believe I found this pic!
Michael to the left, me than our neighbor Doreen.
This was obviously before the madness had begun... LoL

Basically, the yard was one gigantic sand trap, but we managed to engineer a course that even Jack Nicklaus would’ve been proud to play on. Well, we’d like to think he would anyway!

The course went over well, and for a short while actually managed to keep the attention of the three of us. But, as with anything else in life, the old “What have you done for me lately” syndrome kicked in. And we grew bored of just putting a small white golf ball from hole to hole.

(We needed More Power!)

Good grief, could we just leave well enough alone and enjoy the simple, relaxing pleasures of that most delicate of games, miniature golf. Oh no, not us. We had to make it better,

mold it into something new!

The transformation began slowly at first, but then quickly mutated into something so savage, so grotesque, that I dare not speak of it for fear that others might attempt it.

Well, fuck it, I’ll tell ya anyway.

At first, just to make the game a bit more, lets say interesting, we went ahead and substituted baseball bats for the putters. Hey, anyone could play golf with a putter right?

Put a baseball bat in Tiger Woods' hands, and let’s see how many tournaments
that muthafucka wins then!

We figured it would just make the game slightly more of a challenge thats all.

Sounds innocent enough right?

Well, after just a few strokes with the baseball bats, we decided that it made the game a little too challenging. I mean, how the hell were you supposed to hit that little round ball

in a straight line, with a round bat?


So we went back to the putters, right? WRONG! That would’ve been the normal thing to do. But remember who we're talkin' about here. We were far from normal, as kids. In fact, we were awesomely abnormal!

Why go back to the putter, when you could just as easily stay with the baseball bats, and simply use a bigger ball! Makes sense, right? Who says that you need to use a golf ball to play golf?

So what kind of ball did you guys decide to use?
Glad you asked!

Now we could’ve used a baseball, but we didn’t. That made too much sense, right? Maybe we used a softball? Nope, still too practical. Then what the hell did you guys use? Why, the most obvious ball of all, a basketball, of course!

(More power Scotty!)

Now just put yourselves in our shoes here for a moment. Here we were, three boys, ages fifteen, twelve, and eight, standing on a homemade golf course constructed completely of sand, and all three of us with baseball bats in our hands.

Now, doesn’t a basketball seem like the perfect ball to use to you? Of course it does! I knew you would see it our way once you put those shoes on! You just may be as abnormal as us! LoL

But just as with the first improvement, new frustrations soon set in. We quickly came to the realization that a basketball would not fit into those tiny holes that were meant for a golf ball. Shit!

We’ll have to go back
and enlarge all the holes now.

Aaaah…… I don’t think so!

At this point we just said fuck it, and began to hit the basketball from green to green, and pretended that it went in the hole.

Oh boy, what fun! We were actually playing imaginary miniature golf. Could we get any further from the real thing?

Then we began to skip over holes completely, and try to hit the greens at the far end of the yard in one shot.

This went on for a few moments, but then, before we knew it, we were standing at opposite ends of the course hitting the basketball back and forth to each other over the length of the yard.

Can you feel the momentum racing towards catastrophe here?

Soon after that, we designated goal areas and came up with brand new rules for our demented activity. And the new rules for this insanity were... and I quote...

"NO rules! NONE whatsoever!"

Get that fucking basketball in that fucking goal any fucking way possible.

(I need more power Scotty…… Now!)

Thus, the game of HockeyBall was born. Man, were we way ahead of our time, or what?

I mean we just started swinging baseball bats at one another like cavemen. Complete with kicking, shoving, pushing and punching. Fists were flying, balls were soaring, and four-letter words filled the air.

We were bloodied, black 'n blued,
and loving every second of it.

My goodness, we were three Neanderthals desecrating the delicate game of golf with Louisville Slugger baseball bats, and something far more dangerous, far more lethal…… imaginations!

I mean just look at what we were doing!

(I’m giving it all she’s got Captain!)

Tommy Michael & Joey Mondello West Shore Little League uniforms
That's the Cavemen! Joey on the right, Michael holding that over sized
whiffleball bat in the middle (we did everything big time!)
And yes, I'm the fat one to the left.
No wonder I could never beat out a fuckin' ground ball... LoL
Christ, eat a salad would ya! This was at the opposite end of the yard
by the house.

How none of us ended up with a cracked skull or broken bones is far beyond my comprehension
I tell ya that much.

I mean, I think back now on just how demented we were. Well then again, wait a minute. It still actually sounds like a pretty neat game to me! I'd love to get a few swings in right now
as a matter of fact.

I’ll tell ya, I know you get a great sensation when you strike a golf ball just right with a golf club. But man, there’s no sweeter feeling in the world than as the one you get when that bat first meets ball. Basketball that is!

I still remember the first time I got a hold of one and sent it flying through the air. It was sublime! Truly a heaven on earth right here

in our very own backyard.

When that Louisville slugger made contact it was as if the mythical gods above rumbled with applause. I bet even Babe Ruth and Joe Dimaggio stopped what they were doing to take a look down at the action. What a sound!

I’m tellin’ ya, that ball really moved. There’s no way in hell that that round rubber orb was meant to be tossed through some silly metal hoop with a net. Not the way that baby took off on impact!

We played that game with a vengeance. Not a putting green would be left standing

by the end of the day.

But wait now, our gladiators surely don’t just play Hockeyball all day, and then triumphantly walk off into the sunset, now do they?

What'ta you think?

Well, just as with all other great innovations, setbacks are bound to occur. And yes, unfortunately for us we did have a minor one. Well okay it was pretty major in fact.

You see, the life-span of HockeyBall was cut short the moment I took that last fatal swing

of my Louisville slugger.

I was at the opposite end of the yard away from the house. Mutha “F”. I made solid contact, watched that basketball glide through the air over my brothers’ heads, over the goal, and then crash right into the kitchen window.

Mondello & Reilly family 336 Simonson ave backyard
There it is... the downfall of Hockeyball!!
I forgot to mention that there was about an 8 foot patio before the dirt/grass/sand/weeds/rocks began.
We lived in a duplex with our awesome neighbors Frank 'n Jean next door!
I wanna say the ball crashed into our window on the left closer to the door,
but I can't be sure.
Either way, it was the shot heard 'round the world... LoL
Michael left, Joey, mom in blue chair, baby Shannon, me behind Shan, Kevin, Aunt Mo in green chair. Early 1970's

Man, what a shot it was. Beautiful! Crash... smash! We froze. And of course, we were busted! I mean, where the fuck could we run, home?

There we stood, sluggers in hand, three pairs of bugged out eyes, mouths wide open, and then we heard it. We heard the wrath a'comin'.

What the hell is goin’ on out there? How many times have I told you............”

Actually our parents were very cool about the situation. I mean it’s not like this was the first nightmare we’ve ever presented them with.

At this point, we just hung our heads low, knowing damn well that our new creation would never again see the light of day!

Yes my friends, the days of swinging baseball bats at one another just came to a crashing end.
HockeyBall would live no more.

Man, the shit my parents put up with. For certain there are two pairs of wings awaiting them in the heavens when that time arrives. Believe me, they earned every fuckin’ feather! They’re awesome!

Tommy Mondello and his snowman
Pool to the left, me and my snowman. Tree is now a tall stump at this point.

Michael Mondello & friend backyard pigeon coup
Boat to the left, Michael and one of his buddies.
The rabbit cage is now by the tree.
(I was just told by Michael that that was the pigeon coop
and not the rabbit cage)
Don't know if Bugs froze to death at this point :(
That's Van Name Ave towards the back. The yard looks so small in these
photo's, but when we were kids utilizing it for everything under the sun...
it was fucking huge. Eventually we laid a path of rocks from the gate
leading to the shed.
I would use a baseball bat and stand there for hours and hit those rocks
into the woods that were over to the right.
Fuckin' awesome!

I bet you guys have come up with some wacky scenarios yourselves over the years. I know you girls did crazy things with your Barbies
didn’t you?

C’mon, we’re all friends here,

you can come clean!

And I’m sure you men created all sorts of off-the-wall sport-like activities as kids.

I wonder what you had those Barbie ‘n Ken’s doing?  Mmmmmmm...????

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