We had our local chop shop across the street. On the south side of our building we were lucky enough to have a park. In South Bronx terms circa 1978, any empty lot was a park. It shared the same slope as our building, both halfway up the hill. But this park had potential. It even had an old five-foot gnarled apple tree at the top that no local kid had ever let come to fruition so they could eat of its fruit because those little green things made awesome missiles for pelting. Now, the park was strewn with trash, a whisper of what it once was.
At the top of the park, trash dump, single apple tree orchard sat the official South Bronx Local Chop Shop or maybe it was the Fulton Avenue South Bronx Local Chop Shop. Whatever it was, I never ever not even once saw a single employee there: not once. However, their abilities, as mechanics, were unquestionable. A customer — I assume — would pull up to the curb at the top of the block around midnight and those mechanics would disassemble the entire car in a matter of hours. Never a sunrise caught them unfinished. As the sun rose over the hill above their shop on the curb on the top of the once-was park only a skeleton of a car was left. By the end of the week the city wrecker would cart it away.
One day we had a visit from the sales team of the Farm’s Book Publishing Company from Summertown, Tennessee. Those neo-southern, neo-rural hippies did not know about the Fulton Avenue South Bronx Local Chop Shop. It did not pierce their addled brains or maybe they had become countrified to the point of naiveté, but for whatever reason, they didn’t listen to me. I told them to not park their year-old super Chevy Van with mag rims and brand-new tires in one of the stalls — meaning curb — of the Fulton Avenue South Bronx Local Chop Shop. “You got to park in front of our building. It is safer there and we in the front bedrooms can hear, sometimes, someone messing with our vehicles.” On a side note, in 1978 most older vehicle hoods opened from the outside meaning unless you had a hole in your hood and chained it to some part of the car’s body with a lock, you would lose your battery that very same night. First night all my paranoia was proved just that — their vehicle was intact with the battery having just spent one night in the stall of the Fulton Avenue South Bronx Local Chop Shop. Didn’t convince me of nothing! I was a hardened veteran of the streets now. Sunrise of day two found the van on cement blocks and four mag rims with four brand-new wheels gone and the Farm sales team of the Book Publishing Company from Summertown, Tennessee had now officially paid rent for two nights of parking in the stalls of the Fulton Avenue South Bronx Local Chop Shop.