Bronx youth remembered in new book


Kenneth Hand remembers the Kingsbridge of his youth as a place where streetwise kids roamed without the burdensome boundaries of over-involved parents.

From a nighttime cop chase out of a Van Cortlandt Park pool  to “mining” copper off roofs along Godwin Terrace, Mr. Hand compiled stories from his 1970s Kingsbridge upbringing for his book You Can’t Take the Bronx Out of The Boy My Dad. 

Tales of troublemaking and fun are contrasted against the comparably cloistered life of the modern kid.

“The world we grew up in, in the ‘70s, you’d say ‘mom I’m going out’ and that was ok, then you went and did your thing, and your parents didn’t worry about it. They just knew you’d be back.” Mr. Hand, who lives with his wife and two kids in Virginia, said. “With my son, when he’s going out, even when he goes to play basketball in our subdivision, my wife is worried about him.”

Though the stories are written from the perspective of his own son remembering his dad’s life lessons, Mr. Hand originally told the stories contained in the book to his children, in the hopes that they would gain from hearing about his upbringing. 

“When I had kids I remembered different challenges that I had as a kid. One of the things I thought to myself is I wanted to prepare them for those situations,” Mr. Hand said. 

While the book is often light-hearted, Mr. Hand doesn’t shy away from dark periods, both in his life and in the history of Kingsbridge. 

Drug dealers peddling outside of school, dropping out of John F. Kennedy High School as a teenage alcoholic and the bullet-riddled death of a former classmate who had turned to dealing, were all part of Mr. Hand’s urban reality.

“He definitely had a guardian angel,” Rich Hand, Mr. Hand’s brother, said. “You could picture a kid like this ending up on Rikers Island.”

Christine Hand Light, Mr. Hand’s sister, said that their Bronx upbringing was integral to overcoming setbacks as an adult.  

“He uses stories for his children, to pass on life lessons on what to avoid and why to avoid them ...  He turned the pain that he had in his childhood and turned it in to a positive thing,” Ms. Hand Light said. 


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Friday, May 13, 2011

Mr. Kates, I grew up with Kenny Hand and I was one of the first people to purchase his book. Although I am thankful you wrote an article about his book "You Can't Take the Bronx Out of My Dad" I feel I must respond to your misleading article. I assume you read the whole book, however, I feel you missed the main point of the book. Yes, he does talk about certain things which were a reality in the Bronx during the 1970's, like drinking, drug, and crime - but his book was mostly about the tight nit community which was Kingsbridge during this time. He talked about the hot summer nights when the streets were filled with kids playing stickball, boxball, roundup, and cooling themselves off by running through open fire hydrants. He talked about the adults sitting on lawn chairs with their radios on enjoying cool drinks. He painted a picture of the Bronx neighborhood of Kingsbridge being like a small town where everyone knew each other and looked out for each other. He talks about the special relationships him and his friends developed over the years. He reminds everyone who grew up in Kingsbridge what a unique experience they all had. A few years ago there was a Kingsbridge/Bronx reunion which had 1,400 attend! Kenny Hand's group, Godwin Terrace, has get-to-gethers on a regular basis where dozens and dozes of friends get-together. Not many people can say they have dozens of friends from their childhood that they still keep in touch with - but Kingsbridge does. Kenny does a clever job in bringing this reality to life in his book Anyone who grew up in the Bronx/Kingsbridge knows exactly what I'm talking about. Perhaps, only people from the Bronx/Kingsbridge can truly understand what it was like. Perhaps, if you didn't grow up in this place at this time - you won't "get" this book For me, having experienced the same things Kenny did - I "got" his book. If you are from The Bronx/Kingsbridge - you should get this book. It will bring you back to a time and place that I hope we never forget. Thank you Kenny. Graham, thank you for the article but you missed the main point of the book. For anyone from the old neighborhood - do yourself a favor - go to and order a book. You won't regret it!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

If you grew up in Kingsbridge, you will enjoy this book. It will bring you right back to our simple childhoods and how we took advantage of our neighborhood to entertain ourselves. I'm enjoying the book right now and bought more copies to give to my family. Thanks, Kenny, for an enjoyable trip back to my childhood.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011