I passed on basketball yesterday. Folks who know me know well I do not skip ball lightly -- even during summer play at the pool when the player no longer skwer predominantly my age with a few sons merged in. Saturday and Sunday) mornings at the Deepdale -- now Tanenbaum -- Pool involve teammates other then my friend Len Backerman and occasionally Eric Diamond (with cameos by Israeli Mike and Big Steve who prefer the lesser exertion of doubles tennis when we hit the pool club) who could be my grandkids let alone my own. And they run the full court quick and the competition between brothers Charlie and Joe make for good theater. Sometimes I pass on ball because of plans involving Shelly but she tries not to cause me to bitg miss morning ball AND afternoon volleyball which did occur last week; we agree to join fellow friends at a Pythian charity brunch and then we get an invite to an afternoon 95th birthday -- which we cannot refuse. So I did get to play with the usual bunch Tuesday but missed the pool altogether yesterday.
A very good reason: Henry McCoy Jr. Fate brought us together over two decades ago. We coveted the same elected party leaders position after a redistricting connected my Bellerose neighborhood to his St. Albans community via slivers of Queens Village and Hollis. I received several hundred votes more than prior leaders who won contested one on one races in '80 and '82. When we took the turnout numbers early in the day, my folks we sure I'd become the leader. When the polls close Henry was the leader. We had never met until the contest and found we liked each other; we agreed to work together no matter the outcome. We did.
And I got to know Henry McCoy Jr. The man I met was a retired City Marshall. I learned more but not from him but from his friends. Henry was self-effacing; low key; did not brag. He liked to help people. He helped me when time came to leave the City Council and join the staff of the Bronx Borough President who wanted a certain phone call to occur before the deal would close. The call got made and Pat Roach who sat in with Freddy Ferrer when the call got made later shared the caller made me out to be like the "2nd coming....." Enough said.
But McCoy (he always said that when he called, rather then Henry or Hank) meant much more; naming the corner of Ovid Place and Dorman's Road, "Henry McCoy Jr. Way" means folks who know not about McCoy might just ask the question; they might google. Henry was a trailblazer in the NYPD. He was a key plaintiff in the lawsuit that opener up the ranks of Lt., Captain, Deputy Inspector on up to African Americans. If not for McCoy, no African American, including several of Henry's neighbors would have reached title such as Chief and Chief of the Department such as my friend Terry Bank' brother, Phil Banks who recently retired. Young folks in that community need to know the possibilities and recognize what McCoy meant. My client and friend, City Council Member I. Daneek Miller who passed the legislation to get the name change done, made clear more than ceremony and tribute was involved here. People need to know, need to ask, need to remember. We'll not forget McCoy!