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Sands Street runs through lower Brooklyn like a varicose vein. It leads from the main gate of the Navy Yard to the subway stations. It is a tough, knotted street of saloons, laundries, tattoo parlors, dry cleaners, groceries, Coffee Pots, and lodgings. Its stores sell clothes, trinkets, watches, photographs, and anything else to snatch a sailor’s dollar. Every service is marked “While you wait.” Trolleys grind along its narrow width. Shabby curtains flap from its upstairs windows where the shadeless glare of light bulbs marks cheap shelter for the night. From the cellars of the old buildings comes a clammy odor as if brackish salt water were seeping under them.

It is the first touch of America for many sailors when they hurry out after months at sea. As they rush for the subway and Manhattan, it is a long street. For others who walk it back to the Yard, hand in hand with a girl for the last time, it is the shortest street in the world.

Most of the time the street has as little beauty as the neon signs that light its shop windows, or the mangy cats that slip in and out of the cellars, forever lured by their fishy smell. But on some summer mornings the soft mist slips in from the harbor and folds the street in gray silver. Then it is a place for miracles and strange high wonders.
— from William Chapman White, The Pale Blonde Of Sands Street (Viking, 1946)


Caz Dolowicz was born on Sands Street in 1923 and first saw The Ox-Bow Incident with Henry Morgan and others at the Albee Theater in 1943. Currently, he’s in Pinellas County, Florida, looking for a pair of shoes.

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