'What Do You Like, Pie or Cake?' Meant Fight in Red Hook
A former "Pointer" recalls his childhood growing up in the Erie Basin and the sometimes heated relationship between the "Pointers" and the "Creekers." A reference in the 1890s sugest that terms go back as far as the 1840s. Pointers lived in the area near the Atlantic and Erie Basins; Creekers lived more inland with a border along the Gowanus Canal. Today some Red Hook residents still see the neighborhood divided along similar lines, but refer to the areas as simply the "Front" and the "Back."
Transcribed articles from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 19, 1941:
'What Do You Like, Pie or Cake?' Meant Fight in Red Hook: It Depended Upon Your Answer; Creekers and Pointers Were Hardy Lot
Editor, Old Timers:
Took a ride down to Erie Basin the other day and my mind traveled back to the days when I was a kid in the neighborhood. I was born and raised on the Point and well recall the Creekers and Pointers. It wasn't safe for a Pointer to get past Columbia St. towards Hicks or Henry, nor was it safe for a Creeker to get beyond Columbia St, toward Dwight or Richards Sts. You were almost sure to be met by someone who'd ask: 'What do you like, cake or pie?' Boy, oh boy! If you did not answer that question properly you were in for a thorough trouncing. Ryan's All Stars baseball team used to play in the open lot bounded by King and Williams Sts. and Dwight and Columbia Sts. That field was also the battleground for many a slingshot contest between the Pointers and Creekers. What battles they were - Wowie! - Many a lad went home nursing painful bruises.
Tossed off the bridge
It was the same story if you had occasion to go down to the Long Dock. There was a long wooden bridge that ran from Edner's sparyard to Mannings's yacht basin. Many a time two strange groups would meet on that bridge and the same old question would arise: 'What do you like, cake or pie?' For failing to give the right answer I was thrown off that bridge so many times I began to feel like a fish - which reminds me, as a youngster, I caught many a Tommy cod and eel from the same span. My parents never had to buy wood for the stove in those days. I'd take my homemade four-wheeled wagon and go down to Crane's shipyard where I picked up enough wood to last us through the Winter. Crane used to build wooden scows which were launched in New York Bay. On the way home I would stop at Gokey's ship-yard to pick up some junk which I'd sell at McGrune's junk yard on Delevan St. near Van Brunt St. A nickel or a dime was 'big dough' them days. The baths were at the foot of Conover St. Had swell times there when I got to the stage that I could swim from the steps to the ropes - the remarkable distance of four feet, a feat (pardon the pun) worth bragging about. A happy day in my young life was when I received a diploma from the Volunteer Life Saving Corps for passing its test of swimming from rope to rope twice. Still have the diploma.
JUST AN EX-POINTER.
BAREFOOT BOY WITH CHEEKS OF TAN
Editor, Old Timers:
The site of the new Red Hook Project; used to be the old battleground of the Creekers and Pointers. Lorraine St. was built and filled in with dirt from foreign countries, sent over in sailing ships as ballast. How many living today went swimming in his birthday suit at the foot of Columbia St.?
LITTLE RED HEN.