A coming-of-age tale about Bayside is now in paperback from author and former resident Lou Duro.
Be Bop A Lula, formerly only available in digital, is a story about a group of teenagers in the northeast Queens neighborhood in their final year of high school as they make the rounds between class and the storefronts of Bell Boulevard back in 1957.
Duro sets the scene as he recalls blending fact and fiction about the rise of rock music, bowling alleys and diners.
“The candy store was a sacred temple and hanging out was a full-time obligation,” Duro said, “before draft notices and marriage licenses turned growing up into serious business.”
In 14 chapters, Duro uses the music of his teenage years to set the tone for each situation the characters, Eddie Casale and Bob “Bo” Brody, find themselves in. The pair confront parents and teachers in chapters titled “Rock Around the Clock” and “School Days,” after the Chuck Berry song.
“Rip It Up” sets the scene for a bloody gang fight, while “Black Denim Trousers” is about motorcycles and a street race gone terribly wrong.
“Let the Good Times Roll” and “Get a Job” are chapters about visits to Dick’s Candy store, encounters with women in the backseats of cars and failed attempts to find work.
Many of the locations in the book were well-known Bayside locales that many may remember, and some that are still in business. Buzz & Macs Bowling Alley, White Castle, The Bayside Diner, The Bayside Movie House, and O’Neil’s Bar are just a few.
Lifelong Bayside resident and friend of the author Pat Coulaz, said the book is a reminiscent look at a Bayside long gone, but easily retrieved through Duro’s writing.
“Fifties, rock n’ roll, hot rods, make-out sessions and, most of all, friendships that never ended,” Coulaz said. “Be Bop A Lula is a tribute to those innocent times when we all still believed in God, country, family and, of course, motorcycles. Lou Duro has the gift of making it all seem like it was yesterday.”
Duro grew up in the neighborhood and attended Bayside High School before going into the military. Following his service, he attended NYU and studied journalism and creative writing. He would later become an award-winning reporter for the New York Journal American and the Long Island Press. In the ‘60s, he was a broadcast relations manager for the Long Island Rail Road where his segments could be heard across 14 radio and television shows on a daily basis.
His book of poetry “The Sadness of Happy Times,” was published in 1970 and has sold over 40,000 copies.
Duro now lives in Crete, Greece, but was recently in Bayside for a reunion with the people who inspired many of the characters in Be Bop A Lula.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall