Al Burgo

Memories of growing up on West 33rd Street in Coney Island and working on the Boardwalk in the 1960s

Al Burgo, who grew up in Gravesend Houses in Coney Island's West End, shares memories of street games and streetwise hijinks in the 1960s. As a boy, he earned 15 cents per shine while apprenticing with a shoe shine pro on the Boardwalk, an experience that he made into the 2013 film Shoe Shine Chicken.  As a teen, he had a $500 line of credit selling knishes on the beach, which were "the best knishes that money can buy, better than Yonah Schimmel." Big Al, Everybody's Pal" was one of his nicknames, says Burgo, who recalls the colorful characters who had nicknames back in the day when "everybody knew each other" in Coney Island.