A Favor for the Coach by
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Prompted By Favors

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The Jane Addams HS boys basketball team with Coach Jon Ostrow (Ozzie) in the blue shirt.

A Favor for the Coach

I’ve shared many memories of my years working at Jane Addams HS.   (See Magazines for the Principal , The Diary of a Young Girl,  Going Back to Work , Mr October  and The Parking Lot Seniority List)

Here’s one more.

I live in Manhattan’s upper eastside and for the many years I worked at Addams,  which is in the Bronx,   I commuted to work by car.   It was an easy drive  –  in the mornings the southbound lanes on the FDR Drive would crawl,  but I was heading north against the traffic and would breeze along.

And I’d either drive alone or carpool with other eastsiders depending on our semester’s  schedule – our school had both early and late sessions.   But one eastside colleague who was never in our carpool was my friend Ozzie.   He coached the boys basketball team and stayed late for after-school team practices and games,  and thus drove up to school himself.

However on the afternoons the team had games at other Bronx schools Ozzie would leave his car in the school parking lot,  take public transport with the boys to the host school,  after the game take a bus or subway home to Manhattan,  and the next morning take public transport back up to school.  But in addition to the inconvenience of no car for his morning commute,  leaving a car in the parking lot overnight was always a bit risky as our school was in the infamous south Bronx,  a high crime neighborhood.

And so one day Ozzie asked me if I would do him a favor and on the afternoons Addams had away games,  I  would drive his car back to Manhattan and park it.   He and I lived only a few blocks apart and of course I said yes.

Ozzie was on early session and I was usually on late,   and so rather than wake up an hour earlier to drive up with him,  I’d come to school with my carpool and later drive myself in Ozzie’s car back to Manhattan.

I garaged my own car,  but Ozzie parked his on the street so once back in our neighborhood I’d have to look for a space,  being mindful of alternative-side and the myriad of other New York City parking rules.   And as the upper eastside is the most densely populated residential neighborhood in Manhattan,  finding a legal overnight space could take as long as an hour.  Then once I found a spot,  I had to let Ozzie know where to find his car.   He and his wife Liz lived in a small apartment building that had no doorman,  or that would have been an easy solution.

So this is what we did –  I’d find a parking space,   walk home to my own building,  and then write a note saying where I’d parked .  I’d give the note with Ozzie’s car key to my doorman for Ozzie to pick up when he got back to our neighborhood after the game.

And I’m happy to say during my years at Addams we had many winning basketball seasons.   The credit goes to the boys on the teams and to their great coach of course – but maybe just a bit of the glory should go to the coach’s friend who did him a favor and parked his car!

– Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Basketball, School Sports
Characterizations: , funny, well written


  1. I think the friend who drove and parked his car for him should get a ring, or whatever they won at the end of the season! Yea for Dana! This was a sweet story, and it’s nice to know that sometimes “a favor is just a favor,” kind of like a cigar. No hidden agenda or tit-for-tat or unforeseen consequences. Just a favor for a friend.
    If you are still in touch with Ozzie, this is a wonderful book, a true story about a boys’ high school basketball team, a graphic novel by one of my favorite authors, Gene Luen Yang, best known for AMERICAN BORN CHINESE. https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Hoops-Gene-Luen-Yang/dp/1626720797

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    I agree with Dale–that was no small favor you did for Ozzie! Finding a parking place in Manhattan is truly an act of a good friend. And I’m sure you generated lots of good karma as well, and still feel happy to tell the story these years later. Thanks for a good one.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    That is a very kind favor, Dana – finding that parking space is almost super-human, then telling where he could find his car, and leaving him the note and the key; well, that was a lot of work. You were definitely part of the great winning spirit of his team! Glad to hear that you’ve remained friends.

  4. Jim Willis says:

    From what you say, Dana, it seems like favors that would be a small one in other cities, become huge in NYC. The plethora of parking regulations made this a big favor indeed! I face similar parking puzzles in L.A. where sometimes the only legal place to park your car was on the grass of your own front lawn, especially on street-cleaning days. Now I’ve got all the space in the world down here in Kentucky! How come you’re not in that basketball team picture? They owe it to you!

    • Aw thanx Jim!
      Do you know the Dave Frisberg title song on Rosemary Clooney’s album Do You Miss New York?

      All the lyrics are great, and then there’s this one:

      Do you miss the scene / The frenzy, the faces / Did you trade the whole parade/ For a pair of parking places.

  5. Dave Ventre says:

    I always avoided driving in Manhattan whenever possible, with parking being a major factor. I did date a woman in Bay Ridge for a while, but that only meant sneaking into NYC via the back entrance (Staten Island), and then only on weekend evenings.
    Your favor to your friend was not small!

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