My Brooklyn is Cypress Hills. I "grew up" there from the age of 10-15 years old during the early 70s. I lived two doors down from Blessed Sacrament Parochial School, directly across from the magnificent Blessed Sacrament Church on Euclid Ave. between Ridgewood & Fulton. Living so close to the school definitely had its advantages. I can remember the lunch bell ringing and running as fast as I could out of the school and up to my third floor apartment to grab a sandwich and be the first in the schoolyard across the street which entitled me to be a captain of a team for the afternoon punchball game before we returned to class. Even after school, the schoolyard was our central meeting place of the neighborhood. The row of three story attached homes had an incredible amount of kids living in them. There were the Pistones, the Lonergans, the Brushes, the Coates, the Nochols, the Taggerts and the Pinzons to name a few. I grew up on that playground. I learned how to get along with other kids even though they were different. I learned how to deal with kids that were bigger and tougher and learned how to look out for the ones that weren't. I kissed a girl for the first time there (Patty, are you out there?) and I am reminded of a feeling of belonging. That was "My Neighborhood." I moved away in 1977 and eventually moved to Fountain Hills, Arizona in 1994. But every year or so, I visit Jack's Pizza on Fulton Street under the noisy El and listen to the J train screech as it bends around on Crescent Street and relive a slice of my younger days.
7 April 1999
My Brooklyn is Kensington . . . an apartment building on Avenue C and E. 8th St. We hung our laundry on rooftop clotheslines and sunbathed on Tar Beach as well. I remember rollerskating all day long and would climb up 4 flights of marble stairs on skates (!) to get a drink of water. However, when the Good Humor man drove down our street my mother would wrap a dime in tissues and throw it out the window to me below so I could buy a frozen treat.
I consider myself so fortunate to have grown up in Brooklyn when I did. I remember going to the Botanical Garden Japanese Gardens with a sketchbook all by myself as a young teenager. I remember riding the Coney Island Avenue bus to Coney Island every single day in the summer to be with my friends at Bay 8. (Kensington kids staked their claim to Bay 8.)
P.S. 179, Ditmas J.H.S. and Erasmus Hall hold my heart as I recall wonderful schooldays. The ethnic and religious mix in our neighborhood was enriching. Life was simple as we sang Christmas and Chanukah songs easily and with innocent joy. Teachers were respected and children behaved. Could it really have been so idyllic?
Brooklyn neighborhoods . . . more "small town" than anyone not from Brooklyn could ever imagine.
10 April 1999
Williamsburgh . . . NO not in Virginia, but a section of Brooklyn where my family grew up. We learned the rules of the streets. The "Jewish" delis on Moore Street. The Moore Street Markets. The smells, the sounds . . .
Johnny on the Pony, Three Steps to the King . . . and our beloved game of "Skelly." On Saturday mornings, we couldn't wait to get into the streets to play our games. We had a camaraderie that has not been equaled in lo these many years.
Hot bagels my father used to get on Sunday nights as we watched Lassie and Walt Disney. We attended P.S. 141 on Leonard Street, and hung out on McKibben Street with the "guys," a great group of loyal friends, who, over the years traveled different roads, and we have all been lost to our own lives, and new families.
A tragedy of Grecian Proportions . . . I can almost hear the Chorus in the background as I type these reminisces. . . .
Baseball games in the School Yard. Ringo-levio in Lindsay Park (not the former Mayor). Houses torn down. Expelled to other areas. . . We moved to the Williamsburgh Projects, and learned to grow more than we had ever imagined. We missed the friends and extended family, but those memories will (and still) stay with me for all this time. . . .
Thanks for "nudging" my memory. Warmest regards.
11 April 1999