Never appreciating the power of neighborhood, a Brooklyn boy went to sea for 22 years and didn't once, in his travels, see the complexity and cohesiveness of a Brooklyn neighborhood. From Scottish villages to South American ghettoes, nothing I saw permeated me and could compare to Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, or Boro Park. Although the local populations were very much alike, they had no bonding; no commonality as a neighborhood. Everything I learned in life, I learned in Brooklyn.
8 August 1999
I grew up in Bensonhurst and remember the corner stores, the pizzerias, Mr. Softy, Bay 8th Street Park where we would all hang out, Coney Island and Nathan's, shopping on 86th Street, playing stoop ball, the church bazaars and best of all was the snow ball fights we would have.
I think what I remember most of all was hanging out with my friends and just having a good time.
Hope to hear from anyone who was from the Bensonhurst/Bay Ridge Area and anyone who went to Dyker Heights J.H.S. (P.S. 201) and Lafayette H.S.
9 August 1999
Your site has given me such a shot of nostalgia! I read all 186 pages of memories, but found no one from my neighborhood. My B'klyn was Koskiosko St. and Spencer Court in the 40s. I lived on Koskiosko but spent all my time on Spencer Ct. where all my friends lived and played. On the corner of Spencer Ct and DeKalb Ave. was Spencer Tavern, where my father would have his after-work beer (he was a machinist at the Griffin Shoe Polish factory on Willoughby and Spencer) and I would go in and sit with him. He'd give me a quarter to buy him cigarettes (Chesterfields) from the vending machine. The cigs were only .23, and there were 2 pennies change sealed in the cellophane on the side of the pack. He let me peel the strip, open the cellophane and I got to keep the pennies. I'd go to the candy store and buy a box of salted pumpkin seeds (red box with an Indian picture). I can't remember the name of the theater (it was on DeKalb Ave.) but on Sat. mornings, we'd go in the morning and stay all day. Serials, cartoons, coming attractions, 2 feature movies, all for .25! In the summer, the Police Athletic League (PAL) sent people to Spencer Ct. with games . . . shuffleboard, board games, volley ball, etc. There was a big metal sign on a standing post at the entrance to the street that proclaimed it a "PLAY STREET," so no cars could drive in. On hot days, they would run a hose from the hydrant to a big metal thing we called The Shower . . . the water came out from the top in a big umbrella-shower. We'd get our bathing suits on and run in and out of the shower or just play under it. Our answer to swimming, I guess. A trip to Coney Island back then was a rare and major event. Those days on Spencer Ct. are a sweet memory. I have lost touch with everyone there. If you're reading, Rosemarie DeSanto, Barbara Teti, Mary McBride, Vinnie Scarabino, Georgie Spaight, . . . who else? Boy, would I love to hear from you! There was a butcher shop on the corner of Spencer and DeKalb, sawdust on the floor. The "butcher boy" delivered meat to the neighbors on his bike. I had a mad crush on him when I was about eight! I remember summer nights when someone ran a projector from one window and there was a sheet pinned outside a window on the opposite side of the street. They showed cartoons and funny movies. Everyone sat on the stoops or brought chairs outside to watch. Pizza was a special treat at another corner bar and grill (don't remember the name). It had big crust bubbles that were usually burned and delicious! Malted milks at the candy store. The ice cream parlor with the marble floor . . . that's where we got our Charlotte Russe! Here in New England, they don't know what a Charlotte Russe is. I went to Patrick's School on Kent Ave. I still remember my first grade (actually 1A) nun, Sr. Mary Borgia. She was like an angel and I used to try to dress like a nun after school and play school. I wanted to be her! I remember Bungalow Bar, the truck with an orange roof. I remember playing with a pink ball, "A my name is Anna and my husband's name is Al, we come from Alabama and we sell apples. B my name is Barbara. . . . " I remember jumprope and how bad I was at doubles! "May I take one giant step?" Those street games that kids today have no clue about! We were Italian, Irish, Jewish, whatever and everyone got along and our parents didn't worry about us playing out on the street. Times sure have changed! Please keep the site going. I love reading the memories!
10 August 1999