I ran across Timothy McVicker's piece on living in Bushwick and it made me sad. I grew up in Bushwicklived on Himrod St. from 1959 to 1979 and I have wonderful memories of living there despite the fact that the greed of real estate speculators and the resultant "white flight" changed the neighborhood.
We were one of the first Black families to buy a house in Bushwick and I remember:
- tree-lined streets;
- a German bakery on the corner of Evergreen and Greene where you could buy the best brownies, with sugar on the bottom;
- nuns walking the neighborhood from St. Barbara's and the bells (do they still ring?);
- the Italian bakery on Central and Bleecker;
- the stores on Knickerbocker;
- seeing the moon for the first time the night of the first blackout in 1965;
- the cobbler (how I loved the smell of his shop!) on Evergreen and Himrod;
- the Bohack store on Evergreen and Stanhope(?) with the huge barrel of dill pickles right at the front door and sawdust strewn on the wood floor;
- on a clear day you could see from Evergreen and Himrod all the way to Grover Cleveland High School;
- twin brothers who had a sign shop on Evergreen and Himrod who I one day discovered were serious artists;
- and so much more.
Oh how I loved it! And I dream about it now all the timeabout getting off the el and walking down the street to Bushwick Avenue and feeling that expanse of space by the home for Jewish senior citizens. An elderly woman loved next door to the home who we tormented as kids because we decided she was a scary witch. I loved getting to know her when I became an adult.
Anyway, I'll be bringing my family to the neighborhood over 4th of July weekend. I want them to see where I grew up even though I know it's a very different place now.
20 April 1999
Our Brooklyn was Bensonhurst 1952today. We remember OLG, Sister Catherine, Sister Columkill and the principal, Sister Marjory. Sister St. Vincent took a few of us to the Worlds Fair in 1964. Rispoli's was a summer dream, lemon ice for a dime a cup. The Walker Theater all day Saturday. Hanging out with the Park Boys at Satellite Park. The Stilettos from 79th Street by N. U. High. The Rebels on 15th Ave. Jimmy Preston singing at confraternity on Wednesday with Father McGee. How about 8:00 mass with Monsignor McCormack, stretching that service into a two hour marathon.
Every day in the summer was punchball, slapball and stickball in the day and ring a levio and johnny on the pony or I declare war in the evening.
The original Uncle Sam's Whip would always park in the middle of our game, but the real excitement came when the King Kong ride came around and most of us were too scared to sit in the top row. There were no locked doors in our Brooklyn in the 50s and 60s. I remember Tommy and Charlie Gentile, Paul (Loby) Lobianco, Ronnie DeCambio, Willie (The Whopper) Bruno, Robert (The Clam) Mascali, Richard Bala. How about Caeser and Ronnie Drake, Vinnie Head, Sally Satan, O'Leary, Vinnie Chico. Denise Morgino, LouAnn Nadio, Mary Errico, The Lynch Mob, Billy, Betty, Jeannie, and the other sister whose name I don't remember.
Bishop Ford 1966-1970: The BoysLeo, Neil DeVivo, The Boomer Mike Cecere, The Hawk John Ranone, Poindexter, Richard Passariello. Does anyone remember The Great Cafeteria Food Fight? The Sermon on the Mount? Hanging a condom on the eagle statue in the cafeteria and having Mr. Culkin find it?
21 April 1999