Gina Hasenfratz Hazen Vitolo
Montgomery Street of the 1940s and 1950s, where I had a crush on Lenny Kaufman, where the block was serene and lovely. And New Lots Avenue where my father's family had a kosher chicken market, right at the end of the New Lots last stop in East New York. In Flatbush, where I attended Erasmus Hall High School in the 50s, and then where I taught for a few years in the late 50s at that same high school with its arches. I remember teachers from my English department, a Mrs. Lois Seaman, an Occhiogrosso. I remember Loehmann's, the place with the wrought iron, the wall to wall mirrors. OH HOW I WISH SOMEONE HAD A PHOTO OF THE INTERIOR OF THAT LANDMARK STORE, WITH ITS CHANDELIERS. I remember Loretta Scharfman, whose dad was the team photographer for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
I remember Mrs. Leipzig from Kingston Avenue, who owned a grocery/vegetable store.
I wish I could share these memories with someone. I am now writing a series of poems about my experiences back then, and it will be a book, with sketches and dreams and everything that brings such emotional reaction from me.
4 July 1999
I actually grew up in Larchmont, NY. My Brooklyn is my father's Brooklyn, which he passed down to me in colorful stories I will never forget. He was born in 1908, delivered by a midwife in a tenement on Moore Street. With his mother, father, two brothers and two sisters, he lived on Monteith Street, behind the storefront grocery his parents ran. I'm not sure what section Monteith Street is in, but I think it's Williamsburg. His father died in 1921 and his mother raised the family and ran the store, with his help. He would stand out in front, shouting "Hey potatoes, six pounds a quarter!" He told me about horse-drawn carriages and his crush on a neighbor girl, Lutzie Marcus. When I was nine (1956), he brought me to see the place where he was born and grew up and I couldn't believe what I saw. It gave a young boy a whole new appreciation of his dad.
5 July 1999
My grandparents owned an antique store at Fulton and So. Portland (the Harry Makr Antique Furniture Exchange). My mother her sister and brothers were raised in the building above the store, which was owned by Judge Wingate (not us). This explains why I have such a strong connection to the area even though I was born in Queens (Jamaica Hospital) and lived in Woodhaven (my father's family owned Goldstein Liquors on Jamaica Ave.)
I moved to Brooklyn in 1946 (I had to . . . my mother took me and my sister so we had no choice) and enrolled in P.S. 67 (The Elliott School . . . kind of nice since my name is Elliot . . . no one ever noticed).
My playground was Ft. Greene Park with its monument and cannons at the top of the staircase (pointing to my school), The Academy of Music with its back alleys which shared some common area with the Williamsburg Bank building (we played stickball when the parking lot emptied), all of downtown Brooklyn (dept. stores, theaters, bowling alleys).
We would tap on the window of The Gondola Bar and Grill (across from The Granada Hotel add next to The BAM) and the likes of Gil Hodges and Bruce Edwards would come out and give us their autographs (free!).
Moved to Rego Park in 1956 but still stayed connected to Fulton St. I was attending Brooklyn Tech and was not going to transfer to F.H.H.S. Does any remember how long it was to Queens on the GG? (45 minutes!)
(To be continued...)
5 July 1999