I remember evenings, walking up Middletown Road from Hollywood Avenue with my older brother, Paul. I see us having supper with my grandparents, but am not sure if we did that every night or just when our mother was going to be delayed in getting home from work. My grandmother used to cook meat, chops of one sort or another, and we would eat ours, hand-held in a paper towel. Paul and I would walk back home, to Jarvis Avenue in the dusk on those occasions. I am sure of it. There was a small stretch of the short walk that scared me so that I can still create a picture of it in my mind.It was that vacant lot, part of Mrs. O'Hanlon's property, and there was a big grey rock near the street edge. The approaching evening allowed for a shadow to be cast, a striped pattern that my young mind convinced me could only belong to a tiger. Right there, in the lot, on Middletown Road, just before the corner of Jarvis Avenue.
I remember summer afternoons on Jarvis Avenue. They called it "Play-street" and it was blocked on both ends, allowing the resident kids to play safely without cars entering or exiting. Could not do that now. Can you imagine the protests from the adults? But, it worked and it worked well and it was a fun and happy time and I remember roller skating with Karen, sitting on the curb, twisting the key that secured our skates onto our shoes. And the boys, outnumbering the girls, staging wrestling matches whenever they saw someone approaching. My cousins, Bobby and Lenny, baby Hellions.Should a grown up to be WWF talents. Could a made millions!!
I remember P.S.71. The school yard. I learned to spit through my teeth there. The "older" boys taught me. They must have been age ten or twelve. Impressive. And the daily entrances. Everyone would congregate in that school yard and march in to the beat provided by tiny drum and bugle core members. There were school "monitors', distinguished from the crowds by their white canvas sashes, the ones that looked like today's car seat belts, as they crossed their chests.My mother went to that same school. The doors were always open and we went in to play, knock-hockey, after school. I can still see the peanut butter and jelly left-overs, cut into squares. I envision whole wheat bread. That's probably why there were so many left at the end of the day.They were free for the taking.I'd have eaten anything in those days.I was lonely and the only kid on the block who had a mother who worked all day.Howdy Doody was my best friend and my mother was always on a diet so we had Thomas's Protein Bread.Mustard sandwiches and Howdy Doody.
There it was, still standing. In a row. Attached to Evelyn Ferri's duplex. The one owned by my Aunt and Uncle. Brick. Marble stairs which led up to their apartment which was considerably larger than ours, the downstairs apartment. The side door, the one that led into our kitchen directly, used to open out to a large vacant lot. We all played there and the fathers built a rudimentary swimming pool for us. Hours and hours of play. There's a huge duplex house there now, blocking any vestiges of sun and fun from the kitchen. It must be very dark now, night and day.I would have been scared and my mother, totally depressed, had that happened when we lived there.It was from that apartment that we exited for the last time when we moved to the brand new house that my parents had saved for. We left the Bronx for the suburbs when I was six or seven. Someday, I'll get that fact straight. But for now, I am not exactly certain.Who remains alive to remember?
Cam parked right across the street from my house. Out came the cameras. We snooped and talked about every detail.We looked a tad bit suspicious, like we were casing the joint.Or maybe we were real estate agents or even undercover detectives.Little did we know that on the same spot where Cam had parked, a woman, the current resident of my house, had been mugged during broad daylight and was still in the hospital.Broad daylight on Jarvis Avenue! All my little hopes of maybe returning there one day to live were dashed. And how did we discover this cruel fact? We did not have to look too far, just a few houses down, on the porch of another duplex. I saw her and quickly decided that it was best to identify myself as we made our way over. An elderly woman who at first, I did not recognize or remember. Within minutes, I would be crying. She's 93. Her name is Vera.
She remembered me.