Friday, May 30, 2008

Bronx Stardust by Barie Fez-Barringten


"Bronx Stardust"

by Barie Fez-Barringten
www.bariefez-barringten.com
As stardust is the particles in the environment so is
Bronx Stardust
about the bits and pieces that are falling from bigger bodies. These are the fragments of and left overs from main issues, bodies and lives of the times. These are the crumbs from the table where you can only imagine the weight, substance and ingredients of the main dish. The real story has already been lived, the real place is already remodeled and reconfigured so all that remains is the stardust left behind and un-noticed by the the ebb and flow of social forces. If these are the crumbs we can only wonder what was the meal. If this is the stardust what was the heavenly body. As science gathers the stardust I have gathered my recollections of the details of time, place and a space labeled the Bronx.

The period in a nutshell
The Bronx is in the midst of a revival and Bronx Stardust is the bridge to its' potential . Current residents can ask themselves: as I walk the streets now, as I drive through the streets now, as I play on the streets now , as I live in the tenements now, can I too find the stardust?
Are they part of a people who lived in the same places and circumstances?
Old residents will see the potential of a neighbor while new residents will find a kindred spirit upon which to move forward. The below schedule shows my life up till I was 21 in 1958 and living in my parent’s Bronx home.
PERIOD PLACE AGE SCHOOL
1937-1939 Hoe Ave 1-2
1939-1942 Home Street 2-5 Pre-Kinder
1942-1945 Faile Street 5-9 PS 48
1946-1952 1012 Simpson Street 9-15 PS 20,PS 75,CCHS
1952-1958 2351 Holland Ave 15-21 CCHS; N Y S I D; Columbia
These were the early years; from the time I was born until my student days at Pratt Institute. The sociological character of the neighborhoods I lived with my family was all urban. Although I wanted to move to Long Island, my mother refused. My father and brother were in agreement but my mother wanted to be in the city, the sub-urbs seemed a fatal exile that she detested.
We lived on Hoe, Home , Faile, Simpson and finally Holland Ave. instead of the sub-urbs because it was close to CCHS, had trees and nice Italian, German, Ethnic, and various Europeans. My mother lived here till she died in 1985. The move to Holland Avenue did change the culture of our family because it coincided with my high school days, my mother’s accelerated work schedule, and my father’s increased time with his new family. But there was more , radio was replaced by television, the stage shows ceased, European , Italian, Greek music, etc. moved into the background in favor of modernism. The mood was heavy with a disdain for the past.
The city and its' context had an all-consuming aura of finality, as though it were where everything was and that there was no point to visit any other place because New York had it all. And, its all was the best there was. However within that context I always yearned to get up and out of the “dismal” environment of the Bronx.
The environment of evil, chaos and violence; I associated all of this with the my family, Bronx, and people with their slangs and accents. I wanted to escape from all of this. It was not poverty, race, religion, or nationality but the evil lurking and permeating that motivated me to get up and out. When it was too late, I realized that I could not escape my own preconceptions, attitudes and lack of self esteem. I learned that sin was every where. I did not know it then but I was having the best time of my life.
Mom’s home featured a three-piece sofa living room set upholstered in burgundy-red velveteen, yellow ocher and dark blue usually covered with slipcovers. The master bedroom contained a dark burled wood bedroom set including headboard and wooden bed with slats that always seemed to fall down; a chiffarobe with closet and chest of drawers, a vanity and vanity chair covered with dark brown velvet and a side chair, and a wide dresser. When we moved to Holland Avenue I had the entire house redecorated by Debrose in modern chartreuse modern prints, blond oak side table and lamps with fiberglass shades and a three-way light. Also a Blond Oak floor model television made by Dumont with a ceramic green and brown TV lamp shining up to the ceiling. And a chartreuse wall-to- wall carpet and wall-to-wall drapes. My bedroom had a special print made for casement window and I designed and contracted a wrought Iron bracket so that the casement widow and the curtains way out in front of the casement-type Carrier air conditioner that protruded in side the room.
For different reasons each place we lived had memorable features such as the very shinny wooden floors, the corner of the building outside our window; the empty rooms before my parents bought their furniture, and the peace we had as a family on Hoe Avenue.
I recall Home Street for being urban poor with no crime; Faile Street with poor Italian, Armenian, European, and Germans; and Simpson with its contrasts of gangs amidst very nice Puerto Rican immigrants, very nice Black families, (as portrayed in the “West-Side Story”) and my family was amongst the well to-do on the block (because my father had his own and successful business). I romanticized about their shapes and forms mistaking building prototypes for cultural artifacts. I looked at the cornices of tenements; pitched roofs of suburbs, and later, the arches in Arabia.
From afar, we eyed Long Island, where we wanted to move and live, (but didn’t); and finally Holland Avenue where we moved instead of the suburbs because it was close to CCHS, had trees and nice families. My mother lived here till she died in 1985. The move to Holland Avenue did change the culture of our family because in coincided with my high school days, my mother’s accelerated work schedule and my father’s increased time with his new family. It was here my mother lived alone in a one bedroom apartment until the day she died. She had been reluctant to relocate from Simpson Street but once there would not leave.

But there was more: radio was replaced by television, stage shows ceased, European , Italian, Greek music, etc. moved into the background in favor of modernism and current events. There was a mood dominated by a disdain for the past. Building owner’s were remodeling their buildings to cover up the wood, decoration, detailing and design of the original with plastic, neon and "schmaltzy" glitz.
As I said, the city and its' context had an all-consuming aura of finality, as though it were where everything was, that there was no point to visit any other place because New York had it all. And its’ all was the best there ever was or will be, ever!
In the month of September of 1938 the so-called Great Hurricane hit Long Island and Southern New England. Many people were killed and nearly four billion dollars damage in today’s values. In 1939 the depression officially ended but few knew the difference because every one was poor.Even the "make-work" programs paid paltry sums as the world wrongfully treid to redistribute rather than create new wealth.
The forties were when America was recovering from the depression led by construction of everything including housing. When it began I was two, and twelve when it ended. In real estate it was a renters or buyers market. You could live for six months free and then relocate with out paying anything and those without steady jobs had to do this. As a child this was amazing how we kept changing and moving. I learned to expect this and somehow understood the benefit to us as a family. Phonographs were not electric but manually wound with a crank and a heavy spindle that also contained the speaker held the needle. You placed your 78-rpm wax record on the turntable and the speaker's spindle arm on the record and listened. There were record stores and the stars of the day of the early forties were Al Jolson, Eddy Cantor, Mae West, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, the Andrew sisters, Frank Sinatra, Vic Damone, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Helen O’Connell, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, the Barry sisters; and television began with John Daily's news, Milton Berle's comedy, the Show of Shows, and Howdy Doody. This along with great movies and stage shows at Radio City Music Hall, the Strand, the Paramount Theater, the Roxy and even local shows at the Boulevard were just great. On Simpson Street my father bought me an electic multi-speed Motorola electric phonograph.
Home Street
While we lived on Home Street in 1941 I attended Kindergarten and Pearl Harbor was invaded Dec 8 and WW2 started. I was four when my brother was born on Dec. 4. and we then moved to Faile Street. The Bronx Zoo opened its African Plains with no cages and we started using Drake Park and the East River for recreation. During the war there were great block parties on Faile Street.
Each night in our Home Street apartment I lay in my bed in the living room between my parent’s bedroom and the kitchen. I could remember the sleepless nights filled with nightmares and the announcement made by President Roosevelt about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I remember the sirens and the searchlights in the sky and then lying in bed listening to the airplanes in the sky. I dreamt of thousands of flock-like teams of flying wings moving through the skies. Several years later, I actually saw a similar vision in a black and white movie by HG Wells called “The Shape of Things to come”.
This one bedroom apartment had a long entry hall with a door opening to a small kitchen with an small eating area kitchen to one side, followed by the living room spanning the width of the apartment, and followed a small hall with a bathroom and then my parents bedroom.
It was furnished with a mohair living set royal blue high fan chair, crimson red club chair and a large sofa sitting on a large square machine made Oriental rug. My parent’s bedroom had a suite of wood bedroom furniture with mahogany and birch inlay. All of these pieces of furniture my mother had with her until she abandoned them at Holland Avenue.
Across the street from our building was an enclosed public garage where cars were stored and repaired. Down the street where Westchester Avenue led under the elevated Pelham train line was a huge garage for gas and repair. Up the street was an auto junkyard; and further, a house with an open coal chute in which we could crawl and play in the coal.
Several blocks away were wooden one-family houses where one had been converted into the kindergarten I attended.
The location was such that we could walk several very long blocks to visit my grand parents and shop at the Simpson market. My Aunt Gene and Uncle Charles with their daughter Carol lived across and down the corner and my mother’s friend Lily and her husband Morris lived upstairs. I got to know him very well. Here is where I saw many men returning from the war without their limbs...especially Morris with one leg. He was very sad and quiet.
It was in this apartment my brother was born December 4, 1941 nearly four years after I was born and just days before the invasion of Pearl Harbor, my Mother’s Father visited, and where I heard President Roosevelt’s radio announcement about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Here I had my most vivid nightmares as I’d lie in my bed in the living room where I listened to the earliest hushed arguments between my parents. Here was where my mother made baby food from scratch . Especially feeding my little brother in his “high-chair”. The only special feature of this apartment was the nightly wartime black outs, the air raid sirens and wardens on the steps outside of our apartment. It was here I dreamt of the black "flying wings" clouding the skies.
It was on the steps leading to the rear alley that I fell and opened a big cut over my eye. These were the first stitches I received. I later fell again on these steps and cut my knee, which also required stitches. The stairs were made of cement and had a curved metal edge strip. The stair led to the alley, which led to a court, and in this court were the entrance to the super's apartment and another alley leading to the backyard of the building. I recall this area because it was then one of my favorite places around the building to explore.
This was the time of the “food ration” books and so I recall my mother pasting her rations in the books and us going to stores waiting on lines to buy food. Of course, she and her friends would talk about where to go and what to buy.
The metaphors I recall were less symbolic but more special, textural and pictorial. Sills, steps, iron rails, coal bins, all icons and images without much use…I was a child…. But they made up the landmarks of my nest place.
They were to be explored, discovered and understood. Not for their use but for the meaning they represented. I was looking for why things were the way they are. I needed to know the meanings and purposes of everything. In fact I was rarely satisfied with men’s answers but looked to science, and later to God’s word for the answers.
I had nothing to which to compare them and yet they demanded understanding. As a daily routine my parents had to deal with rationing which permeated everyone’s lives. I asked thousands of questions whose answers lie in my future mind and God’s dispensations.
In 1941, Shortly after I sat and listened in front of our floor model radio with the green eye and short wave band settings, black outs and air raid sirens began their nightly howl. We had to turn off the light in our apartment. The first night I heard something out side our door and opened it to find a tall man with a helmet climbing up the stairs. He introduced himself as our warden. “Warden?” I asked, "what's that?” I asked and as he spoke he took off his helmet and placed it on my head. He told me his name and duties. I became his deputy and felt I was part of something special. I was very happy and full of joy. I went in to our apartment and told my mother and she too was very happy.
I would roam the streets finding tires to hand over to my teacher at school and my mother complimented me on my efforts to help the war effort. She mentioned that when I get older I might be required to go to war and be a soldier. To her , it seemed wars were inevitable. During this period I built small hiding places and shadow boxes in which to take refuge.
There were coupon racketeers and savvy filling station proprietors who were exploiting the OPA (Office of Price Administration) gasoline system that the “average motorist” such as my father was ignorant and innocent of all of this. Or were they? It was a very complex and insidious process where Dad and his friends exchanged coupons between them, as they needed.
During this time there was Local county boards of the Office of Price Administration issued every man, woman, and child a ration book during the war. The book held stamps, which Americans used to buy rationed foods. Government officials rationed some food because of limited supply. So much food needed to be set aside for military use that the government restricted civilian purchases. County boards rationed sugar, coffee, meat, butter, margarine, cheese, canned milk, canned fish, canned fruits and vegetables, soups, and fruit juices.
Shortages of rubber led to the rationing of tires and gasoline. The government also prohibited the making of many household appliances because of a lack of metals. We could not buy hot water heaters, refrigerators, stoves, lawn mowers, vacuums, irons, radios, and toasters. The government needed rubber and metals to make airplanes, trucks, tanks, ships, and rifles. We had to ration food and materials by to help win the war.
American responses to rationing varied from cheerful compliance, to resigned grumbling, to instances of black market subversion and profiteering.
We were cajoled into giving over to the government all our spare tires except one, many going along with this gambit. These were almost never used, but accumulated in mountainous piles all over the country and spent the war rotting in these junk yards instead of helping to "win the war."
It was these events and these people that clouded my mind with reference points to determine that I did not want to dwell in these neighborhoods and with these people. I know now that my opinions were wrongly placed but that’s what it seemed at the moment. It was a compromising and shameful mess. I just felt that my father's dignity and righteousness was being compromised over trivialities. It was all so petty and trivial. It was mundane and often seemingly unnecessary. Idealism could only incubate in such an environment where pragmatism, street savvy and "moxy" prevailed.
If I felt that way then and I was in America, I can imagine what young people in other countries such as India, Philippines, Pakistan, Persia, etc. think and feel about their contexts and generations. We have observed that corruption, crime and terrorism have no borders nor nationalities. We have known the same kind of people and conditions to one or another extent in most countries and cities in which we have lived. The only difference is that when you first arrive you may not notice it until you learn to see and hear what's actually taking place. This has been a reason why we have decided to return to the USA where I am a citizen, have rights, and understand the context, language and political complexities and operations. Other places may offer one or another advantage but the life itself is in the place in which God has birthed and placed us.
It was the time when I learned, invented and made metaphors. I had none. I had to make them up. The metaphors of my parents and her friends were the only metaphors I knew. I had none of my own. My play was like the Orientals who make silhouettes with light and shadow on curtains. I hid in fantasy and acted out my fears and anxiety. Shadow theater is one of the world's oldest art forms, linked with traditional storytelling and mythology. In countries like Turkey or Indonesia, the shadow puppets were projected onto a white screen by the flickering light of an oil lamp. While manipulating the set of puppets, a sole puppet-master chanted all the roles in the unfolding of the narrative. I used hand puppets, stages and props I made, my own story, various flash lights, and music from the radio. I on the other hand made up stories about who I was and what I could do. I pretended to be one or another professional and one or another personality.
When God ordained our different languages he did so that we would be kept depended upon Him and not strengthened with unholy alliances and power over and between each other.
The idea was to stay put and be different depending and relying upon Him. In the name of pride, vanity, greed and self-righteousness the world continues to rebel and disobey, and stretch our influence to rebuild the tower of Babel, but “horizontally”. Increasing our power by increasing our network and holdings and globalizing our influence and power base. It is the propensity of the world but the Christian’s duty to bring light and salvation.
The news, gossip and talk of the times revolved around these coupons, black market, mobs and gangsters.
My father never mentioned any of this to me, but this was the environment in which he had to do business. His business and livelihood depended on being able to use his vehicles and complete service.
Because I was a baby who could turn its head to one side my mother had special problems caring for me. This and the fact that I was hyper active with sinus and hearing problems gave my mother an undue burden.
Called congenital torticollis and understanding what causes it takes a quick anatomy lesson. There is a muscle located on each side of the neck called the sternocleidomastoid muscle (pronounced STER-no-KLY-do-MAST-oid). It is somewhat of a strange muscle because it attaches in three separate places namely at the sternum (the breastbone), the clavicle (the collarbone), and the mastoid (the jawbone). It allows us to turn the neck.
As the muscles develop in the baby while inside mom, there is an influence the baby's position has on that development. Usually, the baby has some room for movement, which allows the muscles to stretch and contract. This stretching and contracting is necessary to allow for the muscles to grow to the proper length. My neck may got tilted to one side for an extended period of time. This was due to an unusual positioning of the baby within the mom's uterus. When the neck remains tilted, the muscles on one side of the neck get stretched while the other side never receives this stretching. Therefore, the sternocleidomastoid muscle develops in a position of contraction. Then I was unable to turn his head to one side because the contracted sternocleidomastoid muscles don’t allow it.
It was like being on a long trip in a compact car which has very little legroom. When you first get out, you have to stretch a bit before you can walk normally. This is essentially what occurred while I was developing torticollis. The muscles were all there; they just hadn’t been used much. And because this process occurs over several months during pregnancy, getting the muscles to work properly takes a stretching regimen that took months to fix.

We had Special relationships with neighbors like Ethel and Morris. Ethel and Morris was a young couple who lived upstairs in our building on Home Street. They had no children and Ethel was "ga ga" over me. Her husband Morris had just been drafted and she needed a second family. The fit was perfect. She would care for me all the time so my mother could go shopping, visit friends and take care of the house. Ethel would dress me, bathe me and hold me close in her bed. One day she made the terrible error of taking me to a movie. The name of the movie was the Mummy. It was the first movie I had attended. When we came into the dark theater I thought the theater was moving. After she assured me it was not we began seeing the mummy who had been lying still begin to rise. I let out a scream, and with supernatural animal strength climbed over everyone in our row and screaming shrieks of death ran up the aisle and on to the street and toward our house which was many blocks from the theater. I knew exactly where Home Street was and where I was headed. Well, poor Ethel finally caught up with me and made it all go away some how. Mostly by telling me it was not real and that to look around and notice that there was no Mummies here. It was just in that theater.
I cannot say that I never again went to another movie, but some time did pass before the second movie experience.
Some while later Morris returned from the army with a missing leg. He was so quiet and I was ridiculous. I just could not understand what happened to his leg. He was so kind to me and really appreciated my stupid questions, which seemed to reflect his own heart. He too could not understand what happened. In any case our friendships continued until they moved away. They needed to change to go back to their parents. I always will love and miss them both.
The Kindergarten I attended when I was 3-4 was at a house near Home Street run by volunteer ladies and containing various rooms where I learned to identify and arrange blocks. Finally, my mother was asked not to bring me any more because I was building very large structures, which eventually toppled and could (but did not) hurt the other children. They said I was too advanced and individualistic. This did not make my Mom happy and she complained. It was a shame because it was one of those things that gave my Mom a sense of normalcy and contact with other nice women. I knew she was very disappointed and irate about there rejection. She indeed took it personally and was insulted. How dare they? I am sure this added to her already well formed disdain of society and it wiles. My bother was not yet born and the war was on; everything worked off of ration stamps and long lines. The kindergarten building was a red brick and had a back yard.
Faille Street,
Pictured left is the southernmost extant station of the NY, NH & H is the Hunts Point station, on Hunts Point Avenue near the Bruckner Expressway. Most of the station is intact, including many of its peculiar architectural traits.
The Hunts Point station today is home to a variety of businesses... a deli, a pizza place, a travel agency, and a topless joint. Exterior and interior of Hunts Point when it was receiving passengers, probably until 1931. It had dormer windows and a crenelated roof. The roof spires and crenelation are now gone. I was skinny adventurous child on Faile Street. It was where I learned to play on the street. It was not a typical urban tenement area. It was the mid-point of “Hunts Point”, a real “Tom Sawyer” paradise.

I remember us visiting the house for the first time and meeting the owners of this two-story house. It was three stories in the rear where the lower story was for the garages and the front was two stories. To the right side of the house was a hill and to the left the alley for the auto drive way to the rear. I have photos of my mother and brother sunning themselves sitting on chairs in front of the garage. The side alley had a door to the stair up to our landlord with an interior door from the kitchen also leading to the stair. Before we even moved in the owners made us a dresser of drawers with red orange round screw on knobs, which I cherished for as long as I could remember. He had a son who went to war and never returned.
There were two entrances at the front of the house atop a few steps to both the lower and upper floors. Ours was to the left and opened into the sun parlor. It was in this room that my brother and I would play. It was here I divided the room in half so that he would have his, and, I, my area to play. Mine was the half furthest from the door so that I could build out of boxes and fill my own little house with rooms, shelves and places to hide. Of course, I’d invite my brother in to visit.

My parent’s master bedroom was just adjacent to this parlor separated by a wall with a big double window, which they kept closed and curtained. Across from the front door and leading into a long hall way to the living room and the rear of the house was and multi-paned glass door. It was through this door that my brother one day during one of our sliding-in-the-hallway-games slid while the door was closed putting his arm though and cut himself so badly we had to rush him to a hospital. As the living room, the kitchen spanned the width of the house, with windows on both sides and next to the window on the left was the community stair connecting from the garage below to the apartment of the owner above. Continuing to the rear of the house was the bathroom on the left and the pantry to the right, and then finally a spare room on the right and the bedroom shared by my brother and I on the left. Both the spare and our bedroom had windows facing the backyard where below was the entrance to the garage where my father parked his car.



Hunts Point Boulevard actually began at the end of Hunts Point at the East River Port of Hunts Point and ended at Southern Boulevard and 163 street.
It had a cobblestone surface embedded with steel trolley tracks. Because I was so little I could remember it as being huge and the way it bowed up in the center and was low at the curbs for sewer drainage. We walked this boulevard often to shop at the Simpson Market, visit my grandma or shop on the Hunts Point Market on the steel bridge where there were a variety of shops, especially a cheese shop where my mother was served by a very handsome and kind gentleman. This was as much flirtation as I ever saw my mother experience. It made me very happy to see her so happy. It was alll very inocent, but she and I talked about it with both denial and pride.
Also, on Hunts Point Boulevard lived a little handicapped girl named Theresa from my public school class. Also, my father’s accountant name Jimmy lived in big apartment building next to the Wonder Bread factory.
We would often stop in this factory late at night to buy fresh baked bread. We’d always smell the bread being baked every time we drove, trollied or walked by.
There were shops under buildings along the way. Some were closed with their glass storefronts painted black. Faille Street began at 45-degree angle off of Hunts Point Boulevard having some shops and especially our corner grocery and across the street from him a corner candy store/luncheonette. It was in this store that I’d buy those sugar dots on paper candies and for a penny you could watch flip card movies by placing yours eyes at a steel view finder and crank the handle turning it as fast or slow as you wish to see a train with smoke coming out, Charlie Chaplain running around, etc.
Every Saturday, beginning when I was four and half, Billy, Ralph, and his brother Johnny took me on the trolley to the YMCA. We’d transfer several times. The trolleys were painted red and yellow with wooden seats and brass safety bars to prevent falling. On other occasions we’d hitch a ride on the back of the trolley holding on to the electric cable and spool. We’d ride from the swing park down to the end of the trolley line, which were only several blocks east. From that point on, Hunts Point Boulevard ended because it was not paved. Also, the rest of Hunts Point was industrial, having factories, military storage, and auto repair yards. At the lower corner there was an empty lot and a bush under which I dug a big hole and this was my hiding place. There was an empty lot across from this on Faile next to the Italian family’s house on which they built a hut where I would eat and play. This same Italian family’s house had a basement in which I was occasionally invited to watch the women cook in giant black vats. They were dressed in black dresses and stockings. In the morning they would walk along the sidewalk's green areas and pick up green growing leafy vegetables which they used in their receipts. It was here that my love and passion for Italy was planted.

I remember that when my father returned from the war he was in his uniform; and, I did not immediately jump into his arms. My mother had to prompt me. I depended a lot on my mother. My father understood.
There was a fire, a big fire on the next cross street. A big warehouse- garage building burned down. I stood with others and watched it. In Saudi Arabia there was a similar fire of a warehouse the next night after we moved in to Rahima. It was so similar to this Faille Street fire. The building burned and we watched. Little was done to put out the fire. I remember the size and mass of the blaze. Eventually fireman did come and being that it was the first time I’d seen a building on fire it was an important event.
This neighborhood was filled with special features having great significance to me:
  • ¨ Factory making pickled peppers; Pepper factory where we took a very hot pepper and ate it. I thought I was going to die from the burning sensation in my mouth I ran from factory to factory till some nice man gave me some thing sweet which putout the fire in my mouth.
  • ¨ Lumber yard with its pile of sawdust where we would go and play inside the sawdust mound. One day the Yardman found and chased us along with his very noisy dog. We never returned.
  • ¨ Drake Cemetery surrounded by park with giant tree in middle: It was here that lightning struck a big oak tree and killed one of my friends.
  • ¨ Abandoned hut with porcelain toilet and marbles
  • ¨Abandoned military trucks with searchlight trucks and tanks
  • ¨ East River peer with big war and merchant ships where we could swim amongst human fiches. This is a far cry from the corniche of Saudi Arabia and the Philippine beaches, etc.
  • ¨ Apple tree on neighbor’s property which was gone by the time we visited in 2008
  • ¨ Town houses painted black and having wooden stairs and wood and glass doors
  • ¨ German family living in next block
  • ¨ Corner brick two family house
  1. ¨ Auto repair junkyard
  • ¨ Mission Soda factory where Joe Nuzzi worked
  • ¨ Ps 48 Joseph Rodman Drake Public School on a hill and tallest structure as landmark on my street
  • ¨ The bush and hut at the end of block
  • ¨ The Italian family living across and down the street with their hut and cauldron in the kitchen in the cellar.
  • ¨ The block parties held on Faille Street during the war
  • ¨ The swing park on the opposite corner

  • ¨ The steep hill next to my house where we rode our sleighs and I broke my foot by stopping my ride with my left foot and where I had my foot broken by mischievous boys with a crow bar as I put my foot out to stop them from smashing some thing and where I saw my self as I would be in the future .
  • ¨ The chicken factory where you could get fresh chickens by selecting the one you want, watch it get its head chopped and then for an extra five cents they would burn off its feathers.
  • ¨ The many cross and lateral streets, which I would later discover connecting to other neighborhoods and thoroughfares.
  • ¨ I used my little red wagon to emulate the other boys who had made wagons out of wooden crates and iron skates and raced down the big hill by the school. They had fitted brakes on their wagons but I did not and as the speed picked up I realized I had no way of stopping. Through a miracle when I reached the bottom, my mother was at the bottom telling me to turn the wagon, which I did and on Faile it slowed and finally stopped at the park benches.
  • ¨ Another time I sled down the hill on the lot next to our house planning to break my run by crashing into the snow hill on the opposite side of the street when a car came and stopped there as I was coming down. I had no choice but to put my right foot out to stop my run which broke my leg. My mother was very angry and yelled at a male neighbor for not preventing this from happening. The man said later that he did not feel it was his responsibility. My father in one of his rare moments of anger threatened a fight with the man to warn him to be a better neighbor.
  • ¨ My broken leg kept me out of school for about eight weeks at which time I listened to all the radio programs, ate and got lovely cards and letters form my classmates and visits from them with toys and cards. Children came and visited me to see my cast, which was put on my whole leg. Eventually they began to sign and write nice sayings on my cast. It was one of the nicest times in my entire childhood.
  • ¨ Several months later I was with some boys on the lot on top of the hill nest to my house and they were banging and breaking things in a fire and for some reason I just wanted them to stop and go away. They refuse and I insisted. They still refused and as they were banging I put my foot in the midst of the fire, thinking that would somehow make them stop the banging. Most stopped except one who brought his stick crashing on my foot and broke it. Again I was back in a cast and getting visitors.

Faille Street fantasy

I dreamt of a village of brick one and two story houses containing friendly people living in this small village. Later we were to see a village of similar size on the Mississippi. I was tempted to open a bank account in the local bank to tie my memory to this village prototype.

Though most commonly identified as a center for food distribution and commercial activity, Hunts Point is also an area with a rich cultural and architectural history. Often overlooked by residents, employees and visitors, Hunts Point's landmarks provide valuable clues to the community's diverse historical background.
There were houses built in this style on my block as well and my father’s cousin lived on the street where many of these houses were. I once meet my future cousin Dorothy walking on this street.




Hunt cemetery and Joseph Rodman Drake Park at Oak Point Ave. Hunts Point Boulevard and Longfellow Ave. I spent many hours of my childhood in Drakes Park, which we called the cemetery.
Drake Street in history is excerpted from History in Asphalt, by John McNamara (Bronx County Historical Society, 1991)
Drake Park is laid out through the former estates of Barretto, Spofford, Dickey, Faile, and Hoe, which were subdivisions of the earlier Leggett and Hunt lands of Revolutionary times. The street is named for the poet Joseph Rodman Drake, and this led to the naming of adjoining avenues for Halleck, Longfellow and Whittier. Joseph Rodman Drake was born in New York City, August 17, 1795; died there September 21, 1820.

In the midst of the concrete, steel and brick that dominate Hunts Point sits a patch of parkland that contrasts the area's industrial flavor. Drake Park, located between Hunts Point and Oak Point Avenues, is another reminder of the community's history. Within the Park is a small graveyard. Aged stone monuments mark the resting-place of some of Hunts Point's earliest settlers. Among those buried there are Poet Joseph Rodman Drake and members of the Hunt family, who once framed the peninsula.
It was our lovely place to go. When I dream about my lovely childhood I see the park and its environs in an idealized town of small red brick houses and peaceful streets. I later saw real small towns in Holland and on the Mississippi looking like my dream of an extrapolation of Drake park.
Italian store: restaurant and ice cream across for cemetery with grounds for goats and an abandoned hut. The old lady and her husband who owned the place knew me. I could sense their loneliness for their homeland and they could sense my affection for their dialect, dress and food smells. They encouraged me to play with their goats, which prepared me well for my encounter with goats on the little bridges in Amsterdam twenty years later. As the neighbors on my street, she always wore a black dress and stockings. Later when I visited Italy the only time I saw such dresses was in the southern provinces of places like Positano, Pompeii, etc.


Town Houses
Adjacent to the Hunts Point Peninsula, the Longwood Historic District is another area of historical interest in the South Bronx. Situated on the opposite side of the Bruckner Expressway in the Longwood section of the Bronx, the Historic District is a community of elaborately embellished turn-of-the-century row houses. Built by architect Warren C. Dickerson between 1897 and 1901, these colorful two and three story houses have been designated landmarks by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
In an effort to restore their historic beauty, the Longwood Historic Society has initiated a plan to renovate the homes within the district. Today these row houses serve as homes to many of Hunts Point's employees.
There were houses built in this style on my block as well; and, my father’s cousin lived on a street containing many of thees houses. I once meet my future cousin Dorothy walking on this street.







American Banknote building
Standing tall at the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and Tiffany Street, the Bronx Apparel Center serves as a monument to New York's industrial past. Built in 1911, this mammoth brick structure once housed the American Bank Note Company. Serving as a mint for such countries as Mexico and Haiti, the Bank Note Company not only issued currency, but also printed travelers' checks and lottery tickets. Today the building is home to the Bronx Apparel Center. With nearly 148,000 square feet of commercial space, the Apparel Center is host to a number of corporations, specializing in a diverse array of products and services from apparel and food to construction and security services. I met the current owner of this building while test driving a Lexus in Fort Myers. He was the salesman trying to sell me the car.

I met the current owner of this building while test driving a Lexus in Fort Myers. He was the salesman trying to sell me the car.
Though most commonly identified as a center for food distribution and commercial activity, Hunts Point is also an area with a rich cultural and architectural history. Often overlooked by residents, employees and visitors, Hunts Point's landmarks provide valuable clues to the community's diverse historical background.


I had tonsillitis and the doctor in the school was able to operate on me. After the operation, I was kept for a few hours in a bed in the school and given ice cream. I was a very happy person.
I found that it is in associations that bigots and hypocrites find neutrality and are able to subordinate their pride and peculiarities for some mutually beneficial purpose. It could be an association of sports, politics, education, religion, entertainment, recreation, social, etc. From the 15th century on Old French bigot meant “an excessively devoted or hypocritical person.” Bigot is first recorded in English in 1598 with the sense “a superstitious hypocrite.” I have been in associations which flaunted there bigotry calling it identity, peculiarity, and distinction. The Yale club comes to mind. Engineering societies tend to shun architects and architects shun engineers. But it is in the association where personal distinctives are kept at bay for the associations stated aims and objectives. The same may be said for business and large companies except I have there found the most bigotry about spiritual and moral values excused by trying to be the neutral place.

In 1943, when we lived on Faile Street my father took me to my first meetings of the Cub Scouts in the gigantic mansion on a hill in our neighborhood. The significance of belonging to the scouts was the building and the children I met from nearby neighborhoods. I often recall this hill and this mansion being the place my father parked the car and we listened on the radio to Lionel Hampton and Ink Spots.

In 1950, I bought the entire Boy Scout uniform in the Army and Navy store near Wishnas' on Southern Boulevard. My mother was concerned that I was buying the uniform and that I would wear and keep going to the meetings. Did I? I went to all the meetings, on hikes, and even to their summer camp for three weeks. Milton recalls the times I took him to meetings where he agonized learning how to tie knots. At summer camp I spent several weeks learning canoeing which meant I tipped over my canoe and then had to get back on again (I failed); how to keep warm when late at night you sit freezing in your stark wooden cabin you hug some other boys and exchange body heat without becoming romantic; to take gigantic vitamin pills without allowing them to melt in your mouth and taste sour and awful; and how to become at one with every allergic growing thing on the planet. I learned to tie knots and remain an expert in this field to this day. Needless to say I never went on to become an "Eagle" because, thankfully, I was rescued by my interest to rather work instead.

The trolley was our primary means of public transpiration living on Faile and Spofford from the time I was four until nine. It was the trolley that took us to see Grandma on Simpson Street and Ralph, Johnny, Billy and me to the YMCA way on the other side of the Bronx near Webster Ave. We’d ride on the back holding onto the string. And on Saturday morning when we’d ride to the “Y” I’d steer the trolley holding onto its controls that were dormant when the conductor was operating the trolley at the other end. I clanged the bell and rang the buzzer. The seats were cane and always shinny. We live real close to the last stop so we could watch the trolley turn. We knew when the trolley was coming because we saw it pass us and could see the conductor go into the bar at the end to take his break. Most of the time we’d walk down Hunts Point Boulevard to see grandma because it was a great walk and we could save the money.

I am so grateful to Billy Parks for being my big brother and protecting me; and, bringing joy and adventure into my life. Besides my father, Billy was my first hero and “good guy”. He was a typical urban Tom Sawyer whose non-reasoned use of the city kept him active and exploring. We were too young to relate as urban or rural but when ever I think of Billy rural comes to mind because other than the “Y” the places he took me were rural, even if they were the junk yards and factories of Hunts Point. We explored and discovered. It could have the Mississippi and Billy, Tom Sawyer. When I later read and saw the Tom Sawyer movies I thought of my time with Billy.

I was skinny adventurous child on Faile Street. It was where I learned to play on the street. It was not a typical urban tenement area. It was the mid-point of “Hunts Point”. A real Tom Sawyer's paradise. Because PS 48 was a six-story public school which stood on a hill I could wander for fifty streets and never get lost because I could always see my school marking my street. We were in the midst of the war and every thing was subject to rations. It was a renter’s market. Land lords would compete for your tenancy giving up to six months free rent electric, water, etc.



I remember us visiting the house for the first time and meeting the owners of this two-story house. It was three stories in the rear where the lower story was for the garages and the front was two stories. To the right side of the house was a hill and to the left the alley for the auto drive way to the rear. I have photos of my mother and brother sitting on chairs in front of the garage sunning our selves. The side alley had a door to the stair up to our landlord with an interior door from the kitchen also leading to the stair. Before we even moved in the owners made us a dresser of drawers with red orange round screw on knobs, which I cherished for as long as I could remember. He had a son who went to war and never returned.
There were two entrances at the front of the house a top a few steps to both the lower and upper floors. Ours was to the left and opened into the sun parlor. It was in this room that my brother and I would play. It was here I divided the room in half so that he would have his, and, I, my area to play. Mine was the half furthest from the door so that I could build out of boxes and clothe my own little house with rooms and shelves and places to hide. Of course I’d invite my brother in to visit.
My parent’s master bedroom was just adjacent to this parlor separated by a wall with a big double window which they kept closed and curtained. Across from the front door and leading into a long hall way to the living room and the rear of the house was and multi-paned glass door. It was through this door that my brother playfully slid arm first through one of the glass panes. He cut himself so badly we had to rush him to a hospital.
Both the living room and kitchen spanned the width of the house with windows on both sides. Next to the window on the left was the community stair connecting from the garage below to the apartment of the owner above. Continuing to the rear of the house was the bathroom on the left and the pantry to the right, and then finally a spare room on the right and the bedroom shared by my brother and I on the left. Both the spare and our bedroom had windows facing the backyard where below was the entrance to the garage my father parked his car.
Hunts Point Boulevard actually began at the end of Hunts Point at the East River port of hunts point and ended at Southern Boulevard and 163 street.It had a cobblestone surface embedded with steel trolley tracks. Because I was so little I could remember it as being huge and the way it bowed up in the center and was low at the curbs for sewer drainage. We walked this boulevard often to shop at the Simpson market, visit my Grandma or shop on the hunts point market on the steel bridge where the re were a variety of shops, especially a cheese shop where my mother was served by a very handsome and kind gentleman,
Also, on Hunts Point Boulevard lived a little handicapped girl named Theresa from my class in public school. Also, my father’s accountant name Jimmy lived in big apartment building next to the Wonder Bread factory.We would often stop in this factory late at night to buy fresh baked bread. We’d always smell the bread being baked every time we drove, trollied ambulated.
There were shops under building along the way. Some were closed with their glass painted black. Faille Street began at 45-degree angle off of Hunts Point Boulevard having some shops and especially our corner grocery and across the street from him a corner candy store/luncheonette. It was in this store that I’d buy those sugar dots candies on paper and for a penny could watch flip card movies by placing yours eyes at a steel view finder and crank the handle turning it as fast or slow as you wish to see a train with smoke coming out, Charlie Chaplain running around, etc.
This neighborhood was filled with special features having great significance to me:
· Factory making pickled peppers; Pepper factory where we took a very hot pepper out of a barrel and I was the only one who ate it. The others were much more cautious. I thought I was going to die from the burning sensation in my mouth I ran from factory to factory till some nice man gave me some thing sweet which put out the fire in my mouth.
· Lumber yard with its pile of sawdust where we would go and play inside the sawdust mound. One day the Yardman found and chased us along with his very noisy dog. We never went back there.
  • Drake Cemetery surrounded by park with giant tree in middle: It was here that lightning struck a big oak tree and killed one of my friends.
  • Abandoned hut with porcelain toilet and marbles
  • Italian grocery with goats and lady with black dress and stockings
  • Abandoned military trucks with searchlight trucks and tanks
  • East River peers with big war and merchant ships where we could swim amongst human fiches. This is a far cry from the corniche of Saudi Arabia, the Philippine beaches, etc.
  • Apple tree on neighbor’s property
  • Town houses painted black and having wooden stairs and wood and glass doors
  • German family living in next block
  • Corner brick two family house
  • Auto repair junkyard
  • Mission Soda factory where Joe Nuzzi worked
  • PS 48 on a hill and tallest structure as landmark on my street
  • The bush and hut at the end of block
· The Italian family living across and down the street with their hut and cellar cauldron kitchen
  • The block parties held in Faille Street during the war
  • The swing park on the opposite corner
  • The steep hill on which I scooted down with my red wagon
  • The steep hill next to my hose where we rode or sleighs and I broke my foot by stopping my ride with my left foot and where I had my foot broken by mischievous boys with a crow bar as I put my foot out to stop them from smashing some thing and where I saw my self as was when I was older.
  • The chicken market where you could get fresh chickens by selecting the one you want, watch it get its head chopped and then for an extra five cents they would burn off the feathers.
  • The many cross and lateral streets, which I would later discover connecting to other neighborhoods and thoroughfares.
I remember that when my father returned from the war he was in his uniform; and, I did not immediately jump into his arms. My mother had to prompt me. I depended a lot on my mother. My father understood.
There was a fire, a big fire on the next cross street. A big warehouse garage building burned down. I stood with others and watched it. In Saudi Arabia there was a similar fire of a warehouse the next night after we moved in to Rahima. It was so similar to this fire. The building burned and we watched. Little was done to put out the fire. I remember the size and mass of the blaze. Eventually fireman did come and being how it was the first time I’d seen a building on fire it was an important event.
¨ I used my little red wagon to emulate the other boys who had made wagons out of wooden crates and iron skates and raced down the big hill by the school. They had fitted brakes on their wagons but I did not and as the speed picked up I realized I had no was of stopping. Through a miracle when I reached the bottom, my mother was at the bottom telling me to turn the wagon, which I did and on Faile it slowed and finally stooped at the park benches.
¨ Another time I slid down the hill on the lot next to our house planning to break my run by crashing into the snow hill on the opposite side of the street when a car came and stopped there, as I was coming down. I had no choice but to put my right foot out to stop my run which broke my leg. My mother was very angry and yelled at a male neighbor for not preventing this from happening. The man said later that he did not feel it was his responsibility. My father in one of his rare moments of anger threatened a fight with the man to warn him to be a better neighbor.

¨ My broken leg kept me out of school for about eight weeks at which time I listened to all the radio programs ate and got lovely cards, letters form my class mates, and visits from them with toys and cards. Children came and visited me to see my cast, which was put on my whole leg. Eventually they began to sign my cast and write nice sayings on my cast. It was one of the nicest times in my entire childhood.
¨ Several months later I was with some boys on the lot on top of the hill nest to my house, they were banging, and breaking things in a fire and for some reason I just wanted them to stop and go away. They refuse and I insisted. They still refused and as they were banging I put my foot in the midst of the fire, thinking that would somehow make them stop the banging. Most stopped except one who brought his stick crashing on my foot and broke it. Again I was back in cast and getting visitors.




In 1943, when we lived on Faile Street My father took me to my first meetings of the Cub Scouts in the gigantic mansion on a hill in our neighborhood. The significance of belonging to the scouts was the building and the children I met from nearby neighborhood. I often recall this hill and this mansion being the place my father parked the car and we listened on the radio to Lionel Hampton and Ink Spots.

As an adult I dreamt of Faille Street as a village of brick one and two story houses and friendly people living in a small village. Later we were to see a village of similar size on the Mississippi. I was tempted to open a bank account in the local bank to tie my memory to this village prototype.

We moved from Faile to Simpson Street in 1946 and I began the third Grade at PS 20 at nine years of age. The address was 1012 Simpson Street: Bronx 59, New York where telephone number was Dayton 9 3129 (we had the same number on Faile and Simpson Street). We lived on this street from the time I was nine until I was in the second year of high school at 16/17: from 1946 to 1953. It was here I attended public, junior and began high school.


In case you haven’t heard of Simpson Street on May 10, 1941 Alan J. Erickson of Columbia University wrote in the Amsterdam Star-News and the New York Times that “on May 1, 1941 Mayor La Guardia marked the opening of the Simpson Street Day Work Office, a domestic employment office at 1029 Simpson Street in the East Bronx”. We lived at 1012 Simpson; so 1029 was across and up the street near the corner where was “Abodega and Checks Cashed” stores. It was open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week, and between 7:30 and 11:00 a.m. Saturdays. It was free of charge to both employees and employers, unlike normal employment temporary day work positions, however, and it is not plentiful. White women who had lost other jobs moved back into domestic service and took the better positions forcing black women out. This created a very large pool of workers on the lower level. That they were black and part of a group that was denied full rights of citizenship -- who were regarded as something less than Americans and worthy of less respect than whites -- made them vulnerable to the ultimate playing out of the logic of the market. They and their labor were both commodities; indistinct from each other. In that sense, it truly was a slave market. ”Slaves like Job Bureau”, etc. 1029 Simpson was at the corner of Simpson and Westchester Ave where there was now an "Abodega” and “Checks Cashed” store. It was from Simpson Street that my father launched his limousine rental business, where I began working.

Our apartment was “A” on the ground floor in this five story tenement located in the upper one third of the street toward Westchester Ave and the elevated “subway” IRT east side. Simpson Street began at 163-rd street and terminated at P.S. 20 cross street.
Our block was a double street there fore about 1600 ft long with Southern Boulevard parallel and behind us to our north and Fox Street to our south. On our side of the street there were only tenement building of about the same height topped with cornices and having stoops and wrought iron rails facing the sidewalks protecting pedestrian from falling into the access way stairs to the cellar rooms were the boilers, coal and garbage pails were kept. These pits often exuded a stench of garbage in summer and were always unsightly. All of our front windows faced this pit.
The apartment had two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, living room and an entrance hall, which led directly to the kitchen past my parent’s bedroom as you entered and to another hall leading to the bathroom to the right. Adjacent to the kitchen’s entrance at the end of the short entrance hall was the entrance to the living room and through the living room to our bedroom. The rooms were large and had ten-foot ceilings and all the windows had stained glass clerestory windows above wooden single hung sash windows. Most of the windows had been painted over so many times and were often difficult to open or the chain and weight would break and had to be repaired. Steam-heated radiators and vertical pipes heated the apartment.
Our bedroom was painted blue; my parents, rose with some raised colored flowery wallpaper and the kitchen white. The kitchen was a long rectangular room with a very large window at the end of the long wall on the right and across from it a steel gas stove standing on legs with four burners and an oven with Bunsen burners, which always seem to be leaking. The large window faced the back alley and was two and half stories off the ground, because the rear of the building was a story below grade. The entire width of the window had cantilevered food storage for vegetable, canned food, etc. The dining/kitchen table sat four and with an extension for more persons, with four chairs for all of us to eat. To the right of the entrance was the icebox, which was replenished regularly by an iceman. Later we were to get a refrigerator, which was cooled by ammonia. I know it was ammonia because one e evening, soon after we got this new modern convenience it leaked in the middle of the night and we called the fire department we all had to evacuate the apartment until it was deemed safe to re enter. Between the refrigerator and the dining area was the double sink, and, the dinning area had a low wall divider. The building was infested with giant water bugs, cockroaches and mice. There was not a room nor time of day when you would not be bothered by one of these. At night when you’d turn the light on they would scatter and we’d listen to the mice scurry at night. The bathroom was plagued with the water bugs which you can bee assured would greet you in the toilet, near the toilet, and tub.

Opposite of the sink and the refrigerator was a built in wooden cabinet for storing dishes, pots, pans, and silverware, etc. There was a small counter between the upper and lower cabinets for the toaster, clock and radio.
It was from this radio that while my mother was cooking we could listen to Baby Snooks (I had no idea it was Fanny Brice until I got older), Jack Benny, Fred Allen (Allen’s Alley), Fred Harris; Lux presents Hollywood, Al Jolson, Eddie cantor, Amos and Andy, and Firestone Theater. And where my mother in the after noon could listen to the soap box operas such as “the Romance of Helen Trent”, etc. I always thought it was so special when I could stay home from school and listen in on her programs.
It was in this room that my Mother not only prepared all our meals, but also washed and hung out our clothes on a clothes line which could some how be reached between the food box and the windows casing.
This window could sometime be a source of joy when beggars would stand at the bottom of the alley calling up to us all playing an organ with dancing monkey, singing, or playing a mandolin, or harmonica.
The living room had the same three-piece suite of sitting furniture from Home and Faile Street, with the big radio and wooden elliptical coffee table on which I had played by marble racing game a small child. There was the nest of three black tables and glass and brass torch lamp. Several shaded lamps were on the black tables. Double French doors interrupted the living rooms two sidewalks leading from the outside wall to the entry hall. One set led to our room and one of its leafs was operable. And the other set to my parent’s bedroom, which were painted and locked shut with the sofa in front.
It was in this room that we were to later watch television and listen to phonograph records. And where we were to entertain the Kayes and where I held my first party inviting Rosalie, Milton, Benny, Gerry, and others.

Because this apartment was occupied by my grandparents for many years before I can now and could then remember where all the furniture and uses were. My bedroom was the pantry and the border room and the living room housed a giant trestle table with large wooded chairs to seat about twelve persons.
Walking to Westchester Ave. from 1012 to the “el” (elevated train structure) I would pass the facades of buildings enhanced by vertical wrought iron fences and covered with fire escapes all painted black. Stairways leading down a well in front of each to the caller and where the janitors lived and the garbage pails, which filled the bottom of each well.
The corner right there was a drug store and on the curb under the el did stacks of papers; magazines, etc surround the wooden newspaper stand. Sometimes even a separate stands advertising the Funk and Wangle encyclopedia.
On the opposite corner were a liquor store and “abogadia” (lawyer’s services)which advertised check cashing. This was the first route I’d travel every weekday for 5 years till June 1948 going to PS 20 and then for two years going to P.S. 75 till I graduated in 1951. Going to classes 2-6 from 1943, I’d cross the street helped by “Jim” the Irish police man who knew me well and continued to the school passing the emergency generator building with its big machines behind black metal grille; sometimes as I’d pass they would be tested and kick on making a terrible noise. I’d continue pass more tenement building and the 14th precinct police station.


And, finally "Y" to P.S. 20. Many times I went to the station for “PAL” meetings and later for other reasons. I made this walk my self until I met three other boys, Milton, Benny and Gerald and then we’d walk together.
Since they lived down the street they would pick me up on the way. When my brother was old enough I would hold his hand every day and make sure he arrived safely at his class.From 1948 to 1951 I would walk up to the drug store and turn right walking toward Southern Boulevard, past the news stand, the gigantic vegetable store with its square bushels open and taking up most of the street, the stair leading up the “el” and then I’d enter the Kresgee's 5 and 10 (five and ten) (cents, that, is) as a short cut where in I’d pass all my favorite goodies including, candy, records and custard ice cream. Out the southern boulevard exit and across the Boulevard to Aldus and then passing some candy store (from which I’d sometime get an egg cream) then to the school yard where inevitably there would either be the pretzel man, and or frankfurter man (depending on the time of day) this route would repeat itself in reverse every day and daily. Keep in mind this is the same route we used at night to ambulate except we did not cross in the middle of the street but at the corners to make sure we covered every foot of both sides of the Boulevard.
Emergency generators for the whole neighborhood.
Under the “el” was the buses and other special stores which we would frequent such and the linoleum store, Horn and Hardart, Loft candy, the deli, hard ware store; and, if you made a left at Westchester you’d head toward the best bakery in the “world”: “Snowflake”, and the A&P and the carriage and toy shop on fox street. If you kept walking on Westchester Ave you’d head toward streets like Tiffany, Kelly, Intervale, and ultimately Freeman Street. Intervale was the next stop on the el and Freeman after that. The bakery is where I’d go every Sunday morning to get one dozen mixed rolls plus one free(the baker's dozen) and for Friday holiday bread and, rye, with seeds, sliced. A & P is where we did our main grocery shopping. Also in this direction and across Westchester Avenue. Was the Simpson market, which I will discuss at length elsewhere. The Baby Carriage Store was on the corner of Westchester and Fox across from the A&P food market. We had bought and traded Saul's’ carriage in this store. We passed it every day. We occasionally entered, browsed, and bought toys. It was a friendly store and part of our history.


However I did not always turn right when I came out of our building; since we lived about two thirds between the two intersections turning left was the long way to Southern Boulevard. But, if I did turn left I would pass by the Simpson candy store and Puerto Rican grocery across the street. This is where my Mom would send me to get ice cream egg cream and milk, etc.One weekend day, when I was about thirteen I dressed in white and combed my hair. I went out side without any one and walked down the street. I remember feeling elegant, together and very beautiful. I purposefully took my camera with me so that some one could take my picture; preferably someone I did not know. Someone was there at the end of the block and agreed to take my picture. It remains today one of my best photographic likenesses of the period and was the way I like to think of my self and my appearance.

From the BMT station we visited Coney Island and Brighton , the one we used was on Bruckner Blvd near Hunts Point Blvd. My images of Simpson Street permeate most of my metaphors, dreams and visions for streets and building design. One of the longest double blocks in the city; it was about 800 feet long and 65 feet between brick and cementous clad facades. The facades were capped by 6 feet high iron shaped cornices, which extended out one foot. The cavern it created included wells with ironwork stairs to cellars, vertical rail iron fences, sidewalks, gutter, and street for cars to pass. The cavern of the open street was haunting and ominous. I would often imagine a giant arch with a gate at each end. I saw such gates at avenue’s ends in Europe.

Rays of sunlight streaming through the multi-colored flower stained glass clerestory portion of the windows glowed and presented us with an upscale luxury that only ground floor tenants had. At noon the sunlight illuminated the sidewalk and the wrought iron. Shadows cast down on the faces of the alley cats talking their siesta on tops of garbage pails and steps leading down to the cellers.

Snowfalls blanketed cars and street preventing the sirens and clanging bells of the fire trucks and police cars. The steam heat would pour out and into the interior of the houses and the snow-covered windows seemed to insulate and capture its goodness. Even the sound of the El was muffled. The great blizzard of “47” closed the streets, created white hills and mountains for us to tunnel, and creates steps. Cars were buried and resigned to a life of momentary immobility. These periods seemed to last forever. Our cloths changed to goulashes and very high boots: scarf’s, earmuffs, gloves and wool hats. It did not matter if we were cold or hot we were dressed to bear whatever temperature or what would fall from the sky. We could cross any street and go deep into any pile of snow.
We had special water holding tops to our floor radiators to keep the apartment humid. Banging could frequently be heard as tenants from the floors above banged to call for additional heat.Our cat “Stinky” was supposed to catch giant roaches and mice but instead played with them. Occasionally I’d walk in the alleys and explore our cellar and the cellar of other buildings. The places where the janitors who lived “below” resided and where the coal and garbage was kept. I even discovered gardens in some of the back lots and fences and people who were kind and gentle. The janitor’s back yards were another world very much removed from the street and our view of the rear yards and courts.
To us it was the place where we strung our cloths line, heard garbage bags failing from above and could be entertained occasionally by vendors and beggars. There were singers, organ grinders (many with monkeys) who would collect the money), violin players, etc. This life and these amenities were portrayed in the movies and music. My parents would remind us of the neighborhoods and these amenities when they were children. It seemed that things were right,In the front there was the constant stream of police car sirens and fire truck bells and sirens. They were different and we could tell the difference.
Occasionally, our apartment would be painted. It always smelled and we’d have to be very careful as to sleep with windows open. The smells of our street and apartment were special. One night just after we got our new refrigerator, the ammonia leaked. Thank God I awoke and called to my father and mother. They evacuated us to the street and called the janitor and the police.
The smell of new linoleum when it was freshly waxed was a great place to slide and play. Because this product permeated our apartments it is important to understand what it was and where it came from. Oilcloth covered our kitchen table and shelves around the house. Getting the windows fixed by replacing chains and cleaning out years of paint was a continuous maintenance job.
There is more to the urban experience than political, social, and economic. There is the aesthetic and sensual. The texture of the sidewalks and the beautiful stones and gravel embedded. The feel of the sidewalk’s heat in summer and cold hardness in winter. They refreshing wash of the open “Johnny Pumps” and the walks on the asphalt roof tops. The views and opportunity to run and jump over each party wall. The use of the Fire stair roof egress and the sculptural qualities of the black iron fire escapes. Even the chimneys bellowing there smoke was a sight and smell you could tell was the winter season and hot water was being made in s summer and winter.
The streets themselves had their daily visits of icemen, carousel, knife sharpeners, fruit and vegetable, Bungalow Bar Ice cream, milkmen, and newspaper deliveries. I was always so proud of my father’s beautiful cars. He kept them so shinny. We would help him polish the chrome by sticking our little fingers with a rag and special chrome polish in the grilles. We have so many photographs of the dad and us standing by his cars. They were always big and black, mostly Chrysler's and Cadillac s.
My Mother kept herself away from gossiping women and so many neighbors she’d meet on the street. She kept up her relations with Gene Nuzzi, Lola Tangredi, Maybelle Waingrow, Tess, and Cecilia. Other wise she was very private dedicated to caring for us. Her typical day was to sleep late till about 10:00 AM while we would wake and go to school to come hoe to an excellent lunch, which was ready every day. Later she prepared a bag of lunch for me to take to school.
In 1947 I was 10 years old and in the forth and fifth grade of PS 20 listening to the Perry Como Show, save my Mom from drowning and her hemorrhage from her miscarriage and the great snow blizzard of 1947. Rosalie Alpert was my first girlfriend who lived on Simpson Street. I invited her to my tenth birthday party and we danced. Milton and Benny were so jealous. She lived in the same building once housing the actress Myrna Loy.
In 1948 we watched the Texaco Star Theater starring Milton Berle (to 1953) and marveled at the Marshall Plan. We spent part of our summer in the Adirondacks with Bertha/Hi/Evelyn/Mo/Harriet/Myrna and other little girls who today remind me of our exploits. It was here I saved Mom from drowning in a stream under a bridge. The same bridge from which I jumped and cut my left knee when I landed directly on a rock. There was lots of bleeding which required stitches. This was also the summer when we began attending Shore Haven Beach Club.
On Simpson Street Carol also lived .She was a skinny red head, fair skinned and every body’s girlfriend except mine. She always said I was special.
My father’s friend’s daughter who was blind lived with her mother and father in City Island in a very special village. I would sleep, eat and play with her. She was several years older than I was. She taught me to tie my shoelaces.

Life on Simpson Street included Milton Forman and his family from the time we moved there until after we left. Milton was always heavy set and we both loved to eat, listen to the radio and play. The following dialog between Milty and I explain the fourteen-year period from 1946 to 1960.


When I see the Jolson Story and Jolson’s parents, I recall Milton’s parents. Paul H. Forman was the author of a book titled: "And, Who So Strong” about the advent of white slavery in USA. Published in 1937 by Robert Speller, New York, originally written while he lived in Brooklyn. He was a presser and dressed in a suit with a vest. A very thin and lean man with an exuberant sense of humor.
While Fur man, in German, means truck driver being that “fur” is the “Load” and he is the man of the load, Mr. Forman was any thing but a truck driver. The Fur Man sits on the seat of wagon behind the horses where the wagon full of the load.
Milton earned his living by selling insurance. He interrupts when others, when speaking, just like me. He does it gracefully and with great deference and respect. He is a born communicator! Milty now has three daughters and partially supports one of them in her Greenwich Village Fifth Avenue apartment.

The following are excerpts from emails during 2003. I have limited the excerpts to facts about our early years and background. It is the best way to visualize the neighborhood and times we had as children on these wonderful streets on New York.

I wrote an email to Milton asking: "Remember our fist beer with spaghetti at Romeo’s on 42 St. / the blizzard after getting stuck after Minsky’s in Union City; Walks to and from school (we protected each other) Watching Uncle Milty: you had the first TV; walks on Southern Blvd, especially through Kress and Kresge getting candy through the glass; Milt, I did a lot of your remembering as well, especially your girlfriend's phone numbers. Yes, we were birds of feather, of course you sing, whistle and paint...so did we. I remember your parents being compassionate, gentle, loving and kind. Your Father was a happy, joyful and great communicator; I can often hear his voice saying something. He was so wonderful! He loved the cat and caught it as it ran up the drapes, or something. And, your dear Mother, she never left the kitchen. I remember talking to her a lot, in the kitchen and by her bedside; sometimes she slept late, and invited us to sit on the floor and talk.

Milt wrote: "I do remember that we had lots of good times and talk together. I remember having to remove my shoes when I came to your house as your mom worried about the mess. I remember that you had every new electronic toy that came on the market, including the first 45-rpm RCA phonograph and how we enjoyed listening to music at your house. You spent much more time at my house as my mom was more open to our having company. You and Benny and I spent lots of time together at my house playing monopoly and just shooting the breeze. They were good times".
Milty writes again
“Dear Bar and Christina,
Very nice to hear from you again. The memories that you evoke are quite pleasant for me. I can't say I remember the first time we ate at Romeo’s, but I remember the many times we, (you and I and Benny) would take a train ride to 42nd street and do lots of things down there such as go to the movie houses that lined 42nd street. We would see adventure movies and in one theater, comedy short after comedy short, the 3 stooges, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, etc. I remember eating many hamburgers at Grants, which was on the corner of 7th avenue and 42. It was open all night and the place reeked of fried onions, which were always frying in a heap next to the burgers. Romeo’s was nearer to 8th avenue and had the best veal parmigiana and spaghetti you could get for very little money. We saw Hubert's museum which featured a flea circus and freak show with a half man, half woman whose name escapes me. At the end of the evening we stopped at the planter’s peanut store and watched the large Mr. Peanut turning the peanut roaster. I remember buying the large sized bag of peanuts often and bringing them home still warm. My whole family gorged on peanuts at 12 PM or so and still managed to go to sleep without indigestion. I wouldn't try that today"!
Milton continues: “The night we got caught in the blizzard in Union New Jersey was probably the only time I had been in New Jersey, and we were taken there by my neighbor, Dizzy Ritzer who was older, and had a car and a license. Speaking of cars, I am reminded that when I took my drivers test the first time, you let me use your (your dads) car. It was a rainy day and the inspector was not anxious to work, and failed the car because one light was out on the rear license well. Southern Boulevard was an exciting place for us, and we never got bored with being there. I don't recall who my favorite actress was, but I am guessing it would have been either Debra Paget or Kim Novack, who I still think were beautiful women. The old men of the congregation drank four roses and ate tam tam crackers at 8 am in the morning and then they all went off to work, while I went home and went to sleep. It may interest you to know that while I attending Downtown City College, I worked at Kresge's in the boys underwear department. It was my first real exposure to sales, in which I remained. I did not complete college for a number of reasons, primarily financial, but I have no regrets, and managed very well without the degree. My wife and my three daughters all have their bachelor degrees so that is more than enough for one family".
"I do remember our mutual interest in music. You had a great collection of records and a pleasant voice. I sang in High School musicals and did not pursue my music interests, other then singing at some community functions over the years. I do have a memory of you and I doing a puppet show at a park for some children once. Let me know if that memory is correct.
"Your memories of my parents are very touching. Our house was always very lively and often filled with laughter and my father loved to tell jokes and entertain us all. As you recall, my mother was a homebody who had a wonderful amount of common sense and wisdom that did not come from education, but from an innate knowledge of human behavior. My Dad lived with many frustrations, because he was educated in Europe, came here at age 17, and spent most of his adult life pressing dresses in a factory for little money. When he did have a chance to try other things, he wrote two novels, one of which was published in 1937, and one which never was published. He also went into the manufacturing business during the war, and achieved some success for awhile. I did not appreciate his sacrifices until well after his death at age 58. My father came from a place called Basarabia, which was controlled by Romania, while my mom came from the Ukraine in Russia. They met here in New York when both were very young. I was born in August 1937, so I am the more senior citizen between us. Love, milt”
Then I write again,
I gave most of my records to the Texas A&M media center in 1980 before leaving for Saudi. Yes, I was a singer of sorts: I won amateur singing contest one year supply of Bologna Bubble Gum at Loews Boulevard".
Then I reply again:
"I already recalled the blizzard of 47, which you and I experienced on Simpson Street. Your words however helped me recall our home and area on Pelham Parkway; honeymoon in Vermont, second home and skiing in Kitzbuhel, and cross country skiing in Yellowstone .It is so nice being inside when it is snowing outside. The house just feels different. For us Floridian's my favorite NPR classical station plays lots of winter theme concertos/etc. by Hayden, Vivaldi et al. Indeed, leaving room for surprises is an attitude worthy to achieve and maintain! Your mention of the autograph books instantly prompted them to mind and I can recall their look, smell and the effort we exerted to get signatures. I even recall some of them, but I don't believe I have mine anymore. I sure appreciate your sending the copies you mention to me. I will cherish them! Many of the teacher's names you mention are familiar. Milt, would happen to recall when we met ...I mean when did I arrive on Simpson Street. I came from Faile in Hunt’s point where I attended PS 48 Kindergarten and probably fist grade. I remember being in a class where Ms Foley and Entwistle; I am blank on the others, except for gross. In 75, I recall Camilla, Samson (for sure), Horn, and Himmelfarb, Jurist, and Cohen were my homeroom teacher. Were we there for two or three years?
Later Milt writes on 2/14/03
"While I was rummaging, I discovered my autograph books from PS 20 and 75. You signed PS 75, but not my PS 20 book for reasons unknown. My phone number was Dayton 9 - 8799. And it was 980 etc as you remembered. I only went to one Boy Scout meeting with you, at your urging. I remember having to walk up many floors to get to where they met. Someone was teaching how to make knots. I think I decided there was too much walking involved, and never returned. I also remember Ms. Kelly and Ms. Entwissel as familiar names. I have many teachers’ names in my autograph books if you really want them. I went to PS 20 from kindergarten to 6th grade and then on to PS 75 for 7 and 8th .if that helps you to know. I did not understand what you wrote about your Halloween memory, so you may want to repeat the details.
Barie writes yet again,
"I have your mailing address already and will take the giant PS 75 picture out of its nailed together plastic/glass and wooden frame, take it to the office, make a copy, and, then, mail the copy to you. It will take a little time for this, but I am very happy to do it! It’s got all the pictures of our heads with names below. I would like photocopies of the yearbooks you mentioned. I do not have any thing from that period! I will then be able to get the teachers and events straight. Your humor is still well intact! "Artificial heartburn from the artificial chopped liver"! Indeed, that is the way I to remember the place. It was huge, and for a quarter, you could have a bowl of soup and as many rolls as you could eat. Of course, you were expected to give the waiter a ten cent tip...inflation! I worked next door at Debrose Decorators (formerly Handler) "
Milt replies on 2/25/03
“PS 20; Sadie H. Gross, principal, grad date June 1949. Teachers: Mrs. E F Foley; E. Renz; Mary E. Fisher; Mrs. Featherston; M.A. O’Malley; Evelyn S. Hecht; N. Unger; L.N. Grossman; Inez I. Hymans (my kindergarten teacher); Ella Maisel; grace b. Richman; M.V. Starin; R. Rosenberg; T.S. Weiss (my other kindergarten teacher); Regina v. Schwartz; Florence e. jurist; h. Hanneman; Jeanne Stern; R.K. frank; Harry Dubin (gym); l. green; m. Posner; Ruth l. Taylor (my 1st grade teacher); m. Entwistle; MM. Cameron; Doris Johnson; Edina f. Kelly; al Hoffman; f. Schaff; Mrs. Hirsch and Mr. Dwyer (also gym).
P.s. 75, graduation date was June 26, 1951. Sydney Rosenberg, principal. Teachers: Helen Kalenson; Sidney h. Kamil; Sylvia Samson; Harriet Freedman; Rose Feuer; Julia m. horn; Herman Schleifer; Mary e. rein; Leo Goldfinger; Mr. Himmelfarb; Lillian Baum; Milton Rosenthal; Mr. H.A. Cohen (art teacher); Ruth Weinstein; Mrs. Nathanson and Elaine Jurist.
More from Milt “2/25/03:
As I mentioned, I went to PS 20 from kindergarten to 6th grade, then had to transfer to PS 75 to complete 7th and 8th grade which was as high as PS 75 went. That answers your question of how long we were at p.s. 75. Ms. Foley was my 6th grade teacher and Ms. Kalenson was my official teacher in 8th grade. I wound up going to central needle trades H.S... As a result of Mrs. Kalenson recommendation. Her husband was dean of the boys at needle trades. I realized after one term there that it wasn't for me, and completed H.S. At Morris. I too recall Mr. Kamil and Mr. Himmelfarb, who was known as a slightly mad science teacher.

I wrote on “2/26/03
"How was your time at Morris? I had only heard bad things and that is why I arranged to go to Christopher Columbus and finally move to Pelham. I did have Ms Entwistle for homeroom and I believe she was the first teacher I had. Could you possibly recall what grade she taught? That may lead to knowing what year I came in. Ms Foley was also my homeroom teacher so we must have been all in the same homeroom/class. By the way I just realized that it was the 14 Precinct station that was called Fort Apache. I was in the PAL and played in the muster room and back yard. Many of our classmates lived next door to the station. I know because I have their names and address written on the back of my original copy of the class photo. I have never seen the movie.

Simpson Street Life
(4,984 Words
1012 Simpson Street: Bronx 59, New York Telephone: Dayton 9 3129
(we had the same number on Faile)
We lived on this street from the time I was nine until I was in the second year of high school at 16/17: from 1946 to 1953. It was here I attended public, junior and began high school. It was from here that my father launched his limousine rental business and where I began working.
Street life is very different in the city than it is in the suburbs or rural towns. Street life involves street talk, street furniture as cars, Johnny pumps, curbs, fire escapes, stoops, rails, and folding chairs. It includes language and topics you would never use any where else and in a manner different than home, business etc.. In streets you ambulate, drive, park, cycle, skate play, gamble, deal, and fight. It is the area where in the Bronx gangs conduct warfare and communicate there turfdom. The street is the turf and zone for ones security and ,neighbors and community. It is the Bronx tradition to cordon- off parts of streets for one or another family, group, activity, etc. Street names ,streets have reputations, metaphors, identity, looks and styles. You can tell one from another and know when you have arrived on your street.
On Simpson lived very nice Puerto Rican immigrants, very nice black families, (as portrayed in the “West-side Story”) and my family was amongst the well to-do on the block because my father had his own and successful business.
Romanticizing about shapes and forms; mistaking prototypes for cultural artifacts. The cornices of tenements; pitched roofs of sub-urbs, arches in Arabia.
On May 10,1941, Alan J. Erickson of Columbia University writes in the Amsterdam Star-News, and the New York times that “on May 1, 1941, less than three months after the bus trip, Mayor La Guardia marked the opening of the Simpson Street Day Work Office, a domestic employment office at 1029 Simpson Street in the East Bronx”.
Our bedroom was painted blue, my parents, rose with some raised colored flowery wallpaper and the kitchen white. The kitchen was a long rectangular room with a very large window at the end of the long wall on the right and across from it a steel gas stove standing on legs with four burners and an oven with Bunsen burners, which always seem to be leaking. The large window faced the back alley and was two and half stories off the ground, because the rear of the building was a story below grade. The entire width of the window had cantilevered food storage for vegetable, canned food, etc. The dining/kitchen table sat four and with an extension for more persons, with four chairs for all of us to eat. To the right of the entrance was the icebox, which was replenished regularly by an iceman. Later we were to get a refrigerator, which was cooled by ammonia. I know it was ammonia because one evening, soon after we got this new modern convenience it leaked in the middle of the night and we called the fire department we all had to evacuate the apartment until it was deemed safe to re-enter. Between the refrigerator and the dining area was the double sink, and, the dinning area had a low wall divider.
Opposite of the sink and the refrigerator was a built in wooden cabinet for storing dishes, pots, pans, and silverware etc. There was a small counter top for the radio.
It was from this radio that while my mother was cooking we could listed to Baby Snooks, Jack Benny, Fred Allen (Allen’s Alley), Fred Harris; Lux presents Hollywood, Al Jolson, Eddie cantor, Amos and Andy, and Firestone theater; where my mother in the after noon could listen to the soap box operas such as “the romance of Helen Trent”, etc.It was in this room that my mother not only prepared all our meals, but also washed and hung out our clothes on a clothes line which could some how be reached between the food box and the windows casing.
This window could sometime be a source of joy when beggars would stand at the bottom of the alley calling up to us all playing an organ with dancing monkey, singing, or playing a mandolin, or harmonica. The living room had the same three-piece suite of siting furniture from home and Faile Street, with the big radio and wooden elliptical coffee table on which I had played by marble racing game a small child. There was the nest of three black tables and glass and brass torch lamp. Several shaded lamps were on the black tables. Double French doors interrupted the living rooms two sidewalks leading from the outside wall to the entry hall. One set led to our room and one of its leafs was operable. And the other set to my parent’s bedroom, which were painted and locked shut with the sofa in front.
It was in this room that we were to later watch television and listen to phonograph records. And where we were to entertain the Kayes and where I held my first party inviting Rosalie, Milton, Benny, Gerry, and others.Walking to Westchester Ave. from 1012 to the el I would pass the facades of buildings enhanced by vertical wrought iron fences and covered with fire scopes all painted black. Stairways leading down a well in front of each to the caller and where the janitors lived and the garbage pails, which filled the bottom of each well.
The corner right there was a drug store and on the curb under the el did stacks of papers; magazines, etc surround the wooden newspaper stand. Sometimes, even separate stands advertising the Funk and Wangle Encyclopedia. This was the first route I’d travel every weekday for 5 years till June 1948 going to Ps 20 and then for 2 years going to P.S. 75 till I graduated in 1951.
Going to classes 2-6 from 1943, I’d cross the street helped by “Jim” the Irish police man who knew me well and continued to the school passing the emergency generator building with its big machines behind black metal grilles; sometimes as I’d pass they would be tested and kick on making a terrible noise. I’d continue pass more tenement building and the 14th precinct police station.

From 1948 to 1951 I would walk up to the drug store and turn right walking toward Southern Boulevard, past the news stand, the gigantic vegetable store with its' square bushels open and taking up most of the street, the stair leading up the “el” and then I’d enter the Kresge 5 and 10 (five and ten) (cents, that , is)as a short cut where in I’d pass all my favorite goodies including, candy, records and custard ice cream. Out the Southern Boulevard exit and across the Boulevard to Aldus and then passing some candy store (from which I’d sometime get an egg cream) then to the school yard where inevitably there would either be the pretzel man, and or frankfurter man (depending on the time of day) this route would repeat itself in reverse every day and daily. Keep in mind this is the same route we used at night to ambulate except we did not cross in the middle of the street but at the corners to make sure we covered every foot of both sides of the Boulevard.

Bronx Simpson Street and the El: {2,100 total words}

(2,233 total words)( 2,088 text words only) (footnotes 145 words)


The most prominent and unique structure crossing Simpson Street at Westchester Ave was the IRT elevated structure. The station straddled both Simpson and Westchester, and, its side’s facades presented themselves as an arch and gateway to the ends of Simpson Street with tracks gushing out being pierced through its Westchester North and south ends.
To access the Station, and, then its platform you ascended a six foot wide iron and cement covered stair which was interrupted with a landing to the upper deck where there was a well built iron, and wood cashier teller and guard flanked on other side by horizontal turnstiles to enter and a tall iron steel pipe revolving exit which allowed departing passengers to exit but not enter the platform.
To have great views of the streets and neighborhood below you could go up the stairs and to the station and peer out the window. We some time would play tag and “ring o leeveo” hiding in such places.
Rain and snow made access more difficult. At the base of the stair were a wonder full newsstand and its attendant who knew every one and every thing. He saved me special comic books and magazines that my mom liked to read. He hawked his newspapers and had stands strewn on the street adjacent to the stand. I recall when the” Funk and Wangell” encyclopedia was first published it was on these special stands and I bought one, then another until I had the whole set. The newspapers were the NY Post, Daily News, NY Times, etc. Two newspapers, which were revived at the time, were the “World”and the "Star" ; they did not last very long.
The platform extended to the left and right of the main area and even had a small-enclosed winter structure containing a back iron potbelly stove. This could be kindled in the winter to take refuge when waiting for a train. Some time some men would sit in the structure and stoke the fire. Some time it smelled pretty badly in there, but if you were freezing, it was worth bearing the bad odor.
The most extraordinary part of the platform was that you always saw it when you looked up the street. As a matter of fact that defined “up” verses “down” the street. Up was where the train was and downs east 163-rd Street. Its face was greenish copper and had a red tile roof. It had a crest and shield design and seemed like a fancy baroque bridge over and imaginary European River. It formed closure to the street and forever was my definition of a vista and focal point.






I was to see many other platforms and stations but always I modeled them after the simplicity and design of this. The way from our street the tops of the building’ cornices linearly pointed toward the station and the its silhouette pronounced itself. At night from my bed I could hear the trains coming and going and I’d picture the station. It was a great comfort in thunder and lightening storms. I knew it was strong enough to take the hits of lightning, which would strike it and hopefully not our building.
The iron structure of the tracks snaked over main avenues and boulevards through out the city. Underneath were the iron trolley tracks so when driving you had to position your self on the cobble stone streets. Not to have your tires slip in the tracks. You would ride with tracks above and often trains moving over your head. The tracks formed a trellis of sunshade and kept the snow off these streets as well.
The most alarming scene of the “King Kong” movie was to see him looming over the trains and picking them up and throwing them down. When riding the trains it gave many urbanites additional cause for concern. I always wondered if these scenes meant any thing to persons living in the Midwest.
The El formed a canopy over Westchester Road and any other major boulevard it covered. It was majestic like the canopy of trees of the Amazon where to see the whole of the land all you need do is to ascend and walk across its branches and clusters of beams and planks. It cast shadows on the streets and over the cars as the trees in a dense forest and walking on hit sidewalks below seeing these shadows cast by the track’s ties was as a shadows of a trellis in royal gardens. If you stop to wait of buses and trolleys by the black steel pillars the trains sparks would rain down like Chinese fire works just smoldering s it near your body and cloths. The platforms allow for vistas of our neighborhoods and buildings equaled low plane rides through the alps and low flight though Rockies and Appalachia.
The trains would spark and the sparks would cascade down upon the tops of people’s heads, cars and taxis. Especially on the curve at Southern Boulevard. The sound it made was overwhelming and when the train came to a halt the breaks could be heard for blocks as the squeaked the train to a halt. Riding on the trains began with either a long wait on the platforms in the rain, cold, snow, or heat. Some times you’d run to just miss or be fortunate enough to make it. You’d always have the correct change or a collection of tokens in your pocket to be able to catch the train. Once on the train at times the trains were modestly filled and you could find a seat and either read your Daily news, Post, or Mirror. My favorite was the News. Or, I’d read a book. I remember reading Harold Robin’s: ”I the Jury” I could relate to the characters; they were me and the people around me. Or, you’d people-watch. Looking at them from the corners of your eyes so as not to stare. Every nationality and race was on every train. What stories each could tell and I’d try to think what they came from and there plight.
Other times the train would be jammed and you’d be wedged between some really nice young and beautiful girl and some grumpy old guy. Of course, If I was sitting and a lady came on I’d relinquish my seat. Riding the train always had its own protocol and accepted behaviors. At least for me and my family. Of course the train would shake and rock and if you were sitting next to someone you’d be shoved against them and some how apologize; or they against you. If you were standing it was like being a monkey in the zoo grabbing and dangling from the bars and pole. I ‘d usually opt for being near the vertical pole and the door. I ‘d try to edge my way toward the door especially when I knew my stop was coming. Most commuters like me knew the routines and cooperated . You could always tell a ‘greener” when they fumbled and were in the way. You learned to get "with it" on the subway and on the train. By the time you got to work or shipping or where ever you were going you already had your work out and were “UP” to what might face you. You were prepped and tuned in to the New York beat. You were exhumed out of your cocoon and sleepy shell. Your were primed and ready for such as incredible traffic and facing to cross the streets. My favorite was to cross in the middle of traffic or before the light changed dodging the cars,. Dodging the cars across major thoroughfares is something only a young and seasoned New Yorker could do without getting killed and still actually enjoy the experience.

Bronx Train Rides: (1,239 words)

(1,592 words) (582 words in text only) (312 words in one footnote)

Affectionately called the “subway”?
Train ride Adventures:
I had affluence of travel because I never felt encumbered and I enjoyed getting around by the many different means of public transportation. Pullman the St. Louis Company and the platforms were made of steel and concrete manufactured the trains cabins and cars. The cars are still like the ones are in Europe today.
1. Looking out of the cars
2. Seeing people
3. flirting
4. Ogling
5. Reading
6. Sketching
7. Practicing lettering
8. Reading assignments
9. Freezing on the platforms
10. Waiting for trains;
  • Pacing on the platforms
  • Seeing people playing, tampering and abusing vending machines

11. sleeping
12. sitting with Barbara Allen
13. exchange tunnels, elevators
14. King Kong fears
15. Squealing noises, rocking, fans working, posters, ads; would the train derail; after a while you know it will not derail or overturn, it is just very noisy, some turns the train is really tipped to one side.
16. Positioning near the door, away from the door and near a vertical pole to hold or lean ON wall.
17. Looking out in the front car
18. Change as I grew older:
Subways:
1. dripping water
2. grilles from above; smell of must from below and from below streams of light or the glow of glass block or light coming through
3. Steel girders, beams, bolts and the total vocabulary of steel construction.
4. Sign reminding people how to behave in public to not spit, smoke, discard waste, urinate, put packages on seats, etc. Would I dare smoke, spit, etc.
5. I learned which end of train to go to be let out on the correct end to near stair to avoid long walk on platform at destination.
For three years I’d eat crumb cake with Mom for breakfast before going to work at Classic.
I’d eat Italian sub sandwiches near CCHS because I was not near home during time when I commuted by bus to CCHS from Simpson Street.
Transfers
I'd traverse through white tiled pedestrian tunnels at 14 street, Canal street to and from IRT to BMT and IND
Grand concourse elevators to many levels of IND
Time square and 42 street tunnels and elevators and shuttles.
14 street with great underground snack food and Radio City with great underground restaurants.
Nothing much really happens and it is more about what you imagine and romanticize.
You see people’s bodies, cloths, and faces. You surmise their vocation, education and context. It is similar to the context of the elevator except in the subway to stare at people but you look away if they too look at you and avoid eye contact without speaking; you push and never gesture. It is impersonal yet intimate.
Hot and cold temperatures seem exaggerated
When the power goes off, train stops fans and lights go off and you are underground behavior is disciplined and strict. Silence is the acceptable behavior anticipating that our condition is known and trusting their authorities to quickly do every thing super humanly possible to extricate us. To keep the train moving there is trains behind this train and a system that is over riding our situation.
Expresses train go too fast and whiz by when one is standing on the platform or when inside an express, the train rocks, clatters and whizzes by the station where you see lights, platforms,signs and people like trees and statues skimmed and scanned.
One imagines that if one would fall on the platform not ever touch the third rail and to keep ones head down in the middle. New York City subway trains are places where you stop wait and sense. You have to think. It is a context a way from life’s stress of family, school and career. It is socially separated from the block and neighborhood in an anonymous context where strangers meet strangers and no one’s identified is assured or assumed. Your anonymity is your friend and hiding place for the duration of the trip.
You smell, see and feel more intensely then you would when walking or preoccupied by other sensory or cognitive acts. It is a place where each ordinary person becomes measured and compared against whomever else is on the platform or in the car. You notice everything. Pants lengths, shoes, hemlines, socks, skirts, dress, shirts, jackets, hat hairstyles, colors, and skin tones and consistencies. You notice facial expressions, nationalities, make-up, packages, cases, and luggage.
It is all very urban, cosmopolitan and anomicaly poisonous. One is reminded of one’s isolation and part in a great and nameless sea. The weariness of the repetitive nature and endless number of such trips and ordeals is itself a burden while the very thought of the plight to make such trips for earning one’s sustenance is itself burdensome and more real than one would like to bear. But one does bear and deal with it daily as part of a vigorous effort to contribute to the urban fabric and live in the quick of Mecca.
The alleys and backyards of many of these tenements at their back ends facing the other streets building had gardens for the supers and their families of the buildings. They were often very nice and not related to the alleys and shafts of our dwellings,
They were open to light and air of the back yard and three stories below our lowest floor since many of their building were built on high ground and had a lower back area. Our street was built on a ridge with Southern Boulevard three stories below.

The street itself was a model of all streets but so well proportioned as to be worth mentioning. The road was about forty feet wide flanked by sidewalks that were about eight feet. Then came the six-foot setback for the stoop and the stairs to the cellars for the garbage and superintendents furnace and dwelling. The buildings which stood about fifty feet tall. Most of the buildings were capped with cornice and all had black metal fire escapes. The road had cars parked on either side all facing in the same direction since Simpson Street as all the street in our neighborhood were one way. When you walked on the sidewalk you saw the side and tops of cars and noticed their color, maintenance, features, brand, etc. On the other side you noticed the black iron rail fences in front of each of the cellar stairwells, stoops and entrances. The cars were mostly black with the exceptional colored car. Certain cars were noticeable and such as one time there was a Hudson, open convertible with beige leather seats. It was so beautiful. The cars were parked over the gutters which ran the length of the streets and on the sidewalks at various locations were street lams that were black iron and had incandescent light bulbs were later replaces by the higher and more ugly white light and brighter lamps. To get form the side walks into the road you would walk in between the front and rear bumpers of the cars. When bumpers toughed you could climb over the bumpers. Often we’d lean or side on the car front and read body. I often would scold those sitting on our car. Eventually when they saw us coming they would slide off and go away. Others were polite and excused themselves. But sitting on the cars was common, as when parked they were street furniture proving a place to congregate. Sometime people would sit ON the stoops facing other others sitting on the cars and sing, hold conversations or just hang out.
The cars also provide a place for the cats to hide when chased by dogs which was an hourly occurrence. So you could always be assured that there were cats under every car. When you would start your car cats would come onto the sidewalk and scatter. When our cat would escape we’d be sure to find it under a car. The cars and garbage made the cats smell. Cars would often double park and make passing on the remaining road challenging. It is this challenge and practice that made me the excellent driver I became and able to drive in tight Eastern Hemisphere streets. Parking was so interesting and I could learn to park any car in a space with just a few inches to spare. However when parking one had to hold up the traffic of the oncoming traffic and this was often the cause of horns blowing and irate arguments. The trick was to be decisive and kept and get the space with the fewest of maneuvers. I could make it often in one if there was enough space. The sounds of fire engines bells and sirens, Police squad cars sirens, honking horns, arguing and frustrated drives, screeching cats, barking dogs, crying children, talking pedestrians, trains coming and going from the station, lightning and thunder during a storm were just some of the sounds of the neighborhood. All of these were in concert with the occasional alley or street musician, bells and music of the ice cream vendor and villains and calliopes in the streets and alley. O occasionally we’d have an opera singer or Italian serenading us with songs like "O sol O meo", etc. on the main street the clanging of the trolley bells gongs and bells and the traffic wheels and humming motors. Occasionally an ambulance would whiz by sounding his siren.

However I did not always turn right when I came out of our building; since we lived about 2/3 between the two intersections turning left was the long way to southern blvd. But, if i did turn left i would pass by the Simpson candy store and Puerto Rican grocery across the street. This is where my mom would send me to get ice cream, egg cream and milk, etc.
One weekend day, when I was about 13 I dressed in white and combed my hair. I went out side with out any one and walked down the street. I remember feeling elegant, together and very beautiful. I purposefully took my camera with me so that some one could take my picture; preferably someone I did not know. Someone was there at the end of the block and agreed to take my picture. It remains today one of the best photographs of the way I like to think of my self and my appearance.

Images of Simpson Street

One of the longest double blocks in the city, it was about 2x 800 feet long and 65 feet between brick and cementous clad facades. The facades were capped by 6 feet high iron shaped cornices, which extended out one foot. The cavern it created included wells with ironwork stairs to cellars, vertical rail iron fences, sidewalks, gutter, and street for cars to pass. The cavern of the open street was haunting and ominous. I would often imagine a giant arch with a gate at each end. I saw such gates at avenue’s ends in Europe.

Rays of sunlight streaming through the multi-colored flower stained glass clerestory portion of the windows glowed and presented us with an upscale luxury that only ground floor tenants had. At noon the sunlight illuminated the sidewalk and the wrought iron. Shadows cast down on the faces of the alley cats talking their siesta on tops of garbage pails and steps leading down to the callers.

Snowfalls blanketed cars and street preventing the sirens and clanging bells of the fire trucks and police cars. The steam heat would pour out and into the interior of the houses and the snow-covered windows seemed to insulate and capture its goodness. Even the sound of the El was muffled. The great blizzard of 47” closed the streets and created white hills and mountains for us to tunnel and create steps. Cars were buried and resigned to a life of momentary immobility. These periods seemed to last forever. Our cloths changed to goulashes and very high boots: scarf’s, earmuffs, gloves and wool hats. It did not matter if we were cold or hot we were dressed to bear whatever temperature or what would fall from the sky. We could cross any street and go deep into any pile of snow.

We had special water holding tops to our floor radiators to keep the apartment humid. Banging could frequently be heard as tenants from the floors above banged to call for additional heat.
Our cat “Stinky” was supposed to catch giant roaches and mice but instead played with them. Occasionally I’d walk in the alleys and explore our cellar and the cellar of other buildings. The places where the janitors who lived “below” resided and where the coal and garbage was kept. I even discovered gardens in some of the back lots, fences and people who were kind and gentle. The janitor’s back yards were another world very much removed from the street and our view of the rear yards and courts.
To us it was the place where we strung our cloths line, heard garbage bags falling from above and could be entertained occasionally by vendors and beggars. There were singers, organ grinders (many with monkeys) who would collect the money), violin players, etc. This life and these amenities were portrayed in the movies and music. My parents would remind us of the neighborhoods and these amenities when they were children. It seemed that things were right.
In the front there was the constant stream of police car sirens and fire truck bells and sirens. They were different and we could tell the difference. Occasionally, our apartment would be painted. It always smelled and we’d have to be very careful as to sleep with windows open. The smells of our street and apartment were special. One night just after we got our new refrigerator, the ammonia leaked. Thank God I awoke and called to my father and mother. They evacuated us to the street and called the janitor and the police.
We enjoyed the smell of new linoleum and when it was freshly waxed it was a great surface to slide and play. Oilcloth covered our kitchen table and shelves around the house. Getting the windows fixed by replacing chains and cleaning out years of paint was a continuous maintenance job.
There is more to the urban experience than political and social and economic. There is the aesthetic and sensual. The texture of the sidewalks and the beautiful stones and gravel embedded. The feel of the sidewalk’s heat in summer and cold hardness in winter. The refreshing wash of the open “Johnny Pumps” and the walks on the asphalt roof tops. The views and opportunity to run and jump over each party wall. The use of the fire stair roof egress and the sculptural qualities of the black iron fire escapes. Even the chimneys bellowing their smoke was a sight and smell by which you could tell was the winter season while hot water was being made in summer and winter.
The streets themselves had their daily visits of icemen, carousel, knife sharpeners, fruit and vegetable, Bungalow Bar Ice cream, milkmen, and newspaper deliveries. I was always so proud of my father’s beautiful cars. He kept them so shinny. We would help him polish the chrome by sticking our little fingers with a rag and special chrome polish in the grilles. We have so many photographs of dad and us standing by his cars. They were always big and black, mostly Chrysler's and Cadillac’s.

The alleys and backyards of many of these tenements at their back ends facing the other streets building had gardens for the supers and their families. They were often very nice and not related to the alleys and shafts of our dwellings.
They were open to light and air of the back yard and three stories below our lowest floor since many of there building were built on high ground and had a lower back area. Our street was built on a ridge with Southern Boulevard three stories below.

Examples of a variety of Calliopes that could be seen. Calliope was the name of a female muse. These could be heard on trucks, set on a stand on sidewalk or in the alley. Organ grinders with street grinders were often on the street playing. The organ grinder would throw his head back as if lost in the music he created. We too had instruments in our house with handles that when cranked rapidly played various tunes. From a genuine European hand-cranked pipe organ I could hear a kaleidoscope of cheerful music soul stirring marches, toe-tapping tangos, lilting waltzes, peppy polkas, south-of-the-border
Bronx Financial Perspective: (397 words)

Cash Flow

Around 1950 I told my boss, Mr. Silverman, the owner of Debrose Decorators, that I wanted him to raise my salary because I believed that when I was older my salary would just keep increasing so that I would become a wealthy person. He then explained that things did not work in that way that there were other factors and told me his life’s story “Vis a vi” earnings. The curve is not straight nor does it go up all the time, nor is it regulated and fair. The not fair part was not what I wanted to hear. At 12 years of age it was a daunting lesson. My story is as his, it doesn’t work that way nor is it fairWhen I hung drapes as a contractor I earned $1/foot using my car and tools. This was the way I earned the money to go to college. My dad paid his men and me $25/trip to drive people to Asbury Park. That’s $50 a round trip. My first salary at Designs for Business was $125/week plus overtime, which doubled my salary. I did likewise when going to school I always tried to stay out of the unfair system and get the most for the least. As a I recall most employers paid me top salary coming in knowing that I was very productive and expecting me to leave when things slowed.
Genesis 14
23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, 'I made Abram rich.'

In these 21 years I managed to work at a variety of jobs:

Shoe shine:

It was Irwin and John my black friend who encouraged and showed me how to set up and work. I shared their spot on Southern Boulevard just across the street from Michael Handler decorators. I was only in this business for two weeks when I somehow got the idea to go to the stores on the Boulevard and ask for a job. Mr. Silverman offered me a job and ended my shoe shinning career. My box then became a fixture in our house, which we used to clean all our shoes. Of course my dad helped too because his father had been a professional shoe shine man.

Newspaper boy: NY Post: Deliver papers

I delivered papers for the New York Post to the worst smelly and dirty houses and apartments on different route until I was robbed by a older boy at knife point. It was collection day and he got all my money. My father went with me to the dispatch of the Post and told him what happened. They said I still owed them the money and would not help. My father encouraged me to stop the job.


Simpson Street Places

Hunts Point Palace: 953 Southern Boulevard (@ cor. E.163 St): I saw black singing groups performing here and at Fox’s corner at Westchester and Southern Boulevard.

In “History in Asphalt”, John McNamara says that Southern Boulevard like the Grand Concourse, this wide and important boulevard did not evolve from an Indian trail, but was a drawing board creation envisioned by the Engineering Department of the Annexed District in the 1870s to be a grandiose thoroughfare sweeping up from E. 133rd Street and Third Avenue, cutting through the wide estates of the eastern Bronx, bypassing Crotona Park and Bronx Park and terminating at the Botanical Garden. It was laid out across the original Jonas Bronck farmlands which became the holdings of the Morris family, on through the lands of the Leggett homesteaders, the "Longwood Park" estate of S.B. White and the Fox, Simpson and Tiffany properties. It was the boundary line of the Minford, Woodruff and Lydig estates, and cut off part of the academy grounds of St. John's University (now Fordham University).

Southern Boulevard; Shops

· Buster Brown shoe store had an x-ray machine which showed your feet. Buster brown was the sponsor of one of our favorite Saturday morning Radio shows: “No school today” sponsored by Cream of Wheat and Buster Brown Shoes; The lead in was: ” That’s my dog tag, he lives in a shoe; I’m Buster Brown, I live in there too”. It was also the show which taught me my favorite birthday song sung to the tune of the love song in Franz Lehar’s Merry widow:” Happy birthday, Happy birthday, just for you; Happy birthday and may all your dreams come true. As you blow out the candles one light stays aglow; it’s the light that lights your life where ere you go. (He’s the light that lights your life where ere you go; I changed it to sing to Christians on their birthdays)
  • B&G Music Shop: Located in the center of Southern Boulevard with a speaker on the outside and where I heard such songs as Nat King Cole’s: ”Nature Boy”; ”Maharajah of Magadore”, etc. I spent my fortune here. The owners were so kind to educate me and listen to my wishes and get me special music, which I never heard before. “ I want music without voices, beautiful, with strings and harmony” so they got me classics (as the French composer Saint-Sans and so I built my classical music collection. Later, they ordered Electronic Music for me.

  • Chinese Restaurant: Here is where my mother took my brother and I every weekend after some Joan Crawford movie. My Mom would tell me I don’t understand the movie because I was too young, that someday when I grow up I will. I would ask her to explain it to me. It was so funny. It was the same story all the time. Then I’d explain it to her. Of course, I would wonder why she cried; she was a great sport about all of this! The waiter of the Chinese restaurant knew my order by heart. He would see us and out would come one serving after another of the same thing every Sunday, for years. Water, egg drop soup, chicken chow Mein, and chocolate ice cream. The cost for the meal was about forty-five cents. Yum, Yum! At that time I did not use chopsticks. I learned that from my friend Gene who would take Christina and I to Manhattan’s China Town to one place called ”Wo-Ping” in particular. Our favorite dish was a wedding dish called in Mandarin:” raw fish and chicken with coconut sheds”
  • Loft Candies: Strategically located on the corner of Southern Boulevard and Westchester Ave with a triangular island in the middle of the sidewalk with beautifully decorated boxes of chocolates. My favorite was caramel crunch. On Valentines and other holidays I’d buy my mother a beautiful box of chocolates. She was very happy about this. She would give me a big hug and kiss. She was my Valentine!
  • And Kresge at the corner of Westchester with two entrances so we used as a short cut with entrances of Westchester and also on the boulevard. However if you took the shortcut which we often did you missed Lofts and other really nice stores.
  • Later next to the Star a “Going Out Of business Store” opened which was later named “Target” we rarely shopped in this store.

  • Martinizing Dry Cleaners: featuring one hour dry cleaning was a small but significant landmark on the corner of east 163 and Simpson.

  • DiMarco Brothers Barber Shop:My fathers barber became my barber where I’d go every two weeks for a haircut and a very nice conversation. They were clean cut Italians. The shop was on 163 at Intervale so we had a walk to get there. My father would often take his car and park out side.

Southern Boulevard was a drawing board creation envisioned by the Engineering Department of the Annexed District sometime in the 1870's to be a grandiose thoroughfare sweeping up from East 133rd St. and Third Ave., cutting through the wide estates of the Eastern Bronx, bypassing Crotona Park and Bronx Park and terminating at the Botanical Gardens. It did all of that and we saw all of the parts of the boulevard.
A latter-day engineer said its name was first suggested when the countryside was still under the jurisdiction of Westchester County and therefore proposed boulevard was to be the southernmost in the county. Upon annexation in 1874, the name was still applicable to the boulevard originated in the South Bronx. The lower end of Southern Boulevard was settled first and became industrialized early in the 20th century, whereas the upper end, near Hunts Point and running through Bronx Park, was a more attractive residential area. The Boulevard epitomized every that was right about America during the forties. It was vulgar with lots of elegance; awry with choices and variety of taste and individuality of shop ownership and offerings. Combined with our access to Coney Island and “downtown” we had the best of everything. It lacked the oppressive and conformity yet to sweep America in the fifties. It somehow sustained it s disregard for the conformity developing elsewhere.


Theaters

Southern Boulevard between Westchester and East 163 Street was so very special because not only did it have every thing but several of one kind or another. It had three great movie theaters; three five and ten cents stores, a variety of restaurants and snack places, many clothing stores featuring the latest in fashions and music stores.
Star Theater: opened 1914: 960 Southern Boulevard: 600 seats: for twenty-five cents for each or less my brother and I could watch three movies and get candy for early morning before the matinee showings. We saw; Red Rider and Little Beaver, Lone Range, Gene Autry, Randolph Scott; Charlie Chan with Sidney Tyler, etc.

Loews Boulevard had Stage Shows at 1024 Southern Boulevard opened in 1912 having 2187 seats where I won an amateur singing contest.

Loews Spooner Theater at 961 Southern Boulevard opened around 1910 and had 1,910 seats

Dollar Savings Bank: I was the first customer of their bank and the class bank representative I saved the most amount of money in the class. The bank manager gave me special gifts and a certificate.



Snowflake Bakery: The store in front with ovens and bakers in the rear. A window with attractive cakes and inside and white tile floor and gigantic glass counter with five wonderful ladies who after six years of my Friday evening and Sunday morning visits knew me my order and whims. On Sunday morning I’d get the baker's dozen (13 rolls for the price of twelve) My order was always; 3 bagels, 3 bialys, 3 rolls and 3 onion rolls and one free braided egg roll. My mother gave me the option of buying some sweet I liked; I often choose chocolate ├ęclair, which had vanilla cream inside and covered in chocolate topping. I visited this wonderful shop from 1946 to 1952. Snowflake is still my standard for all other bakeries in the world.

Schools
The interior of PS 20 main features was its wire mash enclosed scissors fire stairs with exits at every floor and landings with windows that were likewise meshed.
The rooftop was totally enclosed by a gigantic wire mesh cage where we played basketball, etc. the building was located on a hill with exits at the top middle and bottom to where there was the huge schoolyard. After playing in the yard we would enter the indoor play area where we’d play and then when the bell rang we’d enter the stair and go up to our floor. The building was simply designed with only one very wide corridor with a very high ceiling with the classrooms on each site. The rooms were huge with gigantic windows with radiators below. The toilets were located on each floor. There was one wet of toilets on the ground floor play area used for a dining room at lunch. I did not use these facilities as I walked home for lunch. I then brought sandwiches and ate in the building. One day they announced the toilets were being retrofitted installing children sized fixtures. I then realized that this building must have had some other purpose before becoming a school.
All the desks were wood with a writing table connected to the seat with black wrought iron. The lights came from large globes and the rooms were either too cold in the winter or too hat in the summer. Classes were often cancelled because of weather conditions.
I begin in the second grade with Mrs. Entwissel June 1949(The Texaco Star Theater, starring Milton Berle started in 1948) . I was transferred from PS 48 to PS 20 when we moved from Faile to Simpson Street when I was nine in 1946. That was a year after the war ended and my father came home from the service. My age and the year remains clear in my mind because it was that first Halloween that there was the terrible inter block gang-war that took place on my street with me in the middle. The building was old with high ceilings and gigantic windows. It was located on a slight hill so that the side entrance on Simpson was a floor above the lower entrance from the yard facing 168 St. The interior stair was a double scissors and caged and the halls were wide and lit by incandescent down lights. My homeroom teachers were Ms. Kelly, Entwistle, and a special education teacher, Ms Lessor. Ms Gross was our Principal with whom my mother and I spent a lot of time. I remember my mother once coming to visit her and raising her voice insisting she pay proper attention to me and help me to get the right education.
I had many Puerto Rican children in my class who bullied me and the others. I could not read and there was one boy who listened to the lesson given and still could not understand. Well, in her wisdom, our teacher sent me home with him to teach him how to read because she noted that I seemed to understand her lesson. That evening I went to his house and taught him how to read. He noted the system I taught him and we did it together. I could read! It was a miracle from God. God taught us both to read at the same time. When we went to school the next day the teacher was so impressed!
The most interesting classes were Nature, Music Appreciation and Geography. Nature because of the room and the variety of exhibits, and, Music appreciation because of the sayings and way the class was taught. We assembled in the auditorium and Ms Taylor would play records on a machine sitting in the front of the room. The records were scratchy but the themes and sound was clear. She would give us words to help us remember many of the songs. Some times she would ask us to recite the words. One time she ordered me out of the room because I said something out of turn: I was very embarrassed. One of the sayings was “this is March Slave, it was written by Tchaikovsky, marching, marching through the native jungle”: I learned a lot in this class.
Because I was so nervous they put me in a special education class for a while. My mother went "ballistic". The teacher of this class was very abusive and unpleasant. We had to take naps and drink milk every day; I hated the warm milk and its smell.
For civics class I made a scrapbook of newspaper clippings which included Israel, Eisenhower and the war. I brought my brother to his class from 1948 and one Saturday morning we went to school to find an empty schoolyard and building. First we thought we had awoke and gone too early.
There were ring and yard games and songs, games and the usual bully and clans. The worst part was the walks to and from school when we were often accosted by clicks of gangs to harass, fight and take our little money. The only teacher’s names I recall are Ms. Kelly, Entwistle, Altshuller, Lessor and Margolis. Near the Simpson market I got to know a girl who had TB, I would visit and walk with her.
In 1949 we purchased aTV and Russia announced it had the “A” Bomb: I began attending PS 75 as a Junior High School and graduated in 1951 (three years) on 984 Faile Street: Bronx, New York 10459 with fellow students: Donald Block; Elliot Cohen; Theodore Finkelstein; Peter Velasquez; Marvin Karawan; Melvin Kestlebaum; Stephen Lewitt; Anthony Luggio; Hector Maldonado; Kenneth Martin; Jules Pollack; Gerald Rosenthal; Peter Schimko; Frank Seabee; Benjamin Silverstein; Arnold Kasserbaum; Sheldon Weinstein; Howard Wesz; Ellis Bloch; Gerald Chinsky; Milton Forman; David Maguilles; Samuel Villanueva; Richard Salvaggio; Robert Schwartz; Bernard Goldstein; Stanley Moskowitz; Michael Mund; Harvey Barash; Alfonzo Marrero; Stuart Raskin. My teachers were Mr. Cohen, and Ms. Samson. P.S. 75 is what they now call a Middle School; something between so called public (k-6) and high school. There are experts who claim middle is not a good system. It was very good for me. Perhaps it is because PS 20 was so terrible. I entered PS 75 in 1949 at 12 and left in 1951 at 14. I remember not wanting to leave the school. During this time there were key events:

· Wood shop where I made tables, lamps, etc

  • Mr. Cohen’s homeroom class where he taught us values particularly not to discriminate and how to draw a circle with out a compass
· He appointed me stage manager and I played”: How High’s the Moon” (Les Paul and Mary Ford)
  • He appointed me head of the electric train exhibit and then withdrew me for this roll so that I would learn TO BE DISCIPLINED.
  • We had Arbor Day celebrations in the Yard and sand “the tree song”
  • I worked part time for ‘Debrose”
  • Stephen Lewitt and I went to the Brooklyn Museums to see Yehudi Menuin Play Children’s concerts
  • We talked a lot about sex and had no idea what we were talking about; we made it all up
  • The pretzel man
  • I walked through Kresge then Aldus Street to Faile every day
  • I performed puppet shows in Bryant Street Park across from the school. This was the same park my mother would take us where she could sit in the sun. We learned to ride a bicycle here and we played on the swings and monkey bars. I gave many puppet shows in the park house with park warden arranging to bring students. Filled with anomie I asked Mr. Cohen if he could arrange for me to stay one more year because I finally had adjusted to this school and him and would do well to stay one more year. He assured me that it was healthy for me to move on.

Sometime during this period and because I was having such difficulties at school a guidance counselor suggested my parents and I go to a child counselor. At the first visit the counselor determined that it was my parents, their behavior that was upsetting me, and causing problems and that they should visit regularly to work these things out. They refused.
The whole neighborhood had many different kinds of Europeans and many of them misunderstood each other. Some were from Poland, Russia, Germany, etc. and because of the different nationalities disagreed with each other. Others thought something about the other which was totally untrue, such as they thought they were more are “more” ethnic than others. For the most part refugees huddled together and were overly mistrusting and really recovering from their various traumatic experiences.
It was during this time I worked part time for the Washington Heights Grocery Store, shined shoes, delivered newspapers for the New York Post and was a camp counselor for one summer only in 1951 at Camp Cricklewood
PS 20 Students: (403 words) (No footnotes)
The following names and address were written by hand on the back of the PS 20 graduation picture taken in 1949. Keep in mind this the school that is on the same street as the 41 Precinct police station at 1086 Simpson Street that was later named “Fort Apache”. You will notice that some of the addresses on Simpson are but several numbers away from the station. We were all about 11 years of age. Many of us were PAL (Police Athletic League) members and played basketball in the station's rear yard and muster room. The policeman of this station patrolled our streets by foot and helped us cross the streets. We were not bussed, but walked each day to and from school.
My 22 classmates were:
1. Santos Santiago: 953 E. 165 Street
2. Barbara Bialorucks: 961 E. 167 Street
3. Benjamin Silverstein: 960 Simpson Street
4. Milton Forman: 980 Simpson Street
5. Steven Oster: 1152 Simpson Street
6. James Kemmerey: 1131 W. Farms Road
7. Kenneth Gottlieb: 1054 Fox Street
8. Angel Maldenado: 1054 Tiffany Street
9. Marilyn Lazar: 1155 Simpson Street
10. Anna M. Rollf: 1141.3 Tiffany St. /
11. Myrna Olmedo: 1045 Kelly Street
12. Raymond Martinez Jr.: 1015 Tiffany Street; apt 2E
13. Orlando Cornino: 942 E. 167 Street
14. Jacqueline Himmelstein: 1054 Simpson Street
15. Mary Bren: 989 Fox Street
16. Erika Wohlrab: 1072 Simpson Street
17. Donald Moriarity: 980 Tiffany Street
18. Ruth Melendez: 995 E. 167 Street
19. Judith Feuer: 1138 Vyse Ave
20. Rosalie Mitzman: 1564 Longfellow Street
21. Samuel Santiago: 953 E. 165 Street
22. Murray Romberg: 1041 Simpson Street
Gerry Chinsky’s name was not on the list but he was part of our group of special friends that walked to school together every day. Milty, Benny and Gerry with Barie. They passed my house and I was ready to walk with them every morning.
Stephen Lewitt and I were very good friends while I was a student at Jr. High School. He had a nervous disorder of picking his hair off his head but other than that he and I shared an interest in music and culture. So we’d go to concerts together. Most notably was our trip to the Brooklyn and Frick Museums to see Yehudi Menuin perform the special children’s concerts. He could not believe I liked him. We sure did need each other.
Peter Shimco: Very handsome and taught me how to make a "pom pom" of my hair. He was all style and very cool.
Other stars include: Valerie Harper, Mitzi Gaynor; Jan Murray who also graduated from PS 48; Dom DeLuise; Sid Caesar; Norm Crosby; Red Buttons and Connie Stevans.
For civics class I made a scrapbook of newspaper clippings which included Israel, Eisenhower and the war. Near the Simpson market I got to know a girl who had TB, I would visit and walk with her.
The Library
Was also located on Simpson Street near Longwood ave. It was here that I got books on Dumbo and would go hear a very nice librarian read stories. I did like this library a lot.

PS 75: Junior High School: Graduated 1951 (three years);
984 Faile Street: Bronx, New York 10459
Students:
Donald Block; Elliot Cohen; Theodore Finkelstein; Peter Velasquez; Marvin Karawan; Melvin Kestlebaum; Stephen Lewitt; Anthony Luggio; Hector Maldenado; Kenneth Martin; Jules Pollack; Gerald Rosenthal; Peter Schimko; Frank Seabee; Benjamin Silverstein; Arnold Kasserbaum; Sheldon Weinstein; Howard Wesz; Ellis Bloch; Gerald Chinsky; Milton Forman; David Maguilles; Samuel Villanueva; Richard Salvaggio; Robert Schwartz; Bernard Goldstein; Stanley Moskowitz; Michael Mund; Harvey Barash; Alfonzo Marrero; Stuart Raski

Bronx List of Works and Jobs:


Bronx Architecture: ( 510 words)

From the time I can remember I would always wake up before the sun rose and explore the house, or, get dressed, and, barefooted, go out side to explore the streets. Always, wanting to know “what”/””why” made buildings, the streets and the city what it was? I was less interested in where and more in what was it I was in. What surrounded and engulfed us. What was it? Where did it come from? Who made it? How was it made? And most importantly, why? Why were living in these rooms, building and streets? Why was one on top of the other and next to each other? Why were the cars parked on the street, in the gutter, and why were their sidewalks made of one material and the streets of another? Where did the alleys go and why were they built? The questions flowed and mounted as some were answered while others stored and mounted. So what was I doing when the bible says to do the opposite I was perusing the world. I was embroiling, romancing, delving and empathizing. I just loved it. God was on the back burner. I worshiped man and his creations. I believe it was all for His purpose and I did not even wonder about that at the time. I was only grieved that I wasn’t altogether plugged in, connected, and informed. I well realized that I was, as Yogi Gupta once described like a man underwater looking to the vessel as his world and not realizing he was under the water and that there was a world beyond the vassal.
I learned and professed to care and decorate the built environment. First I learned hanging drapes and the appreciation of people’s home from a business point of view. I learned to see things in a different way. I learned that with out risk and change there is really no life. To view people’s homes as my place of business. To have an objective eye about people’s ordinary and simple and repetitive needs and necessities. To see the elements of interior decoration as a business and part of an industry.
Going to school of interior decoration and learning all the simple facts about the history of interiors, decoration and layout further objectified this. I learned that I had a knack for decorating and design. That I not only could design but I could explain my design to others and the teachers gave me “A’s for my work in all my classes.Stardust meant exploration, stress, responsibility and exercising life for the metaphors of money and a place in society.
1 John 2:15
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him”
I was led to love the world, and, I thought I had put God on the back burner. I thought then that I could do both. I thought I could be somewhat godly and still pursue the emotions and creations of the world. Life started out under stress where I knew “work” was needed to live. It wasn’t just the money, it was the occupation.I wanted to employ my faculties. Something to define my time and develop identity. I recall my mother suggesting I talk to my father if I should start doing this or not. He said ok, so long as I kept up with my classes. The trouble was I had no interest in my classes. I started work early because I was led to believe I should to be a person. I did not feel like a person at home. When I worked I felt like a person. It was my way of realizing who I was and being able to present my presence.
I secretly knew that I was still the same old rotten good for nothing stupid kid at school; but, somehow that did not mean much in the work place. I thought that I will not be beholding to any man nor would I accept welfare. I would not be part of those who do not work. This thought was later developed as those who do not work but get fed by others are actually enslaved. As a child and young man my parents “God helps those who help themselves and not to be enslaved by receiving handouts form any taught me. Earn your keep and living. My mother and father paid me for cleaning the house and my father paid me both cash and the use of a car when I drove for his business. I liked the independence and self-reliance that earning my own living gave to me. I just liked to work!
I was addicted to employment of what ever skills others could discern and eck out of me while keeping my well guarded ineptness and proven class room and social failures private. The workplace and I became friends at a very early age. I learned to hide my soul and expose the personas most compatible to context.
I made work my business so that I could earn what I considered the most for each hour spent. Time is money and I learned to minimize the time spent so that I could use the time for my studies at school. Least hours and the most amount of money earned. It wasn’t until we left New York City and I began corporate and companies work that an overall paycheck started to come into focus. At some point I knew I did not want to be an Interior Decorator when I got an offer from a South Carolina decorator to pay me a very low salary and no relocation expense. I had responded to an ad in an Interior Decorator’s magazine and she called me. I was impressed with her call, but like the call I got from a radio station to be a disc jockey at a very low salary I too was discouraged and thought these are not good professions. I believed I could do better. More, I believed that there were better opportunities and demands for talent that I wasn’t reaching because I did not have the proper qualifications .
Someone once said we make a living by what we get, but we live by what we give. I’ve aspired to be a great architect because of what I could give because I love to give architecture. Some one once referred to this generosity and grace as “largeness of spirit”. I became my profession because of what filled me, because I was filled I could give.
From 1947 my earliest jobs between ages ten and seventeen:
¨ deliver newspapers and then the second to My first job was between ages ten and twelve
¨ Deliver groceries in Washington heights.
¨ shine shoes on Southern Boulevard, third job at 12 plus
¨ gofer sweep floors, clean windows, delivery and pick-ups, Forth job at twelve was at Michael Handler (Debrose)
¨ camp counselor in Cricklewood at age 14, Fifth job
¨ driving for Dad , Sixth at sixteen was and the
¨ hanging drapes, Seventh at 17 was for Classic
These were all jobs to take up time and divert me from coping with my inability to study, learn, read, and become the educated person that God intended. What ever talents I exhibited in puppet making, stage building, electronics, construction, design, singing, music, radio announcing were totally missed by the adults around me. While my cousins, friends and the rest of the people my age were learning math, science and humanities I was working at odd jobs.
I always thought of becoming a singer performer, starting a business etc. but believed that I would preempt God and endanger my ability to listen and the flexibility to go where He would lead. In essence we did not have children for the same reason, god did not call us to do that and if we did we were sure we would not be able to go where he leads. One architect once chastised me for being both a ministers of the gospel and Architect saying I should make up my mind, as he can’t deal with both of me. His business recently failed and he has left town.

I applied for civil service works in the same building I applied and received my FCC forth class broadcaster’s license in about 1955. At my interview I was told that I could apply for the civil service test and after several times I’d probably pass. But, m that did not determine if I’d gets hired. I was told, candidly, that of the many who pass the test few actually get any job assignments the selections are apportioned to people who have inside and special connections, political (Democratic party), Religious (Irish Catholic, etc.) or other very personal connections I had none of that! I simply dropped it. People who obtain their jobs through personal contacts made more on average than those who obtained their jobs through application process did. On the demand side, there are few jobs for which large numbers of people are not qualified
· Classic Interiors: Full Time 1955(18): I hung and measured for drapes. I put on slipcovers. I delivered to Barash on Bathgate Ave, discovered the market, and saw the Grand Union with no windows being built. Between 1955 and 1956 Long Island was booming with construction; the roads were muddy and I’d work till late cramming in as many stops to these new homes. The work was so easy compared to the tenements and”Project” buildings. I also carried a truck load of wood and boards from a closing business in New Jersey across the Kosciusko Bridge where under its own weight it toppled and strewn over the highway. Stanley would not listen to anyone's advise to use a bigger truck or make two trips. So the police and highway authorities had to rescue the load. Stanley came out there and reluctantly admitted to his error and collected the stuff and we brought it to the Bronx on a much bigger rear end carrier.

·

At Debrose I was taught to gift wrap by Mrs. Rose Silverman including building the boxes, tearing off the right amount of gift paper, folding and wrapping the paper, inserting the tissue and protecting the gift and closing the box and tying it with a ribbon and even trimming and curling the ribbon for decorative effects. For a long time she would not let me do the twirling. I learned to clean and inventory the bolts of fabrics, cut the plywood, pack the kapok, staple to fabric to make the cornices. I would then go with Mr. Silverman to carry the cornices and valance boards to apartments to hang them. In the store I would help Mr. Silverman display the gifts he and Mrs. S would buy at the gift shows. We even carried my Aunt Rose’s lampshades and lamps. I learned to wash the windows, clean the toilets, wash the floors and make pick up and deliveries to the jobbers, workshops and customers in the heat of summer, rain, snow and ice. Often I’d walk ten blocks or more to these places down Southern Boulevard to one and up Southern Boulevard to another. There was my bus trips to Bright Star on Webster Ave and later to Classic at west 165 st. near third Ave. Occasionally I had to go with the subway to suppliers for a special order to lower Manhattan. It was then taht I got to know the likes of Strohiem and Roman and Schumacher
My tenure at the Maple Furniture Store was short and sweet because I was so fatigued standing on my feet and suffocated because there was no air in the place. Further, I could not remember all the prices and combinations of suites, options and alternates. The owners were so nice to me and we parted very friendly.
Selling mattress was a part time night job I took at Pratt to earn money for basically being a caretaker. The few customers who came in simply looked and I was able to sell them mattress by showing them the prices on models, which were self explanatory and known commodities. I used the saying taught to my by Rose Silverman “Buyer beware”(caviate emptor). She called it the American Guarantee! I mean to say before you by make sure it s what you want. There are no guarantees beyond that. The customer’s gave me a deposit and I’d give them a receipt. I ‘d lick it in a safe place and the store owner was very pleased with my work and sales. It was a shop in downtown Brooklyn so I got to see that area and it was fairly easy to get to and from on a bus and sometime the train.
Hanger: My teachers were Mr. Allen Silverman, Harry, Joe Shenker, Stanley Summers and Herman Schuman. Loading the car and routing the day’s trips is critical, especially in snow and rain. Having the right tools and equipment ready for drilling into concrete, puncturing ceiling with no supports, and pinning down the pleats were critical to getting in and out of the house quickly. Stanley and Herman taught me to keep my mouth shut and not answer any complaints so that I can make time. Also, under no circumstances ever leave the house with out the money, therefore making sure as I entered to give the customer the bill and discuss the balance due immediately. On Christmas they gave me $100 bonus in cash. Herman always told me he liked me and wanted me to be happy.
I also measured and was ready to take an order for additional work if that were requested. Oh yes, and to get a deposit. I would do about seven installations in a day and when I did this as a contractor at $1/foot for 12 feet per visit, I could earn about $100/day which when going to school was the way to go. I earned a lot working for stores in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. I also learned to avoid requests to hang in the projects, etc. where I would face concrete. It was awful to drill overhead, hitting pebbles or steel. I had a great toolbox with all kinds of bits and pieces to improvise.
Harry was a skinny short guy who was experienced and methodical. His intelligence was well beyond any thing I could hope to accomplish. He could install, make cornices and cut slipcovers. He was a wonder man. He taught me some lessons, which I could share with you; for example, before you go up the ladder apprise, plan and equip yourself for every thing that will happen once you are up in the air. Avoid coming down until the task for which you ascended is accomplished. This meant having a very good apron in which to store things and a very well filled and organized toolbox. It also meant having routines and repeat tasks and accompanied tools and supplies for each task. Harry was so calm, cool and collected; eventually, he’d let me go up on the ladder and do tasks while he’d cut the slip covers so we’d be in and out of the customers house in a minimum of time. Oh yes, he taught me to exude a nice demeanor and other wise keep my mouth shut. Less is more. I was able to apply the lessons Harry taught me for the rest of my life.
Debrose Decorators (Handler): Part Time 1947(14): Al (Allen) and Rose Silverman: I started out dusting, cleaning; gift wrapping and making carting bolts of fabric to and from workshops and fabric suppliers such as Bright Star on Webster Ave; and shops on Southern Boulevard (about 7 long blocks away) In winter and summer. Also, to classic Interiors on 180 street. For these longer trips I took bus. Later I learned how to sell and assist Harry and Mr. Silverman make cornices and hang drapes, cornices and valences. I also put on slipcovers.
After I turned 16 Mr. Silverman happily let me use his car. One day traveling on the Long Island expressway at a reasonable speed in the far left lane the car in front of quickly turned into the center lane while my eyes were trying to read the writing on a car just to my right in the center lane. When suddenly there was revealed a stalled and completely stopped vehicle. The instant I saw it I applied the brakes but I collided and demolished the entire front of Mr. Silverman’s car and the entire rear of the car in front of me. I lower the window on my side and reached for the door handle. Some one came to me and told me to turn off the ignition. I got out of the car and walked as far as I could and then went and layed on the grass. Someone came and comforted me and consoled me. They told me the car was demolished. I was taken to the Minneola hospital and stitched up. I was badly cut on my chin and bleeding.
I don’t recall how I got home after I was released from the hospital. But Mr. Silverman was not a happy person but was insured and very kind. I got a lawyer and he coached me for months and we went to trial .We got a good cash settlement with which I bought a television, a Chrysler (Carrier) air temp casement-type air conditioner and nice patterned curtains for our room. I even designed the and had made the wrought iron brackets for the wooden round dowel curtain rod. The lawyer taught me many lines one of which was “refresh my recollection”. It was at this time that my cousin Harriet’s girlfriend, Carol, would visit.
Fifties:
The Fifties brought oil, highways and the atomic bomb permeated the press while my parents, family and friends enjoyed the blossoming of the US economy, affluence, and access to resources. Television, air transport and challenges to pre war family and social values rocked every institution and family. It seemed as I was growing and maturing so were my neighborhoods, city and country. I could see great big swaths of neighborhoods and building being torn down and replaced by “projects” and race and sexual issues menacing and bringing stress to society. I began to smoke cigarettes and date girls; learned to dance to cha cha and by the end of the decade was teaching dancing in a mountain resort area. My interest in the radio and records matured to being a radio disc jockey and I was able to found the radio station at Pratt. More importantly, I took elocution lessons with Joseph Targett who lived near Columbia University and took classes in speech and voice at Columbia. Interior decorating and radio broadcasting seemed my most likely careers. I was soon to find out that my talent alone would not be the only basis for career. Vincent Impellitori was mayor in 1950 followed by 12 years of Bob Wagner in 1953.
This was the age when women were perceived and defined in American culture through the eyes of men. There were little choices open to anyone since conformity, societal righteousness, repression of individually and personal opinion and preference was shunned. Women were encouraged to don corsets, crinolines and every thing was designed to control and bring women back from the workplace and into the home. It was during this period that my mother got her job at the S&W sweet shop on the Grand Concourse. She simply went against the trend. These protocols, except for dress code were not for my Mom. It was in this decade that Arlene and I met as she attended an all girls’ school. She and I went steady for about three years and after we graduated and were over eighteen she demanded that we marry or break up. She had a plan for immediate marriage before college and then having six children so that by the time we were forty we’d have grand children, etc. She had been made victim of repression and a formula society of the post world war. In 1956 the average age of marrying girls was 21 compared to 2004 where it is twenty-eight. I got married to Christina when I was twenty-eight. Arlene and the time of the fifties was being controlled and programmed. I choose not to follow this program!
The fifties was also a period when men, not women led the dance. Later I noticed that Barbara Allen would lead me and show me the new dance. I later noticed in the Philippines that the women also lead the men in dancing.
Post world war America was a place where marriage was inevitable as the Eastern Hemisphere today where to not be married, and, if married to not have children is peculiar and unrighteous. It was a time when twenty-year-old persons wanted to be forty in attitude, dress and circumstance. Compare this to the twenty first century where forty year olds want to be twenty in fashion, attitude, speech and recreation. In the fifties every one wanted to be right and righteous; be part of the "in- crowd" . Even the wealthy who were inherently uncultured, inexperienced and provincial bought and paid for credentials, decrees, certificates and status of culture and trophies of rightness to display before society. These monuments and symbols were the country clubs, houses in the suburbs, tennis clubs, and University clubs, sororities, fraternities and even church membership. The TV shows: "the Price is right” derived itself from this norm amongst society. Every body had a price and every life-style could be bought. Can you guess the price? Consumerism and commercial modes became the ideals of a new post world war society converting its' factories back to peace time and inventing products to mass produce and distribute to reliable markets. First dogmatically and later globally. To do this conformity of consumption and acceptance needed to be insured by education and propaganda. Ad agencies proliferated pollsters and testing consumers began. People became statistics and conversed about who they were in those poles. This corporate conspiracy demanded that every one seeks and find what he or she was not doing and get with and do. So the fashion, auto, cloths and home designers stepped up the pace by designing everything for short terms so that every one could go out and buy the latest and newest. The media, arts, business and politics all felling lock step leaving anyone who choose non-conformity to be labeled: ”beatniks”; adolescents; drop out, etc. I was one of those who defied labeling but never-the-less was on the outside of rightness. I lived in the anomie of loosing my identify in the face of being shunned by family and friends in this period simply for making non-conforming choices. While there many people, music and places I loved during this time the post-war conformity and silent effort to subvert individuality was not amongst them. Later I was to write an article called "Schools and Metaphors" where I reminded my readers how that schools presumed students to be fish of like-minds and behaviors. When in fact education should do the opposite to "bring out" the individual's inherent God-given imagination, intelligence and abilities to think and create sovereign thought. I did not well in school for that reason. It was only in college, and at that private college where I excelled and develop as a scholar and creative person. I resisted repression and denied those that would oppress me, my family or friends our day in court. I rebuked, ignored and deserted them. I hated school because it imprisoned me and I believed that a real prison could be no worse. This was neither education nor the life I desired. It was clear. My cousin, classmates, loved ones and friends matured to think differently so we all parted and in came the sixties.
In 1950 we continued to attend Shore Haven while Vincent Impellitori was mayor. The Korean War started and I dated Evelyn Stutman. Her sister was much older and a member of the Billy Eckstine fan club. Evelyn was one of my first girl friends. She was not attractive but was very friendly. She invited me to her house and I would have dinner and sometimes volunteer to wash the dishes. Her sister showed me how to wash and dry. Wash using a little soap and both silver ware and other dishes and glasses below; and dry several at same time. Her sister taught Evelyn and I how to dance together and, herself quite wonderful. Finally, her family determined that Evelyn and I were not meant to be, at the moment, we were, “too young”. This came right after she and I started kissing and stuff. As I recall be were both under 14 years old.

Gloria of Shore Haven was beautiful girl I knew for at least two summers. One when I was short and the other when I shot up and got tall. She was older than I was but we were in the same dance class. I was the best student and learned all the steps. She loved to dance with me because I could lead and make her look good. In the daytime we danced in our bathing suits and in the evening our casual cloths. I never saw or socialized with her except in classes or on the dance floor. She was a very tall girl about six feet and she had very long legs, a very shapely body and curvaceous bosoms. All topped of with long auburn hair and beautiful face. She really liked me but I was too young and she needed to date boys older. The next summer stymied her. I was taller than she was and now when we dance the "cha cha" , mambo, and waltz people starred, stopped dancing and watched as we did our steps. I did make her look by leading her out to do her steps and swirl and strut. Finally I met Joyce and things changed. We kept dancing; now with so many other girls who also wanted me to teach them. It was indeed a wonderful way to mature.

Later I met Joyce Gelbart who lived at Walton Ave. Bronx, in the early fifties when I was fourteen at Shore haven. She was several years older and full of blossoming hormones which she gladly shared. I traveled to the opposite side of the Bronx to sit on a park bench with her and smooch. I gave her my Dad’s gold ruby ring, which she would not surrender when Harvey told her that I was years younger than she did. It was a dramatic street scene with her doing all the yelling and challenging me to yell back. I did not; I left her with her new friend and learned something. I gave her my father’s ruby red and gold ring. It was a beauty and I cherished it. When we parted she did not return it. I confessed this to my father who listened but said that once he gave it to me it was mine to do with it what I liked. Dad did forgive me. I felt I had surrendered and lost my inheritance. In fact I never got any thing from my father when he died.
Looking Outward
My conversation with my mother as to start any work was mixed with her joy, encouragement and some relief saying that I could go on this path to become independent and also help me to develop. I don’t think she said mature, learn or grow up. She definitely thought it was a good idea because all else was failing and she realized I had a lot of spunk and needed to use my energy and that was not going to be academic. It was the truth of what she observed about me.
Childhood Jobs:
Shoe Shine:
So my first way to work was to shine shoes. It was Irwin and John by black friend who encouraged and showed me how to set up and work. I shared there spot on Southern Boulevard just across the street from Michael Handler decorators. I was only in this business for two weeks when I somehow I got the idea to go to the stores on the Boulevard and ask for a job. Mr. Silverman offered me a job and ended my shoe shinning career. My box then became a fixture in our house, which we used to clean all our shoes. Of course my dad helped too because his father had been a professional shoe shine man.

Newspaper boy: I delivered papers for the New York Post. To the worst smelly and dirty houses and apartments on different routes. Until I was robbed by a older boy at knife point. It was collection day and he got all my money. My father went with me to the dispatch of the N.Y.Post and told him what happened. They said I still owed them the money and would not help. My father encouraged me to stop the job.

Grocery Delivery Boy: Uncle Frank and Aunt Helen got me this job in there neighborhood in Washington Heights.
Driver: My Dad taught me to drive. He also taught me how to be a chauffeur, behave well with passengers, and be concerned about stopping gently, accelerating calmly, and not jerking a car full of passengers. Loading the car with suitcases and trunks was also an art and he taught me to load big pieces first, etc. Also, how to drive both aggressively to cope with and insert yourself in traffic and defensively to avoid accidents, etc. Somehow I learned at an early age that driving, like flying and many other tasks that were ahead of me, was a matter of mile/flown; miles/driven; lines drawn; dots/ made; words/spelled: the more of any thing you did the better you got at the thing you were doing. I can remember driving passengers, who would remark how calm and controlled I was when the tire would go flat due to a blow out; or how well I handled argumentative passengers, etc. As time went on I improved. Being a drive taught me good work ethics and disciple with people under stress. I was the captain of the ship. Loading the trunk and the racks was also a science, which my father taught me. Load the biggest first and then the medium and then the small. Use the roof top rack for emergency loads only and load according to the way you will drop off passengers so as to minimize the handling of the luggage. This will preserve your strength, which you will need for the needed work.
Store Keeper and Sales

At Debrose I learned to gift wrap by Mrs. Rose Silverman including building the boxes, tearing off the right amount of gift paper, folding and wrapping the paper, inserting the tissue and protecting the gift and closing the boss and tying with a ribbon and even trimming and curling the ribbon for decorative effects. For a long time she would not let do the twirling but finally she let me. I learned to clean and inventory the bolts of fabrics, cut the plywood, pack the kapok, staple to fabric to make the cornices. I would then go with Mr. Silverman to carry the cornices and valance boards to apartments to hang them. I n the store I would help Mr. Silverman display the gifts he and Mrs. S. would buy at the gift shows. We even carried my Aunt Rose’s lampshades and lamps. I learned to wash the windows, clean the toilets, wash the floors and make pick up and deliveries to the jobbers. Workshops and customers in heat of summer, rain, snow and ice. Often I’d walk ten blocks or more to these places down Southern Boulevard to one and up Southern Boulevard. There were my bus trips to Bright Star on Webster Ave and later to classic at west 165 st. near third Ave. Occasionally I had to go with the subway to suppliers for a special order to lower Manhattan.





Dancing
Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world" - Voltaire
To sing well and to dance is to be well educated" -- Plato
"Any problem in the world can be solved by dancing." -- James Brown "A child sings before it speaks, dances almost before it walks, music is with us from the beginning." - Pamela Brown
"Dancing is poetry of the foot." -- John Drydan
"Dancing is an art that imprints the soul. It is with you every moment; it expresses itself in everything you do." -- Shirley Maclaine
I learned early that dancing was a serious social activity which brought you in contact with the opposite sex. I later saw it as adult play and a souse of thrills and expression of identity.
My first dance teacher was my mother who taught me the box step, so, how bad could things have been? This first lesson was in preparation for a dance at school where my partner was Rosalie.
Then we had a birthday party for me at our apartment. I invited Rosalie and her girlfriends for my friends including Milty and Benny where we played records and danced.
Later we joined Shore Haven and I signed up for all the dance classes and after a short while was dancing with the prettiest and most attractive girls; and, I have many photographs to prove all this. For example Gloria. Wow! She was very tall with very large breast and long auburn hair. She loved to dance with me because she said I was a strong leader and knew all the steps. The truth is I knew how to make the girls look good and she liked showing off. We always danced in our bathing suits in the daytime and at night in our casuals.
The dances we danced were the cha cha; mambo; fox trot; waltz; Lindy; and polka. My mother came to the dances and I loved to dance with her. After a while I was so good I started giving lessons and training the girls to follow me so that we could all dance together in a line up.
This went on for several years until I then went other places to dance such as Roseland in Manhattan. There I’d meet girls from Brooklyn, queens, etc. It was exciting to dance to a big band on a wooden dance floor. I was good and had no trouble impressing any girl. Other place I went to dance was the YWHA on West End Avenue.
Dancing played a big part of my life. It was where I could meet girls and I really enjoyed dancing. I met Arlene at a dance on the Grand Concourse.When I was at Pratt living by myself I‘d have the class over to my apartment and play Diana Washington records and show the girls how to really "slow dance" . I learned to watch other couples dancing and I pretended sometimes to be dancing with them and especially the female partner. I also learned their steps and movements. I communicated with my body as I watched them communicate with their body. I could identify with others because we were all doing the same thing. We were a society moving our bodies in similar ways to the same music. It was right and we were righteous and in agreement about some thing very primitive and physical: our bodies and their sexuality. We could also measure, inspect and look at each other in ways normally prohibited and inappropriate: on the dance floor it was appropriate to stare at a female etc.
The social niceties of dancing are what really made dancing so lovely. The flirting, the glances, the invitations and studying the right and wrong ways to invite and meet a nice person. Tom once told me that when he goes to dance, girls will “know” better than he whether saying yes or no thank you is appropriate. He believed women have better judgment about such things, as they are not looking at the physical and sensual but for compatibility and long lasting relationship that may lead to marriage.
Mid nineteenth century practices developed dance and etiquette manuals and people paid close attention to ceremonial details of the ballroom. In my time as well there was such thing as appropriate conversation while dancing. It was as being in an elevator where you did not really have a conversation and what ever you spoke was polite and kind. Of course, you had to wear the appropriate dance cloths and latest fashions. Men and women had different styles for each period that would identify us as tour station, taste and acceptability. It was at the height of the controlled and managed or the independent and individual. Either was actually acceptable depending on whether the dance was at a Temple, YWCA, School, country club, hotel, or a home. Sexes presented themselves and dances were places to be both seen and to see. Dances were always socially educational and homogeneous. They really provided a context for mating and exercising compatibility. Form the time I fist started dancing certain dances exemplified the period and the portrayed the attitude of the time and the attitude explained by the music. The waltz was poised and dizzying, the fox trot intimate and slow; the cha cha, stylish and exotic, the Lindy fresh and vulgar, rumba very sexy and exotic, etc.
I flew, soared and imagined on the dance floor. I was able to control and mange my self and because I was graceful and a good leader I could be the center of attention with my partner On the floor and certainly other females would then want to dance with me and they did. I learned all the steps and could teach them. I was both graceful and very charming.
Ballroom dancing it self could be done formally and with professionalism or personal and artistically.
The remnants of the party game atmosphere social dancing continued into my younger years when dancing had a playfulness and “play” quality. Even the games and gestures of the early games still lived on in the schoolyards and square dances. When Zorba the Greek movie appeared Greek dances became popular and I was called upon by my friends to show them how to dance Greek style.
I just did the steps my Grandmother taught me. The best Greek dancing I ever saw was a party in Dhahran in 1998 invited by Eletharios. The Greek god’s are dancing and every body pretends he or she is the manifestation of a Greek god.
Oh yes, I danced in Europe. Most memorably in the underground castle on the Adriatic in Dubrovnik. Then we took off our cloths and dove into the water.
I learned and danced the square dance to Piute Pete in Shore Haven. I loved it. I bought his records and learned his calls. Twenty years later I learned later that the Whitney family hired him often for their parties.
One summer I go a job as a Maitre’d and the owner requested I socialize with all the single ladies. So I started a dance class. They loved it and I taught them well. They all wanted to dance with me during the dances and I did.
Some even wanted more than dancing but I was a gentleman and kept our relationship to the dance floor. I did this in so many cases. As much as I really enjoyed the idea of recreational sex I have never found my self-taking advantage of my position.
Aside from Christina going to dances with her girl friends in Kitzbuhel and Fort Myers while I was in Saudi we went to discos in Vermont, the Hamptons, Yale, and Manhattan,
We danced in Ras Tanura, Dammam, and Riyadh. We danced at Roseland and in Houston at the Genesis, which is now an adult strip club. We danced in College Station with our German group at each other’s homes. And in our home with my students.
In order to develop my steps I watched the other couples and often while I was dancing I’d watch the girls and follow their steps. They were often much easier to learn from than the boys.
Of course there was the anti dance attitude of the religious people whom I knew little of as a child. It was only after I was baptized did I meet and know the attitudes of those who thought dance distracted and jeered God and His holiness. This attitude I found was an extension of fervent piety and a heart overflowing with gratitude which thought to only express love toward God by bodily movements to music gracefully and with reverence. I have somewhat adopted many of there attitudes and now dance with restraint. Social dancing was thought to be inconsistent with a Christian profession. Dance ethnology teaches us that dance is the art of human motion and I do not believe that God finds such dancing and expressions of kindness and gentility between people evil and distracting. “It depends” is a famous bit of advise I can offer .As a single male I was only at dances for one thing, when I now go to a dance it is only to celebrate the love I have for my wife and our relationship to the context in which we find ourselves.
As a young man I danced often and with many different females. I often dreamt of flying and attributed these dreams to the way I felt when I danced. I especially liked to dance on well-shined parquet floors where I could feel the souls of my shoes glide over the surfaces with ease. I could dance gently and with grace and I could imagine myself flying to music and when I dreamt at night I could see my self flying with the same feeling I had when I danced. I could not fly but I could dance. I could dance and imagine I was flying. Roller-skating to dance music was good but not as good as dancing on a parquet floor.
While I danced I’d sing the words of the songs to my partner and myself feeling the musical poem and the expressing the song with dance. Dance of the motions of the body to steps which I learned and saw others doing. I could copy them and try to do it as well.
2351 Holland Ave:
Is a two stories attached two family house where we lived on the ground floor of a two bedroom, one bath apartment with one car garage? It had a basement where my mother had her cloths washing machine and storage for our child hood stuff. I was one of a series of row houses.
It was here that I had to let our cat stinky lose as a condition for moving and where I’d be able to walk to my high school. Our next-door neighbors were the Siegal's. Mr. and Mrs. and Gerry Siegal lived up stairs and their daughter and two children downstairs. We got to know them very well. Even after my mother moved out and later down the street she would visit them nightly. Gerry had lost his arm to a passing truck while driving an automobile when he was very young. I remember the day it happened when his friend Nathan bought him home with a tourniquet and they went to the hospital.
I would walk to CCHS on Colden Ave past two stories red brick single, family attached, and two family attached residences. Most of them had an upper sun porch/terrace and garage below. They were versions of townhouses I was yet to visit in Amsterdam and London. People I would yet to meet in Dhahran and ARAMCO, especially Frank Bozzo who I met ten years later in (1958) I n1963 in Paris. Nearby was Boston Post Road. It passed near our back yard and nightly I could hear the trucks breaking, idling and starting. When we first moved in Dad, Saul and I played miniature golf on the corner of Boston Post Road and Colden near White Plains Road elevated structure.
The character of the interior of this two bedroom one bath with garage, on the ground floor apartment included wall to wall broadloom, cut pile chartreuse carpet, slip covers on all the living room seating, blond mahogany, Dupont, floor model Television and gigantic Lafayette (manufacture) speaker (with its own network and control); floor lamp with blond mahogany round table and plastic chartreuse lamp shade, two Ceramic, chartreuse colored ceramic lamps sitting on blond mahogany Formica end tables (with black cone shaped legs), sitting on top of the TV was a TV lamp giving indirect light to the chartreuse ceiling, and sitting on the tables were the ceramics I had made(one of justice, a candy dish and wolf jumping over a rock and a smiling face mask (humor)
Pelham parkway was a neighborhood which was really very nice. Within a few miles of our house accessible by bus to where the parkway met the Merritt parkway was a horse back riding business where you could rent horse and saddle for as many hours as you could afford and on occasion with Milton, Saul, Dad and a girl named Vikki I went horse back riding. I wasn’t very good or very elegant but it was definitely something different.
Pelham had big grass fields and farms and when it snowed we could pull our sled and belly whap on the snow. I recall standing in such a field with one of my High School chums saying that he could not see me any more because his parents forbid him to be friends with someone from a broken home. His name was Stuart Block. The scene was as beautiful a s a Christmas card with a big white field and a New England farmhouse in the background with we two holding our sleighs and him telling me this painful news. It was a very emotional moment. He was very kind and we parted.
On the forth of July holidays young boys would set off firecrackers on the streets and in grass fields of the parkway. Someone would throw it at you as you walked to see you jump and be startled. I always considered such games barbaric and inane. Yet these playful antics defined the parkway and the streets of this neighborhood as did the gangs and antics of boys throwing casts and dogs off of roof on Simpson Street.

In 1953 we viewed the McCarthy hearings and watched as Eisenhower was elected President and later signed Korean War Truce. I Met Arlene at a dance at community center on the Concourse: (4 Years from 1953 to 1956) and I was Cricklewood Camp Counselor. It was the time when the political party campaign first appeared on TV.
Just before beginning to go steady with Arlene I dated Eileen Spector who resided with her parents and brother in a big apartment building on Bronx Park south just several blocks from our home on Holland Ave. Many evenings I’d walk over to her apartment and we’d watch television together in a very dimly lit room with her parents or brother in other rooms of the apartment. She had a great figure and was it not for the many pimples on her face she was a very pretty girl. She had a huge inferiority complex of very low esteem and hesitated to go out with me. One time she consented and we visited S&W Sweet Shoppe where my mother worked. She remarked how only old men liked her when the janitor said something nice to her as we sat at the table. Finally her family announced and took me to Queens where they were moving so I could see their new neighborhood. Like Arlene after her, Mr. Spector offered me lots of help if I‘d continue to see his daughter. But somehow when she moved our relationship ended.
Arlene Goldberg was my steady girlfriend from 1953 to 1956. She was the love of my life: at least at that time. I met her at a community dance on the Concourse. She attended Walton (or Evander Childs) High School for girls only, which partially explains her saying yes to my first request to dance. I was so surprised. And it was yes ever after. I believe I had just turned 16 and it was 1953. The song “Earth Angel” was just released for the first time and she was my Earth Angel in person. Long black hair, big brown eyes and a beautiful figure. She was not very tall. Maybe 5’ 3”. We saw each other every day there after until in about 1956/57 (I believe it was 1956, a year after I graduated and was 18.5 years of age) she announced to me that we could not see each other unless I would commit to marry her, and begin to have six children in the immediate future. Arlene cared for my body and soul and our urban mind. We did and enjoyed all the urban things. She was a thrilling companion.
After due deliberation and the trip to Miami with my Aunt Rose that I declined and we broke apart. It was a tear filled and emotional ending to one of the most joyful, happy and agreeable relations of my life. This was a person whose wit did her beauty only match and whose compassion good sense and fidelity balanced. Though we never had sex we certainly had very steamy affectionate times. And, we enjoyed hours of conversation and discovery. She lived on the Grand Concourse at 183 street just south of Moshulu Parkway. I could get to her by car in about eight minutes through a shortcut through the Moshulu Botanical Park. We’d talk for an hour on the phone (every day she had a joke to tell me) and then I’d drive to her when it was dark after my father came home with the car. My mother worked at night at her friend Mabel’s ice cream parlor (S&W Sweet Shoppe”) just across from the Paradise movie theatre, so we’d walk there every night, past Poe park, where we’d some time sit on a bench a smooch; or we’d go to the Paradise movie to see an Elvis movie which we totally disregarded.
Since I was working I had money for all this.
Life was good! Arlene was the perfect first love!
Loosing her broke my heart.
The deal would have been that I marry her, move with them to Spring Valley where her father, then the proprietor and owner of liquor store, would make me a key executive in his liquor distribution business. He would buy and furnish our house and provide us with what ever we would need. Her two brothers were much younger and they would eventually come on board as well. Since Arlene and I were the same age, her idea was that by 1977 when we were about forty we would start having our first grandchildren and by 1983 or so the last batch would be begun so that by the time we were fifty or so between children and grandchildren we would have a huge brew.
I too thought this would be great, but I first needed to complete my education and this is where our timing was off. She could not wait for the four years it would take for me to get my degree. She wanted to begin this process now. Finally, when we parted she informed me that if I did not agree, she already had a young man lined up who she would begin seeing who was already prequalified for this wish of hers.
Leaving her was one of life’s great lessons and the beginning of the discipline that would characterizes most of my life: to surrender willingly something, someone, and someplace for a greater good.
Arlene’s Father in the liquor business. This was the material “ship” that came to rescue me but I did not get on the ship. My Aunt Rose had sufficiently convinced me that I needed to educate myself and be responsible for myself. It broke both our hearts to part and that opportunity, in that way, never again presented itself.
Someone said, “accomplishments without contribution is an insignificant life” Although I have accomplished many of the goals successfully they may not have contributed to the goals of the society.
Societies and my goals have occasionally coincided. I have listed below some thirty seven (37*); but all these accomplishments were predicated on Dad’s businesses’ titled:

1. Veteran’s Limousine Rental service

2. Asbury Car Service
3. Riverdale Taxi Service
4 United Nations Limousine transportation
5 Ethical Culture Schools transportation contract
6 Knoll’s Crescent Limousine shuttle service
7 Jerome Ave Housing development shuttle service
Dad began driving company owned vehicles for other rental service companies. Mostly on call taxi services where individuals would call by telephone at any hour of the day or night for a taxi to come to there home, shop or office to take them from one place to another. Usually he drove at least two ducting the day ant d the other late night. He was very productive. He was never shy to work and for several years learned the business, including the streets and routines of the business. The first car he bought was an Oldsmobile but it did not last very long. The next was the Chrysler Windsor Deluxe Limousine which he bought from the dealer on Jerome avenue where my Uncle David’s neighbor in Verdun Ave in New Rochelle was a silent partner.
I loved to go with my father to pick-up his new cars because of the smell and the special feeling of being the first. I remember the first one we got was one year old but they put the new car smell in just for me.
Dad obviously derived the name of his company from his status as a veteran. His accountant helped him file to copyright and license the name. He had cards printed and an ad placed in the yellow pages. As the years progressed the ad got bigger. I was so proud of my Dad, his business, his cards and the ad. The key to marketing was our telephone number, Dayton, 9- 3129. The telephone instrument sat next to their bed and he taught us how to answer including what to say and do, including taking useful messages. It was over this point that he and my mother had useless arguments and where eventually my father resorted to seeking outside help. I recall that eventually he had an auxiliary line into Lea apartment so she could answer the phone. Most that called wanted to rent his car with a driver for funerals and weddings. He got many referrals from tuxedo and bridal gown rental shops, churches, synagogues and funeral homes. He also made up signs and placed them in store windows everywhere including barbershops and even other auto taxi business that did not rent cars with drivers for weddings, funerals, etc. He also got a lot of business by being a subcontractor for other companies. It was this subcontract business which spawned his other business operations. He worked for Sam Sender, Dave Greenfield, Frank Fugate and others. He made trips to the Adirondack mountains , Asbury and the Jersey Shore, and occasional trips to other states.
However, driven by his business and his need for accurate and timely telephone and communications which sparked his connection to Lea and their close relationship. It blossomed and developed and soon their contract in Riverdale to the Fieldstone School led to his buying other cars. Before then when he needed additional cars and drivers he would subcontract these to other individuals. Drivers knew him as being a great boss, nice guy and good man in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. These drivers became regular fixtures in our living room and would pal around with my Dad and I. My mother would not complain and they came and went. She knew it was all business.
Soon the business in Riverdale, developed and the opportunity to get in on the opening of a huge and prestigious building in /Riverdale was offered. Dad and Lea grabbed it along with a two-bedroom apartment and a cabin at the entrance of the huge lower floor garage where they were given rented spaces. They set up their two-way radio and telephones in the cabin at the entrance to the garage. They started a new company shuttling residents to and from Manhattan every half-hour and on the hour in both directions from 6:00 Am to 6:00 PM. This along with the contract at Ethical culture helped them to buy more vehicles and employ drivers.
I used the shuttle service to go to Manhattan when I attended Columbia and New York School. When I worked in Manhattan for Designs for Business I’d see my father's cars and drivers on Fifth Avenue. where I worked. They were every where. My Dad himself would go to direct traffic in the morning and afternoon at Fieldstone. My Dad believed at being hands on, close up and personal with the parents and kids. He was incredible at fielding many complaints he’d receive regularly when cars were behind schedule, broke down or lost. He and Lea would have pat answers and be very kind to and sympathetic to each caller and do what they could to fill the gaps. They kept very good relations with thousands of Riverdale residents including Toscanini, Ted Brown and the redhead, Bruce Farcus and hundreds of CEO’s, there wives and children.
It may be of interest to know a little about the organization which occupy my Father’s life for over ten years;
The Ethical Culture Fieldstone School, was an independent coeducational college preparatory day school, enrolled 1608 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The school is situated on two sites: the Fieldstone campus encompassing pre-kindergarten through grade 6 (Fieldstone Lower division) and grades 7-12 (Fieldstone middle and upper divisions) located in the suburban Riverdale section of the Bronx, and the Ethical Culture campus (pre-kindergarten through grade 6) located in the Lincoln Center area of Manhattan adjacent to Central Park. The school is financially strong, with an endowment in excess of $47 million, has a significant program of need-based financial assistance, and excellent historic facilities on each campus.
Rooted in the progressive school movement articulated by Felix Adler and John Dewey, the Ethical Culture Fieldstone School continues to maintain a clear and relevant mission. Within the framework of a rich and challenging academic program, including comprehensive offerings in the arts, this vibrant school is committed to educating the “whole child” in a diverse, humanistic, and inclusive community. The school believes in a spirit of inquiry, and encourages students to become independent thinkers and active participants in a democratic society. Central to its philosophy are a commitment to racial, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity and a respect for individual worth and differences. At the heart of the school’s mission is the importance of developing critical moral thinking and sensitivity to issues of social justice. A formal ethics curriculum includes an extensive community service component. In other words a breeding ground for most of the political values I would later find very disagreeable.
It is at the crossing known as the tip of the arrow you could find my father directing traffic both for his many vehicles coming and going and the many other parents who chose not to use the service. Every other year the board had to renegotiate my father’s contract and each time it was renewed, often sighting the fact that they would not want to lose “Joe” directing the traffic. There are many thousand of children who are now top executives, educators and businessmen who Joe ushered into the Fieldstone grounds daily. I am very proud of my father.
Ethical Culture is a humanistic religious and educational movement inspired by the ideal that the supreme aim of human life is working to create a more humane society.
Many of their ideals and aims are reminiscent of the interfaith and polytheism beliefs of India organizations located in Madras that are ecumenical, polytheistic and philosophical.
I attended CCHS from September 1951 until I graduated, June 1955. I wore both cap and gown and had graduation pictures made. I also have a yearbook sighed by so many fellow students and was able to use this book as a reference at our reunion party 2001 in Boca Raton, Fl. 2001. For the first year or two we still lived on Simpson Street so I would commute by bus until we moved to a two family brick house at 2351 Holland Ave, just off the corner of Colden Ave. It was walking on Colden that I’d go to and from school past the many two family houses and then the huge CCHS schoolyard. The four stories plus basement building and grounds were huge. I’d enter and exit from the northwest exit daily. There is a website for the school and photographs of the building available.
I worked after school and later had a girl friend (Arlene) that went to another school so my intimate involvement with the student body was minimal. There were a few exceptions, of which Natalie Finkelstein excels. She lived in Parkchester and had a boyfriend with whom she had difficulties. Sal Mineo’s brother attended the school and it was the time of the slow dancing, jitter bug and cha cha. Elvis Presley, Lawrence Welk and Liberace prevailed. Ms Boyagean taught Art; Mr. Speed was our homeroom teacher, and Mr. Trunz convinced me to play the tuba in the High School Band. Aside for the weekly practice and occasional concert, we annually marched as the first band in the ”Christopher Columbus Day Parade” in Manhattan.
Dr. Kurzband encourage and help me put together an Interior Decorator’s portfolio and if I did not go home for lunch I found a great Italian grocery which made me a super hero sandwich daily. As often as I could, I’d find a reason to play sick so I could go home early. I did go to the High School Prom disguised as Ernie Kovacs. The girls liked that!
Another friend I had was Leon. Leon and I commuted together by bus and he taught me how to smoke. One New Year’s eve he arranged a double date and we sat with these girls till 3:00 am. Later, Leon, called on the telephone and showed up in my apartment telling me a horrible story of how his mother had him committed to Rockland County Institution for the mentally disabled so she could get his father’s inheritance. We kept in touch for a while and I signed him out and testified on his behalf. I visited him there once. I had visited the place before driving one of my father’s customers; that was the time I found a big snake in the front of my car. It wrapped around my foot but I was able to get it off. It was moments such as these that confirmed that nature and I would need a lifetime of work to find compatibility. The Rockland facility was not my favorite place. However, many of my friends and relatives relocated to Rockland County to live and work Arlene, Harriet, Murray, etc. And, it seemed that God had other ideas.
I was a key member of the audiovisual Squad whose mission was to show films to student classes on free-periods. I showed the “Oxbow Incident" at least 100 times. I made ashtrays, candy bowls, statues, etc. in ceramics and was John McGiver’s best English student. He invited me to see him play Off-Broadway in the "Assent of F 6” and then he was invited to co-star with Audrey Hepburn in her movies. Later he starred in his own TV show. He would assign me to read Shakespeare aloud in class and was a wonderful encouragement.

In 1951 I met John McGiver (1913 - 1975) as my high school English teacher. He was an owlish looking, pudgy and bald with a soft and smooth voice he was a likable, scene-stealing actor. Most often he played businessmen, managers and executive types.
He was born on November 5, 1913. He was about 38 when I met him when I was 14.
Mr. Mc Giver was my High school English teacher who left CCHS for a movie career when I graduated CCHS. I was his favorite student and he my favorite teacher. I went to see his first off-Broadway acting performance: "Assent of F-6”. He was a funny and charming man who taught me how to read and appreciate Shakespeare. He and his family lived in New Bedford and called their homestead “Breakabeam”. I know this because I’d get a card with his family’s picture with him every Christmas. He and his family were so kind. None of the family entered show business. He’d stand over my chair near the window and read passages of Shakespeare. He’d call upon us to read parts of various plays. He called upon me and he knew I enjoyed reading each part. After a while I really understood what I was reading. He announced his call to act in F6 on “off-Broadway” and invited us to attend. I went and was alone. He then announced his being called to Hollywood and then announced he was resigning for a full time career the same time we were graduating. I followed his career closely and he kept writing me letters and cards. He told me that it was a former classmate who recommended him for all his parts and then his career snowballed.
My history teacher’s favorite saying was” don’t do what I do, but what I say”. His classes were semi-boring, but most of the students loved his classes and could remember his every word. At our class reunion I found out that the girls in my class were so eager to learn so they could get out of school and into college so they could meet a rich guy and get married. They mostly ignored the likes of me.
I was on the soccer team for a very short while and was voted class representative the General Organization. The building had many fire doors in the corridors separating fire zones and a huge auditorium with a balcony. We changed classes every hour and could see each other in the corridors. By graduation I was convinced that I did not want nor was I prepared to continue my education any further. The school and all its teachers had completely convinced me that education was not for me. I was neither motivated, interested nor able to go further. On my walk form my house to school I’d pass a little girl who had polio. She would always great me. I visited her as many times, as her parents would allow. Finally, they forbid me from visiting any further.
Partially, because I did not live in the school’s neighborhood and mostly because I had lived in the “dangerous” slums of the South Bronx I was not really accepted. This enigma carried to Pratt and Yale where most were from out of town and some thought of me as some kind of super hero or star. I gave guided tours of Manhattan and the boroughs. There were none other s like me. Only Roseanne and Robert Hopkins came close.
I attended CCHS from September 1951 until I graduated, June 1955. I wore both cap and gown and had graduation pictures made. I also have a yearbook sighed by so many fellow students and was able to use this book as a reference at our reunion party 2001 in Boca Raton, Fl. 2001. For the first year or two we still lived on Simpson Street so I would commute by bus until we moved to a two family brick house at 2351 Holland Ave, just off the corner of Colden Ave. It was walking on Colden that I’d go to and from school past the many two family houses and then the huge CCHS schoolyard. The four stories plus basement building and grounds was huge. I’d enter and exit from the northwest exit daily. There is a website for the school and photographs of the building available.




CCHS famous students :( 281 words) (No Footnotes)
Though not in my class CCHS had very well known graduates who were some of my favorite entertainers including:




Tony Martin was a romantic balladeer, Martin began his career as a band singer in the thirties, graduated to romantic leads in Hollywood and had his greatest record success in the forties and early fifties. Also in ‘The Big Store’, and sang ‘The Tenement Symphony’. He recorded with Ray Noble on Columbia before his first chart success, ‘Tonight We Love’ which had been featured in the 1938 film, ‘Romance in the Dark’. After the war he had even greater success with ‘To Each His Own’, before joining RCA in 1948. Though his screen career faltered in the early fifties, he had continued record success with his versions of ‘La Vie en Rose’, ‘I Get Ideas’, and the dramatic ‘Kiss of Fire’. In the sixties Martin formed a double act with his wife Cyd Charisse and they toured the cabaret circuit. He was about the same age as my father. When I saw him I saw my father.
His wife Cyd Charisse was also a CCHS alumnus: Cyd Charisse was born to be a dancer. She spent her early childhood taking Ballet lessons and joined the Ballet Russe at 13. In 1939 she married Nico Charisse, her ex-dance teacher. In 1945, she was hired to dance with Fred Astaire in 'Ziegfeld Follies (1946)' She made appearances on television and performed in a nightclub revue with her second husband, singer Tony Martin.

New York School for Interior Design
Located on East 79 St and Madison Ave in a four story converted residence/commercial building. The classes were taught at night and on Saturday so that people like my self and teachers who worked could participate. The teachers were New York’s best designers and suppliers. By the time I finished I could evaluate and identify periods, dates and names of antiques, I got to know the finest fabric, rug, carpet, porcelain, lighting, cabinet, and furniture manufacturers and suppliers. We had to draw and redraw rooms and furniture settings and finally decorate a room.
I worked for Classic Interiors hanging drapes and even managing a branch on east 58 street. Somehow it occurred to me to go to a trade school to learn how to decorate. I registered and succeeded to get top grades in all subjects. I completed the "A, B, and C" program in about a year and was encouraged to ask if I could go further and if so which was the best school. My teacher suggested Pratt.
I studied history and design under Bill Breger (He was an architect on the Pratt faculty and also Barbara Allen’s boy friend): Inez Cron, Sherl Whiton and so many others. My fellow Students were mostly furniture salesman and housewives.
Brooklyn Community/Junior College
Located in Down Town Brooklyn was the place I went to find an adviser who could help get me qualified to be admitted into Pratt. Pratt’s registrar somehow suggested this strategy to me. The counselor, who helped, I always believed was an angel sent by God. I still do today. He taught me the value and how to help someone like myself and, thanks to God, I have been able to do what he did for me to many others.
Keep in mind that by 1957 I had no idea about College, Universities and education in general. I had done nothing in all the four years I attended CCHS except work, date, dance, memorize every radio, song, etc. My head and heart were filled with self-authenticating, metaphorical, USA cultural images.
This one person identified the courses I needed and where I should take the courses. He then monitored my completion and, with transcripts attached, wrote letters to the registrar recommending me for acceptance into Pratt. At first my grades were not high enough, nor course diverse enough, but finally we made it and the registrar accepted me. I never studied at this school but it and the counselor has never left my mind.
Columbia School for General Studies at Columbia University on Broadway at 125 Street has a School within for non-matriculating students. The teachers and the courses are college level but given at night and odd hours for students not registered in the University’s regular program.
I studied English/ Journalism/ writing; Sociology; Art history; Behavioral Psychology, Each class awakened the intelligence within and I lamented the years I had wasted at CCHS . These teachers were specific and accomplished in their field and cared deeply about their subject. They were passionate and shared their passion. My journalism teacher would personally red mark the details of my essays and spend the time privately to explain grammar, syntax, clauses, structure, etc.; Dr. Hefferline, my Behavioral Psychology teacher had studied under the renowned Shoenfeld and Skinner and with slides and diagrams explained the inner workings of the nervous system and our ability to perceive and respond. My sociology teacher dissected our world into categories and groups and clearly gave a sense of the directed and other directed, etc. And finally my art teacher, show us slides of the world of art so that I could go to galleries and understand paintings, sculptures and the artist who made the works. Her Christmas lecture on Rome and St peter thrilled and excited me so that when I pulled into the Rome train station I got dizzy with the fragrance and aroma of her words and images of the dome, Baldacinno, and scale of the apse.
Yes I was really prepared for Pratt. I had not burnt my self out at high school and was rightly brought out and readied by this experience. Columbia had not been a stranger to me; I had already studied in the neighborhood with Joseph Target voice that gave the dialog I needed for the audition tapes I made earlier to send to the radio stations. I had also studied with a wonderful woman, Voice for actors and singers. I This class she taught us how to breath (from the diaphragm) and listen (as in perceive by listening a explaining what you hear from tapes of Boris Karloff, etc) we also recited such songs as: ”Waltzing Matilda” (Australia’s National Anthem). By now you probably can see that I was some how replicating Eliza Doolittle form “My Fair Lady” Based on classical myth, Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion plays on the complex business of human relationships in a social world. I can assure you that while I was going through this process I had neither model nor example to follow. Nor did I really know if I’d succeed. It was tough.

Dating:
Between 1956 and 1958 I dated a number of girls and did a number of things while I was employed by Classic hanging drapes, studying at Columbia, studying at NYS of ID, and saving money to go to Pratt. I do not recall where I met Vikki met but she was tall, blond and worked in an office as a secretary. She and I went horse back riding, botanical garden, etc. Our romance culminated when she decided that our relationship was going nowhere. In particular that I was a little immature and inexperienced for her. We got along fine, she was older and more experience than I. We took drives and spent a lot of time together. She lived on the West Side of the Bronx on a hill in the Kingsbridge section. In many ways she was a type like Dad’s Lea, chewed gum, very clear headed and I also believe of a Slavic background, Polish, Check, etc. Our relationship ended when on a late night date I did some thing very foolish which could have been avoided. She was so willing to cooperate but I was hasty and inept. She needed someone more mature and experienced. So ends the story about my childhood but there was much more to tell about where and why all of these things happened.
In 1956 while living at home with my mother on Holland Ave. and working full time at Classic Interiors hanging drapes I was sure I wanted to specialize in Interior Decoration so I attended New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) and in that same year Arlene decided that we should either marry or part. We parted.
The school was then located on East 79 St and Madison Ave in a four story converted residence/commercial building. The classes were taught at night and on Saturday so that people like my self and teachers who worked could participate. The teachers were New York’s best designers and suppliers. By the time I finished I could evaluate and identify periods, dates and names of antiques, I got to know the finest fabric, rug, carpet, porcelain, lighting, cabinet, and furniture manufacturers and suppliers. We had to draw and redraw rooms and furniture settings and finally decorate a room.
I worked for Classic Interiors hanging drapes and even managing a branch on east 58 street. Somehow it occurred to me to go to a trade school to learn how to decorate. I registered and succeeded to get top grades in all subjects. I completed the “A, B, and C" program in about a year and was encouraged to ask if I could go further and if so which was the best school. My teacher suggested Pratt.
I studied history and design under Bill Breger (He was an architect on the Pratt faculty and also Barbara Allen’s boy friend): Inez Cron, Sheryl Whiton and so many others. My fellow Students were mostly furniture salesman and housewives.
My fantasy of a radio broadcasting career prompted me to buy a Webcor tape recorder and using my incredible record collection make audition tapes and take private voice lessons with Joseph Targett and class at Columbia University. Our friendship with Ted Brown & the Redhead greatly fueled this fantasy and it finally bore some fruit at the Pratt Information desk and Pratt radio station club; Voice-overs in Saudi and Radio commercials in Fort Myers for WINK, etc. I also did
Station ID for WVIJ Christian Radio in Port Charlotte, Fl. A couple of years part time with WLAE; 93.7 fm, Waterbury, Connecticut and thousands of tapes to Christina, sights and sounds of Saudi.

I worked full time for several weeks only for the owner of the now national Ethan Alan Furniture on Webster at Fordham Road in the Bronx. Nathan S. Ancell’s son invited me to dinner at his home to welcome me. Mrs. Ancell had set the table so nicely. Each of us had a red colored substance looking like Jell-O on our plate. I thought it strange but I expected something cold and sweet. All began to eat, but after getting it into my mouth and tasting a sour cold substance I got nauseous and had to hurray to the toilet and vomit. I was so embarrassed. I was caught by surprise, expecting something cold and sweet instead something sour and cold. The Ancell family was so very nice to me. Except that I could not remember all the names and prices of the furniture through out the store. There were three stories. To the building and I could not switch and trade sets and models to complete sales. We parted very friendly.

Nathan S. Ancell died at the age of 90. He was an industry leader and founder of Ethan Allen. He was born August 8, 1908, in New York City. Ancell attended New York City Grade Schools, graduated from Columbia College in 1928 and from Columbia Law School in 1930 at the age of 22. He practiced law for three years. He became involved in the furniture business after his friend, Ted Baurnritter, married his sister. Ancell joined his brother-in-law in the firm of T. Baurnritter Co., Inc. and later started Ethan Allen the vertically integrated furniture manufacturer/retailer.
Nat Ancell is considered to be the father of the gallery concept in the home furnishings industry. His focus was always on the consumer and her desire to create a beautiful home. His manufacturing, display and marketing focus reflected this single-minded philosophy. Ancell was an outspoken critic of the status quo in the furniture industry.
In 1957 I attended Columbia University and got advice from Brooklyn Community/Junior College located in down town Brooklyn where I went to find an adviser who could help get me qualify to be admitted into Pratt.
Pratt’s registrar somehow suggested this strategy to me. The counselor, who helped, I always believed was an angel sent by God. I still do today. He taught me the value of how to help someone like myself, and thanks to God I have been able to do what he did for me to many others. This one person identified the courses I needed and where I should take the courses. He then monitored my completion and, with transcripts attached, wrote letters to the registrar recommending me for acceptance into Pratt. At first my grades were not high enough, nor course diverse enough, but finally we made it and the registrar accepted me.
I never studied at this school but it and the counselor has never left my mind.
At this time I was working full time for Classic and also dating Alice Bernhard who lived at 411 East 57 Street: NYC: PL-9-8191: 1960- 1960 to 1962. Alice was introduced to me by Rhoda Brown. The building had a doorman and was very well located. Alice was a very attractive girl and several years younger than I was.
Alternately, she lived at different times with her divorced parents in a sharing and joint custody arrangement. Which means Alice was spoiled and really looking to get out on her own. In this way Alice and I had a similar relationship to our parents. I am dead certain without Rhoda Brown’s introduction the likes of Alice would never even glance my way. She was a born “gold-digger” seeking to marry for money. This was what he r mother did and she would be sure to follow suit.
I saw her when she lived in her mother’s apartment; an apartment paid for in full by a man who cared for them.
I never met him. Alice really was taken with me and I with her. It was all very poetic, romantic and glamorous.
However, as most of my passionate and good relations of that period my inability to “pop the question” they wanted to hear led them to dismiss me and seek greener fields, some one who gets married and support them. Now! She even told me about another of her suitors who was a Madison Avenue executive on the rise in his company. Now, I could not compete with being on the rise in my company because I between schools and just getting started in my profession. I always imagined Alice and this guy married for some very short time until she and he separated and she kept trying to find her right match
Until that moment, however, Alice and I took walks and dined at restaurants. Particularly an Italian spaghetti place on First Avenue near 60 Street. I recall an evening where I do believe she was about to give me her entire self when my stomach did not keep quiet and all it did was make sounds; not very conducive environment for a first time romantic event.
She had favorite sayings about animals; she taught me that animals are always happy to be disturbed and awaken because they live for that. She was precocious, had a great smile, long brown hair, and an excellent figure. Her parents had spoiled her and she came to expect a very fancy East Side New York apartment at an excellent address, with excellent friends, fancy cloths, etc. She was quiet a lady! So was her mother!
Between 1955 and 1958 I did odd decorating jobs from people I’d meet from either Classic or my father’s limousine business. One was more demanding than another was.
I attended Columbia School for General Studies at Columbia University on Broadway at 125 Street has a School within for non-matriculating students. The teachers and the courses are college level but given at night and odd hours for students not registered in the University’s regular program.

Yes I was really prepared for Pratt. I had not burnt my self out at high school and was rightly brought out and readied by this experience. Columbia had not been a stranger to me; I had already studied in the neighborhood with Joseph Target voice that gave the dialog I needed for the audition tapes I made earlier to send to the radio stations. I had also studied with a wonderful woman, Voice for actors and singers. I this class she taught us how to breath (from the diaphragm) and listen (as in perceive by listening a explaining what you hear from tapes of Boris Karloff, etc) we also recited such songs as: ”Waltzing Matilda” (Australia’s National Anthem). By now you probably can see that I was some how replicating Eliza Doolittle form “My Fair Lady” Based on classical myth, Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion plays on the complex business of human relationships in a social world. Phonetics Professor Henry Higgins tutors the very Cockney Eliza Doolittle, not only in the refinement of speech, but also in the refinement of her manner. When the end result produces a very ladylike Miss Doolittle, the lessons learned become much more far reaching. The successful musical My Fair Lady was based on this Bernard Shaw classic
And there had been a movie, also with Rex Harrison, several years before. However, similar may be the parallels, I can assure you that while I was going through this process I had neither model nor example to follow. Nor did I really know if I’d succeed. It was tough.
Ted Brown gave me commercials to use such as: ”The point is he does do and has been doing it for the past thirty five years; so men why don’t get don to Rothmans and you too will say how Harry Rothman does it”.
The Columbia teacher taught me: ”this particularly rapid unintelligible chatter isn’t very often heard and if it is it doesn’t matter; if is it doesn’t matter, if it ain’t it doesn’t matter; if it is it doesn’t matter, matter, matter: She was marvelous and totally transformed my speech and how I projected to the world. Many around me were astonished. Most just simply distanced themselves from me and somehow I felt no longer related.
Apparently after receiving offers to work for no pay by many radio stations and completing the needed prerequisites at Columbia I was accepted by Pratt and immediately found an apartment near the school and was ready to begin a new life So in 1958 I started Pratt.
In 1957, for one year at Columbia University I was Dr. H Ralph Hefferline’s student. He taught me that I could learn and understand human behavior by studying Behavioral Psychology. I was a student of Columbia University’s School of General Studies. Later his response to my invitation for him to join our LME board was that now that he is retired he wished to study the tiniest and most obscure in his field and that LME seemed the opposite. He taught me the fundamentals of a way of thinking about perception and cognition which has always pervaded my thoughts in all forms of design, architecture, writing, music, arts, etc. It would later be the foundation of my planning, designing and thinking about spaces, textures, colors, light, structures as stimulus to manses senses and his consequent responses. It is his thoughts and skinners which permeated my design work and understanding of the supremacy of this brand of psychology over its competitor psychoanalysis and introspective psychology.
He devoted an entire semester to Skinner’s (1957) Verbal Behavior Skinnerian behaviorism, and introductory Psychology and Shoenfeld (1950) Principles of Psychology accompanied by discussions of a rat lab in operant condition which I found exciting and challenging.
Hefferline was published by the Julian Press in 1951, the volume was entitled Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality. Authorship was credited to F. S. Perls, along with Ralph Hefferline, a professor of psychology at Columbia University Gestalt is an amalgam of certain philosophies, theories, and techniques that add up to a remarkably coherent and effective approach to psychotherapy.
My Female Journalism teacher at Columbia University before 1958 was wonderful. If ever I drew out any teacher the maximum they had it was with this fine lady. She would give us weekly assignments and red mark my paper; I’d make an appointment to meet with her every single week where she would review over and over the same lessons. She realized I had absolutely no previous education in grammar, spelling, syntax, etc. and, she had to do in the one year what I should have done in ten. It was amazing. I memorized many words each day, I wrote every day, I kept improving and she was always mad at me for taking her time and cornering her. Still, I pressed in; and by the time the year was over she was more than proud and I was as happy as a lark to finally be able to read and write the kings English. Later, as a Pratt student, my teachers, especially Mr. Ross accused me of plagiarism because the writing of my school papers was so adroit and accomplished. He’d sit question and me down me on every word, my vocabulary, use of phrases, reference. He was astonished and soon realized I had been educated. He even apologized to me in the class so that all the students would know how please he was with me. From that point on the students, who already thought I was different really had it in for me. My radio voice, my marriage, and now my vocabulary and writing skills.
Her biggest impact on my life and me is packaged in the colorful and dynamic slide lecture presentation she gave for Christmas Eve. It featured slides of the environs of Saint Peters in Rome. It included the statues and the Baldacinno. When I arrived in Rome by the train her words and pictures flashed in my mind and my heart.
I could see the railroad station coming into view as stood at the front car with my face against the glass as I had done with my Uncle Dave as little boy in the Bronx subways. I got out of the train, checked my bag in train station and somehow got to Saint Peters. I saw the Baldacinno, the giant scaled marble floors, the Bellini statue, the ceiling frescoes and all the time her slides and excitement rushed through my blood. It was, and still Is today one of the most memorable educational experiences I have ever had.

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