Some memories are wonderful, some not. I’m so sorry for all the stupid things I’ve done, the people I’ve hurt, the injustices I’ve accepted. I’m so grateful for the people I’ve loved who are gone and for those who remain. But today I want to concentrate on whimsical remembrances of days long past.
The street on which I lived had streetlamps. Not so strange. Except these were gas. Every evening shortly before dusk the lamplighter would make his rounds, igniting lamp after lamp. He’d be back again after dawn to extinguish them. He was a neighborhood fixture and friend to all.
Speaking of the street, it had a unique design feature, unfamiliar in Orlando. When it rained, water would flow along the curb into a sewer. No puddles remained standing for days. After a storm ceased, I would construct a paper boat and set it into the stream. I’d follow it as it headed for the sewer and save it at the last minute, only to repeat the voyage over and over.
The mailman was another neighborhood friend, always with a cheerful message as he made his twice a day delivery of envelopes sporting three-cent stamps.
Garbage cans were kept towards the back of the house. Before the truck rolled by a man would appear to take them to the curb. Another followed the truck and returned the empty cans to the back.
It probably was in the vicinity of a half mile between home and grammar school (yes, that’s what they were called back then). I walked to school in the morning, home for lunch, back to school, and home in the afternoon. No one gave a thought to the possibility of foul play and there was never the hint of a problem.
Except for department stores, mom and pop shops were the main businesses, and the only ones in East Orange, New Jersey. The department stores of the day were in neighboring Newark. There was a meat market, a grocery, a staples vender, a private lending library and gift shop, and Izzy’s. Wonderful Izzy’s where I’d buy my comic books and others purchased newspapers, Newspapers from around the country and the world.
The department stores weren’t anything like the Walmarts of today or the monstrosities that anchor malls and I dread entering. In my early years they had great departments in addition to the boring ones featuring clothes and perfumes. There were major electronic sections offering the very latest in radios including those exciting ones with FM. They had honest to goodness toy areas with toys that were durable, reasonably priced, and interesting.
Banks were independent and local. Their employees knew most customers. My dad was paid monthly with something called a paper check. I was in the bank with him and saw his pay was $500, meaning we lived a comfortable middle class life on $6,000 yearly.
My mother had a modern washing machine with a wringer of two hand operated rollers that squeezed the water from the wet clothes. There was no air conditioning and heat came from a coal fired furnace. Coal delivery trucks dumped a pile through a window into a special spot in our basement from which I often was the one to shovel it into the furnace.
Ebbets Field was an important part of my life. I spent many days of baseball season with the radio tuned to Red Barber’s and Vince Scully’s description of my Brooklyn Dodgers and their up and down attempts at greatness. On a few very lucky occasions I was in the stadium itself.
Trips to Asbury Park’s boardwalk were highlights of my youth leading to shuffleboard courts and merry-go-rounds.
Trolleys traveled the center of the main streets with their connecting power rods rising to the electricity supply on overhead wires.
Many a Broadway show was enjoyed from $5 balcony seats.
Such memories sometimes make me pine for those days of a simpler life.
Yes, it was a good time. At least if one was white. And especially if one was male.
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If you would like to share some of your own memories, let me know. If I receive enough, I’ll put them together in another posting.
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I’m going to take a break over the holidays, unless something comes up that makes me feel I have to do a posting. I hope you’ll rejoin me January 6, 2021. Meanwhile have a great Thanksgiving and joyous season. Stay safe.