May 3, 2012

Larry talks about...growing up in the Bronx with Damaris from GoodChoiceReading.com

It seems that Damaris (from GoodChoiceReading.com) was, like me, born and raised in the Bronx near Yankee Stadium. Well, Damaris, I am sure you are a bit younger than I so I imagine if you could step back into my Bronx world (I moved to New Jersey in 1967 when I got married) you might find it a bit different. Let me start with "feeling safe."

Did you know that when I was growing up we rarely locked our doors. During the heat of summer our windows and front doors were left open all night long with the hopes of catching a much wanted breeze that might pass through the rooms. It wasn't perfect. There was the time "Old Man" Molloy came home drunk and only managed to make it up one flight of stairs instead of two. He went into the apartment below and tried to climb into bed with Mrs. Connelly whose blood curdling screams can still be heard on summer nights if the breeze is right.(so I have been told). When we kids got home from school we immediately changed into our "play" clothes and, in a flash, were back outside. We played in the streets, roamed the neighborhood, and our parents only admonition was that we make sure we were home ON TIME for supper--or else. During summer vacation we spent days on end over by Yankee Stadium. When the Yankees were home we always got to see the players as they arrived and parked on 158th St. There was The "Mick" and "Yogi" and "Scooter" and "Moose" and 'Whitey" and we even got to know them a bit. We were usually able to sneak into the stadium by the second inning over on the 161st side (I think they looked the other way) and after the games you were allowed to run around the field and run we did pretending to be the "Mick" or "Scooter" making fabulous plays.

I am not sure how things changed so much. Now doors and windows are dead-bolted and have security locks and alarm systems monitoring them. Parents have to be aware of their kids whereabouts at all times. In fact, they might get into trouble with the authorities if they do not. I rode the subway alone for the first time when I was in 5th grade. I took the IRT from 161st (Yankee Stadium) down to 59th and Lex to meet my mother by Bloomingdales. No big deal. Yet a year or so ago a lady made national headlines when she allowed her 12-year-old son to ride the subway alone. She was arrested for child endangerment. So Damaris---whatever happened? Bottom line, we come from the same place but somewhat different worlds. Anyway, thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this. Now I have to leave to pick up my 9-year-old granddaughter at her after school play center and then pick up my 4-year-old grandson at his pre-K day care. Oh yeah, I make sure they are seat-belted in the car. When my kids were small they just rode free and unencumbered. Seat belts are a MUCH better idea. Guess I'm still in the mix.

Damaris' response to Larry:

Oh wow... things were definitely different for me growing up. But I also lived on the third floor of a building so our doors had to be locked at all times. I always remember Yankee Stadium being the "not so great" area. The only time it was safe (at least in my eyes) was whenever there was a game going on. There were always plenty of police officers around. A lot of the fields by Yankee Stadium are no longer there. They built a huge shopping mall on them. It really is sad to see how much things have changed in just eight years.

Thank you, Larry. I wish I could go back in time and see what the Bronx was like then.