Friday, September 4, 2009

My Old Brooklyn Home

As I've mentioned a million times, I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. My brother recently went to our old neighborhood for a visit and brought me these pictures. The funny thing to us, was the reaction of his beach - bum California kids to our building and play area - they were astounded that we managed to have fun. Someday they'll know that kids can usually have fun anywhere, and if loved and safe - are happy in most surroundings.

Here is our building. There are 72 apartments in this building, and when I was growing up at least 5 or 6 of them contained relatives - cousins, grandma, aunts etc. I loved Halloween in this building and felt sorry for the kids who had to go outside to trick or treat. We NEVER had to wear coats over our costumes, just went from door to door collecting loot. A few years ago someone mentioned to me how they felt sorry for the kids who lived in buildings who didn't get to go outside on Halloween night. Nothing like a child's' view of her world - I thought it was close to perfect.

We lived on the 4th floor and had a lovely fire escape which could be used as a patio in really hot weather. We'd sit out there on blankets and sip cool water and watch the world go by. Actually, until I got glasses at 11, I would watch the blur go by - but I enjoyed the fuzzy world and my comfy perch. Jon and I shared a room until I was 15 - then I got my own room for a year until I went to college.

Our building was very fancy - note the expanse of grass. Not that we were allowed to play on it, but we all thought it was practically a country estate.

This is the front lobby. Note how fancy it is, with pictures on the walls and a complete art deco look. I always loved it, there were two sides to the building and you could easily slide from the bottom of one set of stairs to the other side.

To get to the back"yard" we had to go thru this strange corridor which went from the front street to the back. Even in those days, it was rather creepy and closed in. I must admit, I never liked this tunnel.

We felt sorry for the apartments that didn't have front fire escapes; they only had ones that opened onto the alley. I felt that they lived in inferior apartments because they couldn't see the front street - and I was probably right.

This is a view of the main courtyard that we played in. We always thought it was cozy, and a great place to play. It was so easy to bounce a ball here, and we had none of that nasty grass that ruined a good stoop ball game.

We never listened to this sign. It's been there since day one.
More Backyard. We didn't have the razor wire when we lived there but the fence was up - it kept out the other building riff-raff. This looks so long and narrow now, when I was a kid it was HUGE.

This is a view from the roof to another courtyard that we played in. Our mom could call down from our window for us to come in to dinner or whatever, and it echoed so well that we could hear her in the actual backyard. Our immediate answer to mom's call was a plea for "5 minutes more!"

It all looks so dingy now and I wonder if it was as dirty and nasty looking when we lived there, or if it was as clean and nice as I remember it. I loved growing up in a nice safe building, with family around, always someone outside to play with, and no nasty grass to ruin our games. I thought this was the perfect place to grow up and didn't have one minute of envy for the kids who had houses with real backyards...or kids who lived at the beach. (Actually, I have never envied anyone or thing now that I think of it, but that's another story)

Here I sit in my big suburban house, with 2 acres of land - and silly suburban isolation. I really think I'd rather raise a family in an apartment with family close by - it was easier on my mom. She never had to worry about driving us somewhere or what we would do if she wasn't home after school (Auntie was next door, no big deal) She could hear us playing outside with tons of cousins. We weren't allowed out of the perimeter of the building and we stuck to that rule (unspoken Brooklyn building perimeter rule)

Enough reminiscing. Time for today's life and work.

Have a good weekend everyone


Lisa at Greenbow said...

This looks like a whole different world than anything I have ever seen. I come from a small rural town and still live in a small rural town. Ha... Your description of a loving cocoon to grow and live in sounds marvelous.

sukipoet said...

a wonderful post with a bit of history and reminiscence. Interesting your bro was allowed in to take these pictures. So many different ways to live. Most interested in the fact that you have never envied anyone! wow. What you say about suburbia and isolation also is interesting.

Renee said...

Mim my favourite blog post in a long time.

I love it.

I always lived in a house and use to think that the kids that lived in apartment buildings were rich.

I thought only poorer families lived in houses.

Beautiful memories.

I would love to hear more.

By the way Mim thank you for mentioning your friend and the 10 years I will tell Jacquie that this morning.

Love Renee xoxo

Renee said...

Mim I was wondering if that person that has lived for 10 years with that cancer is on anything specific.

What drug is he taking.

love Renee xoxo

Cris, Artist in Oregon said...

Lovely memories. Nice you see it as wonderful. It did in deed sound wonderful with so much family around. We lived in the mountians when I was a child. I was an ONLY child too. We didnt live close to many people so I was alone with my Mom and dog mostly growing up. Yours sounds so much more fun.

Barbara/myth maker said...

Good reading. I've lived in Brooklyn all my life........ currently in a 120 family apartment building.

Debra Kay said...

I grew up with a backyard and I always thought "high rises" were exotic and wonderful. We typically have two story apt buildings here-probably something to do with tornados and high winds.

The put an apartment building up in the pasture where one of the few horses within walking distance lived. I drive by that apartment building a lot, and I always remember the pinto welch pony that lived there a long time ago.

Lynn said...

Who knows why I have tears in my eyes reading this, don't ask! But I was deeply moved by it. I love the photos, the memories, the idea of having family next door even inside the same building...How I would love to be that grandma now. Wow.





Soon Patty will arrive and we will reminice our childhood where we grew up across the street from each other and where we played, etc. I think I will show her your post from today...we'll compare notes. Thanks Mim. Perfect.

Bea said...

What wonderful memories. How wonderful to have your relatives so close. Does any of your family still live there? Have they turned all those beautiful apartments into condos? That seems to be the way of the world, these days.
Kids make do with what they know and have. I lived in apartments for most of my childhood. I remember my first visit to a real farm. I thought I was in a different country. :)Bea

soulbrush said...

what a thoroughly enjoyable post today. and i simply love that view from the roof, quite dizzying.xx

Baino said...

It looks so typically New York although I've never been there. The sort of building you see in movies. I live on five acres so my kids have never known anything other than space and lots of it. I also live next door to my brother so family's close, best of both worlds I guess! Lovely trip down memory lane, thanks.

Mim said...

Thank you for all your lovely comments. Isn't it funny how the best posts just "happen"?

kj said...

oh touching.

this IS one of the best posts. it just rings with authenticity and your kind warmth. you have chronicled a happy childhood here, in pictures and words.

you've hit the chord that after all else, matters most.,

love to you mim,

Renee said...

Thanks Mim.


PAK ART said...

what a lovely place to grow up. I think mine was wonderful too, we lived in a small house at the end of the road on the edge of the forest. 5 girls to one bedroom. I didn't know at the time that some kids had their very own room. I used to think living in a trailer park would be wonderful! I remember spending the night at a friends in the trailer park and thinking how cool it was.

Michele said...

Mim, this sounds like such a wonderful way to grow up. I envy you and your wonderfuly memories (in a good way of course). Thank you so much for sharing with us.