Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The 718


A few days ago I mentioned that I had grown up in Flushing in Queens, NY. Out of curiosity I went to Google my old neighborhood named Electchester in honor of the Electricians Union who had purchased the land built the neighborhood for its members.

Oddly enough, the California neighborhood I live in now was similarly built by tradesmen and craftspeople working for nearby MGM, which is now Sony Pictures.

We only lived in Flushing for two years and hightailed it out of there when my brother and his buddy were walking home from a park at Queens College and got jumped by four black kids. I mention their race because it is only with time and hindsight that one can recognize the incredible and excessive racial fear at that time. Our rush to the 'burbs was truly White Flight.

Many kids in NY live in apartment buildings, most of them are 6 stories tall. I had the unique pleasure of living in a skyscraper -- by Flushing standards -- that soared 23 stories into the noisy flight paths of nearby JFK and LaGuardia.

We lived in 22B. Had my father been smarter he would have rented 23B and avoided the many confrontations with the noisy, clog-wearing Schmerlers and avoided punching so many holes in the ceiling wall with a broom handle. (But that's another story.)

Each apartment had a an exposed outdoor corner terrace. You can imagine how tempting this might be to an 11-year old boy. That terrace, a football field high in the sky, served as a launchpad for many an item: goldfish, pennies, SuperBalls. In fact with so many kids in the building and so many terraces, it was literally raining tchochkes, night and day. Turning the entire perimeter of the building into a hazard zone.

On many occasion I would rush out the door and start walking towards P.S. 200 only to sprint back to the lobby of the building because I had forgotten my lunch. And being too impatient to wait for one of the two tower elevators, I would simply get on the intercom and ask my mother to express mail the bag lunch.

Still in her pajamas and still smoking her morning cigarette, she would non-chalantly toss the bag over the edge. Hours later I would be sitting in the cafeteria eating something that only resembled a lunch. You see gravity and terminal velocity have a way of turning a perfectly good tuna salad sandwich into a tuna salad pancake.

The unripe bananas however, suffered no such fate.

1 comment:

geo said...

I was jumped by a group of black kids once and my parents responded by moving to a blacker neighborhood.