26~38 92nd Street

jackso.jpgAnyone who’s been reading my blog regularly knows at least a little bit about my early days by now.   When I was a kid, until five days before my twelfth birthday, my parents, younger sister and  I lived in a really nice neighborhood in Queens, on the borderline between Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst.    Our address was 26-38 92 Street, between Astoria Boulevard and Thirtieth Avenue.   The zip code was 11369.     Like all the houses in that neighborhood, it was relatively small.   There were only two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom, from what I can remember of it.   We only had one telephone.   It was bolted to one of the walls.    I still remember that our phone number was 212- HA-44oo8.      At the front of the house there was a brick stoop, of a half dozen steps, that led to the door.    Each house had a narrow driveway on one side and a very narrow alleyway on the other side.    Like many houses in the neighborhood ours had a metal fence with a gate in front of it.   We lived on the second floor.   The window in the living room looked out toward the street.   Back in those days my mother used to hang laundry on a line, with clothes pins, outside a window that overlooked the small concrete backyard.    I can remember our having had a couch, a Castro convertible, that opened up into a bed.     The landlords, Grace and Nick, lived on the first floor with their son Nicky, who was around ten years older than I.    They had a pet beagle named Snoopy.    Nick and Grace were both from Brooklyn and their thick broad New York City accents always contrasted so sharply against my parents’ equally thick broad northeastern Pennsylvania accents.     Nicky was good friends with my older cousins, Ronnie (now known as the Ronald) and Joseph, who also grew up on 92nd Street.   I should assume Grace and Nick were about ten years older than my parents.   Because I was only as a kid at the time, though, I had always taken it for granted that they were quite ancient.    My sister and I were only kids then, mostly in grammar school, so there were all sorts of activities going on that were typical of the young family.   Although we’ve always remembered Nick and Grace as having been a bit too stern about noise they must most certainly been willing to humor us quite a lot because I can remember quite a significant amount  of loud activity, including music from the radio and stereo as well as my  guitar lessons.    My parents’ friends often visited.   So did my sister’s and my friends.    We frequently visited the landlords too.    I can still remember that Nick and Grace were big fans of Elvis Presley and the New York Yankees and liked to have a few beers every once in a while.     For a while Nicky even helped me with the Roman  numerals I was forced to learn about at St. Gabriel’s and he also showed me  a few things  I was expected to know as an altar boy.    St. Gabriel’s was my school and parish.    I was an altar boy there as well as my having been on the school’s bowling league and glee club.      Holidays and special occasions were always quite colorful at our house.   There was always more than enough food to go around.   There were also  a lot of presents, nice clothes, decorations and other things that were proper to each occasion.   It’s important to remember always that the first decade of my lifetime was the 1960’s so the furniture, decorations, music and all sorts of other things were of the kind that could only have existed during that era.    The Beatles have always been my favorites so their music especially filled the air.   We were also always within earshot, during those days,  of all the other then-current  musical and pop cultural  styles in general.   I can remember a plain silver Christmas tree that my parents had.   Right next to it was a small light source that looked  somewhat like a round fan.   When they turned it on, it spun around in circles and lights of several different colors were flashed toward the tree.    As far as I can see that tree was quite  a really good example and symbol  of all the silliness and enjoyment that existed during that era of my life.    Eventually September 11, 1971 had to arrive.    Unfortunately that was the day I was forced to say good-bye to an important era in my life.


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