This is an open letter I wrote a few months ago about growing up in Bayside, New York during the late 1960’s – 1970’s. It sure was a great time to be a kid. We may not have had video games and game boys and cell phones, but we DID have an imagination. I think that no matter where you may have grown up, you can relate to the times and the life style.
Riding bikes around the court, sleigh riding down the “big hill.” Mr. Fisher, Jimmy the Maintenance man, the painters and the dumpsters!
The air was filled with sounds of “Snag on you!” “Right on!” and… “Groovy!”
Each day we were visited by the candy man, the pretzel man; Good Humor and Mister Softy (remember him selling pizza from his truck in the winter?) How about Chow-Chow Cup? Chow mein, rice, eggrolls and french fries… off of a truck! Who could forget Tony and “The Ride?” How we loved to get a seat up on the top row as he would swing us to and fro. Then as each ride ended, he would help us down from the truck and give us names like, princess and Superman.
Springfield Boulevard offered us, Larry’s Record Shop, Lamsten’s 5 & 10, Walbaum’s, The Candy Store, pizza by the slice for 25 cents from Joe’s Pizza or the same quarter could get you a Kinishes from the window of the Kosher deli! There was also the drugstore, Rudy’s Italian restaurant and Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor (The Kitchen Sink… yum!) Just to name a few favorites.
We started our education at Cloverdale School P.S. 213 and wrapped it up in Cardozo High.
We loved Alley Pond Park and its woods filled with wild blackberry bushes… and ponds filled with frogs! There was Oakland Lake, The Fresh Meadow’s Theater, Red Light Green Light 1-2-3! Sticker bushes, Crabapple trees, collapsible pools, water fights, jumping off the garages into the snow banks, Big Wheels, Hoppity-Hops, skateboards and pogo-sticks. When we tired of all that, we threw roof shingles like ninja stars to see how far we could make em’ fly (not nice, but we really didn’t know better!)
Back then our names were “Donald” “Billy” “Lori-Jean” “Reesie” “Ninin” and “Lee-Lee!” We drank Lipton iced-tea from paper containers, Coca-Cola from bottles and water from hoses. We waited on line at the truck to order our “Ding-Dong Sundaes, had summer carnivals to raise money for Jerry’s Kids and everyone shared. Remember that? Sharing?
Each spring, one Sunday night the court would be deserted as we all sat glued to our televisions watching “The Wizard of Oz.” I also remember one summer night when my dad set up our TV outside so everyone could gather to watch “Psycho” when it aired on network television.
We played “Lost In Space” “Time Tunnel” and even “Gilligan’s Island!” We watched and cheered together as man took his first step onto the moon, the Miracle Mets won the world’s series and Nixon went to China. However we also watched… the many trials and tribulations of the Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family, laughed AT Archie Bunker and along WITH Mary Tyler Moore.
Basements were clubhouses and cardboard boxes were tanks. Summer nights, we kids pushed the envelope to see how late our parents would let us stay outside, especially if they were all gathered on the “Abate” lawn enjoying May Hansen’s whiskey sours! We filled the sky with kites by day and searched for constellations by night as we lay in the grass.
We loved each other like brothers and sisters and we thought of each other’s mothers as our aunts. We were a large family scattered into 24 units along 65th Avenue, which numbered from 223-21 to 223-43. (odd numbers only, maybe that’s fitting!) Our zip code was 11364 and our phone numbers began with the exchange 224 (which originally stood for Bayside-4) There was magic in a small town in Queens New York during the mid 60’s through the mid 70’s and if you were a part of it, you know it. It was the happiest time of your life and just the very word “Bayside” touches your heart in such a way, that you can’t help but smile and wish you could really jump into that old “Time Tunnel” and go back… for one more magical tour!
Until next time,