My Childhood Memories:

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! 

Summer 1970

Until next time,

Don

8 Comments

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8 responses to “My Childhood Memories:

  1. Debbie Foley

    So many things I thought I forgot until I read your memories. I do remember alot of what you wrote. I also remember Mister Softy’s name. In case you forgot it was Al. He always gave free sundaes on your birthday and ask me if the birthdays were true. For some reason he always believed me. I also remember May trying to stop my head from bleeding when some kid threw a rock at me and cut my head open. Some memories are better then others. I remember you were my best friend. That was a good memory. Thanks for the memories. Your old friend Debbie

    • I do remember that Mr. Softy’s name was Al and once you mentioned it, I also remembered you getting hit with the rock and Mae helping. I recall now, that her name was “Hanlen” NOT Hanson as I wrote in my blog.
      She had a son Jimmy (an alter boy at St. Roberts) and a daughter named Annmarie!

      I also fondly remember you being my best friend. Sitting up on the garage roof with you, riding bikes and skateboards (it was actually Ninin’s board) and you and I took turns going down the big hill!

      You were my first crush. I had very good taste!
      Love from your old friend,
      Don AKA Donald 🙂

  2. Yet another story to make me cry. Who wouldn’t want to go back in time and re-live that. I was so young then but through years of reminicing, remember more then one would think. Maybe because I was traveling on your shoulders to most of those places. Kind of like a monkey on your back or BJ and the Bear. haha…. I know I have said in the past that I feel so bad that I had such a wonderful childhood and felt you and Maur got robbed of yours but after reading this, maybe things weren’t that bad after all. Just diffrent. Thanks for sharing and helping me feel less guilty. lol.. Love you xoxo

    • Never, ever feel guilty for my childhood verses yours Sharon. The important thing was that in time, Maureen and I had a much better life and it was mostly because of you three girls. We were blessed with a wonderful family.

  3. Laurie

    Sitting here with tears in my eyes! So many wonderful memories you all had in Bayside! But mostly the love between you and your sisters is just so amazing! I can remember coming to visit, and thinking that you had the best house in the world! It might have been a bit smaller than the one I had to grow up in , but the love was so evident, even as a small child I can remember how I felt there. The feeling was that of true love and caring. You are the best cousins! And Uncle John, how I loved his teasing! (lol as if he has ever stopped!) I miss my aunt Trudy with all my heart. 😦 Love you Don!

    • Awww Laurie, that is so sweet of you to say. And KIND too… a little smaller than your house? Ours was like your garage Hahaha! But you’re right, it did overflow with love and that was all my mother’s doing.

      Even Nana had to finally admit that my mother had (in her words) “a very special famly.” She even told told her “that’s because of you Gertie. You made your family what it is.”

      As you and I both know, considering the source… that was a BIG statment.

      Love you too cuz, alway have. You and your family are another source of many wonderful memories for my sisters and me. I only wish we had more opportunity to see each other these days. XOXO

  4. Don

    WONDERFUL! Just Wonderful! That’s what goes through my mind as I read (and re-read & re-read) your “wonderful” words of “our” childhood memories. I am amazed how much I actually remember from our court on 65th – I was considered one of the “little ones” back then and remember the older kids actually wanted to play with us and included us in all the court games. That’s what I remember the most – it didn’t matter what age you were; we all played.
    Sometimes I wonder if I actually have the memories or if I am recalling all of my older brother’s stories as they reminisce and talk about “the good old Bayside days”.
    I love telling friends of today about what we called “adventures” (like jumping off roofs & Tony the Carnival Ride!) and they can’t imagine that it was fun or even safe! But we did it and we are still here today to share it! We had a blast – great times and treasured memories.
    I wouldn’t trade them for anything!
    Thanks for the mention (these days you have to be at least 70 or older to call me “Lori Jean” )
    Thanks for sharing!
    Lori O’Donnell DeMonte

  5. So glad you enjoyed going down memory lane with me Lori. It was indeed a wondeful (and magical) time for us. You’re right too about the childhood memories… they are OURS. And we couldn’t be more lucky to have them.

    By the way, sometimes these days i FEEL like I’m in my 70’s… does that count? I hope you don’t hate me for it, but deep down in my heart you will always be Lori Jean. To tell you the truth, there’s a part of me that always wants to be “Donald” to you. 🙂
    Happy New Year,
    Don

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