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Monday, June 08, 2015

Guess it's the same all over the country

Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This is hip. Trust me.
One of my cousins from New York surprised us by popping up at Pizza Night on Friday. Pizza Night is a thing our family does every week. I see him often when I'm in New York, he is my second cousin, he's my father's first cousin, so he is closer to his age.

I told him that I'd be up his way, in the Hamptons, for July 4th week, I told him to come by. He said the traffic was too much, he said, "I ain't sitting in traffic for three hours!" As if he had something else to do. I explained to him that traffic was only about 80 minutes or so if you left during off hours and since he is retired, he could leave at noon on Friday, rather than at 5 pm on Friday, and he would get there a fraction of the time. He's not having it. Good, more food for me.


He then went off on Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He hates the changes. You see he grew up in that area, mostly Greenpoint, but it's the same thing. When he and my father grew up in Brooklyn it was the place to be. It was the world, I even read a book on that once called When Brooklyn Was the World. My father says Brooklyn's hey day ended when the Dodgers left in 1957 and according to the book's title, that may be true.

Anyway, my cousin is remembering the Brooklyn he grew up in, the 1940s and '50s. In the 1960s and especially the '70s, I don't think you would walk around at night, or day, without a bat in your hands. Although the characters he would hang out with, many right out of the Sopranos, maybe didn't have to worry. My father still asks about Dodo, "Is he out or in this year?" Jail, not the closet.


But the point is, the neighborhoods went into decay. My cousin moved to Queens,his son moved to Florida with his ex wife, my parents moved to Miami and my other relatives left, although it's interesting to know that my grandmother was literally born in the house she lived in all her life, her family owned a brownstone and she never left. It sold in, 1984, I think, for $8,000; last month it sold for $4 million! I still take the same L train from Union Square to get off at Graham Avenue where I used to get off to visit my grandmother, only now it's the art center of the world.

I would go see my grandmother early because she would feed me lunch and dinner well before 4 pm, which is the time she would send me back to the city, as it was "too dangerous to ride the subway after 4 pm," according to her. I remember Union Square being all boarded up, only the subway was open, the park was a danger zone. Now of course, it's a prime neighborhood in Manhattan and so is the Graham Avenue area. My cousin tells me that their church near Graham Avenue, Saint Cecelia's is turning into high end condos!

Anyway, my cousin hates it all now, he hates the changes, he hates the hippies, I had to tell them they are hipsters, not hippies and he wants it all to go back to the way it was. Sound familiar? Only in my defense, I never left the Grove and am living through the changes. In his case, he abandoned the neighborhood for 30 or 40 years and now wants to reclaim it. But it's too late.

I have another cousin coming down from Savannah/South Carolina next week, who previously lived in Long Island all her life. Now she's all up on how great Savannah/South Carolina is. She goes on non-stop, she's the complete opposite. It's the greatest thing since sliced bread according to her.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI - your father's cousin is your 1st cousin, once removed. Your father's cousin's children are your 2nd cousins

June 08, 2015 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like some people need to get over the fact that things change, and that's life. Just because it's not what you want, does not mean it's better or worst. It's what you perceive and what you make of it. The grove to many is an amazing place to live nowadays, and so is Brooklyn. Trying to romanticize the past at the expense of enjoying the present is really just a shame, because the Grove and Brooklyn were and are awesome!

June 10, 2015 1:12 AM  

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