Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bronxville Days, Part 3

Maybe you've experimented with Google Earth on your computer. You type in an address and you zoom in from space to the exact spot on the planet you've selected and see it - perhaps the neighborhood of your youth – as a bird would, or more accurately, as a satellite does.

And so I visit our old house, at the corner of Millard and Ellison. The house and the whole neighborhood look pretty much as they did 50 years ago, except for the giant highway that now slashes through what used to be our wilderness to the east. I trace the streets along which I used to pedal my bike, past Public School No. 8, past the stationery store where we used to spend our money on Three Musketeers bars and baseball cards and Mad Magazines, past Gristede's Grocery, where we bought the white beans for our pea shooters, down onto Palmer Avenue, across from Sarah Lawrence College, where all those barefoot beatnik girls studied, and on to the Bronx River.
Surely, my parents must have been aware of how far I went on my bicycle, and which roads and busy intersections I crossed – without a helmet, I might add, as there were no such things in those days – on my way to town some two miles distant.

The river – more of a creek, really - was damned a few hundred yards upstream, and the pond was where my friends and I with bamboo poles fished on lazy summer days for bluegills and catfish.

I can smell it now, that memory: pond water, fish slime and earthworms. I can almost feel the sun on my shoulders, picture my scabby knees, watch my child hands, black under the fingernails, baiting the hook. I hear the rush of water over the dam, the barking of dogs taken for walks, the whoosh of cars on the nearby parkway.
This was happiness defined, being 9 or 10 years old and to have all this place as a playground, and to be without worry and fear, and to be so far removed from the ugly realities of life.

3 comments:

deanbhall said...

40 years ago, while dating one of those barefoot hippy girls that attended Sarah Lawrence College, I didn't realize how close I was to your old neighborhood. Just another Cosmic Coincidence. -DBH

DSCIII said...

Parker,

MaryAnne Denniston directed me to this blog. My family used to live at 70 Millard Ave.. We moved to Harrison in 1969. Some remembrances come back unexpectedly. I remember a paperboy who would wrestle with us in the front yard of 70 Millard, could that have been your good self?
Stan Corcoran (Corky)

Park Burroughs said...

We lived at 142 Millard, where Ellison Ave. came down and Millard turned into Birchbrook. Your house would have been on my paper route, but I was a paper boy for only a couple of years, maybe 1959 and 1960. It's possible I was the wrestling paper boy, but I don't remember that.