Monday, August 11, 2008

Bronxville Dats, Part 12

I go back to Millard Avenue almost every day. Not physically, of course, because it is 400 miles away. I go back there in my imagination because it is the street of my youth.

All of my big ideas - the good ones and the silly ones - seem to start on the pavement of that wide and shady boulevard and to sprint down the middle of it before sprouting wings and taking flight.

My family lived on Millard Avenue from 1958 to 1962, just enough time for a youngster to collect enough vivid images to last him a lifetime. Ours was the house where 500 tulips and two huge dogwoods bloomed in the spring, the house covered with roses in summer. Ours was the yard in which kids played Red Light, Green Light past dusk.
On Millard Avenue, right in front of our house, was home plate: a manhole cover with iron lettering in a semi-circle that read, "CITY OF YONKERS." The next manhole cover up the street was second base. We marked first and third on the curbstones with chalk, and that was our stick ball field.
"Car coming!" someone would tell, and we would stop the game and move out of the way.

I can see so clearly in my memory even the flotsam along the curbs and at the storm grates: acorns, Good Humor wrappers and sticks, bits and pieces of exploded firecrackers, the seed pods of maple trees.

Sometime after the incident at the abandoned villa, I sat on the curb on Millard Avenue one summer afternoon, contemplating the debris between my sneakers. Here was a mortified and miserable 11-year-old boy who had just pieced together the mysteries of life. Now that I knew how babies were made, finally, how could I ever face my parents again? How could I ever look into their faces without thinking of their disgusting and shameful behavior?

I walked up and down the street, cut across the field, crossed the spiked bridge over the creek and into the meadow, alone. Somehow, in the heat of that awful day, I found the strength to face the facts of life, and a life made more complicated by them.

I am grown up now, to say the least, and face the miserable realities of life almost every day. I find the strength to deal with them by going back in my mind and taking that walk again.
This was my Bronxville neighborhood, and this was my street.
The street of my youth.
The thread of my life.



raymond1230 said...

Park...Great articles on Bronxville Days..but, I must say Part 12 the last part, was the was so nostalgic, and i can relate to that...i conjured up images that i had read from a book by Jack Finney, and my town that i can remember so easy, only i have 36 miles east to remember my 'Oniontown Days..spelled wrong on purpose..thanks for a great read Park

Park Burroughs said...

I'll put that Finney book on my list. Thanks for the comment.