For displaced, misplaced, and nostalgic ex-Bronxites

The Best Years of My Life


by Jackie Vollrath

W

e moved to 1658 Weeks Avenue in 1942. At that time we were the only Christian familyto move into a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. We lived in a private house, and at Christmas time when my parents decorated our tree, everyone came down to look at it because we were the only family that had a Christmas tree on the block at that time. My parents would invite everyone in and we had such wonderful times together.

In the summer we would have block parties, dance in the street, and eat all night. We would get a permit to close off the street. I remember when the war was over, we had the biggest block party ever. We would decorate with streamers, invite other blocks to join us and it would go on and on.

The candy store on 173rd Street and Monroe Avenue was owned by the Seidenbergs. They made the best egg creams and malteds. That would be our big treat: six cents for an egg cream and fifteen cents for a malted, and two cents for a Houghton Chocolate bar, boy they were the good old days. I can't forget Mazursky's, the Jewish delicatessen on 174th Street. Oh my God, the frankfurters and the corned beef sandwiches on real Jewish rye bread with a sour pickle and the mustard wrapped like a cone in paper - what more can you ask for!

We lived across the street from Claremont park, and the Five Ovals, which were on Mt. Eden avenue. That was our haven. I felt like I was in the country all the time. Every season we would have different activities. In the Fall we would have marble season. It was called immies. We would trade or sell for pennies, or lean pennies against the curb and roll a marble to see if we could knock it down. Then it would be baseball cards, and in the Spring skating, scooters, stoop ball, ringolevio, and potsy. It was the greatest!

In the summer when it was real hot we would all go to the oval and sit out until real late with our portable radios, and wait for the Good Humor or Bungalowbar trucks to come. World Series time was another party. It was a simple life, but the best experience of our lives.

I went to P.S. 70 on Weeks Avenue. That had such an impact on me I could never forget it; it was my foundation. I remember May Day in the school yard. They had dancing around the maypole and everyone came to watch us. After that I went to Wade Junior High on 176th and Morris Avenue, also another great school, and then on to Taft High on 170th. What great memories.

The movies we used to go to were the Surrey and Mt. Eden Theater on Mt. Eden Avenue across the Grand Concourse. We used to see two movies and a cartoon for 25 cents. If you really wanted to go to the elite theater it would be the Paradise on Fordham and the Grand Concourse (where we would look up and watch the stars in the ceiling above) or the RKO Fordham. Sometimes after that we would go to Krums for ice cream sodas.

Growing up in the Bronx was one of the happiest times of my life. It was the greatest learning experience of my life and I'm proud to say I lived in the Bronx.




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