For displaced, misplaced, and nostalgic ex-Bronxites

2356 Grand Concourse

by Cara Lewis Cobb


lived on the second floor of the apartment building at 2356 GrandConcourse from 1952 until 1958, when we moved to Governor's Island in Manhattan. My father was a Jewish New Yorker, an Army man.

We lived directly above Ciro's Italian Restaurant. My bedroom window was always filled with the wonderful drafts of pizza and garlic. Mr. Ciro was my favorite baby-sitter. My mama worked at Alexander's Department Store. She would drop me off at Ciro's where I was treated like the princess I was. I can still taste the fresh bread and delightful tortonis fed to me in the back booth.

Julius owned the corner grocery store. Directly inside the door was the large, wooden pickle barrel. Claussen has nothing on the thick nickel pickles we fished from the brine with our fingers.

The incinerator across the Concourse frequently blasted our windows as a thrown away flammable exploded.

I can not remember the number of the school, but we walked there with my Mama. I remember kindergarten, Mrs. Winkle, I believe. The halls smelled of graphite and wood. We lined up in the courtyard by class and marched to the rooms led by our teacher. First grade was Mrs. Heller, an inappropriate name for a wonderful teacher. I skipped second grade.

Where were the soft ice cream cones made? We bought them on the street. And the warm chestnuts in the winter, and the hot sweet potatoes. What happened to the merry-go-round that came on the back of a truck selling rides?

We took walks to the park, where there were the "bums" on the benches who fed with pigeons with begged bread.

We would often spend Sundays at the Bronx Zoo. There was an orangutan with my middle name, Sandra, and hippos who could eat an entire loaf of Wonder Bread at a time.

Oh! and laundry, washed in the machines kept in the cold, damp basement...where the "incinerator man" lived. Then we schlepped it to the elevator or up the stairs to the rooftop where the laundry lines were. Many is the ball we sailed over the edge of the roof to the sidewalk below, to my mother's dismay...for she would have to retrieve it. Have you ever looked up at the apartment building from the sidewalk? If you stare at it and the sky clouds together, you will terrify yourself as the building appears to fall on you.

I could go on and on...I have never been back and I so want to see.

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