For displaced, misplaced, and nostalgic ex-Bronxites

A Lot of Fun

by Michael J. Garber


ong ago, in what seems another time and a land forgotten, I grew upon Boynton Avenue. I lived at 1025 and later at 1015 that were both between Watson Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard. In back of the apartment buildings, on the Elder Avenue side, was an empty lot. But was it really an empty lot ? To an eight-year-old boy, in 1953, without Disney World, Hershey Park or cable TV, this was really an amusement park.

Right off Bruckner Boulevard, behind 1015 Boynton, there was a long, steep, smooth rock formation that we would slide down on refrigerator cartons. We could do this in the heat of summer, the mud of spring or in the snow. It was great when a couple of people on the block bought new refrigerators because that meant that the wait for your ride down "the mountain" was shorter.

Right behind 1025 there was an area that we called "the garden". It was a small area of trees and shrubs where we would picnic and have our club meetings. Lenny LaGuardia, the superintendent of 1025 Boynton, would keep this area clean because his window, on the ground floor, faced it. Occasionally Lenny would clear the garden of kids and, with his rifle, hunt down a stray rat that dared to enter.

Towards Watson Avenue there was a small cluster of rocks that resembled a horse. We would climb the horse and slide down. We called this area "Kings Play Land". There was also a long open dirt area that we cleaned up to play baseball. Now, if you were in my immediate circle of friends and a meeting was called at Kings Play Land, you knew where to go. But maybe you called it something else. Or maybe you didn't have a name for it, but you probably remember it.

By the time I left that area, in 1968, most of that empty lot had been turned into a parking lot. But for a kid in the 50's -- just an empty lot? I don't think so.

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