t may sound strange to some, but it was my home, although I shared it withfifty-two families at 1403/1405 Rosedale Avenue in the good old Bronx. It was there I was brought after my birth at Parkchester General Hospital.
Apartment 5D was my home! It was everything a home should be: three rooms on the fifth floor overlooking the New York skyline, Parkchester under construction, the fireworks at Rockaway Beach on clear Tuesday nights, the Whitestone Bridge and a multitude of two and three story houses all in clear view. We had only one flight to the roof (tar beach) in the summer where my mother hung the freshly washed clothes in the clear Bronx air. The neighbors gathered to discuss everything from a to z on hot summer nights, seated in their wooden beach chairs and folding chairs, waiting to catch the next breeze that blew by. Of course, on hot sunny days, I had my little rubber basin that was my "swimming pool". That, along with my "beach" blanket and towel, were all I needed to beat the heat in the Bronx.
All fifty-two families knew each other, and we kids all grew up playing kick the can, king-queen, red light-green light, roller skating (with our special skate key on a string around our neck for safekeeping), stickball, hop scotch, jump rope and an assortment of other games we made up as the seasons came and went.
How special my home was. I was an only child but I never lacked company. There was always a friend to play with, walk to school with (P.S. 47), tell your troubles to or spend a rainy day with. When I was about five years old we bought our first TV. What a wonderful invention that was! Now we could watch Howdy Doody, Mr. Wizard, Ding Dong School with Miss Francis over milk and cookies after school. The antennas popped up on the roof like trees in a forest.
We shared our heritage as well as our toys. We were Italian-American Catholics. We went to church on Sundays, celebrated Christmas, Easter, St. Joseph's and all the other Catholic holidays that came up during the year. We ate macaroni, lasagna, Italian bread, peaches and wine and an assortment of Italian goodies my mom and dad cooked up. My friends that were Jewish, Irish, Polish, Russian and an assortment of other nationalities also enjoyed our holidays and foods and I in turn enjoyed theirs. I visited the temple with my Jewish friends, ate latkes, joined in Passover dinners, celebrated Greek Easter and learned about the various traditions they experienced. We always had the table set for one extra, just in case one of my friends dropped by at dinnertime as they usually did.
The memories of my home, family, friends and neighborhood will always be fresh in my mind. The friendships my family and I shared among our fifty-two families were stronger than many family ties are today. Each of our lives touched the others in some way and this certainly helped to form the person I am today. Yes, my home was very special and it will always hold a very special place in my heart.