For displaced, misplaced, and nostalgic ex-Bronxites

Ooh, Those Sights

by John Mitchell


was born on May 25, 1948 at Westchester Square Hospital. My earliest memoriesare of Pennyfield Avenue. I remember walking with my mother on that long stretch of road adjacent to Silver Beach. We passed beautiful flower gardens, hedges along the Silver Beach side and those old brown garages at the end of Pennyfield overlooking the Long Island Sound with the Whitestone Bridge in the foreground were to me the most beautiful sights in the Bronx.

Martin Block and the Make Believe Ballroom filled the airwaves in those days. Rock ‘n roll was unheard of then. Instead, we listened to Patti Page, Johnny Ray, and yes, even Tony Bennett who is still around today.

Later, I moved to Randall and Ellsworth Avenues where the buses ran. The cost was thirteen cents. The Throgs Neck Bridge was not built yet and there were ash roads, swamps and creeks and lots and lots of lots. In the background to the east was the waterfront which is today's Wier Park, which I helped develop through donated funds that were solicited on a radio program. It developed into a beautiful memorial park.

To me, life was great, with the beach parties, the "forts" we built and all those kids that roamed an area we called "the big rock". Everyone knew each other by name.

Those early days of Throgs Neck came to an end for me when construction on the Throgs Neck Bridge began. Many houses in that area had to be torn down to make room for all the roads leading to the bridge. For me and my family it meant a move in an "emergency" as we were given a certain amount of time to vacate.

I moved to the Throgs Neck Projects as a little lamb but left a roaring lion. I had to learn to fight and fight well. The projects were a disappointment from my prior existence but in my many years there I made so many friends of people from different cultures, races and nationalities. We learned to live in harmony. I grew up from a kid to a man and appreciated all those years in the projects.

Today I live in the Hudson Valley and treasure the memories, the people, the places, and all the things we did growing up on "the neck".

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