Growing up in Brooklyn, especially on Chauncey Street, we didn’t know there were people with anything more than we had. When we had holes in our shoes, we patched them with linoleum, the floor covering of the time. If our socks had a hole in them, we sewed them. (0nly to cause a blister.) We didn’t have sun block. There was a lot of sunburn. When we went to Coney Island, we didn’t have coolers to pack our sandwiches in. We used cardboard suitcases instead, and we didn’t get sick. Cold cut sandwiches tasted toasted when left in the sun for a while.
Flotation water toys were air mattresses left over from World War II. Those lucky enough to own one had to blow it up manually, but what fun we had.
We swam in the water at Coney Island, under the Belt Parkway bridges at Bergen Beach, or at Gerritsen Beach, all in Brooklyn. We did learn to swim, without the aid of swimming lessons. One time my brother, Bill, dove off one of the pilings of the bridge at Bergen Beach. My mother, who would not exaggerate, said: “Billy was swimming when he was three and diving when he was four.”
|Home in Mill Basin c. 1935. Upper left - Mom with Billy, Mary, and Jimmy;|
Lower right - Dad; Right - Billy.
My parents had a bungalow in Mill Basin when Billy was three, and my mother would tie him to a tree in the front yard to keep him home. A passerby objected to this treatment of a child. My mother’s response was: “Would you rather that he drown down the street?”