Tuesday, June 3, 2014

REMEMBERING CHAUNCEY STREET 12.Swimming and Skating by Pat Aronica

I remember the blizzard of 1947, when the city was at a standstill. The mountains of snow piled along the sidewalks were this kid’s dream. I had a wooden sled. My brothers convinced me that it was far superior to the flexible flyers which the other kids had. I remember playing for hours on that sled. When our mittens got wet, we placed them on the radiators to dry. Meanwhile, we went outside with socks on our hands. This worked just fine.

Maybe once a year in the summer, we went to Coney Island. I remember my father taking us one time. Mostly my mother took us on those safaris to Coney Island. We were allowed one ride each on the Steeple Chase. Since I was too young or too afraid to go on it, or on the race horses, the cyclone, or on the slides, I got to go on the merry-go-round.

Dotsy c. 1949.
Mostly, we went to Cypress Hills’ swimming pool. We took the el train from Chauncey St. and Broadway Ave. After a couple of stops, we got off and were right by the pool. Most people didn’t know, or maybe they have forgotten, about the roller skating rink that was in the back of the pool. It was part of the same recreation facility. Once we got to the pool, if the weather looked like rain, we would opt to skate.

Swimming was my preference, but my sister, Dot, loved to skate. She was very good at skating. As time went by, she would take me skating every weekend, sometimes on both Saturday and Sunday.

Dotsy could dance on the skates and was determined to master every glide, turn, and move possible. How she put up with me, I’ll never know. I did learn a dance called the glide waltz. Once, Uncle Chuck was at the rink and was duly impressed with our performance. Of course, Dot just about carried me through the routine, so we would look good.

Lou c. 1954
After a while, Dot learned where other rinks in the area were located. We travelled to Hillside Rink and the Empire Rink. Dotsy acquired a pair of competition skates and continued perfecting routines. In time, she met the floor guard at the Empire Rink. And here, entered her future love and husband, Lou.

One summer late in the day, I got a chance to go to the pool with Billy, Anna, Mary, Joe, and maybe Freddy. I don’t remember who else went. I begged Billy to teach me how to dive. So, after a bit he told me how to curl my toes around the edge of the pool. While I was concentrating on these instructions, he took hold of my ankles, and dumped me into the pool, head first. Billy said: “Now you can dive.”

© 2013, Patricia Aronica

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