You can take the girl out of Brooklyn


I was born and raised in Canarsie, a neighborhood in Brooklyn. My block, 95th street is where a minimum of 20 kids dwelled-all friends including two of my best to this day, Dawn and Nicole. Summer days and nights were spent on our block playing tag, manhunt, red light- green light...we were never bored.
We had some trusty characters that helped keep boredom to a minimum. Jerry the bum for one, who wasn't truly a bum - but a man who worked in finance and lost his mind. Dressed in a suit everyday, he wandered around Canarsie and down our street daily. As out of sorts as he was, he was harmless. Singing Grandma was an older woman who lived one block over. She would walk up and down the block humming and singing. She never spoke a word to us. She too was harmless- as long as we didn't speak to her!  C was my favorite. As a result of scarlet fever as a child, she suffered a terribly high temperature that left her brain damaged. She was a fun-loving, innocent thirty something year old woman that was very childlike. She lived two blocks down and was a 95th street staple. Everyone in Canarsie knew her and watched over her. She always had a smile on her face and was always laughing. Besides growing up with so many kids on my block, these are some of the memories I have of growing up in Brooklyn. There was always something going on.

I moved to Long Island (the suburbs) the year I got married. I love it here...but not like I loved Brooklyn. I'm here for seven years and as much as it feels like home- it's not home. I don't know the people in the stores like I did in Canarsie. I don't see familiar faces in the playground. It's different. In Brooklyn, kids played in the front of their houses. Here- everyone plays in their backyards. As much as I love my backyard, I would love to hear the sound of children laughing and playing in front of our houses as well. It's just nice seeing people outside...guess living on a dead end doesn't help matters!

I came here to raise a family and am doing just that. The schools are amazing and I hope they both get the education my husband and I came here for (and am paying for in the taxes!) I just also hope that they find lifelong friends like I have. I know that they will meet school friends- Chloe has already- but will it be the same? My block in Brooklyn was so tight knit- such a community. I fear that living here- my children will never have the childhood I had. My childhood was remarkable- ask any kid from 95th street and they'll tell you the same.

The memories I have of being a kid, growing up on the block I did, are some of the best I have. I want that for my children because of how good it was. A firefly hunt/competition isn't as much fun with just your sibling. 20 kids deep on a stoop eating Italian ices, coming in filthy from a long day of play, all being annoyed by the same nosy neighbor (yea- I'm talking to you Thelma!)...camaraderie.

I never heard the word "playdate" before moving to the burbs. We just played or went over each others houses. We weren't ushered to and fro 3-4 different activities per week. We did kid things with each other. We didn't need outside sources because we had each other. I want my kids to experience friendships the way the children of 95th street did.

As much as I know Chloe and Max will never have the childhood I had, a mom could only dream it will be just as good- if not better. It may not be like mine- but I hope their version comes close in comparison.

Me (right) and Dawn- circa 1980!
Us at her baby shower over two years ago!
Me on the right again-funny!

A lifelong friendship that began in Brooklyn.









35 comments :

  1. What sweet memories you have as a child with your friends. I hope that you're able to create new friendships in Long Island as well. I think it's easier for kids to acquire new friends. Before you know it you'll have little ones coming to your house wanting to play with your kiddos. I can so relate to what you said about people only staying in their backyards and not ever coming out to their front yards. I think it's kind of weird. I introduced myself to my neighbors when they moved in to our neighborhood a year ago. I hardly ever see them. Our neighborhood is eerily quiet. I come from a latin background and my hubby is white and I'm not used to this. Thankfully I've met some great ladies at work and through the blogging community like SITS. :) BTW I signed up to follow your blog. :)
    www.findyoursparkle2.com

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  2. Thank you for the awesome comment and for the follow Luci! My husband is also latin- his mom was Puerto Rican, his dad Ecuadorian & Italian...so we are quite the mix over here too!
    I have met some wonderful friends here- ones that I truly love. It's just not the same as living in the neighborhood you grew up in. I would love to stop by one of my closest girlfriends houses for a cup of coffee or get together for a walk with my best friend while the kids are in school...if we all still lived in the same place- these things would be possible.

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  3. I absolutely love this piece! So beautiful and such a great read as I sit down with my first cup of coffee of the morning (oh yes, there WILL be more!) But don't worry, your kids will have a great childhood, whether they're in the front yard or back (though I love the front-yard play with the neighbors, too). It won't be like ours, but I bet our parents said the same thing about us.

    It'll be all theirs, and it will be wonderful!

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  4. Things have definitely changed. I grew up in the burbs of Boston. We lived on a street that was in the shape of a circle. We played all day in that circle and came back when it started to get dark. Not so much these days. We now live in Maine. We moved from our dead end road to a downtown area so that we could be in the middle of things. No one just goes out and plays anymore. It's kinda sad. But, I think my kids will still have a fun childhood. Just different.

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  5. I grew up in a 'perfect' little green-lawned town in the midwest and always DREAMED about New York! Always the brownstones. So exotic! Although, being a small town, we definitely had the know-everybody feel and all the kids on the block played unstructured. Good times. Good times. :-)

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  6. Thanks for checking out Aging Gal. Love NYC myself. Going for my 50th birthday in November!

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  7. Thank you for all of the great comments and stories of your own childhoods. I guess it is true- no matter where you live ,times have changed and kids just don't play out front like they used to.

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  8. I know what you mean! The first time I heard the term "play date" a woman I kind of knew was talking about getting our dogs together to play (I don't have children). Play date seemed like such a funny way to put it.

    I hear what you're saying about how you grew up. There weren't as many kids in my neighborhood as there were in yours, but we sure had our fun playing outside until we heard someone yelling for us to come home. Yes, those were the days...

    I loved this post. I just remember a house that was on the edge of our neighborhood that I'd for gotten about, that is now gone due to commercial progress. Red brick with a humongous patio! Thank you for allowing me to go with you down "Memory Lane" to reminisce.

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  9. sounds like you had a great child hood!

    popped over from Sits:)

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  10. Growing up, I remember being outside or roaming the neighborhood til around 7. Now when I hear my friends telling me about playdates and scheduled activities for their kids, I kinda wish that the kids could experience childhood like we all did. I'm sure your children will have an amazing childhood and form life-long friendships that will be their own version of 95th St. :)

    Thanks so much for visiting me Luci!

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  11. Thank you for the great comment and for stopping by too!

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  12. wow, those a great memories, when we move, we realize what a special time and place we lived in. I love the sense of security my sister and I had, we could be out of the house till dinner time and no worries. Now, it's just not the same and its sad.

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    1. It is a different time karen. I guess it's not only the location that had changed- it's just the time itself. I would never let my kids play in front of the house alone.

      Thanks so much for the support today!

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  13. What wonderful childhood memories you have. Times seem different now, for sure. But I hope when our children are grown they will still look back fondly on their childhoods, whether they were spent in the front yard or at the local playground or their backyard.

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    1. I think they will for sure. I keep my kiddies very busy and document everything we do- so they have no choice but to remember! LOl

      Thanks for stopping by today!

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  14. I lived out in the country growing up but I did have 1 friend, he was the only neighbor but he was my best friend.

    Happy Sits Day!! =)

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    1. Awww! That's cute Anna!

      Thanks for the support on my SITS day!

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  15. I loved the neighborhood where I grew up - not Brooklyn, but the suburbs of Jersey. There were a million kids and we all played - it was close knit and casual. Are there still neighborhoods like that? Is it the neighborhoods that have changed or the times? Beautiful post.

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    1. Thank you so much Ilene!

      I think it is the times...we can't allow our kids to play out front like we used to. It's a shame.

      I think they will experience more life has to offer this way though. We are always out and about on some sort of adventure!

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  16. I lived in Canarsie for about a month. It's where I was when I started my blog. The neighborhood has changed as everything does, but it's still tight knit... or at least it was two years ago, haha!

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    1. Wow- that's awesome...so you will never forget Canarsie! It's the birthplace of Classic Nyer!

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  17. You brought back so many memories, kick the can, baseball in the backyard, building tree houses, and playing till you heard your dad's whistle. Every dad had a different one and you better not say you didn't hear him.

    Getting free apples from the man with the orchard, cutting paths in the blackberries and eating till we were purple.

    Thanks so much for this post. Enjoy your SITS day.

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    1. Sheila- your comments are awesome! Thank you for them!

      My parents would just scream, "TARAAAAAAAAA" off of our terrace!!!

      I'm happy I brought back some wonderful memories for you.

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  18. I can relate. I grew up in San Francisco and moved to the suburbs a year after I was married. I've been here 20 years now and I still miss "The Big City." My kids are 19 and 15 and they do love being here. My oldest has also fallen in love with SF, but she's glad she was raised in nice, safe town. For all my great memories, I had some sketchy ones too. Also, until I moved here I never lived in a house or had a back yard, so it's a trade off. My kids love having parks and lots of family stuff to do. Stopping by from SITS today. Enjoy!

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    1. Hi Colleen!

      I'm happy here too. I know my kids will have an amazing childhood because I won't have it any other way!

      Thanks for the SITS support!!

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  19. Aw, I love this. I wish the same for my daughter. I was lucky enough to grow up next door to my best friend and her little sister, and we simply went over to each other's houses regularly. Daughter's best friend lives a few blocks away, so it's not quite as convenient but I'm doing my best to foster the "go over and see if she can play" lifestyle :)

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    1. I love the go over & see if she can play lifestyle too!! Just not happening for us here!

      My best friend lived across the street and we practically lived in each others houses...it was awesome.

      Thanks for the great comment!!

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  20. Very good, I have memories that I often refer to, it helps keep you balanced on your life. Happy SITS Day!

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  21. You know what's funny, I had the opposite experience - growing up in suburban Connecticut and now raising my kids in Brooklyn. I never ever would have thought that I would raise a family here but I absolutely love our neighborhood, our community and our neighbors. The fact that my hair stylist (who's on the corner of my street) came over the other morning to tell me that my car lights were on, that we know store owners, etc. There are definitely things that I wish my boys could experience like I did like exploring the woods and tree houses and the like but still.

    So happy it's your SITS Day!

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    1. I love Brooklyn Christine!
      It is such a community. That's what I miss.

      Thank you! It's been an awesome day filled with great comments and lots of support.

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  22. Happy SITS day! My mom was raised in Brooklyn many many years ago and tho her neighborhood has changed, she spoke of similar things as you. I grew up visiting my relatives in a different part of Brooklyn - Avenue N and also on Bay Pkwy. Now some of them are in Long Island and some Florida :-)

    My kids' childhood has been very different from mine but I guess that's just the way it goes...

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    1. Yes, Beth. I guess it is the way it goes...sad, but true!

      It doesn't mean it's bad...just different.

      Thanks for stopping by on my SITS day!

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  23. Hi Tara! (visiting you from SITS)

    After moving around quite a bit as a younger kid, my parents finally settled down out in the country in California. I can relate to your fond memories of childhood, except that my setting included a forest of eucalyptus trees and I had to ride my bike for a few miles to play with my best friend. I live in the burbs now and wish that my kids could also experience the joy of building forts & playing outside the way we all did as kids. And while we do play outside, it's not the same. I feel too protective of them and they certainly don't have the freedom to explore like I did as a kid.

    It's just a different world now, isn't it?

    Look forward to reading more!

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    1. I am so envious of Californians!! I am a lover of warm weather and wish I lived there every year the cold comes around. I love your comment and just imagined a little girl running through the eucalyptus trees!

      Headed over to check out your blog now!

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