On my recent trip back to Brooklyn, I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.
As I walked through the streets of Windsor Terrace in broad daylight, I didn’t see any familiar faces. Actually, check that, I did see Mark Longo, who pulled up in his mini-van and called out to me. And while walking along 7th avenue, I did see Michael Larkin and his wife.
Boy have times changed.
For old time’s sake, I hung out on 9th avenue for over an hour on a warm, sunny, Saturday afternoon; I had a difficult time recognizing anyone. There were people of all ages walking up and down the avenue but none of them knew me, nor did I know them.
My vision is still decent, even with my Joe Maddon eyeglasses (knock on wood) and I have a solid memory but man o man; Where the heck did everyone go? I did see Mrs. Dolan walking down Windsor Place towards 10th avenue, I wanted to say hi but she was way ahead of me.
Don’t get me wrong, the neighborhood looks great with all the new places like the wine store where Wetters used to be, there’s a couple of new restaurants, and I’m sure all the new residents are wonderful people too.
Standing outside the lot on the 16th side, leaning against the chain linked fence I actually received a smile from a parent standing inside watching her child learn how to play baseball. I applaud the fathers who were out there pitching, catching and coaching the kids up. Fathers get a bad rap in today’s society about not being there for their children but kudos to these fine men.
I stopped in Krupa’s Grocery Store (the old Rae and Otto’s) and said hello to Ricky.
Across the street at Terrace Bagels (the old L&J) I walked inside and sat down for a ham and egg with cheese on a bagel. (By the way, Louie makes the best bagels so the residents in Windsor Terrace are very lucky) As I looked around the half-filled restaurant, there was not one face in the crowd that was familiar to me. I saw a young lady who looked to be in her 30’s on her laptop sitting by the front window. She was busy.
Outside on the avenue not a teenager in sight hanging out on the street corners. That’s all we ever did; especially on a Saturday afternoon. I’m sure the adults in our lives hated this but we always had the schoolyards; Once again though, the schoolyards were empty.
Connecticut Muffin (where Sunberry once stood) is a very nice coffee shop located on the Circle. There were a few couples sitting outside with babies in strollers enjoying their java; to my surprise, another smile from a friendly Windsor Terrace resident.
Inside I ordered a large skim latte with no foam, and a blueberry muffin. I cased out the joint for a table so I can get on my MacBook Pro to do some writing and check e-mail. Most of the tables were taken and again, not a familiar face in the place. I did happen to find an empty table up the stairs towards the back, against a window; this gave me a chance to stare out the window and watch people walk by. For 20 minutes or so, I didn’t recognize anyone.
You should have seen the dirty look a lady gave me from behind while I was on line waiting for my coffee, I guess she was perturbed that it was taking a long time to get our stuff and maybe she was taking it out on me or having a bad day. “EXCUSE ME!” she said as I moved to the side, waiting for my order. It’s amazing how some people behave without their coffee. One thing will never change, regardless of neighborhood/town or city, there will always be uptight folks. Years ago I would have snapped back at her but I took the cool approach and ignored her. It’s called, maturity.
After spending 30 minutes in Connecticut Muffin, I made my way over to the Parkside hoping to see someone sitting on the wall or even on a park bench; the same benches where we used to hang out as teenagers. Nothing doing. No one sits on the wall or benches.
There were tons of people walking in and out of Prospect Park with their babies in strollers but again, no one I knew.
I made my way down the parkside (Prospect Park Southwest) as far as the 10th avenue entrance (remember we had to meet there for track practice or baseball practice after school?) Inside the park I walked past Cherry Hill, across the road and over to the diamonds. Once again, changes. The one thing that stood out was the bleachers were gone. We spent many nights hanging out on the bleachers. Watching kids hit the baseball and run around the bases brought back memories of playing for Holy Name’s Bantam B team with our coach, the late Joe Farrell.
Heading back up to the avenue I strolled down Windsor Place between 8th and 9th avenue where I passed 2 people, total! I even went as far as passing my first girlfriend’s house right off the corner of Windsor and 8th and nothing, not a soul around. It brought back a ton of memories, the corner of Windsor and 8th avenue. We spent a lot of time on that block. We played stickball, coco-leave-e-o and the many nights hanging out on different stoops.
Back up to the avenue I always make it a point to head into Babbo’s Bookstore; Leonora, the owner is very nice. This place reminds me of Strand Bookstore in the city and of course it brings back memories of the Bookshelf that used to be on Windsor Place. I always have a nice conversation with her but even she wasn’t around. Yes, she’s entitled to a day off. Please be sure to stop in and pick up a book or two, it’s a great place! And by the way, what is it with cats in bookstores? It seems like everytime I go into a used bookstore, I see a resident cat. Don’t get me wrong, I love cats, we actually own one.
Overall it was a great trip as usual. But where did everyone go?
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