The inspiration for this entry came from our visit to my father in-law’s house during the Holidays.
John Muir once said, “Keep close to nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain, or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” I can hear you now, ‘who the eff was John Muir? Well, he was a naturalist. An outdoors type guy. He was an advocate of preservation of the wilderness. (Thanks Google-Wikipedia)
When I was a young boy my mother would take me to Greenwood Lake during the Holidays to visit my cousins who had moved there from 13th street and 4th avenue in Brooklyn. Up at the Lake, the grass was greener, the air was cleaner and it was lot safer than the city. The winter brought snow, cold and plenty of hot chocolate.
There was Lenny, who was a year younger than me. We did everything together. Corbett, Michael and Dori were about 5 to 7 years older than me. Ellie, the youngest was 3 years younger than me. She hung out with my younger sister. The leader of their family was my wonderful Aunt Eleanor. She was my mom’s older sister. She is also my Godmother.
From our apartment in Brooklyn we’d take the F-train to Jay Street where we would transfer across the platform for the ‘A’ to Manhattan. At 42nd Street we’d make our way up the stairs to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. I wondered why my mother would schlep her 3 kids to Manhattan during rush hour? There were so many people coming from work, looking to catch the bus home.
It was also a cesspool.
Bums everywhere. Not to mention the hookers, drug addicts and scum spread all over the place.
I felt like an extra in the film ‘Taxi Driver’.
Mom would purchase our bus tickets, hit up Nedicks for a hot dog and soda, pick up a few magazines and newspapers then grab a seat on the crowded New Jersey Transit bus for the 50 mile trip. As a kid, it seemed like the ride took forever. I always wanted a window seat.
What really sucked was we had to carry our own luggage. My arms would be killing me after we climbed each flight of stairs.
“Can we rest,” was a question posed to my mother the entire trip.
My Aunt would pick us up in town at the bus stop, right in front of the ‘Night Owl’ a bar in town where all the adults hung out. I remember ordering a pizza pie and taking it back to the house. It was a goal of mine to sit at the bar and order a drink. That goal would be met in my early 20’s as Dori bought me round after round of drinks.
I loved getting away from Brooklyn. The fact that we could be free for a few days brought so much joy to this city kid’s life.
No worries, no concerns, no noise! No B.S.
It was refreshing and invigorating.
Sure I missed my friends back home but when I was with my cousins up at the Lake, I was in heaven.
The house they moved into was owned by my Grandfather the late Ray Corbett; The place was huge.
A large kitchen, dining room and a big living room.
Downstairs there was a large basement where we hung out often listening to music.
Each one of my cousins had their own room.
It must have been around 1980 when I first watched ESPN. In the living room they had cable TV. Cable was still foreign in Brooklyn so every time we visited I would park my ass on their couch and watch TV.
Outside there was a built-in swimming pool. It went from 4 feet to 10 feet. I couldn’t swim so I stayed in the shallow part.
In the backyard we’d play whiffle ball. The only downfall was I never played basketball while up there except for a trip we would make to the local Middle School. During the winter we threw snowballs and built fort’s.
At night, in the summer time Michael and Corbett played for the Greenwood Lake Elks Softball team. The games would be played under the lights. I had never seen a softball or baseball game played under lights. We’d ride home in the back of a pick-up truck.
I was jealous. Oftentimes I had wished it was our family that moved to Greenwood Lake and lived in a big house, not in a crowded three bedroom apartment on top of a Hardware Store. I can remember when I’d get into trouble my mother would threaten to send me to Greenwood Lake to live with my cousins. I actually hoped and prayed she would. She never did.
To be honest, the outdoors was never my cup of tea though. I wasn’t into camping or hiking. Still not.
We were told to ‘go outside’ so we walked for miles.
Stopping at the ‘frog pond’ to try and catch frogs and toads, climbing trees and playing tag were just a couple of things we did on our adventure. I once got mad at a kid and threw a rock at him, hitting him square in the ass. I later got screamed at by my Aunt. The kid ran home and complained to his mother. I was a pitcher in the 6th grade, I had good aim.
I recall small surrounding towns like Monroe, Warwick, Florida and Tuxedo. Elie attended Tuxedo High School, Corbett Monroe-Woodbury.
For Christmas I am at Marty’s house in Ocqueoc, Michigan.
It brings back so many great memories of my time spent in Greenwood Lake.
As Marty would say, ‘it’s isolation‘; Which I don’t mind at all.
To quote John Muir once again, “The Mountains are calling and I must go.”