A FAMILY

This story was sent to me by Gerard  Hanvey

The Purdy Family

I, for some odd reason, remember the Purdy Family during the summertime of my boyhood in the 50s more than at any other time of the year.

It’s been years now but I can still see Mrs. Purdy sitting on the front stoop of the tenement house where I lived on 15th Street waiting for her husband to come home. Mr. Purdy would come home in his gas company uniform. They would talk for a while and, along with their son and two daughters, would get into their old car and go for an early evening drive.

Not many families owned their own cars in those days. The one the Purdy Family owned would not take first prize in any automobile contest. Women certainly did not drive. Not in this neighborhood! Men were in complete control of all machines.

There was a special kind of uniqueness about Mr. & Mrs. Purdy: a togetherness, a friendship, a love. They would drive away from the six family tenement house leaving behind their neighbors, and garbage cans, and children playing; always returning, looking refreshed and renewed. For the short time they were gone, the other housewives sitting on the stoop would gossip among themselves about Mrs. Purdy never cooking supper for her hardworking husband, always going out to eat, and wondering how she kept her apartment. But it was summertime; it stayed light longer; the top floor apartment they lived in became so hot; the rides were a nice way to cool off.

Sometimes they would drive to Coney Island or Sheepshead Bay; at other times, to Shore Road, taking in the view of the harbor with the refreshing breeze coming in off the water.

Those years passed quickly. Mrs. Purdy became ill and passed away. Mr. Purdy retired from the gas company and moved to another tenement house. Most all of the old neighbors have moved or passed away and there is no more gossiping. But I can still see them getting into that old car for a summer night’s drive. I can still see Mrs. Purdy waiting for her husband on that stoop.

I can still see love.

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12 Responses to A FAMILY

  1. Gary Lang says:

    Gerard’s story flooded me with many childhood memories.

    We lived at 276 Prospect Park West on the top floor and the summers were sweltering. We had one fan to cool us off and that was in my parent’s room. I can still recall lying in bed in what seemed like a pool of sweat, listening to Holy Name’s bells chiming “Holy God We Praise Thy Name.”

    On Tuesday nights we were able to stay up a little later than usual and my father would take us up on the roof to watch the fireworks from Coney Island. Looking back I realize that life was so much simpler then it is now and what little we had in life was worth so much more than kids of today have.

  2. TonyF16th St says:

    Simpler times meant simpler pleasures. Back then it didn’t take much to make people happy. Basically everyone in the neighborhood all came from hard working blue collar families with one stay at home parent and the “Old Man” did the providing. What ever we got was great and what we didin’t we didn’t miss because no one else had it either.

  3. jimmyvac says:

    Gary,
    I remember taking a quick cold shower, pat my self dry and try to get to sleep as soon as possible. We had a neighborhod watch back in the day.. it was the mothers in the front aries to escape the heat in the house to sit outside and watch us..
    Tony, you hit it on the head.I think we knew some kids had a little more but most of us were in the same boat. Most of my famlly vacations growing up were to my aunt’s summer bungalo in Northern NJ….

  4. Gary Lang says:

    Jimmy,
    I remember those ‘neighborhood watches’ as well. Hot summer nights would usually find scores of people in the arieways drinking cans of Rheingold, Ballantine or Schaeffer while shooting the breeze. Those of us who lived near 17th Street had the PAL during the day to keep us kids entertained. As dusk approached we would then play a ring of leveo or buck, buck until our mothers screamed out the window at the top of their lungs for us to come home.
    Tony,
    I look back now and realize the same thing you mentioned above; what we didn’t have didn’t matter because we learned to live without it. I often joked to my parents that if there was ever another great depression we wouldn’t have to worry about losing everything because we didn’t have anything. I said that not to be sarcastic but just as the simple truth.

  5. TonyF16th St says:

    It’s so true. Do you ever remember panicking about any thing other than maybe if you finished your homework. Kids and adults get all flustered now if they forget to DVR a TV show.
    Give me the good old slow paced life any day of the week. What ever happened to the adage “If it aint broke don’t fix it”?

  6. TonyF16th St says:

    I think I can honestly say the only time I was in a hurry was to finish supper so I could get back out onto the streets and down to 154 school yard or the park.

    • hoopscoach says:

      Tony,

      Good point; Some nights I wouldn’t even finish my supper. Mom would get mad at me.

      Walking up Howard Place I’d be anxious to see who was already in the boys schoolyard.

      I recall Saturday mornings always wanting to be the first kid in the yard.

  7. JIMMYVAC says:

    I remember playing stickball or touch tackle football, running into the house throwing a spoonful of Nestle’s Quick and a swig of milk, shaking my head back and forth and running back out to the game…. and I was not the only one who.. supper was eat quick and get out to play in the street, park or schoolyard.
    As a kid, I was told no sometimes but we seemed to get over it alot quicker and find something to do…

  8. Jack Kelly says:

    I lived on the top floor of the big aparment house right across from Key Food with no A/C. It was brutal during the summer and many a night me and Eileen would head to McBears to watch a Mets game and cool off. And yes it was so bad that I even went to my In-Laws home to enjoy the A/C. So good for Mr. and Mrs. Purdy

  9. sal capatasto...capo says:

    I LIVED ON THE TOP FLOOR OF 444 15 ST. I CAN REMEMBER MY DAD COMING HOME N HEADING UP TO THE ROOF. WE WOULD SIT UP THERE FOR HOURS. MY BROTHERS MY SISTERS N MY PARENTS HANGING OUT. DAD HAD A HIBACCI GRILL HE GOT OFF A MOVING JOB, THOSE WERE THE BEST HOTDOGS IN THE WORLD…HE CALLED IT TAR BEACH.. WE CALLED IT PARADISE. MISS MY BROOKLYN DAYS.

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