Growing Up In The Bronx

 

Ok, I’m a bit prejudiced on this issue, but I contend that growing up in the Bronx in the sixties and seventies was a great experience. Not that a child growing up today has it bad, but we had it better! There is no arguing with me on this point. Just read below and get clued in.

My old neighborhood is now called Norwood, but back in the day it was called Bedford Park or Mosholu Park. I lived in a five story walkup apartment building across the street from a public school which had a playground and a recreation center. At the end of my street was a park, yes a park with trees and grass. On the other side of the park, also known as “across the park’ was a shopping area, a movie theater and the public library. We also had a wonderful local shopping area on Valentine Avenue, just one block from my building which featured a fresh produce store, Laundromat, candy store, deli, barber shop, drug store and butcher. A block down was an A&P and Associated Supermarket. Everything we needed was within walking distance. No need to hop in the car and drive two miles for a milkshake or a loaf of bread. No super centers or big box stores, just local merchants who knew you by name. We walked to school, even when it SNOWED! You read correctly, even when it SNOWED! School was hardly ever cancelled. Bullying was usually handled not by the school principal, your parents or a chat room moderator, but by you. A swift kick in the ass or punch to the mouth usually resolved the issue, even without the costly assistance of lawyers. Political correctness was defined as accepted behavior in our neighborhood. If you didn’t like something or someone, you avoided it or him- no hard feelings.

Life was good, particularly in the summer. All you had to do was go outside and your friends were there, waiting for a day filled with fun and mischief. No scheduled play dates, no video games, just a bat, a ball and maybe a water gun and our imaginations planned our day. We made tree forts, built skate boards out of wood found in a vacant lot and had a blast! When it was time for lunch or dinner, mom would shout out of the window for you to get back home. She didn’t need a smartphone to contact me.

Sadly, the old neighborhood turned ugly in the late seventies and there was a mass exodus. I read that it is ok now and I was planning on making a trip back to appease my nostalgia. A trip along memory lane would be just what the doctor ordered. However, those plans were quickly dashed when I recently read that someone was attacked in my old building with a machete by a group of thugs – so much for nostalgia.

Things are just a tad different today, better in some ways, worse in others.

I know I sound like an old windbag grousing about how times were better when I was growing up, but they really were!

Thanks to Google street view, you can take a stroll around what was the old neighborhood, enjoy.  My Old Neighborhood Today