What are your fondest memories growing up? Now living in a predominantly Caucasian suburban town with my two-year-old, I am itching to share some of my fondest city times with my little boy. My first son, Cliff, grew up in my childhood home in Brooklyn and slept in my old bedroom, where I’d stare out the window daydreaming and wondering where the train that was around the corner would someday take me.
Outside that same window, I made telephone cans with string and would sit on the roof and play telephone with my best friend, Leticia, who lived two doors down. We could have fun anywhere doing anything in those days. We didn’t need a TV or a radio back then. We had imagination!
Cliff even went to my old elementary school, P.S. 179, which was right across the street from my home. I’d stand at the door and watch him walk to the end of the block with tears in my eyes, feeling like a mom, but also like I was floating through time and the past. It was almost surreal to see him go to my old school. He even had my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Crupi! She was sweetest woman next to my mom that I’ve ever encountered – and she always smelled like chocolate cookies.
Some of the best times of my life were being a “city kid.” On my “little island” – as we called our one city block – we had the pizzeria, a deli, the movie theater where
I saw my first movie, Orca, with my mom, and the OTB, where we knew all the dads hung out. The F-train was located right at the end of Church Avenue and that led to “The City”….oooh! (Little did I know I’d be taking that same train twenty years later and wearing all black for a good portion of my twenties in “the city”…ooooh!)
The fun was on Avenue C, not Manhattan – where I played dolls on my stoop with my friends and drank Pepsi from a bottle that was delivered by the milkman and left in a silver little box on our porch. I watched my brothers play street hockey and we also played “Red Light-Green Light 1-2-3” and ran outside all day from sun-up till sun-down. Those days we hardly watched television and loved the outdoors. We rode our bikes over the bridge to Prospect Park, which I realize now was just a small walk away – but as a kid everything seems so much bigger.
Well, walking through the aisle with Logan at the supermarket recently, I found a little gem out of the corner of my eye -the unmistakable brown bottle of U-bet chocolate syrup. I grabbed it and shouted to Logan, “I used to drink this as a kid!” He was unimpressed as he busily tore into an unpaid-for box of Lunchables.
This bottle transported me back to my childhood kitchen where my oldest brother would make us malteds before his baseball games. I don’t think I’ve ever told them how much fun I had growing up with them in our home. It was the place to hang out because mom made the best food: West Indian dishes, sausage and pepper heroes, and she even knew how to make lo-mein better than the Chinese restaurant.
We lived in a neighborhood created by Jewish, Italian, Spanish and Russian cultures.
We were raised to be proud of ourselves and respect others. They were some of the best times of my life and as I raise my little one and help guide my oldest, I hope to instill in them the lessons my mom taught us in the best way she knew how, with all the love that she shared. I am proud to be a city kid!
Lisa St. Hill is an accomplished artist and instructor in fashion, dance and yoga with training from the Fashion Institute of Technology of NYC. A proud mother of two sons, one 22 and one 2 years old, she created the fashionable postpartum corset called My Goddess Wrap, which is featured in Connecticut ‘s largest lifestyle magazine, Serendipity.
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