Susie's World

The following guest post was written by my friend Susie and lightly edited by yours truly. Susie is a life-long New Yorker, a graduate of the City University of New York, and an absolutely extraordinary person.

Take the A-Train!

Hi, all! My name is Susie. I grew up in Queens County, one of the five boroughs of New York City. When I grew up, the area code was still the classic "212" or the newer "718" for every house and apartment. Cell phones did not exist and beepers came in the late 80s. On the streets, all you had were payphones for use at ten cents a call. Welcome, my friends, to the way things used to be when I was growing up.

We frequented the shopping meccas that are 125th, 34th, 14th, and Delancey Streets in Manhattan; 3rd Avenue and Fordham Road in the Bronx; and Junction Boulevard, Jamaica Avenue, and Main Street in Queens. We wore designer clothes from stores that no longer exist or barely hang on, with names like Alexander’s, Sears, May's, Gimbels, Korvette's, Macy's, Woolworth, and more. Our parents went to those stores, bought what they could, and we wore what they brought for us, or we worked to get those things they didn't.

Oh, the prices in those days! $1.50 heroes (that's a sub, grinder, or hoagie to out-of-towners) with salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar with a 25-cent can of soda on the side. There was nothing like a dirty-water dog with mustard (the water's normally salty, never dirty), relish, and a knish with mustard! The tastes were unbeatable, tell me you agree! 😁

A dollar got you a bag of chips—a real bag, not 99% air and 1% chip pieces—the brand-name snack cake of your choice, a soft drink, gum or a pack of sunflower seeds, and don’t forget the penny candies! And if you had $5, the food world was yours for the taking! You could get a slice (a pizza slice for non-NYers) for $1 or $1.50 if you wanted extra cheese or pepperoni. A Jamaican beef patty with coco bread went for $2, while an order of chicken wings and french fries would cost just half the kingly sum in your possession. And to further entice customers to spend their hard-earned cash, six chicken wings were normally added to the mix!

School was mandatory and the cool teachers made it fun. We watched our mouths around our elders as best we could because everyone knew you and who your parents were. When you got home, you took your bookbag off, did your homework as soon as you walked in, then you ran outside. We played handball, paddleball, stickball, punchball, manhunt, tag, freeze tag, dodgeball, basketball, football, skelzies, kickball, and my favorite, hopscotch. We were in the streets all afternoon. Staying in the house was a punishment! In Summer, we opened nearby fire hydrants; in Winter, we had snowball fights.

TV was everything at night, especially on Friday nights, while cartoons ruled Saturday mornings. We watched Charlie’s Angels, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Dallas, Scooby-Doo, Speed Racer, Gigantor, School House Rock, and Magilla Gorilla. Those were our shows for our time! And we didn’t need tv remotes—we were the tv remotes!

And there were more special things, of course. The internet came around, but it didn't register with us until AOL and AIM came arrived. When it did, then it was a go… with 17 different screen names! 🤣🤣 Bored? Ha! We rode anywhere in the city by train, bus, or cab. Your block stoop or your building hallway were legendary in the whole neighborhood. WE WEREN'T AFRAID OF ANYTHING! We played until the streetlights came on or if you had a curfew.

Those were my wonderful younger days. I loved my childhood! I hope this gives today's kids some understanding of how we grew up!

❤️❤️❤️***Good Times*** ❤️❤️❤️

Be Great, You All!

Thank you, Susie! It's nice to see that I'm not alone in relaying memories of a youth spent in Queens. Susie grew up miles away from my home, and we only met one another in the late eighties. Our youth lives on… if only in our minds. 😄😄😄

All the best,

3 Kudos


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Möbus's profile picture

A good blog of memories, it made me yearn that invisible yet palpable sense of integration with the community of New York and the infamous Queen.

Really lovely post. Thanks to both of you.

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Möbus, I'll pass along your wonderful comments. Thank you! Now, as for Queens being infamous... well... it just depends on where you go. I guess that's the same for any big city. I recall my first time in Denver. WOW! All was fine, but then I crossed Colfax Avenue. I went from downtown Denver to London during the Blitz in 15 seconds! The same thing occurred in Baltimore, when I drove just a few minutes from the harbor area. Holy post-apocalyptic nightmare, Batman! And there are rural areas in the South and even here in the Northeast that I ran into... and away from. Jed Clampett on meth is not going to shoot me!!!

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