In a time when ELO and Queen ruled the jukeboxes of our local Windsor Terrace and Kensington bars, we had the F-Express to Manhattan. It was our own European “Bullet Train”, and it stopped right here, at Church Avenue.
Now I was a pretty lucky kid you know. Back when all my friends were either getting mugged or beat up at Erasmus on Flatbush Avenue, I was going to the “High School of Art and Design” on Second Avenue and Fifty Seventh Street in Manhattan.
Talk about culture shock for a boy from Brooklyn. A school where kids of all races just got along with each other and never had a fight. A school where some of my best friends turned out to be “gay” without me ever even knowing or even caring. A school that had to have the best-looking girls in NYC hands down. It was such a wonderful place that was so different from anything you could have ever imagined, including Ditmas JHS, where I had just graduated from earlier that year.
The guys from the block just could not comprehend what I was telling them when I described the “Halloween” party there in October of 1975. Guys in drag, girls hardly dressed, and a walking condom squirting milk. Not to mention we actually "voted" not to have a prom. But then again what would you expect from the Alma Mater of Harvey Fierstein and Tony Bennett. We were just too cool. Oh, A&D, it was just the best school in the world, and so much more fun than "Commuter College."
But back to the F-Express, the train I took every day to High School.
The F-Express stopped at Church Avenue, 7th Avenue, and then Bergen Street. It was really a time when hardly anyone got on at Fort Hamilton Parkway or 15 Street Prospect Park. Maybe all the Moms were home and the Dads worked in Brooklyn, who knows. But bottom line, those stations were not very crowded back in the early 70’s. And I know because I was there every day if I missed the F-Express.
Next Stop Seventh Avenue, Methodist Hospital
Then there was Seventh Avenue. The “Park Slope Pioneers” just walking on to the F-Train with their New York Times. Why the hell would they all want to live in that “rat-hole” of a neighborhood for? A place where all the streets are on a slant and no one has a driveway? How many times this week did you get mugged? You can keep that joint, I’d rather stay here in Kensington. Imagine we actually had better schools than Park Slope in the 70’s.
Next Stop Bergen Street.
I remember the train used to barrel out of the 4th Avenue tunnel at speeds well over 55 mph. The F would pass the platform in less than 5 seconds. The local would look like a blur as we rocketed by it. Before you knew it you were passing Smith 9th street and going down the big curve. This is when I would be lucky enough to see the progress on the World Trade Center. Just a skeleton of a building getting higher every week. It was really history seeing that building go up on the way to High School every day. So sad what happened.
Forget Carroll, next stop Bergen Street.
Now the characters that got on at this stop, I don’t know. Just a bunch of tough guys either going to their construction site or maybe to my school to kick some “sensitive” artist's ass. All I can say is they all wore black leather jackets and did not look like "yuppies." Yeah, how ya doin, are you some kind of artist or something?
Next Stop Jay Street Boro Hall.
Ok, so that was it. Even though I still had over a dozen stops still ahead of me. But let me tell you, I was at Lexington Avenue and 53rd street from Church Avenue in about 45 minutes, no kidding.
So remember the F-Express and a time when ELO and Queen ruled the juke boxes in Kensington. A time when PS 179 was the "school" and PS 321 was not.
But hey, I bet you that Denny’s still has ELO and Queen on their jukebox. And how does that saying still go? Just a dollar and a dream, just a dollar and a dream.