I know you may think it’s silly, but the fact that a “Falafel” place opened on Church Avenue instead of another “Nail Salon” or “Medical Office” is big news in my little world. You see, I’ve been here for a while and have seen Church Avenue in all its “Full Regalia” back in the 70’s. No need to re-hash history again, but it was actually a real nice strip back in the days of “Kojak” and “Charlie’s Angles”.
Oh right, history, the "Falafel Fusion" place sits right where “Lee’s Toy Store” used to be. You know I bought my first “Match Box” and “Hot Wheels” cars there back in 1968. Lee used to wear a lot of gold chains and tight fitting polyester shirts and pants on his pudgy little body. He also sported a real dark tan and looked like he just came from Brighton Beach everyday. Lee worked side by side with his wife too, Mrs. Lee, at least that’s what we called her. She had bleached blonde hair that was teased quite high, and it always looked kind of sticky and smelled like hairspray.
But nevertheless, they were both very nice people and never treated us like “little criminals” when we walked in.
“Hey kid, did you ever see a car like this?” Lee held a golden Hot Wheels car in his hand; it looked like a Mustang, except the little engine was coming out of the hood. “They call it “The Boss Hoss”, it’s a special edition you know”. I remember looking at the little car and thought it was fascinating. It was a gleaming gold color and was very heavy as I held it in my dirty little hand. “It’s only 99 cents, and I won’t charge you tax”.
Without a moments hesitation I dug into my pocket and pulled out a rumpled old dollar bill, I handed it to Lee. “Here, you get a brand new one”, Lee reached next to the counter and pulled out a new car in an un-opened box. “Now don’t get it all scratched up, it maybe worth a lot of money some day”.
I just said “thank you”, as he put the car in a brown bag and gave me my penny back. “Remember to tell your Mom I didn’t charge you tax”. “Ok I will”, I said, as I walked out the door and made the right on Church heading towards East 4th.
Well, I never listened to Lee and used to play with that car all the time. Even when I was going to College, I still had it on the top of my dresser by my bed. With most of the paint either chipped or rubbed off, the car just sat there in all it’s 60’s glory. Forever enduring the strange looks of my girlfriends who wondered what a nineteen year old was still doing with a “little car” on his dresser.
Yes, the “Boss Hoss” and I just “survived” that’s all.
As for Lee’s Toy store, well, like the rest of “normal” Church Avenue it left sometime in the 80’s. Leaving us with more “fruit stands” and “nail salons” than Sunset Park in the 70’s.
Cheap fruit and nail salons, wow, how magnificent and thrilling to be "Church Avenue" in 2008.
But today there is hope, a tiny glimmer you know. Just a small little “brick” that was recently laid down on an old foundation.
The foundation, well, thats Church Avenue, and the hope is “Falafel Fusion”. Because its nice to see a new business thats not hawking cell phones or painting your nails. Checking your blood pressure or selling shrink wrapped 99 cent trash.
Yeah, I could just see Lee now, in a polyester shirt, with gold chains around his tanned neck. Holding a Falafel in one hand and a small gold "Hot Wheels" car in the other, thinking about a Church Avenue he once knew, and wondering if I still had that car.