Kensington hasn’t always been the “Melting Pot” of ethnicities that it is today, "The neighborhood of a thousand languages”, "The United Nations of Brooklyn", "The land of a hundred flags".
No, back in the 60’s and 70’s, Kensington was mostly Jewish, Jewish, Jewish, Irish, Italian, and then “Me”.
Yes, your not so typical Spanish/Polish “how did your parents meet again?” “Mutt”. Who knows, maybe I was sent here to send the natives a “message” about what was in store for Kensington. Maybe we where the first “seed” of our own future planted here in 1948. The year my Grandfather Paco bought 399 East 4th.
But Hell, if I knew there were any “seeds” planted on Church Avenue, in the form of "stores" that would have grown to their present day "beauty". I probably would have dug them up and smashed them with a hammer. Especially that dump next to the Deal 99 Cent store, where all the clothes are in cardboard boxes, what’s that all about? That place used to be a wonderful Jewish Deli back in the day. I bought my first "Kosher egg roll" there. Really.
And the rest of Church Avenue was actually a real nice strip of decent quality stores. No cheap 99 Cent Stores or Nail Salons. Take out Chinese? No, but we had a real “Chinese” Laundry right on the corner of Beverley and East 2nd street. You know, they actually used to wrap your clothes up in brown paper, and then tie them up with white string. Imagine that?
But back to the story,
So now sixty years later my son and daughter fit right in here. Lets see, Spanish, Mexican, Polish, Irish, German, Scottish, French and Wasp.
Wasp? Lopez? Shhh, Don't tell my wife's Dad "The "Preist" family came here on the "Mayflower" you know". "Well, my family came here with "sacks" of "flour".
And boy, did my "last name" twist his Texas underwear!
But still, so far, so good, and I thought I had it all down.
And then one day came my friend......“Oy Vey,”
So get this, I find out after 49 years of being raised a “Catholic”, that my Polish Grandmother, my Moms mother, was actually Jewish. “Davidwitz” that’s not exactly O’Malley you know. And she used to speak Yiddish and make homemade “Gefilte Fish”. Why the hell was I kept in the dark about this? No wonder I had no Irish friends and always hung out with all the Jewish kids at 179 and Ditmas. I used to love Jewish food too, and my Mom made it almost every day. Dam! It was probably "there" in me all the time.
Sure, and now it all makes sense! The nuns up at IHM must have known something too, because they pulled on my ears and hit me on the head more than the Irish and Italian kids!
So now I’m really really confused, and mad at those nuns again. And to top it off my son's first cousins are African American and he insists that he's part African American now too.