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. And I took it every day to The High School of Art and Design in NYC on Second Avenue and 57th street.
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 maybe an old token somewhere in the floor boards.
Well, for once someone took a chance and opened up a type of restaurant that we would usually drive to Bay Ridge for when we wanted to drop some more than "Yummy Taco" dollars. And don't get me wrong, I love places like "403", and order from there quite often. But when you talk "going out to dinner" it's usually not somewhere on Church Avenue, at least on in 2011. No, that was Scrolla's, and that was about 30 years ago when we had some decent quality places.
So maybe, just maybe if this place survives and is profitable, others may look at it as some kind of "canary in a coal mine" and possibly open another quality restaurant. Because let me tell you the market for this type of venue is here and always has been here. Expect they have been going out to dinner in Bay Ridge, Park Slope or even Ditmas Park instead. Last night at Sake a line was starting to form outside, something I haven't seen since they showed "Death Wish" at the old Beverley back in 1975.
And it was nice actually walking home after "going out to dinner" instead of driving six miles from Bay Ridge.
Sake Japanese Cuisine 324 Church Avenue, on the southwest corner of E. 4th Street. Phone: (718) 851-5299
Do yourself a favor and watch where you walk, especially anywhere near one of those Con Ed metal plates on the street or sidewalk. Because this is the time when snow melts and fills those electrical boxes with salt water from all that snow. And salt water and electricity are really not a good match, along with a human or dog walking on top of them. There have also been reports of Con Ed hiring car service drivers to watch over some of these "hot spots" in Kensington and Windsor Terrace. Be on the look out for "caution tape" and "orange cones" near these danger spots, along with some guy sitting in a car to watch over you. Now, I'm not going to get into how Con Ed is handling this, I mean "car service" drivers to watch over you? Well, I guess it's better than nothing, especially if the guy can help you avoid getting electrocuted and sent to Pitta's before your time.
The old woman moved very slowly down the cold concrete sidewalk of East 4th street. Her body was bent forward as she used the tiny blue shopping cart to help steady her walk. With her knuckles swollen and her hands looking somewhat distorted, she gripped the cart's thin metal bar for dear life. Wearing her old favorite tan overcoat and dark sunglasses she had hair as white as a new fallen snow. The wind was bitter cold as it blew against her skin, she seemed to be counting her steps as she walked. The wheels of the cart squeaked quite loudly and made a sound that was almost seemed musical, the spokes just glistening in the morning sunlight. I watched her until she vanished around the corner onto Beverly Road.
She was tall and beautiful with long brown wavy hair and dark blue eyes. There she stood under the big clock at the Hotel Astor in Manhattan. “Hey gorgeous, how about a movie tonight?” The young woman smiled as she glanced back up at the clock. It was five minutes to six and her date would be there any minute. His name was Ray Ravelli, and he was a professional boxer. Tonight there would be a lot of stopping on the way to dinner, because everyone knew Ray when he walked through Times Square. As the clock struck six and the bells gently tolled, she saw Ray walking towards her. She smiled as he took her hand.
“Hey Ray, when you going to fight Graziano again.” With quickness in her steps she pulled him along through the busy sidewalks of Times Square. Ray, unable to answer the question from the stranger just turned to her and said, “Hey Stella, how about we just get married and move to California?”. She just looked at him and shook her head "No".
She looked into the mirror and closely studied her face. The mirror just looked back at her, staring straight into her eyes. “Who you looking at you old woman!” The lady in the mirror just smiled back. With much caution in her steps she slowly walked out of the bathroom and headed towards her favorite chair by the window, her old bent finger flipped up the switch of her radio. She loved “Prairie Home Companion” on a Saturday night. Then she reached into her bathrobe pocket and pulled out her mother’s old magnifying glass. She placed it against the face of her watch and slowly drew it towards her blue eyes. It was six o’clock and time for another beautiful sunset over Brooklyn.
My Mom never married Ray the boxer. He wanted to elope and move to California, my mom just wasn’t that adventurous and instead decided to stay in New York and make Brooklyn her home. She loved the excitement of Brooklyn and especially the young people. “Do you think I want to live with a bunch of old people and hear all their stories about aches and pains? no, I’d rather live with the young, at least they help you forget that you’re old”.
My mom died on October 13, 2001 at the age of 83. She never left Brooklyn, and I never remembered to oil the squeaky wheels of her carriage.