I was a transplant to Bay Shore in 1961 when I was 7. My family moved from the city into the first house my parents ever owned. It took some getting used to -- all that space and green and realizing that you could do whatever you wanted to without answering to a landlord.
My parents enrolled me in second grade at the Brook Avenue Elementary School. It wasn't until third grade, however, that I began to enjoy going to school. The school was a bit overcrowded, so my third-grade class was housed in sort of a large facility closet. But that didn't matter. It felt kind of special because it was different from the other classrooms.
My teacher, Miss Riggs, was into the whole folk song movement. She made sure we were well versed in the folk songs of the day (1963), along with learning other kinds of music. It seems that almost every day, we were singing a folk tune. To this day, when I hear "I Had a Hammer," I fondly think of her.
My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Murphy, worked with the art teacher. We made marionettes out of papier-mâché and we wrote a play incorporating all the puppets into the story. We put on the play for the lower grades over the course of two days; it was a lot of fun to do. Little did I know that this project would start me on my path to crafting and exploring the arts. I now enjoy photography and creating journalistic scrapbooks for others who have a special event to celebrate.
The early '60s were a wonderful time to be a kid. There wasn't anything to be afraid of; no looking over one's shoulder for fear of robbery or bodily harm. You could ride your bike to school or the store and leave it outside without thinking of it being stolen. Everyone knew everyone on your street and looked out for one another, especially the kids. It was such a simple time.
I worry that today's kids will never have any memories even close to what we had -- the camaraderie of the kids on your block; playing down by the brook; hanging out on a beautiful summer day without every minute being scheduled with something; having your mom call you in at dusk to have dinner. I really treasure those memories.
Liz Ciorciari,BrooklynSea Cliff beach, ice cream dreams
The Sea Cliff Pavilion in the 1950s and '60s was a great family hangout. Everything you wanted in the summer was there, including companionship and a snack bar.
Families could rent a cabana or a locker for all their beach stuff. Parents with children, teenagers and older people enjoyed coming here to swim or sunbathe. You could bring guests and enjoy the beach with them.
There were two floats for people to swim to, and these served as an incentive for children to learn to swim so they could meet their friends in the water. Our biggest thrill as children was to be treated to a Mello-Roll ice cream. It was a cylinder of ice cream pushed onto a cone with a flat bottom.
Sad to say, the pavilion burned down around 1966 and was never rebuilt. We loved this symbol of the nostalgic 1950s so much that we had a photographer take pictures of us and our growing family two years ago at Sea Cliff beach. The building is different, but the floats are still there, as are the wonderful memories.
Rosemary McKinley,SoutholdFreeport delights of Red Rover, boats
I was a true "Freeporter," having grown up there in the 1950s through the early 1960s. Freeport was a kid's delight. Every family in our neighborhood had lots of kids and not much spare cash, but we had fun.
We lived a block from the Baldwin Harbor Bridge, south of Atlantic Avenue. When we finished our chores, we were "free." We would walk over to the canal which separated Freeport from Baldwin, walk along the catwalk and chat with people who were on their docked boats. We played all sorts of games in the street or in a nearby vacant lot. At night, the parents would be outside, too, chatting away while they watched us play tag, Red Rover, Giant Steps, or chase after fireflies.
Thank heaven for bicycles! We rode all over the southern part of town -- all the way to the foot of West End Avenue, where there was a little beach area. Nearby, were Randall Park and Casino Pool (now a condo complex), where I learned to swim. We often rode down South Grove Street, past the home of band leader Guy Lombardo. Kids seemed a bit "freer" in those days.
Waiting for the Freeport Library bookmobile to come around was also a highly anticipated activity. Most families only had one car in those days, so we couldn't get to the main library easily.
And, yes, we walked to and from school. It didn't bother us, though, because there were groups of all ages doing the same thing. Ah, Freeport! My youthful paradise!
Linda Kay, Kings Park