My family lived in Whitestone and each summer, we were lucky enough to belong to Cresthaven, a country club located across the street from the Long Island Sound. The big attraction for us was the pool. During the week, the pool was used by the kids in the Christian Youth Organization, but after 5 p.m. and on weekends, it was our oasis. I learned how to swim and joined the swimming team but was never really a good swimmer. However, swimming in my younger days was a way to keep cool and swimming on a team gave me identity and a sense of belonging. It also became invaluable many years later.
Fast-forward to 1973. Now married and pregnant, I search for our first home and find it in Franklin Square. A dream come true, and what made our little home even more wonderful was when I discovered that four blocks away was Rath Park Pool! And for the next 30 years, most of our summer days were spent around that pool.
We would be waiting for the gates to open at 10 a.m., bring our lunch and picnic on the grass; go home for a rest and come back in the late afternoon for "one more swim!" Each of my five kids took swimming lessons and learned all the different swimming strokes. They later joined the Rath Park swim team and competed in meets. My daughter, Megan, even became a lifeguard at Floral Park's town pool. I sat back and happily took it all in!
As much as I would have liked to have life stand still, it doesn't. My children outgrew their pool days and moved on in their lives. But the pool was still four blocks from my home, so I began to take up swimming again. And it was far better than I ever could have imagined. I got so much out of it that I joined the pool at Eisenhower Park so I could swim year-round. Whenever I swam, I would always come out feeling physically and mentally refreshed. I often felt that if I looked hard enough, I would be able to see all of the worries and problems I've had in life, sitting at the bottom of the pool!
And what has swimming taught me? I've learned that balance is the key to being a good swimmer. If you are balanced in the water, you have no resistance and can cut through the water effortlessly. Working on staying balanced made me realize the similarities between life in and out of the swim lane. It hit me that, in life, if you work on keeping yourself balanced, you will be able to swim right through the stress and problems life throws at you!
PRESERVED MEMORIES OF BLISSVILLE
I was born in a house on Bradley Avenue, Long Island City, on June 3, 1940. My mom had help from a midwife to deliver me.
The area of Long Island City where we lived was known as Blissville and it bordered the Newtown Creek up to Borden Avenue, which later became the Long Island Expressway. To the south was the Calvary Cemetery. The steeple of St. Raphael's Roman Catholic Church on Greenpoint Avenue still stands today and can be seen from the LIE.
Going north on Review Avenue was a pickle factory. (I believe it was B&G until they moved.) Wow! You could smell the pickle juice every time they processed a new batch. The Long Island Rail Road tracks next to the factory would deliver trainloads of cucumbers every day -- many probably from Long Island farms. Some of the other factories in the area were Sunshine Biscuits, Chiclets gum, Stevenson's Pies, Breyers/Sealtest Ice Cream. The Macy's and Gimbels warehouses were also there.
The people of Blissville were friendly and neighbors would watch out for each other. The American Legion Hall on Greenpoint Avenue was instrumental in helping the kids stay out of trouble. We had Flo, who ran the Police Athletic League at the hall, and as teenagers, we had Irene and Bonsy run the dances. Right next door was Sis and Jimmy Wolf's Candy Store, a hangout where we played all the favorite songs on the jukebox.
After I graduated high school, I joined the U.S. Navy and served more than four years. I was an aircrew member with the Navy Airborne Early Warning Squadron Four, better known as the "Navy Hurricane Hunters." My training in the Navy was meteorology, which is why I was assigned to the squadron.
Anthony A. Kamanes,
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