I grew up in Flushing. We lived in the Carleton Garden Apartments at 75th Road. There were 24 families altogether who lived at 150-17 and 150-21 on 75th Road.
These people were not only neighbors, they were family. All the children hung out together and played. We roller-skated, played ball games like “stories,” stickball, scully, hide-and-seek, dodge ball and jump rope. It never crossed our thoughts to watch TV. We were busy having fun.
There was a very large empty lot across the street. We called it our happy hunting ground. We’d go there looking for frogs or snakes and on foggy days we’d get lost there. We could not see our hands in front of our faces. It was so cool in a magical, spooky way. The children went to different schools — either P.S. 164, Queen of Peace or St. Nicholas of Tolentine.
The men of the neighborhood took care of the lawns, the fences, the flowers, too. Some of them played poker. My dad was good at it and would win the “rent” for the next month, or if it became necessary, was paid in clothing for the five of us. We had some nice outfits because someone did not have a good hand that night.
The women sat outside talking about this and that. My mother was one of the “older” women, but was well liked.
I used to baby-sit quite a lot. I only charged 50 cents per hour. I was sometimes paid more because I was available on short notice and was good with my charges. Little by little, the neighbors left 75th Road to buy houses on Long Island.
My parents kept in touch by card at Christmas with many of them. They let each other know what was going on with their families.
Some even came to my wedding in 1972. I was thrilled beyond words to see them. I’ll never forget where I grew up. I remember the children I baby-sat for, who are all grown up. I would pay 50 cents for an hour with them all.