From: Fred Mockler
Date: 29 Dec 1998
I was reading the "I Remember" series. Don't forget old Abe Sherr, the tailor and shirt presser on the spot somewhere between Everett & Devon. He was a character. He would rent out your clothes if you didn't pick them up when they were done. Also, Dr.Robson, the dentist up above Weiner's Drug store. Old Doc Robson would have a few shots of rye before he pulled a tooth. He didn't like blood.
Does anybody remember "Praying Annie?" Old Praying Annie used to trot up and down Bartlett Pl. and kneel in front of each house and pray. She also made it to my old place on Landis Court. One morning I was running out the house and I ran right into her. I tripped right over her, kneeling in front of our door.
Who remembers "MOLLY," who lived on Kay Ct? Molly was an alcoholic; she lived alone with her 4 dogs. Her house was directly behind my Dad's. The wire fence is all that separated the properties. Molly had a lot of fruit trees in her back yard, peach trees, apple trees, and a lot of grape vines. They prospered in her yard. She would walk around the end of the blocks, Kay, Landis, & Merritt courts, at low tide, picking up dead fish, digging clams, anything she could find, and bury it in her yard as fertilizer.
Anytime any of the guys--me, Andrew Olson, his brother Kenny, Butch McCabe (Jimmy Kenny), the Campbell boys, Alec & Barry, the DeMellows, Artie, and his brother Red, and then Jimmy Norris, and Skippy Kelly, and his brother Schawn, and Franny McDonald, and Tommy, we would love it when Molly would be down on the beach at low tide, digging clams. We would all go and help her dig. You see, Molly never wore panties, and when she used to squat to dig, we ll used to get a peek and snicker, and giggle. It was just something young boys got a kick out of. One time Andrew Olson squirted her with a "piss clam" and she hit him on the head with the shovel. I know this is a crude memory, but it's funny, and that was life growing up in Gerrittsen Beach.
There was also Mrs. Walden, who moved into old Joe's house, at the end of Bartlett Place. She had a dog named "BLUE," and about 10 cats. She would pay us 5 cents for each bagaul fish we would catch for her to cook for her cats. She also was a nice lady, very pleasant, and treated us kids great. She would bake us cookies, and make hot chocolate.
There was mention about the honey barge. That was a treat during the summer. At 6 am, that barge, towed by a small tug, headed for the SANDS. It went way back behind the point, and pumped out its cargo of "PHOOEY< PHOOEY" into the weeds. Then, at about noon, it was empty, it would head back to the Sewer Plant on Knapp St. We would get up bright and early, swim out and meet the barge. We would get behind it, and the undertow would drag you along with it. It wasn't strong enough to pull you under, but strong enough to drag you along with it. It was great if you had a tube. We used to swim out of its wake about near the bridge, and swim over to the bridge site. We had a long rope tied to the underside of the bridge, and we would swing out and let go and see how far we could hit the water. It was great. Every now and then, we would muster up enough courage and jump off the bridge.
Anybody that had the great fortune to grow up in Gerrittsen Beach, between the late 30's and late 60's was really lucky. I know I had the best childhood I could ever hope for. After the late 60's started, things started to change, and it's just not the same. I know a lot of my old friends are still on the beach, but, I don't think I could capture anything to compare with those days of yesteryear. I got married in'63, and moved to E 18th street, and never moved back. From E 18th, to E 31st, then to Mastic Beach, Long Island, then upstate. My parents moved to Center Moriches in '69.
Now and then I pay a visit to the old neighborhood, pass by the old house, memories galore, but I don't think I could ever move back there. It would be for me, trying to re-kindle a flame, that's been long gone out. Many a day I sit and wonder whatever became of my old childhood buddies. I still keep in touch with quite a few, but there are that certain few you lose contact with, and seem to be lost forever in your life.
When I was 12 years old, my folks sent me to Military School. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the old headmaster's widow. She is living near Newburgh, and it was such a wonderful experience to sit with this elderly lady, (89) and talk about my stay at her school. It would be great if I could do that with "That old gang of mine!"
Many years ago, at PS 194, there was a teacher named Mr. Collins. I'm sure anybody reading this, and attended that school remembers this gent. He was a very proper man. If he caught you "day-dreaming" in his class, he would ask you what you are doing? When you answered "Nothing", he would say, "How do you know when you are finished?" Well, around 1964, I was working for a butcher on Nostrand Ave. One nice day, in walks Mr. Collins. I recognized him right away. I said, "Hello Mr.Collins, what are you doing?" When he said, "Oh nothing!" I piped up, "How do you know when you are finished?" Well, if you could have saw the look of surprise on this man. He just stared at me, and I looked at him and shouted, "GOTCHA!" With that we both burst out laughing. Boy, I waited about 15 years to say that!
I wonder who remembers the teachers at 194??? McDavit was the principal, a real "HAG." Well, she was! And there was Mrs. Bradley, Mrs.O'Brian, Mrs. Tomasulo, Mrs.Kelly. . . who else??? Remember Mrs. Dash??? And there was also Mrs. Neglia, and the teacher who always read the 23rd psalm?????
Its easy to think up old experiences once you get started. I guess you just have to be in the mood. And I got a million of them. I was considered a "Devil" by many a neighbor. BUT, although we did plenty of pranks, we never hurt anybody, nor did we do anything that was unlawful. If we did, old Tom Fox would pin our ears back! I guess that's it for now. . . hope you enjoyed this. Happy New Year.