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Remembering Gerritsen Beach in the 1930s and 1940s, I

By Helen Jacobs Quinn

Summer meant swimming all day in the creek, playing hide and seek on the corner under the streetlight at night, walking by neighbors’ houses, hearing soap operas or baseball games through the open windows. On the 4th of July, Mayor O’Rourke (who lived on Florence Avenue) put on a fireworks display for all the neighbors. Those summers seemed endless, but soon the weather turned cooler.

Autumn was just around the corner, and so was school! PS 194 with Miss MacDavitt--the principal--who was very stern but fair minded. The kids were all respectful towards their teacher. One teacher stands out in my memory: Miss Joyce, the music teacher. She tried so hard to instill music appreciation in her students. Seating was in the auditorium, where we would write down the title and composer of each song she would spin on the record machine. After school, out would come roller skates and jump ropes. And on Saturday morning, the sound of coal being delivered down the coal shoot. Then, as the cold weather arrived, winter made its appearance with 12 inches of snow storms. The canal would freeze over and ice skating season was here, with girls trying to do Sonja Henie twirls.

I recall going to the Graham Theatre, or as we knew it, the “Itch.” On a Saturday, a double feature was such a treat, and all for 10 cents! As the days got longer, it was a reminder that spring was on the way. As June approached, the countdown approached until that last day of school, when summer would arrive all over again.

All of these memories are from before WW II. After the war ended, we children became teenagers, meeting together at the Sugar Bowl. On Saturday night, for 25 cents we could gain entrance to the Chicken Coop for a few hours of dancing the Lindy or slow dancing to Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey records.

Isn’t it true that the older one gets the more vivid the memories of childhood become? But why not? After all, those were the “good old days.”

I may live on Connecticut these days, but I still have sand in my shoes.

 

Last changed: July 15, 2002