A good ole friend of mine named Philip Farruggio has always shared my past roots being born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is a writer for many audiences dealing with his love for earth, people, and writes about the decaying society we are now feeling in government and life in general. He sent me his published works and the heading was, “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY WORLD.”
His words, “It would take this writer far too much time citing anecdotal evidence to show how great it was then as compared to … NOW! You could have been born anywhere in the USA, and experienced how simple it was back then and people talked and work with other.
“Imagine city beaches on hot and steamy days when the water was not polluted with runoff waste and garbage? We had the milkman delivering glass containers of fresh “cream on the top” milk to our doorstep.
There were a myriad of “Mom and Pop” retail shops in every neighborhood throughout our diversified borough. The mall was still a thing of the future… thank goodness for that! There were supermarkets, yes indeed, but most of our Moms (yeah, lots of families only needed one breadwinner in those days) would still frequent the local butcher, bakery, produce store etc.
I can recall when, during my youngster years in the 50s, we had an old school Italian family around the corner that grew all kinds vegetables and lettuce… and sold them at real low prices. Many families, especially the Italian and Jewish ones, loved to order old fashioned Seltzer from… who else, the “Seltzer Man!” He would come by our block each week to pick up the empties and refill our orders. Imagine!
The local candy store, some called them “luncheonettes,” was the meeting place for the neighborhood men to argue sports, the ladies to share gossip, and we kids to hang out after school. They stayed open late each night so as to receive delivery of the next day’s Daily News or Mirror… which contained the daily number (derived from the handle at the local thoroughbred racetrack).
My street, or “block” as we referred to it, had around 100 families living in two-family homes. Usually one occupant was the owner, or “landlord,” and in the other apartment was the tenant. In those days there were not as many “absentee landlords” as there are now. We had a few in each neighborhood, but that was the exception, not the rule. Most families saved up for a house, and used the rent from the tenant to help with the mortgage… obtained, by the way, at a local neighborhood bank, where the mortgage paper stayed… not sold and bundled as investment instruments like today.
Our block was like a small village. Everyone knew each other for the most part, and would interact accordingly. Yes, we had the usual feuds and arguments over “who did what to whose front yard or parked car etc.” Yet, most neighbors would sit outside on their stoops in the evenings and kibitz.
We boys didn’t need to go to the park to play. We had the street and sidewalk and backyards to conduct our punch ball, touch football, stoop ball, slap ball, box ball, Chinese handball, ringaleveo, etc… As long as the weather was OK and there was still daylight, we stayed out there until our parents yelled for us to “Get in and finish your homework.”
Nowadays the newest joke is the father telling his son “You’ve been acting up so I am punishing you by making you go outside to play.” The era of the electronic gadget was nonexistent in those days… and thank goodness for that! We were, to coin the phrase, Street wise!
Now, anyone with a real understanding of history, and not the revisionist type taught to us in the 50 and 60s through our schools and media, knows things were not so great then. Our nation was in the midst of a so called “Cold War” with the Soviets, which could have easily been averted.
Our American Empire was orchestrated after World War 2 by the Military Industrial Complex, which used it to line its own pockets and increase its prestige. The Russians had their own “inner sanctum” of greedy and powerful interests doing much of the same… and the serfs of both nations all suffered.
The “A-Bomb” drills at my elementary school could attest to that. We were hurried into the hallway to lean against the walls, or ordered under our desks. One must read William Blum’s Rogue State or Stone & Kuznick’s The Untold History of the United States to assess the damage our empire was doing during those decades.
Yet, we still had Dem Bums in Brooklyn to root for, until of course ’58 when they moved to L. A. Their owner, Walter O’Malley, got a great deal from the city of Los Angeles after the tyrant Robert Moses refused to grant him land for a stadium in downtown Brooklyn.
Despite losing our beloved Dodgers, we still had Coney Island with the beaches, all those rides and of course the great Nathan’s Famous. We had Sheepshead Bay with the great seafood restaurants and fishing boats. We had Fulton Street in downtown Brooklyn with fabulous shopping, anchored by the celebrated Abraham & Strauss department store. Our subway system was perhaps the best in the country, used by many of our dads each day to travel to work and leave the family car at home.
Brooklyn College was one of the largest and finest educational institutions in perhaps the whole country… and it offered FREE TUITION! In those days one needed at least an 88 high school average and high SAT scores to be admitted. Imagine that!
Well, that world for us baby boomers is gone forever. Our kids and our grandkids will never understand how great things were then… despite the flaws. Yes, there was “unofficial segregation” throughout Brooklyn in the 50s and 60s, and a great deal of racism and prejudice.
Many times this writer would hear the expression “Jewed” me down. Many of my friends, the ones who went to Catholic school, actually felt that it was the Jews that killed Jesus… of course never being taught enough times that he too was… Jewish!
Well… enough reminiscing… Sad how this 21st Century America is a land of box stores, fast food franchises and chains and of course… Wal-Mart… (the king of all the beasts!”)
April 13th, 2015
(Philip A. Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a freelance columnist (found on Nation of Change Blog, Truthout.org, TheSleuthJournal.com, Worldnewstrust.com, The Intrepid Report, The Peoples Voice, Information Clearing house, Dandelion Salad, Activist Post, Dissident Voice and many other sites worldwide).
Well, many of your readers are not old enough to remember how it was back then. People just got along, respected the law and were happy to just raise our families, eat meals with them and respected their elders. The way life is going on currently, maybe we won’t live to see the next century as we kill each other off. Is there anything to say about making an honest dollar anymore? And, of course, the taxes keep rising with the potholes all over the city parkways and streets.
At this time, you are likely to feel that your life structures and what we have already created, feels like a static organism. We do need creative change to keep us alive. Everything feels oppressive and the most structured aspects of your life, such as your job, your marriage and relationships as well as our daily routines struggling to become dull routines. Don’t try to sit back, ignore and grin and bear it.
The readjustments you make now as you are a part of our whole creation. Living is to achieve a balance between order, discipline and then now is one of the greatest challenges of life. We can do it, to be kind, loving to embrace and take on these challenges for our children and future children. These sure are scary times!!! Yep! Scary times are upon us.
Those who have true intent and purpose shall move through our present experience by their choices of participation within bringing forth this manifestation of a new creation scenario. This group-focused demonstration will carry a power of transformation that shall be thrilling indeed. Maybe it’s a gift from our creator.
On the other hand, the forces of evil are putting forth a dual effort, the ethic and rational differences between individuals and groups are being stressed and agitated while at the same time you are being forced into a “One World Government.” Of course, this is not without planning as the purpose of creating chaos and confusion is what it’s all about.
Yes, we are all in crucial times and perhaps not being able to finish our life’s dreams. What shall we choose?