I loved growing up in Crown Heights on Montgomery Street in Brooklyn, just a few blocks from Ebbets Field. I remember lying in bed at night listening to the crowd at Ebbets Field during a night game. I knew that if there was a loud roar, it meant that the Dodgers had gotten a hit or even a home run! Admission to the bleachers was 60 cents – or – 10 Elsie wooden sticks! Elsie sticks came from the ice cream popsicles you bought from the ice cream man. Most people threw the sticks away. So I would walk along Montgomery Street looking for the discarded sticks. When I found 10 of them, I had enough to ‘buy’ a ticket to the bleachers! So I would rush over to Ebbets Field to watch the Dodgers play baseball. I loved the crack of the ball hitting the bat and I loved walking up the ramp to my seat for my first glimpse of the bright green grass!
When the game was over I used to stand at the gas station on Bedford Avenue where the players parked and ask for autographs. They were all very nice and very patient, and they often gave us their autographs. I remember that Duke Snider (#4) drove a convertible and Willie Mays (when the Giants visited) drove a big pink car. Ebbets Field was a happy place to be.
Just a few blocks from Ebbets Field was Prospect Park. It had a wonderful little zoo with a few elephants, seals, and monkeys. In those days, you could just wander around the zoo looking at the animals. There was no admission to the zoo or to the park.
When I was about 15, a carousel opened right near the zoo. Oh my, I adored riding on the carousel! I believe that it is still there on Flatbush Avenue. During a cold winter, the lake at Prospect Park would freeze over, and my brother would take me ice skating on the lake at night. It was really beautiful but it was really, really cold.
Prospect Park had a beautiful lake stocked with fish. Every summer one of the local newspapers ran a fishing contest for kids. The kid who caught the biggest fish won a prize. I tried every summer to win the prize – but not only did I not win, I never even caught one fish!
Across the street from Prospect Park was the Grand Army Plaza Library, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and the Brooklyn Museum. I really liked the Museum and their Egyptian Mummy exhibit - which I believe is still on display. The library was the largest that I had ever seen, filled with really tall bookshelves. The Gardens were beautiful, especially during Cherry Blossom time in the spring. Both the Library and Gardens are still popular places to visit.
I remember going from place to place myself in Brooklyn either by trolley car or bus or subway train. A ride cost 15 cents and if needed, you could get a transfer. The wooden trolleys ran along Empire Boulevard, attached to overhead wires. Boys were always hanging off the back of the trolley in order to get a free ride.
Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950’s is filled with SO many memories. So many, in fact, that I could easily fill a book with my memories and stories!
We lived on Montgomery Street in Crown Heights. Crown Heights was an Orthodox Jewish community – very tight knit. I always perceived a tension between the Hasidim and us. I believe that the tension existed because they frowned down upon us since we were not as religious as they were.
But that aside, I consider myself SO fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in Brooklyn New York in the 1950’s – what a blessing! And now, living in Richmond Virginia, people can’t tell that I am from Brooklyn until I open my mouth and begin to speak!