Nostalgia Trip Home During the Pandemic
Don't we all have things we miss in this pandemic -- beyond family and friends?
I miss my home town twinkling on the western skyline.
I wrote about this a few months ago.
On Sunday I did something about it.
With the plague at full blast, I had to deliver something to the NYT plant in the College Point section of North Queens.
It was a cold day, very little traffic. Ideal driving conditions.
My muscle memory told me how to handle the turns and merges and quick decisions of parkway driving in the city,
With every mile, my exhilaration grew.
First stop was the NYT plant; since my retirement in 2011, I have become friendly with the people there.
On a quiet Sunday morning, I dropped off the item and kept going.
The museum had large banners facing the Grand Central Parkway. I remembered one winter in junior high school, when I went ice skating in this building with some classmates. Now it is a vibrant community asset; I thought of my friend who helps run it, and the Panorama of New York City, where we have "bought" our family home in Holliswood.
I drove around to the front of the awesome building on the glacial hill. My mom was in the first wave of students in the new building -- in 1927. She loved the school as much as I do; it was our major bond, She passed in the very nice Chapin Home, a few blocks away, in 2002. The city, in its dunderhead way, terminated Jamaica High a few years ago -- a DiBlasio failure -- but there are several smaller schools tucked away in the building that will last forever.
I drove along Henley Rd., near the house where the worst president in American history used to live, soiling the image of Queens. There was no time for a drive past our old house, where my mom moved nearly 100 years ago; I had to pick up my order of Shanghai dumpling soup in Little Neck.
My Sunday morning excursion temporarily dispersed the miasma of the murderous pandemic.
I'll keep in touch with the many dozens of my Jamaica contemporaries; we are very tight.
Maybe some quiet Sunday morning soon, I will drive into The City (Manhattan, that is) -- just to see it.
Mike from NW Queens or so
12/7/2020 02:42:38 am
Thanks GV for another look at life through your eyes, experience and keyboard. I used the word surreal today to the author of that outstanding Covid-19/Queens section when talking about the norms.
Victor de la Serna
12/7/2020 08:20:03 am
Ah, those memories, George. I spent my NY years in Manhattan, but I was a Syt John's fan, went to Quens all the time, and my friend Lou Carnesecca lived in Jamaica Estates. Plus, the NY World's Fair was such a hopeful event for my country, Spain, which had the most admired pavilion there and showed it was ready to move on from being a fascist relic from the 1930s...
12/7/2020 09:22:59 am
Estimado Sr; Thanks for the lovely note.
12/7/2020 09:39:44 am
12/7/2020 09:44:06 am
Wonderful day to see all the beloved sites! Really enjoyed this vicariously! Also, looks like you may have new career as staff photographer. Nice job! See you in ... June?!
12/7/2020 10:34:20 am
Dear Laura and Corinna: You poor kiddies. How many times did I detour off the parkway to show you my high school? You guys would sign with exasperation. I could see the images of my friends. You just saw the old man on a nostalgia binge, I'm sorry. What about the park in Kew Gardens where I hit a two-run homer over the LF fence in a Daily Mirror tournment game? (first inning, brand-new softball)
12/29/2020 01:45:49 pm
12/7/2020 10:38:31 am
12/7/2020 12:53:51 pm
Bruce, very astute of you. Yes, they are are first and second children --lawyer and journalist-poet, David, who copy-edits the print edition of the NYT late at night, was third. I made him suffer some of my tours, also.
12/7/2020 05:07:28 pm
12/7/2020 12:11:31 pm
Your loving and nostalgic trip to Queens and reference to our “still-tight” class gives me an idea. Maybe we should develop a Class of ‘56 cooperative retirement community- back home in Queens.
12/7/2020 12:41:10 pm
Judy your mom and my mom, classmates back in the day, put you up to that, right?
12/7/2020 12:15:56 pm
George, Great trip down Nostalgia Lane! Especially the venerable landmarked edifice atop 13 acres we still call Jamaica High School! And the more than five-mile roadway from Brooklyn to Nassau that we've renamed Reunion Turnpike. Cunningham Park, one of the 8 wonders of Queens Wonderland. And the Valencia Theatre, our miniature Radio City, still providing services for a religious community. We all have our treasured memories, made all the more meaningful by the friends and families who shared them with us.
12/7/2020 12:48:28 pm
Chief, did you notice that Kim Ng, new GM of the Miami Marlins, went to PS 173? Somebody should put up a plaque there, noting that she learned to play ball there. GV
12/7/2020 12:17:39 pm
Loved taking this virtual tour with you, George, especially your stop at JHS, our shared high school alma mater. My family lived in Jamaica on 167 Street from 1940 until 1950, when I was 10, then we moved to 85-36 Wareham Place in Jamaica Estates where our execrable POTUS lived at number 85-15 as a child. Since I'm 7 years older than Trump, he was a toddler when I was there and the thought that I could have strangled him and saved this country so much grief and so many Covid deaths fills me with regret. Next time you take a tour of the neighbored, stop and spit on 85-15, okay?
12/7/2020 12:46:22 pm
Letty: When I was going into The City once a week or so, I would park after 10 AM near your building...but sometimes I would park my rusty old second car in front of TrumpHaus, although I knew they are long gone. One of our classmates used to take snotty little Donald sledding on Henley Rd. He was The Bad Seed even then. Everybody knew it, I gather, I didn't meet him until the early 80s when Ivana was clearly the brains of the outfit. Be well, G
12/7/2020 12:47:37 pm
I love trips down Memory Lane in my home borough, so thanks, George. It’s also cool, going by your children’s reactions, above, that they also appreciate it.
12/7/2020 09:22:04 pm
Hillel, actually not your corner of real Kew Gardens, which I have come to know and love for its Cinema, showing the National Theatre productions. This was on the other side of Queens Blvd. in what is actually Kew Gardens Hills, I believe....Kosher bakeries, etc. on Main St. now....I had a lot of friends in junior high. My home run was at the park west of Main St., where Union Turnpike and the GCP and the Van Wyck all tangle, I know the ballpark is still there because I showed my pal Mike-the-Judge the hallowed ground on his last journey home. GV
12/7/2020 01:43:15 pm
Hi George! Thanks for the photo tour; especially Jamaica High. It was only a brisk walk from my apartment house on 164th St to get to class back in the early 70s. As you may know, that street was always busy with the Q 65 bus route, ambulances going to and from Queens General Hospital, two FDNY companies and two NYPD stations. Never a dull moment.
12/7/2020 09:24:13 pm
Jeff, I know 164 st. When our mom was in Chapin Home, I would take her to lunch at the Sri Chinmoy restaurant on 164. She always talked about the saris on the waitresses -- how did they stay up? I doubt that was there in your JHS days, Be well. GV
12/7/2020 03:24:20 pm
George—Nostalgia is great and definitely not overrated. The past is essential for one get through the present and into the future.
12/7/2020 09:28:51 pm
Alan, Lin-Manuel Miranda got there, The armory became the home of track and field in NYC, But now Coogan's, the great T&F hangout, sort of the Foley's of the Heights, has gone down just like Foley's. What is the city going to be like when we can emerge from our caves?
12/9/2020 12:50:22 pm
Thanks for mentioning Lin-Manuel Miranda. I had seen a video he posted a few years ago showing his newly decorated apartment. The view of the George Washington Bridge from his window indicated that he was in a new building that was build adjacent to the New York Presbyterian hospital's new addition, both build upon a rocky outcrop that my friends and I climbed as kids.
Alan D. Levine
12/8/2020 07:16:54 pm
George--Great piece, but you know I'll quibble. It was Bloomberg, the capitalist, not Deblasio, the completely phony and hypocritical "progressive", who broke our beloved high school into four little pieces.
12/8/2020 09:06:30 pm
Alan, you more than any of us, are a Queens boy -- still lawyering in Kew Gardens. Our hero, Bloomberg was mayor until 2013 and JHS was closed in the spring of 2014, but it was in the works for years. Actually, the real hatchet man was Joel I Klein, the chancellor. interviewed him in 2009:
12/8/2020 07:44:20 pm
Enjoyed it, GV, nice to hear from daughters as well. As an RVC kid, little to add, but here are some Queens memories.
12/8/2020 08:52:36 pm
Ed: The bread was Silvercup, back when white bread had some cachet. Driving over the 59th St. Bridge in the evening you could smell the bread, open the windows, let it in. Since early 80s, it has been Silvercup Studios. When you saw Tony and Carmela having coffee or arguing in their kitchen, you know where it was shot? Silvercup Studio, all the interiors. But I bet you can find better bread these days, in delis and bodegas in LI City, Astoria, all along Roosevelt Ave, to Flushing, GV
12/8/2020 11:13:31 pm
You are right about Silvercup, around the bridge, my Dad’s bread, small wholesale bakery, had wheat germ, best flour, real butter in “Butter Gems” Real Pecans and Honey in sweet rolls. Thats the smell I recall. He sold in Gristede’s, Deli’s, competing with the quality breads, not TipTop, Wonder, etc. Business grew into Supermarkets, “Bake and Serve,” expanding and then the world changed. TV ads became prominent, big corps bought Arnold and Peppridge Farms, but the major factor was Supermarket chains started their own bakeries and squeezed competitors on prices, shelves, advertising.
12/8/2020 09:09:33 pm
Fun! Not often I can recognize each of so many pictures.
12/9/2020 10:40:47 am
Andy: We all grump about the loss of JHS. Between building and history, it was a grand entity of Queens. Jelani Cobb -- terrific guy, JHS grad -- did a long New Yorker piece in 2015 about the closing of the school. I will add that a relative works in the NYC school system....at a small HS with a rather specific mission -- and that relative says there is much to be said for small, focused schools -- and I agree, having visited that school.
12/9/2020 10:52:40 am
12/9/2020 04:01:38 pm
What I had in mind as the "worst" of Queens is indeed the sociopath in chief.
Mia E Hinckley
12/8/2020 11:19:48 pm
I love this. Sometimes going back sparks up a nostalgia and other times, it breaks my heart. Thanks for the great pictures.
12/9/2020 10:49:14 am
Hi, first time on this site? Welcome, I love thinking about my old high school -- but the fact is, I'm still in touch with more than 100 of us...so proud of them. Queens was great when I was a kid. A girl back in the woods near us had a pony! Imagine that. But my main nostalgia is for the Queens of a year ago, B.P. (BEfore Pandemic) when I could wander North Queens for dosa (74 st.) or Cannolis (Mama;s 104 st.) or dumplings (Main St. Flushing). Now it is Covid Central, as depicted by Dan Barry in last Sunday's NY Times. I'm nostalgic, sad, mourning, those lives, and the way of life in this dynamic borough. Please visit the site again. GV
12/9/2020 10:11:16 am
Ed- There is something exciting and unique about running a small business. The challenge of battling all the chains and large independents more than makes up for the day-to-day struggles.
12/9/2020 10:24:25 am
12/9/2020 10:56:00 am
Alan and Bruce: I have such admiration for men who cook, or bake. I have no aptitude and yield to the wonderful cook I married. Our son, and son-in-law, both cook. Good on you both. GV
12/9/2020 11:04:11 am
12/9/2020 10:52:54 am
Alan, when I first started covering the Mets in 1962, a boy wonder, I discovered Rolling Rock in Pittsburgh, and would smuggle a 6-pack back on the Alleghany Airline prop plane to LGA.
12/9/2020 10:58:09 am
c'mon george...you're still a boy wonder--at heart at least.
12/9/2020 11:18:12 am
At the risk of “overtalking”—a risk I always seem willing to take....
12/9/2020 11:34:18 am
ed...good point about the group across continents.
12/9/2020 04:19:18 pm
andy....i think we'd all agree that trump is numero uno.
12/9/2020 09:45:28 pm
12/10/2020 02:43:49 pm
Andy: Well done. I don't know Joe's bakery but will check it out. (Just don't tell my friends at Mama's in Corona. Irene will skull me with a skillet.) And you are spot-on about Jackson Diner. We started going there early 80s, I think -- after a writeup in Newsday or the Daily News.
12/10/2020 09:22:05 pm
Jackson Diner has opened a second location on Hillside Ave a few blocks east of Little Neck Parkway. Thanks for the tip about Diwan. Sands Point Preserve is a favorite for an almost-hike/walk, and so Diwan should serve the primary purpose of any hike: to eat and drink afterwards.
12/10/2020 07:58:36 am
I love Queens!
12/10/2020 08:40:13 am
Randy: It's a world unto itself. (For all that, I miss Manhattan...and Brooklyn....badly.) Ethnic cooking was one of the things I missed when I was driving around Appalachia. Maybe it's changed....the magnetic Vivian Howard is doing a TV series called "Somewhere South," from her own Coastal Carolina, southward -- I saw a recent episode where she did dumplings, by Chinese folk with major southern accents plus matzoh balls in the Deep South from Jewish ladies with ditto southern accents, and Black cooking. I went to a Derby party in Louisville 12-13 years ago, invited by a few Indian families -- sensational buffet in a suburban home. My first words when I spotted the fare were: "Where were you folks when I lived here?!"
12/10/2020 09:29:31 pm
enough about nyc.
12/11/2020 08:03:25 am
Bruce: you are Our Man in Ontario.
12/11/2020 09:13:05 am
12/13/2020 02:21:33 pm
PS. From son Bruce, working musician who discovers holes iin the wall making homemade noodles and other Queens’ delights. He introduced us to LICity Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture park as well as a variety of great foods.
Comments are closed.
“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.