Thursday, August 12, 2010

Manhattan Memories: Recollections of the Old Neighborhood-Italian Harlem (3)

(Continue from Page: 2) A Memoir of Miriam Medina's Childhood Years

Our favorite place to go in the summer, was the roof. It was safe back then. All of us would go up there and have a picnic par-beach and get sunned down. (view period photo) We had fun. Some of our neighbors would go also. You had a real glimpse of the apartments facing the backyard. (view period photo)

When it was so hot in the summer, everyone took to the streets and turned the fire hydrants on, boy was that fun. We went a lot to the Jefferson Pool which was on first avenue. It was free to the people of the neighborhood. (view period photo) The best part of the summer in the old neighborhood, was the Italian Feast of Mount Carmel, on First avenue. We always looked forward to that feast.

The Boy's club was on 111th street between First and Second avenue. My brother Michael, went there a lot. He liked to box and was very good at it. There was also a parking lot that was owned by the Salerno brothers, next to the Boy's Club across from the big Gas Tanks on 111th street. One of the brothers married my sister Rosie. Sometimes we would go to the Pizza place that was on Third avenue between 111th and 110th street. Joey Rao, was the mob man in the area across from the Benjamin Franklin High School. The Faranga Funeral Parlor was located at 116th street between Second and Third avenue. Congressman Vito Marc Antonio was known in the area of 116th street.

I attended the elementary school P.S. 57 which was on 115th street, between Lexington and Third avenue. One day I decided to play hooky from school. It was after we had a big snow storm. I was playing in the snow, I don't know how mama knew I was there, but she gave me such a pulling of my braids and a spanking and then took me to school. That was the last time I played hooky from P.S. 57. I attended the Junior High School P.S. 101 which was located at 111th street between Lexington Avenue and Park avenue.

Mama would make us chicken soup often. She would buy the chicken from the Poultry place that was on 112th street between Park and Lexington. They would kill the chickens and the turkeys there. It wasn't too far from La Marqueta, (The Marketplace) which ran from 112th-116th street on Park avenue. The elevated train was right over it. There were many Jewish vendors in La Marqueta. Mama always did her shopping there. Everything was so cheap...the dollar went a long way. The food was always fresh. Mama even bought my dark blue dress for papa's funeral there.

We used to go a lot to the library which was on 110th street between Lexington and Third avenue. My brothers attended P.S. 83, which was not too far from the house.

After the war, the projects were built around the corner from our building. The projects were between 112th -115th street and between Lexington and Third avenue. The neighborhood started to look different with the cluster of tall buildings. More kids came into the neighborhood. On Lexington Avenue between 102 and 103rd street, there was a big hill. It was known as the steepest hill on Lexington Avenue during 1939-1950. My brothers would go sled riding in the winter on that hill .

Next: Recollections of the Old Neighborhood (4)

To contact: miriammedina@earthlink.net
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