2008.03.05 A weekend walk down memory lane

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

Is it a function of having turned 50 that I am taking walks down memory lane with increasing frequency or am I just having a rather bizarre weekend of stepping into the past?

It started on Friday night when Rozee arrived home from Berea College with the nicest bunch of kids and we just laughed our way through a late dinner. The trip down memory lane began when the talk turned to childbirth and I launched into the story of Rozee’s, a birth that followed a one-hour labor and featured David standing in to catch her since my midwife hadn’t arrived in time.

And it lurched further back to my elementary school days when my brother Kevin called Saturday from Alaska asking if I had been to the Stratton Park website lately. The site is devoted to my old neighborhood in the Bronx.

Growing up, I didn’t even know the neighborhood was called Stratton Park. I used to say I lived near Parkchester which, with its stop on the #6 train, was a more widely known area of the Bronx. Hmm, some things don’t change. I find myself doing the same sort of thing now when trying to orient people to where Morenci is and pointing out its proximity to Adrian.

Kevin had been to the Stratton Park site looking at photos. He mentioned people who sounded familiar, but Memory Lane was filled with double-parked cars and I couldn’t slide through to attach faces to the names. Then he mentioned another site, The Bronx Board.

Woowee, what a site that is. It has lots of class photos from P.S. 102 and J.H.S. 127—none from any of my years unfortunately, but it was downright exciting to see one of class 9-9 and family friend Lydia Beatty smack dab in the middle of it.

And the class photos from P.S. 102 with glimpses of the cafeteria in the background were such a delight. I recalled learning to dance the Charleston and the Winchester Cathedral in that cafeteria in preparation for a sixth grade school production.

Somebody’s mother made us very short flapper dresses out of orange cotton fabric and long white fringe attached to the neckline and hem. With long stands of beads and matching orange headbands, we were quite the glamour girls. I loved the outfit, but, much to the chagrin of my Puerto Rican and African American classmates, I couldn’t dance to save my soul. I was pretty good at twirling those beads, though.

I chugged ahead in time when my friend Adrienne called, also on Saturday, laughing from the start because she had found a pile of old notes we had passed back and forth during class in high school. Thinking back on those note-passing days and all the abbreviations we used in our communications (CSW—Col sucks wind—is the only one I can remember) makes me think we were on the cutting edge of current day instant messaging.

The gem that had Adrienne laughing was an exchange of notes we had written at the state FFA convention in upstate New York our senior year when she was in love with Bob Bonavida and I with Elan Wurtzel.

The four of us constituted the New Hum-A-Kazoo Revue: after winning the chapter and regional group talent contests (there were no other entries) we had sailed on to the state contest, playing the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy on our kazoos.

The guys had other responsibilities—Bob was a state vice-president and Elan was in the speech contest—but judging by  the notes we passed back and forth,  Adrienne and I spent a lot of time in the audience, listening to speeches about horse vivisection and other boring topics.

It was an emotionally heightened time—Elan was paying too much attention to a freshman and Adrienne had just discovered Bob had a girlfriend from another FFA chapter.

“C’mon Addie, just don’t look at them,” I wrote, offering my sage advice.

“You’re no help, you fool,” she retorted.

“TSW,” I replied (this sucks wind).

Back to the present, I am creating new memories with my husband, who late in the afternoon on Friday, led me to believe he wanted to go out to eat. But then when he came home from work, started making cornbread for the arrival of the guests.

“Tell me what you’re thinking,” I said. “Do you want to go out to eat?”

“I only know I’m making this cornbread,” he replied.

“But you said something about going out to eat,” I reminded him.

“I only suggest that when I know it’s not possible,” he said.

I’ll have to park that Memory Lane.

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