February, 1976 Archive

Für Elise

Saturday, February 28th, 1976

The summer after the second grade (1948), we moved from Inwood to Riverdale, and my grandmother moved into our old apartment on Arden Street. The neighborhood was getting rougher: Irish and Italian blue collar families were moving up the street from Nagel Avenue, and the German-Jewish rising middle class were heading for the suburbs. My father was getting a raise, and my parents felt that I needed my own room and wide-open space to roam in. But I missed the old block terribly: the solid row of four story houses and stoops, the street that belonged more to children and dogs than to cars, the people screaming out the window, marble season in the gutter, open hydrants in the summer, mountains of snow and garbage in the winter, Abe’s candy store on the corner.

And I missed the old building: 28 Arden, a walkup with three apartments on a landing, their front doors adjoining each other. My closest friends lived right upstairs–Frankie Pershep and Ralphie Rieda. My more distant playmates lived on the top floor and in the basement. But most of all I missed the cramped three room apartment on the second floor, old 2H. Behind its sheet metal coated front door, painted to look like wood grain, was a dark, narrow entry containing a painted linen chest, a full length mirror, an umbrella stand, with a bear carved on it, a small closet and a huge door to a dumbwaiter which took the trash out every morning. The kitchen had two features which nothing in the new apartment could match: a clothes drier over the stove that could be raised or lowered with a rope and pully, and a door under the window that opened into a little cave for storing potatoes and onions. (more…)