Favorite Family Tradition

Dec 9, 2019

It really revolved around Christmas. From going out and getting the tree and the evenings of decorating the tree, and then having some fun, electric trains being put around the tree, and decorating the hallways and everything. There was such excitement and anticipation of the day itself, the buildup to the moment of Christmas Eve and then Christmas morning.

So it was really… It was something as a kid… When I got to be four and five and understand what was happening around me, that was a big, big… There was nothing bigger in my mind than celebrating Christmas and having family come over and having a big and a nice dinner and just lots of good things and people being close to one another, closeness.

We lived on 8th Avenue up on the top floor, and I could always look out the window and see the spires of the church on 7th Avenue or look down the road, look down to Union Street and see the trolley car going up and down the road. Yeah I used to… with the little boxes next to the windows I would sit there and peer out and watch what was going on on the avenue.

But there was a lot of good things. My mother was always going out to the store to get this and that. Every day it was non-stop. My little brother was in the stroller, Johnny in the stroller, and we would… I would go up and down the aisles and get what we were looking for and come back and… There was period when… about the first two weeks in December, it was so intense with all the things that were coming and happening. Family was coming to visit. We had family in Connecticut and family in New Jersey and they would be coming in, so it was such a great reunion time for everyone. And there were a lot kids in the families. My uncle, they have four boys, and my aunt has a couple kids. So there was just this intensity of so much to do and such things are happening. The doing and happening was intense, and I enjoyed that kind of a…

Also, it carried with me in terms of living life in that way, every day going downstairs with my mother, hopping in the carriage and going down to 7th Avenue to get the goodies for the house and do this and do that. It was like non-stop activity. My childhood was going and doing. And it carried up.

7th Avenue had a lot of spots where there were trees in the fronts of the stores. And there were some independent folks that got a spot outside some store and put up the ropes to hold the trees up. But 7th Avenue, in those days, there was lots of trees. My father was really a tree lover in the old days in Flatbush. His family, first when they came, lived out in Flatbush. They would get as big a tree. My mother said they would have to dig a hole in the ceiling to get this tree. I remember I think one Christmas the tree was so big we took off the top and that was another tree we gave to somebody. We put the star on the top with the angel and we had two trees, and there were two trees.

Another couple times my brother was sick, we’d get a Christmas tree to put in his room so he had a tree because he was not able to get up out of bed. A couple times we had probably two or three trees in the house.

So there was always… it was lots of excitement, a lot to do, a lot of places to go. I really liked to explore 7th Avenue as a kid because all the stores, they were all different. I would look in the windows. There was a candy store… I couldn’t recall the name, but there were such things to see. The store windows and the thrall of the windows. I just loved the neighborhood.

And when we moved to Flatbush it was such a change, that I eventually as a young adult moved back to 8th Avenue. Oh yeah, I came back. Yeah, I came back. I had memories from the time I was two or three years old to the time I was 12 or 13 or 14 and then we went to Flatbush. Because the apartment was too small. It was a brownstone on the top. We were looking for a house, but it was hard because we were towards the end of World War II, and so when I finished college I came back to Park Slope, bought a house on 8th Avenue.

Came back, yeah. The park was the playground every time. In the morning I had breakfast, I’d go downstairs, hop in the carriage. And when my brother came, Johnny, I’d be tugging along with my mother next to his carriage, and we’d go up to the park and just have a great time, just running everywhere and anywhere.

Looking out of the window on the fifth floor, we were on the top floor, and sometimes my mother allowed me to go alone, and I think now I’d get worried, but to see some things I’d go up and sit up and just take a blanket or something and go up and sit there and just sort of… I loved to watch the planes flying overhead.

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