This site has a lot of good pictures, and some very good memories. Of course, most of the text is hallucinatory (few or no one-parent families), often projecting ("this was my life, so I imagine it was that of others'"), and frequently stupid. The "good old days" were not always so good. There is even a book by Otto L. Bettmann called “The Good Old Days – They Were Terrible!” (Random House, 1974), reviewed here nearly 30 years after it was published. Another site compared various "good old days", going back generation by generation showing what seemed better in memory was not really a very good time. The conclusion on that site is that “the good old days” were never a time period but rather when you were a kid. It is not the time -- it is that things seemed simpler, and often better, and we repress the bad memories from -- when we were kids.
I remember the last of the straw-seat subway cars, the oldest on the Franklin Avenue Shuttle which ran for 3 stops and connected the Prospect Park station on the Brighton train (ours; then the Q, now the D) with the Independent train at Franklin Avenue (or so it said on the maps). Mostly I rode the one stop to the Botanic Gardens station in order to walk the long block down Eastern Parkway to the Brooklyn Museum; a couple of times to the second stop, Park Place, where the Brooklyn Children's Museum was (and, I am told, Brooklyn Jewish Hospital, where I was born, and now part of "Interfaith Hospital" having merged with St. John's).
I certainly remember the crowded beaches of Brighton and Coney Island, and Mrs. Stahl's (under the Brighton Beach subway station on Coney Island Ave and Brighton Beach Ave) and Shatzkin's (on the Boardwark in Coney Island around W. 38th St.? The same guys with the paper shopping bags with knishes in one hand were hefting a huge metal cooler on their other shoulder, picking their way among the jam-packed beaches (I can't even describe these -- ENORMOUS beaches, matched in size hardly anywhere in the world, hundreds of yards from boardwalk to ocean -- SOLIDLY packed with people, a couple of inches between their blankets!) shouting "Hot knishes! Cold drinks!"
We did play a little stickball, and more "Catch a fly is up" (later I heard it referred to as "One-o-Cat") in the street, as well as an odd version of baseball at the spot between our house and the Constantinos' where the narrow driveway on our side was home plate and lined up about midway across from the double driveway of the "rich" (read "attached single family, probably costing about $8000) houses across the street, which were 1st and 2nd bases on the corners. Pitcher stood in the middle, no bat but slapped the red rubber ball with your hand. That ball, a "spaldeen" (I understand because they were the discarded cores of Spalding tennis balls that were without hairy covers) were the mainstay of every game we played. In addition to the above, and a little hopscotch or potsy (is there a difference?), we had "two-box" (= "hit the penny”), "3-box" (also called "box baseball"), and "5-box" (a complex game involving bouncing the ball in each box). Also "off the wall" and Chinese handball (why "Chinese"?). And, of course, the mainstay because you could play it alone or with friends: stoop-ball (catch it on one bounce, 5 points; on the fly 10 points; off a “point”, 50 points – it comes at you fast – and off the top step point, 100 points! Or something like that.)
Movies were a quarter for a double-feature, at least on Saturday afternoons (take your sister!). And they were preceded by cartoons. And a nickel bought a candy bar, which went fast. Necco Wafers lasted forever, but had minimal taste. A compromise might be Jujyfruits, Jujubes, or Turkish Taffy, which stuck to your teeth and could be licked out for hours. Maybe that’s why I had so many cavities – or maybe it was because, as a dentist pointed out many years later, that NYC fluoridated its water sometime between the eruption of my “6-year molars” (full of cavities) and my “12-year molars” (very few). I do remember the unanesthetized pain of getting them filled, though!
I never had report cards like the guy on the website (I think he went to Catholic school). First of all, they were not A-F. We had (U)nsatisfactory, (N)eeds improvement, (S)atisfactory, and SO (really S°, with a superscripted degree mark) that meant superior. I got a lot of S's, some SO's, and scarcely ever better than "N" in my two bete noirs, handwriting and Conduct (sometimes called “self-control”)! It seems to me that in Albany, when I was younger, we got graded in both "Ability" and "Effort". I will allow readers to decide which of these I received lower grades in.
As far as Coney Island amusements were concerned, when I was a kid Luna Park was gone, but Steeplechase was still there. I never liked the fast or scary or high rides, although decades later my son Matt managed to get himself really sick by riding (alone) the Cyclone several times. I did like Skee-Ball. And shooting. And another big thing was that there were Tuesday night fireworks in Coney Island all summer long, and we mostly watched from the roof of Grandma's building on E. 22d St. I remember when I first discovered somewhere, with pity, that there were places where there were only fireworks once a summer, on July 4.
And, while the website’s observation that most people in Brooklyn were Italian, Irish or Jewish might not have been completely true, I remember being quite surprised at some point in adolescence when I discovered there were White Protestants (Christians, but not Catholic and, unlike the non-Catholic Christians I knew, were not Black) -- an idea also expressed (obviously not stolen from me, but I had it way before I read it there) by the mayor-loosely-based-on-Ed-Koch in Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities".