I was born in Carroll Gardens, back in 1948 at St. Peter's Hospital which was on Henry Street, but which is no longer there, it was torn down years ago. I lived on 4th Place between Henry and Clinton Streets and went to P.S. 142, right down the block - I attended that school from Kindergarten until the 3rd grade, and then they opened up P.S. 58 on Carroll Street. I was a flag bearer at the dedication of that school when the Mayor came to the ceremony. It was the latest in modern schools and I remember it was beautiful. The principal at that time was Mrs. Sloan, and you did not want to mess with her. My best friend Maria Esposito's mother used to bring lunch for us and we would eat it across the street in Carroll Park. Maria lived on 2nf Place in the top floor of a huge brownstone. What a gorgeous apartment she had, all French Provincial. We lived in a basement apartment in one of those huge brownstones with the large gardens in the front. In the summer, we would all play outside, everyone knew everyone, all the mothers knew each other and they would sit out at night in the summer. The ice cream truck would come around at night and the rides would come down the block - the half moon, the merry go round, the whip - it was a wonderful time in my life. There were no big supermarkets until they built an "Associated" across Hamilton Avenue, but before that my mother and I used to go shopping on Court Street - we went to the butcher on the corner of Clinton and 4th Place, then it became a Pizza place, there was a vegetable store on court street, a fish store, a dry cleaners, a bank and an ice cream parlor, and we used to go there and get a chocolate malted. Mr. Schweid owned it. There was also a five a dime store (that's what they called it then) and you could buy all kinds of stuff, I liked to go there to get my coloring books and crayons. I went to St. Mary's Star of the Sea Roman Catholic church and behind the church my friend Joy lived - it was Dennit Place but everybody called it "cat's alley" because it was so narrow, and the doorways were so low. Very turn of the century with cobblestone streets. I received my Communion and Confirmation in St. Steven's - forget what street that was on - but it was on Henry Street. In the summertme they would have the feast of St. Rosalie. It was mostly Italians that lived there and most of the men worked down the docks as long shoremen. My father did not though, he worked in the city and took the subway from the Smith Street station. I remember there used to be a huge gas tank at the end of 4th place past Smith Street, I was always afraid it would explode. We were poor, we lived in the basement apartment and it had no central heat or hot water, my mother had to light a boiler in the bathroom in the hall for hot water to take a bath. We just had a claw foot tub, no shower. We had a kerosene stove for heat. All my friends hat nice homes, with beautiful furniture, drapes and carpeting. I didn't know any better back then. The brownstone houses at that time sold for $5,000 and that was a lot of money. I wish my father had bought the house we lived in, its worth several million now. I was a yuppie and never knew it, now I see all the up and coming young families that cannot afford Manhattan so they move to Carroll Gardens. That's good, so this way the neighborhood will always be nice. Of course, i couldn't afford to live there anymore, even though I'm not poor anymore, but the price range of the homes is out of my reach. Probably even the basement apartment my parents rented for $26 a month goes for a couple of thousand now! In 1961 we moved to Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, my parents bought a brownstone there, but it wasn't as spectacular and the one in Carroll Gardens, at that time they called it South Brooklyn, I don't know when they started to call it Carroll Gardens but it sounds nicer than South Brooklyn or Red Hook. Some day I would like to own a brownstone just so I can get it out of my system and decorate it like I always wanted to. But one things is for sure, I never got rid of my Brooklyn accent, wherever I go, as soon as I open my mouth they say, "Are you from New York? And I say, "Yeah, how did you know?"
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