WALKING BACK TO EAST FLATBUSH – GROWING UP DUNN

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Growing up a “Dunn” in East Flatbush holds so many fond memories. By a “Dunn” I mean an Irish American Catholic. I am sure so many can relate.

I attended St. Catherine of Genoa Grammar School at 870 Albany Avenue and made my appearance every Sunday at church. In those days, if I forgot to wear a hat, my mother was quick to grab a napkin or handkerchief from her purse and dig the bobby pin in it along with a few pieces of my scalp!

My parents were very friendly with the nuns and priests of the parish and on occasion they could be found at our apartment on a Saturday night at 1 a.m having a few snootfulls and singing the National Anthem along with my father and his siblings. LOL, now that is a picture I still can’t get out of my head. Imagine seeing that on a Saturday night and seeing that same nun/teacher on Monday morning in front of the chalkboard.
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Every day was the same, not that it was a bad thing. We got up walked along Church Avenue to school and at lunch time, mom would meet us and take us to “Angelo’s” luncheonette for a tuna hero and a piece of candy. Looking back and remembering the size of that hero, no wonder I was fat! It was enough to feed a grown man and that was only lunch and I think I ate it every day for 8 years! That was mom. “Eat it or you will be hungry later” and on the other hand “You are getting a little wide there, better go on a diet” WTF? After coming home from school, it was either the 4:30 movie of the “Mike Douglas Show” in the background while I did my homework.

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My fond food memories continue. Once a week when mom went to “The Rosary Society” meetings in the evening she stopped at Ebinger’s Bakery and brought me home a bag of “crumbs”. I know that sounds mean but it was WONDERFUL! I honestly don’t know what she told the clerk but from what I understood it was the extra crumbs from their heavenly crumb buns. I remember sitting on the floor playing while Dad watched Walter Cronkite and being elated when mom and her crumbs came through the door.

Another sweet memory was seeing the “Charlie Brown Movie” at the Loews Kings Theater on Flatbush Avenue & Beverley Roads. Wow was that impressive! I have been to Radio City and in my opinion, the Kings Theater puts it to shame! So glad they recently restored it! Back in those days there was a movie theater on every block of Flatbush Avenue in East Flatbush. There was THE ALBERMARLE, THE RIALTO, THE LOEWS KINGS, THE KENMORE, THE ASTOR & THE GRANADA. I may have even missed one or two but these were all in span of about ten blocks or so. Right down the block was Macy’s and Sears. Sears is still there with the words “SEARS & ROEBUCK” etched on it’s exterior.

Life was simple then. Dad worked full time, mom stayed home and cooked us a well balanced meal every night, which in my case was meat and potatoes every night. Either, pork or beef and potatoes in a different form each night. Baked, boiled, mashed they showed up on the dinner table along with the sliced white bread and butter. I was surrounded by potatoes! We NEVER had rice or pasta or any kind of ethnic food. I guess that’s why I love Chinese, Mexican & Italian food now and I guess with all that red meat and butter it’s no wonder that my father and all 8 of his siblings had heart disease!!

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Evenings were spent watching “variety” shows like Merv Griffin or Carol Burnett and bedtime was no later than ten. My parents often set up lawn chairs along with friends and family members on the block and sat outside our apartment building for hours chatting and having coffee (for the men it was Rheingold). Many nights the doors went unlocked, yet we all felt safe. We had a sense of community. God forbid you did something wrong. The neighbors sure let you know it and and let your parents know too. You got a scolding from the neighbors and an even worse from mom and dad when you got home and never did they question your guilt lol.

We grooved to the tunes on WABC A.M radio and rode our bikes or played red light, green light and freeze tag. Yes, we played OUTSIDE! No computers, no video games, no netflix. The only “chill” we had was an ice cream cone from Rocky the ice cream man when he came by with his green “Freezer Fresh” truck every night at 7. I loved that man!

I miss the “old days”. Like I said life was simple. Friends were friends. No cyber bullying, if you had an issue you worked it out with your words and occasionally your fists. Food was food, no fake stuff, no low carb or gluten free, it was Wonder Bread or Taystee Bread. It was plain old cheese or pepperoni thin crust pizza from Nick’s pizza on Church Avenue. No margarita or grandma pizza here. No cable t.v or youtube. If you missed your favorite show, well you better check the T.V Guide and see when you van catch the reruns.

We have so many things today: resources such as google, Siri, Alexa etc but I would trade it all for a walk down Church Avenue to Discount City and a movie at the Granada.

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