GROWING UP ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE
Growing up as a kid on the Lower East Side of New York, I remember men with their pushcarts stopping by our tenement building to sell whatever they had on hand (you name it: apples, sweet potatoes, pickles in a barrel). They’d announce their wares and we’d go downstairs with our pennies and purchase whatever we needed.
My family lived on Stanton and Essex Streets just down the block from where my father had his men’s clothing store. On Orchard Street, crowds would gather to buy their groceries from the many pushcarts lined up on each side of the street.
On the first floor of every building was also a row of mom and pop stores (the owners usually lived on the floor above their storefront). My favorite one as a kid was the corner candy store where I could buy myself an ice cream or a charlotte russe (also called an “ice box cake” made from yellow cake, whip cream and fruit and served in a paper cup).
I also remember aspiring performers and singers walk into the tenement courtyard and start singing. If they were good, we’d wrap a penny in a napkin and throw it out the window to them.
JUMPING OVERBOARD AT 18
People who knew me as a young woman of 18 must have thought I was a regular nut! I—on the other hand–always thought I was right, good, and God-fearing.
I was a girl on the go. I loved to sail, row boats and hunt for clams in the flats around Long Beach Island. I recall one time my girlfriend Hazel and I filling up our rowboat with so many clams, there was no more room inside the boat for us so we had to jump overboard.
Swimming toward shore, we must have pulled that rowboat brimming with clams for miles. At one point, to catch our breaths, we hung onto one side of the boat, overturning it. All those treasured clams fell back into the ocean! All we could do now was climb back on board and row to shore…empty-handed.