Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rant #933: Way Back When

I often talk about my old neighborhood, Rochdale Village, in South Jamaica, Queens, New York, as if it were a mythical place.

I guess it was to me, especially as a young child growing up in this massive housing project while it was literally going up from the ground.

It was the place I spent what I call my "formative years"--ages 7-14--and it is the place that helped make me what I am today, whatever that is.

But yesterday, on April Fool's Day, I did not get fooled at all. I got a very nice email from one of my friends from that development--my friend David, now a doctor--and it included several photos from the old days, photos that I probably never saw before.

It shows me when I was a kid, carefree, not a thing in the world to really worry about except who I was going to play the next stickball game with.

And yes, I had hair on my head in these photos.

And the great thing is that I look really, really happy.

I had a wonderful childhood. Those years were sort of a crossover period in our history. We seemed to still relish the old ways but were welcoming in the new at the same time.

And that was reflected in the development itself. The world was changing, and seemingly, so was Rochdale. What was an Eden to some when we first moved in became a Sodom and Gomorrah later on.

But these pictures only show the good times, and that is what I want to focus on when looking at these photos.

The first photo, at the top of this entry, shows me on the right and my friend Howie on the left. We must have been doing some fooling around, as I am making a funny face in the photo.

And look at that hair! Heck, I wish I had just 10 percent of it on my head now!

The second photo really shows me in all my childhood glory.

My friend Peter is on the right, I am on the left, and if any apparel could exemplify where I was during the time this photo was taken, it can certainly be seen in this picture.

I am wearing my Yankees jacket, with my Rochdale Village Athletic League hat, and having my arm around my friend.

Those things, along with school and my family, were the only things I really cared about way back when.

David sent along other photos, but I am not in them. I love those photos, too, but I just figured I would center on these two photos in my entry for today.

As an adult, we all kind of long for those days where we really didn't have a care in the world.

But as we get older, there is just more to care, and to worry, about.

There is more put on our shoulders, and if we are strong enough, we can bare the weight.

We all know people who either can't bear that weight or have problems doing so.

Do I wish I were a kid again?

No, I don't. Those were wonderful years, but I am quite happy where I am today.

Sure, you wonder if you made all the right choices, but I think things always work out the way they are supposed to work out.

I have a great wife, two great kids, I have some great nephews, my parents are still very much alive and kicking ... I feel very fortunate.

It is nice to look back at those days, but one always has to put those days in context and look ahead.

But those photos were a great out of left field present, something that costs so little but means so much.

Thanks David. You really made my day!

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