Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rant #1,342: 50 Years Ago ... In My Own Life



The past few days I have written about the Beatles, and what their presence on the scene did to our world.

I am happy to say that I was around 50 years ago. Some people are embarrassed to admit their age, I revel in it.

As I have looked back at the past 50 years, with the Beatles as the centerpiece, my experience 50 years ago has kind of been in the background.

However, all of this has forced me to look at where I was way back in February 1964 and during the year in general. It was a significant year in what was then my young life.

I was six years old, and would be seven in a little more than two months.

I was in first grade. It is incredible, but thinking back, Mrs. Gold's class at P.S. 165 in Flushing went through two cataclysms in the same year: the death of JFK and the coming of the Beatles. We went from a very low low to a very high high in the span of three months.

My family and I lived in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, where I lived from the time I was about one year old until I was a little past seven. During 1964, in July, we would move to South Jamaica, Queens, to a place called Rochdale Village.

But for right now, we were in an apartment in Kew Gardens Hills.

I had lots of friends there, but I can only remember a few of their names now. Danny, Julie, David, Debbie, and another girl, Carla Maybloom, who used to pick on me endlessly.

She was a big girl, and was something of a bully.

I remember one time running into the house all in tears, because she had picked on me again. My father told me to go outside and let her have it. I was hesitant to do so.

He said to me, "Who are you afraid of, Carla or me?"

Without hesitation, I said, "Her!"

I was very much into comic books. I taught myself to read with them, and I bought them whenever I could. Heck, I had a 25 cents allowance, and during those days, that would be good for two comic books, as they had just risen to 12 cents an issue from a dime a year earlier.

I remember that in school, a pipe burst and we had to leave our classrooms in ankle deep water.

I also remember Mrs. Gold, an old teacher who actually had taught college previously, tripped over the wire of a movie projector, broke her leg, and was never heard from again about 95 percent through the school year.

There was a lot going on in my neighborhood back then.

It was the center of the dope sniffing craze, and every Friday night, the police would herd teens out of the basement of our building, as they were found trying to get high sniffing airplane glue.

About a block away, a beautiful woman named Alice Crimmins lived with her husband and two kids. One day, her kids were found in a garbage dump, both dead, and this led to one of the most horrific trials in New York City history, pitting this absolutely beautiful, photogenic woman against charges that she murdered her kids.

Yes, it all happened about a block away from where I lived.

But heck, I was six years old, not worldly at that age at all--nor should I have been--and my world was pretty much my apartment, my school, and my friends.

That was all to change later in the year, when we moved to a new development called Rochdale Village.

I have waxed poetic about that place, but that is where I consider that I grew up. Kew Gardens Hills was just another step toward that place. It is but a memory in my mind, but I do remember lots of things about it, as I have presented to you today.

When we moved in July 1964, little did my family and I know what we would be facing for the next seven years. But we went in wide-eyed and bushy tailed, as all the families that moved there did.

Now that was an experience I will never forget, and it all started in 1964, which, when I look back, was one of the most important years in my life.

1964 was an incredible year for everyone, too. It served as the true gateway to what was going to happen for the rest of the decade, everything from the emergence of the civil rights movement to our escalation in Vietnam.

So 1964 wasn't just about the Beatles, not for me anyway, although that was a seminal moment in history that no one will ever forget.

1964 was quite a year for me and for the world, and I will never forget it.

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