When I say I grew up in Brooklyn, those who are aware that Brooklyn is nothing grander than just one of the five boroughs of the megalopolis called New York are likely to have a mental picture of a six-year-old dodging trolleys for his life and never seeing a tree leaf out in the springtime.

It wasn’t like that. Oh, sure the traffic and the trolleys were only steps away on Flatbush Avenue. I rarely tried to cross Flatbush Avenue, though. Didn’t care for all that traffic, and in the side streets where people lived it wasn’t so bad. And gigantic, wonderful Prospect Park was only a ten-minute walk away, and if I wanted real National Park-type open space there were huge chunks of that a lot closer than you might imagine.

My grandparents came from the same little town in Germany but didn’t meet until they had independently immigrated to the States. There they lived in Broad Channel, in a house my grandfather, a carpenter by trade in Germany, had built himself for his bride and their expected flock of German-American kids, of whom my father was the seventh and last. That little house at 1404 Cross Bay Boulevard had an unusual distinction Its front door was in Queens, another of NYC’s flock of boroughs.

The back door, though, opened onto Jamaica Bay, an integral part of the one and only one of the America’s National Parks (20,000 acres broad and offering populations of more than 300 species of birds and similar populations of marine animals and vegetation) that you can get to on the subway.

If you want more technology than that, the Bay is bracketed at one end by Floyd Bennett Field, New York’s first city-owned airport, and at the other by no less than JFK itself, with the big jets screaming every few minutes as they depart for destinations in America, Europe, Africa, Australia — for the world.

2 Comments

  1. Phillip Helbig says:

    What town in Germany was that?

    I immigrated in the other direction, much later. One of my sons has Frederik as his middle name, even with the same spelling.

  2. Art Horan says:

    I migrated from Brooklyn to Central Texas (27 years ago,) but I remember riding the trolley on Church Ave. and have many memories of Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza.

    It was in Brooklyn that I discovered science fiction, Galaxy magazine, Fred Pohl, and oddly enough, first learned to play the 5-string banjo during the folk craze of the late 50’s and early 60’s. I still retain an interest in all those things.

    I think sf “vastened” me to appreciate many things beyond those I grew up around, and I thank Mr. Pohl and so many of his colleagues for that.

    My dad was born in Brooklyn in 1910 and grew up around Eastern Parkway. When he was a boy he used to go to his uncle’s farm in the summertime. When I was a boy, I lived in an apartment building on New York Avenue that was directly across the street from where my dad’s uncle’s farm had been, only then it was another apartment building. Today I can view those buildings on Google, marvel at how different they are from my memories, and how much different they are from what my dad could remember. I wonder if they will be there 100 years from now, or if they’ll just be underwater due to global warming and higher sea levels.

    Fred, all the best to you from a fellow Brooklynite, and thanks for all the great reading you have given me as both an author and an editor.

    Art Horan
    Belton, Texas (via Flatbush, Brooklyn)