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diaryofanegress

Observations of an Invisible Woman

Childhood Summer

Growing up in NYC, I remember the smell of curry, honey roasted peanuts, the sight of kids riding their bikes and popping open the fire hydrant in the summer. My friends and I would take the train to Coney Island and gorged on cotton candy and hot dogs and ride the roller coasters till we got dizzy. It was my summer of innocence before the world lay waiting for me and I relished every moment of it.

I loved the Bronx Zoo…it helped me to discover my love of photography. I played with shadows and light and learned how to see God’s world through a wide-angle lens. Perhaps the summer I’ll remember the most, is the one in Brooklyn…Flatbush Avenue to be exact when my family visited my brother’s apartment.

Brooklyn, back in the day, was filled with Islanders and Africans selling silver jewelry, hats, scarves, homemade crafts of all sorts and blasting reggae music while we shopped. The sun beat down on us as we wandered throughout Flatbush Ave, noisily slurping Italian ices and honey roasted coconut we purchased for 2 dollars.

The stores were all black run. We purchased crafts, homemade shampoos, soaps and home-sewn clothing and jewelry from an African who loved to embellish tales of his prowess. I suspected his wife was the master tailor/jeweler/soap maker, but kept quiet with some amusement. Then as the evening cooled down we ate home-made Jamaican Roti with curry chicken and a fried ripe plantains and drank B&G Jamaican Cola Champagne.

As dusk cast its shadows over the Brooklyn sky, God’s earth changed from a pale blue to a reddish-orange backdrop and made the neighbourhood seem more alive through colour. Children played jump rope, jumping up and down the streets so much, I secretly wanted to join them. Old men played Dominoes with so much gusto, and slapping their knees with glee as they won a good hand, I feared they would break the little makeshift table they used. The streets came alive with the sounds and sights of our people enjoying life and I felt a deeper connection to them than I’ve ever felt before.

Then, as the night came upon us, the sound of the Mr. Softee Ice Cream Truck slowly made its lyrical tune up the heat-stricken neighbourhood…and the kids went wild with glee. I myself ran to buy a vanilla cone, which I slurped noisily and let the sticky sweetness run down my chin.

My family and I talked all night, played Jimmy Cliff and Mr. Marley while my mom perched by the window and watched the children play marbles. I fell asleep contented with the days events.

That, for me, was one of the best moments of my childhood.

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16 thoughts on “Childhood Summer

  1. mary burrell on said:

    That wa s beautiful, Girl you can write! You are an excellent wordsmith. That’s the beginning of a book. I was pulled in immediately. That’s the earmark of a good writer. I’m telling you Sister you schould consider writing a book. I could smell the good Jamacian food I don’t know what roti is but it sounds so delicious. I could smell all the food I could see the kids and water hydrant splashing all the kids. It was a delight to all my senses. You took me to New York. It sounds so wonderful.

  2. mary burrell on said:

    Typeo You should consider writing a book.

  3. Thank you Miss Mary.
    I loved Brookyln…I love my childhood in NYC and wouldn’t change a thing. Between you and me ( and everyone reading this…LOL!!! ) I actually wrote a children’s book, for blacks, and am trying to get it published but most publishers won’t take a chance with newbies. I’ll have to self-publish.

    Thanks for the compliment.

  4. Self-publishing is the way to go. You control the distribution and profits. You don’t even need a physical product: you can sell it as a PDF.

  5. I remember those scenes all too well. That was my reality growing up in Brooklyn, too. Great visual imagery, it was a wonderful read.

  6. Good tip. Thank you.

  7. Yes, you’re welcome. It’s my pleasure.

  8. Hi Ms TBT

    Beautifully written.

    I look forward to seeing your book. Based on this piece, I know you would be very successful!!!

  9. Sude

    Thanks. I so loved my old neighbourhood. Harlem was very much like that. Then gentrification happened and the soul of Harlem began to disappear for skyscrapers and Starbucks.

  10. Brother: It’s sad is it not? The heart of a town or block wiped away for the Green Denomination.

  11. I’ve seen the same thing on the U Street corridor in DC. Just SAD!!!

  12. Makes me want to lose my temper! LOL!

  13. Don’t forget the Jamaican beef patties and coco bread! We used to go to Brooklyn just for that. 🙂

  14. nicoleh73 on said:

    This sounds like my childhood in Harlem. Penny Candy, Italian ices. I remember buying Prince albums at this little black owned record store as well. We used to have block parties, double dutch contests. I remember getting my hair braided. Such great memories!

  15. We absolutely love your blog and find nearly all of your post’s to be exactly I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content in your case? I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write concerning here. Again, awesome web log!

  16. as much as I am a “factual” person, when anecdotes are involved, I’m especially fond of the memories, and the data. Only thing is, when you speak of the zoo, I think of Ota Benga … *sigh*

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