|MARCO POLO DISCOVERS THE WEST BRONX (standard:Creative non-fiction, 1450 words)|
|Author: Anonymous||Added: Jul 17 2005||Views/Reads: 1847/973||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|GOING FROM THE POOR EAST BRONX TO THE RICH BRONX CHILDHOOD ADVENTURES.|
MARCO POLO DISCOVERS THE WEST BRONX 1931. Sid heard about a subway being built on the Grand Concourse, a mile from our house. I adored his ability for risk-taking, initiative, improvisation and "chutzpah." He suggested that he and I go with to see this wonder and I agreed. I was 7 years old. I stayed downstairs while he bounded up to our fourth floor front-facing tenement apartment to tell Momma that we were going "to play in the park". He got her approval and we moved out. We came to Park Avenue; it carried the channel coming and going from downtown New York City to upstate New York. We were fascinated by the comings and goings of trains; the climax came when a long freight train slowly approached; the engineer leaned the upper part of his body out of the cab and we waved to him and he waved back! The next block was Webster Avenue; this major thoroughfare was three times wider than the street where our elevated ran. He led us into the street and we zigzagged through the traffic until we were safely standing on the island sidewalk. A streetcar was just leaving and Sid told me to stay put. He nimbly stepped on a metal strip on the outside rear of this accelerating trolley. I became frightened as I thought Sid was leaving me stranded. When he was half a block away he turned his head and waved a hand in a smiling greeting. The trolley slowed down at the next corner and Sid jumped off. He waved again, crossed to the opposite side of the tracks and in no time was riding the back of a trolley to our station. The Grand Concourse was the widest street I had ever seen. There were no streetcar tracks, no overhead electric wires. There were buses, bigger than trucks, and one was coming into the station near where I was standing. When it stopped there was a loud hissing sound that I recoiled from, and then the doors folded in and opened up. Magic. A few people got on and off and I approached the open doorway, but then there was the loud hissing and folding and the doors closed. With a rumbling roar the bus was on its way, leaving behind it a trail of sour black smoke. In 1931 there was not much vehicular traffic on this boulevard yet it had ten traffic lanes. There was general agreement in the East Bronx that the Concourse was the unofficial dividing line between the poorer east and the richer west Bronx. A half a block from where we were there was a huge hole in the ground that was fenced in by wooden horses and extended almost to the center of the Boulevard. There was a focused flurry of action in that area: trucks were being loaded with dirt and rubble; there was a wide assortment of machinery, equipment and men around the construction site. We ran to the edge of the wooden barrier and ducked under it. The size of the hole filled me with awe; then I stared in fascination at an elevator cage rising from the depths. When its floor was on the street level it stopped with a rattling shudder. Wire mesh gates opened in the middle, one half rising and the other descending. Several men got off, pushing in front of them a large metal wagon that was filled with earth and rocks. Then several others pushed an empty wagon onto the metal-screened elevator. The doors clanged shut and it was only then that I saw the operator sitting on a high stool. He turned down a big lever and the elevator began to descend and the men and machines disappeared into the hole. Sid told me to wait and he approached the next elevator. He asked the operator if we could ride with him. His brazen request brought forth a cursed response from the operator: "Scram, you rotten kid. If you don't beat it I'll have a cop run you in". Sid retreated back to where I was. We walked north on the Concourse until we reached the Lowe's Paradise movie house. This theater was the best the Bronx had to offer: a carpeted lobby, marble stairways and a balcony that was so high you could almost touch the sky. The ceiling of this huge hall showed a starry sky and the stars moved! It was the only theater in the Bronx that had a combination of a first-run movie and a vaudeville show, all for the price of one. Click here to read the rest of this story (71 more lines)
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