I moved to Sheepshead Bay from Brighton Beach in ’55. I lived in a co-op. There were four six-story buildings, and I had friends in all of them. If you wanted your friend to come over, you just went down into the courtyard and yelled his name as loud as you could. My friend Jerry was on the fourth floor, and my friend Sheldon was on the second floor, so I was constantly shuttling to their houses. We called them houses, by the way. We never called them apartments.
My grandmother lived upstairs on the third floor, with my uncle. And my cousin. Next door was my aunt and uncle and my two cousins. There was no privacy. Zero. When I started getting interested in girls, I didn’t want anybody to know, and God forbid it got out. People would be commenting, “Oh! Who’s the girl? Who’s the girl?” The door wasn’t even ever locked. My cousins and my aunt and uncle were coming in at like ten o’clock at night. And the building had an intense cooking odor, of Jewish food. Each floor, if you took me to one of each of the six floors and I was blindfolded, I could tell you which floor I was on from the smell. Every floor had a distinctive smell.
We went to the Neptune Lanes, which was on Neptune Avenue, and then they built the Rainbow Lanes, which was on Avenue X. The Rainbow Lanes, that was the next step up, like a bowling emporium, I think 48 lanes. What was the name of our team? It may have been the Desperadoes, which was very prescient, I thought.
At Coney Island, we would do everything. We’d eat at Nathan’s, we’d go on the Cyclone, the Thunderbolt, the Tornado, the Virginia Wheel, the Bobsled. The Wild Mouth was a ride I hated, because it went at right angles for the turn, and you just never thought it was going to be able to do it. We went out to the roller derby in New York, at the Armory on 14th Street. I remember heckling one of the roller-derby people, and he spit on me.