\"My                                            HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!

Many of you know that I grew up in the Albany Houses in Brooklyn, New York. When we moved there the place was brand new. Although I don’t remember where we moved from, I do remember seeing all our stuff piled high in the living room of our new place. I also remember the first time I looked out of the living room window. That view looked down on a playground, another building and part of Bergen Street all the way to Troy Avenue. When we moved in the grass on the grounds had not been yet planted. When you stood in front of 1414 Bergen Street you could not help notice that there were two walk ways that led down to the street. Since those walk ways were slanted they provided many days of entertainment.

 In those days there was no internet or video games. Many kids were very imaginative when it came to using the things that were available. For example, a skate board was constructed by using metal skates. These skates would be placed under your shoes and if I remember correctly, each pair came with a key that you would use to tighten up hooks that would make the skate attach to your shoe. Each skate was adjustable. A kind of one size fits all. The creative part would be to use either the left skate or the right skate, separate the one skate and attach them to a flat piece of wood and it became a skate board. Those who were really creative would attach a milk crate to create a body for this fast moving vehicle. We would spend hours and hours riding down these walk ways. There is no doubt that there are a lot of fond memories for me while we lived in apartment 8C.

I was born in 1952. By the time I was in elementary school, the civil rights movement was in full bloom. On our black and white television, we would watch as those participating in the movement were being swept away by powerful water that came out of fire hoses. The members of the city government in those southern towns would use the water as a means to disrupt the peaceful demonstrations. When that didn’t work they would use police dogs as a means of scaring the protestors into submission.

The leaders of the time were Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers, just to name a few. These were the people that we all looked up to. These were the people who moved the rest of us to not accept the way we were living. It was time for the country to go in a different direction when it came to the treatment of Black folk.

That was a very violent time for this country. The three men I mentioned were killed as a result of their involvement in trying to move our people into a new awareness. Their deaths did not go in vain.

My dad was born in 1924 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Although there were pockets of resistance, there was, at that time, no national movement to make the world aware of the plight of Black America. He told us many stories that took place in his youth that would make the hair on our necks stand up. I don’t know if I could have survived seeing what he saw and live the way he lived.

Despite all that he went through he never implanted in his three kids any hatred toward his oppressors. There would always be a balance in his stories. When he told us a negative story, he would also tell us a story that described someone who did something nice for him

In my opinion he put into action all those ideals that our fallen civil rights leaders put into place. He took responsibility for his family and tried to instill in us the idea of positive living.

We give war veterans medals that honor their time served. I think my dad and all the men of his time deserve medals. They went through a lot and they made it possible for us to enjoy many of the freedoms we enjoy today.

A lot of time has passed since those days at 1414 Bergen Street. He still lives in Apartment 8C but it is in another complex in another borough.

He has been retired now for almost 30 years. He is not moving around as fast as he used to. He walks with a cane.  He stopped driving a few years ago and at the end of this month he will be 89 years old.

As I watched him change over these years I am very grateful for all that he has done for me, my siblings and my mom.

To me he is and always will be my hero.

I’m the guy whose glass is always ½ full.



This Post Has One Comment

  1. Howard Rosof

    Wendell just read your incredible essay about growing up in Brooklyn. so did I in East Flatbush. In 1947, when I was 5 years old, Jackie Robinson moved on to my block. and that was incredible. we all got to know him, and till this day there is a plaque on the house he lived in saying he lived there. remind me to tell you the story about playing hide and seek in front of my house.
    thank you for being the very very best. Howard 255 west 88 11 C

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