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Letter to the Lynbrook/East Rockaway Editor (Jan. 9-15)


Memories of growing up in Lynbrook

To the Editor:

I grew up in the West End section of Lynbrook. In our neighborhood, there were a ton of children living on almost every block. All parents were our parents. When we went outside to play, we got dirty, stomped in mud puddles, played on swing sets and climbed trees. We swam in our friends’ pools and played Marco Polo. 

We ate bologna, peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese sandwiches, and hot dogs. We all drank Yoo-hoo, Kool-Aid and Egg Creams. We had home-cooked dinners every night. Our parents called or whistled when they wanted us to come home, which meant we were never far off. We were up on Saturday morning doing chores, watching cartoons, the Bowery Boys and Little Rascals. Sunday was going to church, then watching “Wonderama” and Abbott and Costello movies. We walked everywhere, or rode our bikes. We went outside to play. You took your school clothes off as soon as you got home and put on your play clothes, and even did homework. 

We walked to school every day, including in the winter with our friends. We walked to Jerry’s on Hendrickson Avenue or Marian and Joe’s on Merrick Road or into the village to Woolworth’s to buy candy — wacky packs, jolly ranchers, pixie sticks, candy cigarettes, Bazooka gum, wax lips, candy necklaces and everything else.

We played games like manhunt, freeze tag, red-light green-light, hop scotch, hide and seek, red rover, mother may I, softball, soccer, kickball, dodgeball, stickball and basketball. We rode bikes all over the neighborhood and often met up at West End Elementary School. We played jump rope and jacks. We collected baseball cards and traded them, or played games with them against a wall. We would even line up and race just for the fun of it. 

Staying in the house was a punishment. There was no such thing as bottled water. We drank from the tap, the water hose or the sprinkler. The best sound ever was the bells on the Good Humor ice cream truck.

If someone had a fight, that’s what it was, and they were friends again the next day if not sooner. We played at one another’s houses and backyards. The streetlights were a symbol of our curfew. You had to be home, not on your way, when they came on.

School was mandatory, and teachers and police were people who you could trust and respect. We watched our mouths around our elders because all of our neighbors were like our parents, and we didn’t want them telling our actual parents if we misbehaved. Yes, everyone respected elders.

Those were the good old days in Lynbrook. Children today will never know how it feels to be a real kid, unless we share it with them. I loved growing up when we did. It was a great time. I’m grateful for the memories.

Robert Grogan