Saturday, August 30, 2008

Home town

Sorry this is so late. Lack of internet and late planes conspired to keep from blogging until now.

I’m blogging from the streets of Commack, Long Island. Hometown of Rosie O’Donnell, Bob Costas and Courtney Galliano, recent runner up of So You Think You Can Dance. And me. My family moved here in the early sixties, when I was in sixth grade, and my mother still lives here, although she’s always viewed the move as a temporary one.

Everything is so green. It’s hard for me to adjust to my old neighborhood as a verdant one. We moved onto what had been potato farms. Any tree that had might have been here was plowed under so new homes could be built quickly. The landscape was as barren as the moon. The houses were cookie-cutter and construction continued for the first couple of years we lived here non stop.

Now the houses have morphed into individual abodes and the maples and pin oaks are fifty years old. They are majestic, making a canopy arching across the main drag and changing the cul-de-sac down the street into a secret garden. The trees soften the hard edges. Instead of a raw landscape, the place is beginning to look like someone’s idea of a home town.

One thing that amazes me are the driveways. Lots are big around here, most a half-acre. Consequently, driveways are enormous fields of gleaming macadam. Some are horseshoe shape, taking up much of the front yard. Many resemble used car lots. It’s not unusual to see four five, six cars. And a boat. Whether it’s because there are several generations living in one house (a distinct possibility as LI rivals CA as an expensive place for young folks) or because every teen has their own wheels, I’m not sure.

I do know the size of the high school parking lot has doubled since I went to school there. Of course we rode the bus, and had late buses for the after-school activities.

Mostly what I remember about my new school are the field trips. We’d moved from upstate NY from a parochial (in every sense of the word) place. I was amazed when the sixth grade class took a bus into the Museum of Natural History in NYC. The dinosaurs, the mastodons, the dioramas of Indian life fascinated me. But the best thing was the Good Humor truck parked outside. That was my first experience buying ice cream off a truck and I remember feeling very left out because I didn’t have a favorite Good Humor bar. I got one fast.

I couldn’t wait to leave Long Island, and I have no desire to move back to a place where there are a limited number of exits. (Think about an island populated with millions of people. The only way out are a couple of ferry routes, several bridges. Talk about a bottleneck.).

But it’s been fun.

I walk along the boardwalk at the beach where we toasted our skin with baby oil and see signs warning against the danger of skin cancer. Another warns against the stinging jelly fish swimming in the Sound. I walk through the streets where there had been no trees to protect us. We survived, and thrived, and I can’t help but wonder if the kids today even read the warnings and take the trees for granted.


Camille Minichino said...

I envy you a trip to New York, no matter what part! I think it's time I planned another visit to those amazing dinosaurs on the upper west side!

Betty Hechtman said...

Your post reminded me of my expected post for next week when I'll be back in Chicago. Every trip evokes so many memories.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful memory walk--Thanks! So what was your favorite Good Humor bar?