There are still mobile grinders working the streets of Brooklyn!
There are still mobile grinders working the streets of Brooklyn!
The Half Moon felt risky at the time.
The Half Moon felt risky at the time.
The Half Moon was red (not yellow) in my day, and I think the Whip (upper right) was green.
The Half Moon was red (not yellow) in my day, and I think the Whip (upper right) was green.
I'll be Tom Seaver and you can be Rusty Staub!
I'll be Tom Seaver and you can be Rusty Staub!

Your favorite childhood memories

Writing about the demise of Astroland, my childhood amusement park, got me thinking about my youth. Then some other cherished memories of growing up in the 1970s in Brooklyn popped into my head.

Share your favorite memories of growing up in Wisconsin using the talkback feature below.

Street Rides -- We had two that came down our street regularly during the summer and I'm happy to see that A Aardvark Amusements still offers them (although now for rent only, it seems). The Whip has seats attached to a chain drive that makes an oval circuit in the fenced-in back of a truck. At the curves it whips you around. It felt crazy at the time -- like the Half Moon (now, apparently, the King Kong Half Moon), which is a half-moon-shaped ride that moves back and forth elevating those on the top seats to a nearly ground-facing height. They seem pretty tame now, but they sure didn't when I was wee.

The knife sharpener and milk delivery -- In his green truck with a bell, the grinder came by to sharpen scissors, knives and other edgy. pointy stuff. That, and the fact that when I was really young, we had milk delivered to the house, might make you think I'm 80 instead of 40.

Baseball in the street -- My street -- and certainly many others -- excluded, I wonder what has happened to the kids (video games, I'm guessing) nowadays. We loved TV as much as the next guys, but my brother and I played outside all the time. In the snow, in the heat, in the rain, whatever. We played baseball alone with a fence (Sorry, Ms. Maniscola!) or a pitchback if necessary, always pretending to be our favorite players, ignoring the fact that Tom Seaver or Jerry Koosman wouldn't likely face his Mets teammates like Rusty Staub or Felix Millan. But we had so many kids on our block that it was rarely hard to get two full teams together for stickball with a manhole cover as home plate.

Brighton Beach (or Manhattan Beach) -- Despite the occasional slashed foot thanks to broken glass and other garbage, there was no better way to spend a summer Sunday. The briney smell of salt water, the straw-like feel of wind-blown hair, the now ill-advised sun burn, the sound of The O'Jays on the radio, the crash of the surf, the taste of Nathan's hot dogs over at Coney Island, the feel of the hot and gritty-with-sand boardwalk on your bare feet. I can still taste it and hear it and feel it and smell it and see it.

Bike rides on the Belt Parkway bike path -- Past Marine Park, past Kings Plaza mall, past Toys R Us, almost to Floyd Bennett Field, and onto a fabulous bike path that passes marshes, beaches (whoa, look at all those pre-historic-looking horseshoe crabs!), Starrett City housing development and the garbage dump. It was a long, long ride, but a fun one. I remember finding $20 on the path once and feeling vaguely rich. I also remember returning from another ride to learn (via the beloved TV) that Keith Moon had died.

Block parties -- We had them every year. Neighbors strung up lights across the street and brought out tables and folding chairs and we picnicked on the blacktop, walking up and down the street to meet and greet and play with the other kids. If it was hot enough we'd open the johnny pumps (fire hydrants, that is) -- most of which were painted in stars and stripes for the bicentennial -- put on the sprinkler cap and run through the spray.

OK, there's a lot more, but now it's your turn!!!

Talkbacks

AndrewJ | June 11, 2013 at 9:16 a.m. (report)

36464 Ice skating inside Mayfair Mall, then going to the McDonalds that overlooked the rink. Funny to say McDonalds is part of a fond childhood memory... but man, when you're a kid that place is like GOLD.

Movie theater carry-ins. Running into the theater to see Star Wars or Superman and Mom carrying a paper grocery bag stuffed with homemade popcorn. Try that these days.

As a pre-teen, Johnson's Park and Mike Hegan's Grand Slam. Was sad to see what Johnson's Park evolved into. For all the fond memories there, there's also the memory that it's the first place I saw someone openly flash a handgun at another person.

Oh, and can't forget Boy Blue. They might still be up and running... but haven't been down there in a looong time. Vanilla cone dipped in the chocolate shell. Total magic when you're a kid.

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David1962 | June 10, 2013 at 6:44 p.m. (report)

My Dad and I were discussing the Eddie Mathews Bat-A-Way batting cages on 27th Street and trying to remember the exact location. Anybody remember? What's there now?? Thanks

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CoolerKing | Sept. 9, 2008 at 7:31 a.m. (report)

I still have great memories as a kid in the 60's of small corner stores in West Allis that had plenty of candy in stock. Others are the trips to Muskego in the summer, when my parents took my sister and I to Muskego Beach and Dandelion Park. And I vividly remember almost getting my head taken off at the Eddie Mathews Bat-A-Way batting cages on 27th Street.

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sheff414 | Sept. 8, 2008 at 3:29 p.m. (report)

Soccer at Urban Park and all the church festivals on the southside....

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