A reader who grew up in the 'nabe emailed me this rambling and lovely essay about growing up in Clinton Hill: (posted verbatim)Sure there's a group of us from those days that wax nostalgia which is so odd, because we still think we're kind of hip and young. I guess it's all relative. There are so many stories to tell, I guess I could start at 10 years old and work my way up to when everyone started moving away when I was about 18 ish.
Our playground was initially the Clinton Hill Apartments which many of us lived in. The courtyards (with the Guards booth from outer space being our focal point) some of those guards back then were really quite funny and they would literally chase us through these tunnels beneath the buildings --- which to a kid seemed like a coal mine. I n any case, my best friend back then was Arthur Maturo, who's mother was the producer of the "To Tell the Truth" television show. Her name was Mimi O"Brian and they were the only ones in the Clinton Hill apts that had a maid!
We were really like the kids in Stand By Me....Clinton Hill style. My Aunt Milly was a politician in the area back then too she and her family the Marchiano's, lived on Adelphi. There were actually a lot of Italians in that neighborhood. While most landed in Bensonhurst, a crew must have got lost and landed in Ft. Green and Clinton Hill. My grandparents were Italian immigrants and lived on Classon Ave. The Pratt students at the time used to use her (my Aunt's) billboards as art pieces and probably dart boards. I could never get a grip on why that was. I think she may have been pretty tacky and arts students thought she was a joke. (that's all another story).
My friend Laura Yaccarino whom I still know, would be my oldest friend (were both 50), and grew up on Clinton Avenue between Dekalb and Lafayette in a brownstone. Her father was Joe from Joe's Place restaurant on Waverly (very hip hangout back then) and her mother Nancy may still live there. Nancy and Joe were like my adopted parents back then. I just loved hanging out with them as they had this kind of gay sensibility. I'm a gay man and back when I was 16 she would always get references I would make to lines in All About Eve or things like that. Their late son John was a good friend as well. They would toss these really fabulous Christmas parties with all these artsy types, and "the kids" were allowed to join the party. The older people there (they were probably only 30ish), seemed really fascinated by our little androgynous group of hippy kids. They would usually gravitate over and ask us strange questions like, I dunno, um "What do you think of the new Mahavishnu Orchestra LP?" (insert blank stare)..
More to come....
I will get to the coven of witches that worked at the Woodward School and the Warlock who sold drugs from the Good Humor Truck in a later email. Then there's Spike Lee. Who is probably my age now. and The Ft Green Waltons (a family of beautiful blonde men that lived on Cumberland).