Atlantic Avenue stretches from the Williamsburg Bridge on the East River all the way into East New York and the neighborhood known as City Line, where Brooklyn morphed into Queens. It was always a multi-ethnic route, to a non-descript working class Italian-Irish-German neighborhood.
I remember the apartment where my grandparents lived. We had lived there too until the big falling out between my father and his father. I remember the big kitchen and the two bedrooms that shared a wall at the back. I remember the tiny hexagonal and rectangular white and black tiles that covered the hallway floors. I remember my grandmother cooking.
But I was very small. Perhaps my happiest memory from those first years was going to the park nearby. There was a maple tree with a low branch that extended out at no more than one or two feet above the ground. I clearly recall my delight at running out along that branch and jumping from the end of it onto the pungent, moist mowed grass of the park. It was just across the avenue from the apartment house. I was two.
I never got tired of it and I never forgot it. It’s funny what moments emerge as the happiest in one’s life.