Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Bit of Where I Grew Up

Over on "Paper, Paint, Pencils, and Pens" (see the side link) our last theme was to do sketches of where we grew up. I decided to do quick mini sketches that are about 2 1/2 x 3 inches.

I attended St. Joseph's Church in Jamaica, Queens which was a Polish parish. We spent a lot of time there for mass, processions, and assorted things. The church was part of the center of our community.

Diagonally across from the school was the local funeral home. My grandmother knew almost everyone in the neighborhood, so if someone from a family she knew had died we would stop and "visit" after church on Sunday after mass. This is what the building looks like today.

Behind the church was a very nondescript building that was the parochial school. It went from grades 1 - 8 and there was usually only one class per grade. My first grade class had 50 students and we had maybe 40 by 8th grade graduation. The nicest part of the school was the huge yard where we played at lunchtime and recess.

Even though I grew up in Jamaica I went to school in Richmond Hill which was also in Queens. I took the "J" train there every day. The J train was an elevated subway line that ran from Queens through Brooklyn and into Manhattan. Even though you could take a bus to Richmond Hill H.S. I always liked the train better. The bus drivers didn't always want to stop and pick up the waiting students...we had no problem on the train.

After most high school dances or basketball games we always went to Jahn's which was a sort of soda/ice cream shop. They had some very different ice cream creations, one of which was called "the kitchen sink" and contained about 14 scoops of ice cream. Of course you had to share it. There is one last remaining branch of Jahn's left in Queens and I believe the kitchen sink is listed for around $47 now. lol My favorite was always the "Joe Sent Me" which was strawberry ice cream with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Here is Jahn's from the front. This one is no longer in existence.

I loved it on the inside with the counter with bright red stools and the tables and booths in the back, which was usually where we sat.

When I was 15 the NY World's Fair was held in Flushing, Queens, a quick train ride away from us. We spent a lot of time there with our family and with our friends. It was such a fun place.
This is the Unisphere which is still standing in Flushing Meadow Park.

We had a park nearby called Baisley Pond Park. We would go and run around, fly kites, and sometimes fish. I once caught a small sunfish and we brought it home. My uncle who lived with us had a large fish tank and put him into it but he started eating the other fish. So he got a bowl of his own that we put on the windowsill. I thnk being in the sun led to Flip-Flop's demise and they he ended up buried in the backyard. 

I hope you've enjoyed a glimpse into my past.


  1. Delightful sketches and stories, Joan! Thanks for the tour of your childhood!

    - Tina

  2. My favorite post ever, Joan! I loved seeing and hearing about your growing up years (in a nutshell as it was). I was sad hearing about the sunfish's demise though!

  3. I enjoyed hearing about your hometown and your accompanying sketches really bring them to life! What a shame Jahn's is not there anymore, the ice cream sounds incredible!

  4. This is the best post EVER Joan! It brings me back when I lived in Jamaica... I went to PS82 grammar school then went to Jamaica High School...My sister went to Richmond Hill HS....I still don't know why we I think we had the choice then. My friends and I went to Jahn's all the time and I took the elevated train to go to work...(part of it isn't there anymore) I graduated from Junior High School at the Valencia Movie theatre which you HAVE to google someday when you get a chance.... a gorgeous Theatre which they have tours today..(It's a Church now!!!) anyway, love your sketches and thank you for the memories!!!

  5. I'm glad you all enjoyed the tour thru a bit of my childhood. Some places I wanted to sketch just weren't interesting enough on google maps (including our house) to warrant a sketch. lol

    Hilda, I didn't know you were from Jamaica. My younger sister went to Jamaica HS and the rest of us went to Richmond Hill. I think they changed the zoning by the time she was ready for school. There are a lot of people who have connections to the Valencia Theater. I was sad when they tore down that stretch of the EL since it was such a part of our lives back then.

  6. Loved, loved, loved this post. I loved the feeling of going back in time and seeing where you grew up. The church and the funeral home! Jahns! We had one not to far from my home in Brooklyn. I was never big enough (old enough) to get the "kitchen sink". And all your sketches are just terrific Joan. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Wow, Joan! Thank you for sharing your life. Wonderful sketches to add to the story. Brings back memories even though I was never in that part of NY, just memories of the soda shop and school in New Mexico. :)

  8. Thanks Carol. Looks like this touched base with a lot of people.

    Jo, just shows that we are all so similar. Thanks.

  9. Loved reading and seeing the images from your childhood, Joan. Wonderful, all of it!