Written by Stanley Greenberg Friday, 13 May 2011 00:00
The clever, negative Ogden Nash rhyme about the Bronx does not represent the true nature of growing up in this borough.
We lived in a two bedroom apartment on Bryant Ave; the major cross street was 174th St., and that is where my father and mother worked daily in Greenberg’s Dry Goods Store. The apartment was directly around the corner from the store.
The neighborhood had value because it was two city blocks from the 174th St. station on the Lexington Ave. line and the 7th Avenue line. Very convenient.
Most of our neighbors worked in the garment industry or the fur industry, neither of which is today a prominent factor in New York City’s economy.
My first school was P.S.50, which was ruled by a despotic tyrant, named Mrs. Bloom. She had a permanent sneer on her face and she was feared far and wide. Unbeknownst to her, every one of the students called her Mrs. Bloomers. On the other hand, the teachers were wonderful. They taught us geography and history that made our immigrant parents proud.
My next school in the 7th grade was the famous landmark, P.S.98 or Herman Ridder Junior High School. Journalism, civics, languages and algebra entered our lives. Again, the teachers were dedicated and learning was a pleasure to the hapless 11-and 12-year-olds. Thinking back, it was the highlight of my academic life. As a freshman, I won the school-wide spelling contest. I was a star in those years.
James Monroe High School across the Bronx River, via the 174th St. bridge (one of the seven wonders of the world) was next. Because I was puny and skinny some bad boys hung me off the bridge by my heels. My high school life was forgettable. No female ever paid me any attention. Basketball, schoolyard football and baseball were my raisons d’etre!
On to City College of New York in 1951. I was looking forward to attending the only school that ever, or will ever, win the NCAA and the NIT tournaments. But alas, it was never to be. The entire basketball team was prosecuted for shaving points for gamblers’ money and CCNY was banned from Madison Square Garden.
My grades at City College were good enough to allow me to enter New York University College of Dentistry. I practiced dentistry for over 50 years and I spent two years in the U.S. Army.
I married Lorraine Rochelle Meyerovitch on July 1, 1962. We have three children and six grandchildren. I started writing this column “Over 60” in 1998.
It all started on Bryant Avenue in the Bronx. You left your apartment and in the streets there was always a friend. I never let anyone belittle that borough.
My upbringing can compare favorably to the finest and wealthiest people in America.
To paraphrase Ogden Nash “The Bronx – Much Thonx!”