Showing posts with label Dyslexia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dyslexia. Show all posts

Friday, March 31, 2023

Me, Space Time and Architecture


 Me, Space Time and Architecture

No. 4 April 2023


The changes from Willow Ave. (Posts 1 and 2) were subtle relative to living in an apartment. However, the density and the mixed-use component on 1st street were impactful. Now at 8 or 9 years old apartment living was all I knew.  But that was also about to change.  The next cerebral environmental impact on the awareness of space would be an overnight stay with my grandparents.  They had a single-family house with three bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and their own bathroom with a tub all under one roof.  

But for now, let's focus on 1st street.  The employment situation had not changed.  My mother was working in the garment industry as a sewing machine operator. My father was still looking for any type of employment a person with a sixth-grade education could find.  With the Tootsie Roll factory and garment industry focusing on Puerto Rican and Black labor he found work as a clerk in a hardware store.  As the economy in the 50s flourished except in Hoboken a move from the Willow Ave tenements did not prove to be a "moving on up" moment for us as it was for the Jeffersons. 

Typical sewing factory in the 50s

I continued to attend public school.  I was not a very good student.  That became clear to me on 1st street when I was left back in the fourth grade.  I had been identified as a slow learner.  Many years later, my assistant told me I was dyslexic. It wasn't until then that I began to put the educational system in perspective.  

The seats in the back of the classroom were filled with slow learners.  Basically, they were all from low-income families with parents that had very little education themselves. That has changed dramatically today.  There are many programs to identify early learning challenges and programs to assist students on all levels.  I think perhaps the pendulum has swung too far.  Certainly, these programs are important but not to the detriment of those who have been blessed with the ability to learn quickly.  We need gifted individuals to be challenged not to have the learning experience be brought down to a mediocre level.  The educational system in the 50s created many challenges but the streets the architecture society and economics were as impactful as the school system. 

Public Schools in Hoboken 

In the 50s many low-income families found a way to supplement their household income.  Women found themselves working during World War II and even though the social norm was for women to be a homemaker in the 50s many stayed in the workforce after the war. In the 50s women were expected to identify primarily as wives and mothers. However, 29% of women 16 and over became part of the US workforce. That number increased to 36% in the 60s.  One of the impacts on space, time, and architecture would be latch-key children. 

With both parents working many children after school made their way home, with an apartment key safely pinned in their pocket, to an empty apartment. The options were to stay in the apartment or head to the streets, meet friends, and play until the street lights came on.  This meant finding kids in the same social-economical situation as you and finding common interests that keep you busy until dinner time.

On 1st street that meant stickball, building, and riding scooters, or going around the corner to the slaughterhouse and riding the hooks that swung the animal carcasses in the slaughterhouse from the loading docks

Stickball required a cut-off broom handle a rubber ball typically a spaldeen, pensy pinky.  The pitcher's mound was a street cover and bases were either car doors or telephone pools. The only foul play came as cars drove through the playing field and we had to wait for the car to clear the field to resume play.  The rules were the same as baseball but the innings stopped when the street lights came on.  Parents' only instruction before going off to work is,  "be home when the street lights come on." 


The 50s stickball game 

Celebrating a home run


Scooters are the for-runners of skateboards. Construction materials came from the streets and an old birthday gift, roller skates.  One needed a 3-foot piece of 2x4, a vegetable box from the store on the corner, and an old pair of roller skates.  The rest was up to the imagination of the builder. On 1st street, scooters were used to roll down the sidewalks and streets.  The vegetable and fruit vendors were always on the lookout for the scooters rolling by grabbing Chinese apples (pomegranates,) bananas, or whatever could be reached from the scooter and thrown in the scooter box allowing a fast escape.  

Typical scooter squid in the 50s
 
Butting the last touches on a scooter

Sidewalk street vendors 

Vendor on the lookout for scooters


Slaughterhouse ride.  On 1st street, only a block away was a slaughterhouse where full carcasses of beef were brought in processed and packaged for local grocery markets. On the loading dock was a circulating rack that extended out passed the dock.  This allowed the trucks to back up to the racks and unload.  It also allowed kids to use the racks as a ride when the plant was closed. One would hang from the rack as someone pushed you out past the dock like you were a side of beef. So we would roll up on scooters and kill some time on the slaughterhouse ride.   

The slaughterhouse ride



One social event in the 50s was spending time with friends and going to the movies.  Usually, someone would have enough for a ticket or if we pooled our funds there would be enough for one ticket.  Whoever bought the ticket was charged with getting a seat and when the lights were turned down they would go to the exit and open the door for those of us waiting outside to snick in for a Saturday matinee. The screen brought magical places and amazing adventures, with very few special effects, to life.  We watched the Rocket Man fly through the air with rocket packs on his back.  Flash Gordon always beat the Emperor of Mongo, Ming, by the end of the show. 


It all started here at the Fabian theater 


Flash Gordon and Ming

Commando Cody Rocket Man

Costumes were primitive


Costumes and sets were basic  


This was life on 1st street in Hoboken, NJ.  The 50s was the beginning of the drug abuse generation that fueled the 60s.  It was also a time when the suburbs became the place to live.  Cars became available to almost all socio-economic groups.  Parents wanted to flee the cities to give their children a better life.  I learned about the suburbs when visiting my grandparents.  They had moved out of Hoboken to Bergenfield a suburb in New Jersey. In Bergenfield, the concept of home changed from an apartment to a single-family house. 

My next post will deal with the space and architectural change from apartment living to a single-family home and leaving the city. 


This blog is written by a dyslexic writer with no editor.  I think the inaccuracies are part of the story. 


 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Me, Space, Time, and Architecture





Me, Space, Time, and Architecture 

No. 3 March 2023


"Moving on up," was the sitcom theme for the Jeffersons during the 70s and 80s. Well moving to 1st street in Hoboken in the 50s was supposed to be our moving-on-up moment. The Architecture on 1st street changed from mid-rise tenements to two and three-story structures. I see these buildings as the earliest forms of mixed-use architecture. The buildings had commercial on the first floors and apartments on the second and third floors. 

One could buy fruit and vegetables on the street below your apartment, there were also clothing stores, and candy shops on the street below the apartments. There was no need for "Vegetable Man" and his horse-drawn wagon on 1st street.  The photos below show the typical streetscape that one would find on 1st street.    

Typical 3-story retail/apartment building on 1st street


Retail on the first floor 


Densities changed dramatically on 1st street.  A single building on Willow Avenue would have 20 families per building and each complex contained 4 buildings some blocks of tenements would have between 600 to 1000 people on a block. On 1st street, the density dropped to 25% of that on Willow Ave. There were fewer people, but the streets were active with shoppers from other neighborhoods as well as the apartments above.  

Our apartment on 1st street was still very similar to the Willow Ave. apartment.  A central hall with common stairs led to the second and third floors.  Each floor had a common toilet.  One entered directly into the kitchen adjacent to the kitchen was an open alcove.  The alcove was only separated from the kitchen by a lighted window wall of small glass pains. It was completely open to the hall that runs from the kitchen to the living room. this was my bedroom. The framed glass divider may have been a way to provide the required light to the alcove and the absence of a wall would provide the ventilation required by the code.  There was a window in the kitchen that opened to a courtyard with access from the retail space below.  The living room had two double-hung windows that opened to the street below.  The impact this apartment would have on a tenant's use would not change much from the tenements of Willow Ave. The major improvement between Willow Ave. and 1st street would be the density and convenience of shopping.


Floor plan of 1st street apartment

Today's mixed-use apartment retail 

My next post will cover the social and economic impacts on 1st Street.  We will look at work, play, education, and the decision to leave the city. 


This blog is written by a dyslexic writer with no editor.  I think the inaccuracies are part of the story.







Saturday, February 11, 2023

 Me, Space, Time, and Architecture

No. 2 Feb. 2023


Continuing with the impacts an apartment in a tenement on Willow Ave. in Hoboken New Jersey had on a child.

I at 6 or 7 years old. Sitting in the living room in front of the window

Several important architectural features are visible in this photo. The first is the fire escape. The first law requiring fire escapes was enacted in 1860, through fire codes. The fire codes have been greatly revised in recent history.  Fire escapes have been almost eliminated with the advent of new requirements and materials.  

A close look at the photo, with me holding a stick pony, shows the iron slats that formed the fire escape floor.  Escape would be determined by what you feared most, a fear of heights, or the fear of fire. Climbing out onto the fire escape meant a view directly down, in my case four stories. 

The fire escape was also used as an outdoor balcony during hot summer nights.  There were no air conditioners in the early 50s tenements.  My mother solved my fear of heights with a blanket thrown over the metal slats. With my blanket and pillow, I would climb onto the fire escape after dinner on hot nights for a cool good night's sleep.  

One could hear the sounds of neighbors out for a smoke or looking for an escape from the sweltering heat. The unintended uses of the fire escape included a break from the heat, a place to smoke, and unfortunately access for criminals to apartments. The impact this architectural feature had on me was a feeling of openness.  I would lie and look up to view the night sky and listen to the unforgettable sounds of the city at night. Muted conversations would drift through the night air from open windows, traffic below on Willow Ave. sent a rhythmic song upward, and soft voices of others just trying to escape the heat filled the night. 


Willow Avenue fa├žade of fire escapes

Looking closely at the photo of the boy above one can see the opposite side of the street in the early 50s.  The buildings were reflections of the tenements. A service station and some retail stores were staring back at me from the ground floor. In the back of the service station was a stable with access to an ally.  Yes even in the early 50s there were horses in Hoboken. 

I was told on the roof of one of those old buildings is where Marlon Brando shot the pigeon coop scene for On The Waterfront in the early 50s. 

Today looking from my 50s window you will see the 200-unit Fox Hill Gardens a public housing project. There are no fire escapes to serve as balconies to escape the heat or view the open sky. The whole block was razed for the 60s or 70s modern mid-rise building.  I preferred the historic architecture the memories of a clear sky and the sounds of the city.  


A view of Fox Hill Garden from the tenements across the street 

How else did the Hoboken streets and architecture impact those of us living in them? Well, they provided employment for kids, recreation, and relief from the summer heat. 

Remember horses were on the streets of Hoboken in the early 50s.  There were policemen on horseback and the vegetable man with his horse-drawn wagon.  

My very first job was with the vegetable man.  An Italian immigrant would pull his horse-drawn vegetable wagon down the middle of Willow Avenue, shouting in broken English "Vegetables, Fruit, for sale."  The sounds of his horse's hooves and his voice vibrated off the building like he was in a valley of echoes.  Women would shout out their orders from the windows high and low above the street.  Vegetable man would pack their orders in brown paper bags.  With what must have been a geese pencil he would scribble each item and its cost on the bag. The bags with deep black graphics were his works of art.  A bag with the amount owed was handed to his helpers, usually a kid from the block. Our job was to run up to the apartments, deliver the groceries, and collect the money. Hopefully, a delivery boy would get a 5-cent tip. In many buildings that 5-cent tip was for climbing the stairs 5 stories.   

Typical horse-drawn vegetable wagon and vegetable man of the 50s  

It should be noted that refrigeration was still very new and expensive.  In many of the apartments tenants still used ice boxes.  The ice box would keep vegetable man's grocers fresh for a few days. It was the ice man's job to deliver ice for the ice box.  He would carry a large block up to an apartment. In the apartment, he would chip off a smaller piece that would fit in individual ice boxes (refrigerators in the tenements).

The ice man delivering blocks of ice
The ice box being filled


As for recreation in the streets of Willow Ave., there were street showers. During the hot summer, the fire department would occasionally set up street showers. The showers were connected to fire hydrants; in some cases, the fire hydrant was just opened and one ran through the open hydrant. Government officials felt the showers relieved tensions on the streets. Some of us didn't have bathing suits so underwear would be used to access the showers.  

Street showers in the 50s

The stoops in front of each tenement were the social, economical, and political hub of each building. Stoops worked like social media today.  The subjects ranged from that kid is a troublemaker to comments on the socio-economics of the neighborhood. A building also reflected its own ethnicity.  In the early 50s, our building was mostly German, Norwegian, and Italian.   No African Americans or Puerto Ricans were in our building or on our block. 

Changing ethnicity on a block and in a building created conflict and change for many families.  In our apartment talk of no work was confirmed when electric bills were not paid and the lights went out.  

Employment, boosted by war production, had remained high in the years immediately following World War II in Hoboken. The Hoboken Land & Improvement Company sold the waterfront and docks, and job opportunities slowly disappeared in the early 50s. There was a brief surge in manufacturing jobs in the 50s but the garment manufacturers, especially Sweets Company of America, the manufacturer of Tootsie Rolls, recruited a new group immigrating to the US. Puerto Ricans began to move to Hoboken with low air fairs and the draw of manufacturing jobs.  On the stoops of our building, the conversations became dark and confrontational.  Puerto Ricans and Blacks were moving into the neighborhood. 

In our apartment, my father was very vitriolic.  He had a sixth-grade education had served in Kora and saw duty in Germany. Irish and Nordic heritage he was a big man, six foot two inches and 250 pounds with a chip on his shoulder.  I don't think it helped that he came from a divorced family.  The only child of an Irish father and a Norwegian mother.  His bigoted bullying temperament was balanced by my mother.   She had a high school education and had Italian and Jewish heritage.  She was short dark complected and often identified as Italian.  She suffered the slurs of the time. She had been called a Wop and Ginny.  I think that gave her an innate tolerance for others. 

With the transformation of our block and building, I can imagine my mother sitting on the stoop of our apartment, contemplating our next move, hoping to improve her child's life.


Typical stoop life in the 50s

My imagination of a mother's contemplation 

A move from the tenements of Willow Ave. will introduce a new architectural style for apartment living.  My next home would be 103 First St. Hoboken NJ.

This blog is written by a dyslexic writer with no editor.  I think the inaccuracies are a part of the story.




Wednesday, February 27, 2019



A Bridge to Forgiveness

After 37 years my daughter Tanya and I found each other.  We began to communicate by phone, email and text.  Through the dyslexic ramblings in my blog posts she saw a search for change and Forgiveness.  After several months we would meet for the first time in 3 decades.

Photos of our first time together.




To understand how we made this happen. Read our book.
click on the link

Tuesday, February 5, 2019


A Bridge to Forgiveness

The Journey to forgiveness for my daughter Tanya and I started with honesty, trust and faith. As we began our communications through emails and telephone communications we shared some of our missed 37 years.  I began by sending baby photos of Tanya that she had never seen.



To learn more about our journey click and read

Monday, January 14, 2019


A Bridge to Forgiveness


A Bridge to Forgiveness is about a father and daughter reunited after 37 years.  
On our journey the photo and sketch of the bridge that crosses the Rouge River at Grants Pass became part of our story.  

 Tanya and I visited Grants Pass and this bridge in 2014


I drew this sketch in 1996 eighteen years before Tanya and I would visit this bridge on our journey to forgiveness.









Click on 
and read our story















Thursday, January 3, 2019


Jan 3, 2019


Now that "A Bridge to Forgiveness" is published I thought it would be interesting to share some photos and stories of my daughter Tanya's and my journey.  






Great Grandpa with Lilly, Judah, Clara, and Abigale on a recent trip to visit Tanya.

Saturday, December 22, 2018


                                         
Welcome 
2019


It has been a while sense my last post.  I have saved this blog for posts relating to the books I have been working on.

After three years of work "A Bridge to Forgiveness" has been published.  This book is co-written with my daughter.  We had not seen each other in over 30 years, but Faith, Forgiveness and the internet ended all that.



The four people who made this book possible.


New post for 2019