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|
|The 50s stickball game|
|Celebrating a home run|
|Typical scooter squid in the 50s|
|Butting the last touches on a scooter|
|Sidewalk street vendors|
|Vendor on the lookout for scooters|
|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.