Thursday, December 25, 2008

Walking Home Through Snow

Len Klein
Memory Sketch #01, December 2000

Walking in the snow, he was careful not to slip, but nonetheless, his stride was strong and confident. He was a young man whose muscles were toned by the labor of his work and he strode forth as an agile workingman does. It was dark and he was going home. The snow was still falling and the flakes fell thick all around. His left hand he kept up to his shoulder where it held on to the lower leg of his small son sitting astride his neck. Beside him walked a short, little woman, young, with a baby carriage in which snuggled a second son. She said, “Harvey,… be careful!” They walked on, past the entrance of the Fire House on the other side of Bristol Street, and kept moving along toward Blake Avenue.

Where we had come from, I no longer know, but from atop his shoulders my eyes were almost completely blinded by the sweep and dance of the snow flakes. “Look where you’re going, Dad, ‘cause I can’t see anything,” my five year old voice sounded to my father. I heard my mother laughing but I knew what I’d said was true. Then my Dad said, “I’ll be careful.” I just knew it would be difficult for him because I really could not see ahead, but he seemed to know how to walk in the snow and where he was going and how to get there. When we came to the corner of Blake and Bristol, the large, fortress-like, public school building was just visible across the street to my right. I knew it was my right because it was to the same side of my head on which I parted my hair, or rather, the side my mother parted my hair on.

The school, all dark now, was called “one-seventy-five” by everyone on my block; at least everyone on the end of the block where I lived. It was the school I would eventually go to, a time to which I looked forward with great anxiety. But I never said this to my friends because I knew that I was the only one who was frightened of going to school. Danny and Davy and Lenny never said anything to me either. I hated Lenny because he was always running up behind you and jumping on your back. I hated him. That his mother, Mrs. Strauss, and mine were friends, I think made me hate him even more. They were my best friends, since Heshy from Hinsdale Street, before we moved to 241 Bristol Street which was across from a very pebbly park; a whole block wide park set aside for games and walks, and also a section near Blake Avenue, across from “one-seventy-five,” where the big kids from the sixth grade were taken to learn planting and caring for vegetable garden plots. “One-seventy-five” was an all ‘round school.

We lived on the third floor front and I could watch the gardening activities from across the way, looking through the row of trees and the iron fence which ran ‘round half the park. To the outside of the fence, under the trees, there was a row of wooden benches, on which we would sit, my mother and I, when the weather was nice. I couldn’t get there alone, or with my friends, because we were not allowed to cross the street. You had to be really big to do that.


Based on later stories and conversations, I believe the family lived at 243 Bristol Street, not 241.

See map for Betsy Head Playground, P.S. 175, and 243 Bristol St
See picture of 243 Bristol St circa 1940-1941

Len was born in 1932 and his little brother, my dad Arnold was born in 1936

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