Friday, August 14, 2009

Reflection: Rockaway Memories

My family lived in Rockaway for a brief time in the late sixties before moving to Jamaica, Queens for nine years. At the time, I was too young to remember Rockaway. My sister, Alberta, told me stories about living on Hillmeyer Road and Beach 69th Street. She said that our block was so safe that you could walk around the neighborhood at two or three o’clock in the morning without being harassed by anyone.

My family returned to Rockaway in 1978. I was eleven years old. The day after we moved into the Arverne Houses on Beach 56th Street (now it’s called Ocean Bay Houses), there was a snowstorm. The trains and buses were not running due to the inclement weather so we were snowbound. I remembered the snow was so deep that I couldn’t walk through it. The snow reached my waist! After calling a friend from my old neighborhood and talking for a couple of minutes, I soon drew bored and just stared out of my bedroom window taking in my new neighborhood.

As the months moved on and summer arrived, I found solace on the jetties. I used to love walking on the jetties and looking at the waves crash into the rocks. I also loved walking on the boardwalk to Playland with my mother, sister and brother on the 4th of July and seeing the fireworks over the water. We used to walk to the arcades and my favorite game was Skee-Ball. My sister and brother used to tease me because I used to throw the ball not seeming to aim at anything (there is always a method to the madness). With my obscure aim, I used to always get the ball into the 50 spot and have enough tickets to get a prize.

At the end of 2006, I moved from Rockaway to Long Island. I have bittersweet memories of “The Rock” (losing various loved ones throughout the years, my first pregnancy, losing friendships and gaining new ones). But as I raise my family on Long Island: Rockaway will always be considered home.

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Sandra Proto debut poem at the age of twelve was entitled, The Late Great April, giving homage to the first time it snowed in April. She wrote Late Great April as an English class assignment and her teacher was so impressed by the poem that he tried to get it published. After this experience, Sandra became a "Bedroom Poet" who composed Blackberry Beauty,Light, Compositions, and many others. Blackberry Beauty (her signature poem) was featured in SaSi's Production of Identity @ Space at 24 in 2000. Sandra has performed with the funky, folky, reggae rock band Hudson’s Hope. Her poetry is featured on VAMPIRE LESBIANS and ALL I CAN SEE IS HER EYES tracks of their demo CD. Sandra is also, a fiction writer, playwright, and an essayist.

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