Friday, July 19, 2013

The ten best things about summer in the 70's, Ossining edition.

Being a kid in Ossining, New York was THE BEST - especially during summertime.

So not Sally and Bobby Draper.
Me and my brother Mike, in front of our house
on Park Avenue - not that Park Avenue.
We were in Ossining waaay before Don and Betty Draper moved in during season one and put my little hometown on the map for the world to see. When people would ask me where I'm from I used to say, "you know, like where Sing Sing Prison is" or "you know, like where Martha Quinn is from" and now I say, "you know, like on MAD MEN."

Here are some things that made summertime in Ossining awesome, circa the late 70's when everything was of course way, way better.

Marathon banana seat bike rides.
I Remember getting on my bike during the summer at like 9:00 a.m. and not getting off of it until the sun went down. My bike was pale yellow with a glitter banana seat, perfect for flying down the big hill on Ward Place with my feet off the pedals or zipping over to the library on Croton Avenue. It had rainbow tassels on the handlebars, a white, plastic woven basket on the front and instead of baseball cards in the spokes it had trading cards from the movie Grease.

Slush Puppies - the corner deli.
On those hot summer days I would have one or two Slush Puppies a day from the Roosevelt Deli on the corner, one in the morning and one after dessert - my after dinner drink. My favorite flavors were cherry and grape which would stain my lips bright red and purple. The Slush Puppie mascot is burned into my memory, a Droopy Dog look-alike happily licking his chops and holding a cup with his own image emblazoned on it. Blue, red, and white were the colors printed on the waxy 70’s cup that the icy drink came in. I miss standing in front of that deli, chewing on the rim of the empty cup. Summer.

Carvel/Good Humor Man.
Whenever I hear "The Entertainer" or "Pop Goes the Weasel" my palms get sweaty and my heart races, thinking of the Good Humor Man going up and down Park Avenue (Toasted Almond Bar, every time.) Whenever I see/eat a soft serve ice cream cone anywhere I think how inferior it is to the perfection of my east coast Carvel soft serve cone (medium vanilla cake cone with rainbow sprinkles, every time.)

Chillmark Pharmacy.
Again, on the banana seat and up to Chillmark Shopping Plaza. Back in the day the terms "pharmacy" or "drug store" were used loosely - it wasn't just a place to go and get your prescription filled - it was also like a five and ten, a place to get baseball cards, Reggie candy bars, necklaces with your initial on it and a brand new Smurf or Clown-a-Round figure. I was mostly into buying myself a Smurf. And a Reggie bar.

4th of July Neighborhood Parade.
Little neighborhood parade the morning of the 4th where kids decorated their bikes, a fire truck went by, strangers waved at you and if you were lucky you saw a horse. Also candy was thrown at you. Awesome.
ME HOLDING A FLAG WITH MY BROWNIE TROOP! Also, my brother holding a flag on a street corner.

Judy the babysitter.
Summertime also meant Mom and Dad going out more often and staying out later. Lucky for me that meant Judy would be coming over more often. After Mike went to bed I would get to watch The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. It also meant I could eat Cheetos until I threw up, listen to Dark Side of the Moon and in later years see all of Richard Gere in American Gigolo. Best. Babysitter. Ever.

Yeah, yeah you guys look great. Now get outta here.

Italians all around me.
On my block we had the Vallerellis next door, the Scarduzios down the street, the Fortes were on the corner, etc. On Sunday afternoon the block smelled to die for. I know gravy and macaroni aren't your typical summer barbecue, but just because it was 100 degrees outside it was never too hot to "put the water on."

Day camp.
This is a picture from our last day of "Recreational Day Camp" where we made clay ash trays for our parents, ate Goober Grape sandwiches, played dodge ball, traded baseball cards, danced to the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever and made these elephant trunks out of wrapping paper tubes. On the last day we had a parade (again, with the parades) through downtown Ossining where we marched and made elephant noises. And again...awesome!

An elephant never forgets.

The Susie's.
I had two best friends and they were both named Susie. Susie Forte and Susie Kotash. Susie Forte lived on the corner. We would ride bikes, play softball, flip baseball cards and go to the pool together. Susie Kotash and I went to school together. We would sit on a blanket outside her apartment listening to Def Leppard, braid our wet hair to make it curly, and pierce each others ears with ice cubes and a potato. I loved these girls.
Susie Forte and I with our dad's beers. Susie Kotash and I with some Clown-Arounds.

Outdoor movies.
I remember seeing Superman starring Christopher Reeve sitting cross-legged outside at Vets Park one summer. Beautiful night, lightning bugs, Superman. One of my favorite movie memories ever.

Me, Dad, Mike, our surly foreign exchange student Kathleen,
and a bunch of extras from Goodfellas.

I'm sure many of you feel the same way about where you grew up, whatever place and time period that happened to be, as it should be. Go through an old photo album or just sit on a lawn chair and close your eyes, and insert your favorite camp/food/pharmacy/parade/deli/movie memory.

Hot town, summer in the city.


  1. I grew up in Ossining during the 50's and 60's. Spent Many a night on the big rock on the corner of Gates and Narragansett avenue sitting on the big green mailbox with all my friends.God bless Freddie, Buster, Janita, Melanie,Lillian,
    Pat etc!!!

  2. I grew up in Ossining right around the corner from that green mailbox, we played kick the can on Robin st. Summers were the best! Campwoods sweet shop and Liptons market. I loved those parades also and couldn't wait to get to High School to march with the band, now my kids call me a band geek, OK so maybe I was but I have the best memories!

  3. I remember the big green mailbox - we were all so lucky to grow up where and when we did! I need to make a trip back with my kids.