Monday, January 28, 2008

P.S. 131, 44th Street, Brooklyn



This item, from the series "New York's changing scene" (New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, March 4, 1979), has traveled with me for years. I clipped this column (with permission) on a Sunday visit to my grandparents' house in Brooklyn. I'd have never seen it otherwise: we were a Times family.

My mother went to P.S. 131 in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and I had her first-grade teacher, Mrs. Frazier, in the 1962-1963 school year. That span of time no longer seems amazing to me: there's nothing remarkable about teaching at the same school for twenty-odd years. But that my teacher was already teaching during the Depression: that's difficult to take in, and it makes me wonder when Mrs. Frazier's first-grade teacher began teaching.

I clipped this column not only for its school. Before my parents fled the city for New Jersey, we lived in the first-floor apartment of the rowhouse right next to P.S. 131: 1143 44th Street. A cranky landlady lived upstairs. My grandparents (my mother's parents) lived down the block. Oh memory!¹

Other P.S. 131 posts
P.S. 131
Some have gone and some remain

P.S. 131 class photographs
1962–1963 1963–1964 1964–1965 1965–1966 1966–1967

Related reading
P.S. 131 today (Insideschools.org)

¹ Repeated three times, the poignant phrase Louis Armstrong adds to his vocal in a 1931 recording of "Star Dust."

comments: 20

Tom the Piper's Son said...

I love Brooklyn! My daughter lived in Borough Park while attending Hunter (sister school type relationship with Northern Az.University). I read anything you have to say about Brooklyn with interest!

Michael Leddy said...

Very small world!

Tom, I didn't want to plug my blog on yours, but if you want to read my 2006 take on Rollins live, it's here: Sonny Rollins in Illinois.

Anonymous said...

i love ps131 im in 5th grader and i go to ms acevods calss!

Michael Leddy said...

Hi, P.S. 131 student! I’m glad that you love your school. Work hard on your reading and writing; they’ll make all the difference to you later on. I’m a college professor, so you know I’m telling you the truth. : )

alex amadeo said...

Wow Came across by accident.. Lived at 1136-44th street from '44 thru '61 Went to ps 131 and also had Mrs.Fraser.. Then to St.Catherine's.. Played all kinds of games in the schoolyard there.. What wonderful memories

Michael Leddy said...

Alex, thanks for reading and commenting. if you take a look at this post, with my first-grade class picture, you’ll see Mrs. Frazier. Did your classroom look similar?

Alex Amadeo said...

haha:: Talking about 60 some odd years ago.. But you said that you lived in the first house next to ps 131. Right after WW11 There was a young Marine that came back with a War Dog named "DUKE" a Big Doberman that lived in that house .. Did you know him?

Michael Leddy said...

No, he must’ve been gone before my time. Alex, if you climbed the fence to get into the schoolyard, take a look at this post too. The fence was still there the last time I visited Boro Park, but the schoolyard was unlocked.

alex amadeo said...

Michael, There were two types of fences. One was Wrought Iron ( completely around the school) other one was a 8-10 ft Chain Link, right next to house you described. Really got scared when we had to climb to get in the yard.. Used to go back there to play punch ball, cards, war, O yeah, I forgot, also to smoke cigarettes we bought on corner. Loosies, 3 for a nickle,or the ones we "borrowed" from parents. Chesterfields,Pall Malls. Great Memories

Michael Leddy said...

I never braved the chain-link fence, but I did master the other one at a pretty early age. I didn’t smoke until much later in life, but I remember a scrawny teenager on our block who smoked Luckies. People alleged that they had stunted his growth.

Great to be able to remember Brooklyn with you, Alex.

Angela said...

Hi
LOVE this blog. brings back alot of memories... so glad i happened to stumble upon it.

did you know my family? they were at 1158-44th street... across the street from you. 3 generations grew up in that home.

Michael Leddy said...

Angela, I looked at Google Maps, and I’m just not sure. Did you have a brother Sally who played guitar?

Angela said...

LOL- thats my uncle Sal. Hes in Jersey as well. so you must know my mom, Millie?
We are in Staten Island now. Im going to ask them if they remember you.
Can you believe we just sold that house in 2008?

Michael Leddy said...

What a small world. I remember your uncle and mom — I think they were both older than me. I remember your uncle (I think he was Sally back then to everyone) as having long hair (but not that long) and playing electric guitar. To me, just learning to play the guitar, that was very, very cool.

Michael Leddy said...

Still playing: here’s an example.

Angela said...

I do believe they are a few years older than you looking at your class photos and the years... Did you know my cousin? she lived there for quite a while as well. think she was more along your age. you may have been in the same class in 131 together.
Her name is Domenica aka Millie...
Have you been to boro park lately? my in-laws still live on 47th st, so we are there frequently. The neighborhood has changed SO much!

Angela said...

WOW, thats awesome!
what a beautiful family...
Going to forward my uncle your website. I also am forwarding to a good friend who lived next door at 1160.
she may remember you too!
Thank you for sharing.

Michael Leddy said...

Angela, I don’t think I remember your cousin. 1160 must have been the Cerrito house, yes? My grandparents lived on the first floor after selling their house.

I was last in Boro Park in the ’90s. When I see on Google Maps what 44th Street looks like now, I feel sick — so much greenery gone, so many well-made old houses gone, with their replacements completely out of scale to the street.

Angela said...

no Mike- 1160 was directly next to our house cerrito's house was 2 houses down. (the big house) we all wished we lived there!
Gabbanelli was next to us. Olivia and al. do you remember them? i am still friends with her daughter!

That is why we moved. so different these days then years ago, sad really. memories will always be there, but nothings really the same there.

Michael Leddy said...

Oops — I was off by one house. I don’t remember the Gabbanellis, though I do remember kids up and down the block.

It’s really something to see people from 44th Street or from P. S. 131 finding these posts. When I put them up, I was hoping that might happen.