Early in my marriage we lived in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. After the Bronx and Manhattan this was really the country. First we lived in a mafia owned three apartment building on Bay 13th and then we bought a brownstone on Bay 14th. I will change some names to protect the innocent and not so innocent.
We lived in the center apartment in a building that quickly became party central. We all used a concrete backyard for song fests and bbqs. It was about as wide as a three car garage. The guy upstairs, Tony, played the guitar and we spent hours singing, House of the Rising Sun. My aunt who was only a few years older than me lived on the first floor with her two young sons. Her husband was a medic serving in Viet Nam. Upstairs was Tony, his wife and three young children, and as I said Jim and I were sandwiched in the middle with our baby girl.
There was never an end to our parties. We had seltzer delivered by the case. It came in those clown like spray bottles. You never knew if when someone called your name, and you opened the apartment door, if you were going to get squirted in the face. I did a lot of squirting myself. It got so out of control we eventually had to call a moratorium to seltzer.
Separating our building from the one next door was a driveway. It was not unusual to get bombarded with a bag of water when walking down the driveway alley. Everyone in the building was under twenty-nine years of age. It was like a frat house. One time the brother of the girl who lived upstairs drove into the driveway in his little convertible. You guessed it! His sister dumped a trash pail full of water right into his front seat. What a shot. We came in and out of each other’s apartment at all hours of the day and night. Jim was the only one in the building who had a regular job, he was a Cop. Everyone knew when he came home at four AM. He worked steady 8 PM until 4 in the morning. They could hear his ball of keys and flashlight jangling as he ran up the stairs. Remember the days when you could work for eight hours and still run up the stairs?
The reason I mentioned that this was a mafia owned building was that it was barely maintained and there was no bannister on the hallway flight of stairs which was pretty steep. One summer day I fell down these steps with my baby in my arms. She did not get hurt but I broke my tail bone. We had been having all kinds of fights with the realty company who was supposed to be maintaining the property. I fell, and we sued. That’s when all hell really broke loose.