Saturday, June 27, 2009


Eli and Elisson, 1955
Eli and Elisson, September 1955.

You’re looking at a photograph of Eli (hizzownself) and his young son - Eli’s son, AKA Yours Truly - taken in September, 1955 in front of our old Unqua Road residence in Massapequa, New York. The Old Man is all of thirty years old in this picture; I am a month shy of my third birthday. I’m pretty sure I was toilet-trained by then.

I was a nine-month-old infant when Eli and family moved from Brooklyn to the blue suburban skies of Long Island. As such, my earliest memories are of that house on Unqua Road, our home for fourteen years.

I remember the basement, with its dim, dark, dank corners and the mysterious Heating Oil Tank that sat against the western wall. The basement also served as our laundry room: the washer (and later, the dryer) sat against the eastern wall, while a handy trap door in the bathroom on the main floor allowed us to throw our soiled clothing directly into a waiting basket below.

There was also a crawl space behind the basement stairs, a place so shrouded in mystery, I never thought to explore it. I was content to imagine how we could convert the basement into a makeshift fallout shelter when the bombs started falling - as I figured they inevitably would. Yeesh.

After we had been in the house a few years, there were some necessary renovations. A screened and heated porch was added in the back of the house, and the garage - visible behind Eli’s shoulder in the photo above - was converted into a family room. To replace it, a new detached garage was built on the other side of the house, a narrow breezeway separating it from the house. I have a dim, fragmentary recollection of playing on the garage’s newly-poured concrete slab before the framing was put up.

We moved out of that house 42 years ago, but it still stands. Here it is today:

Chez Elisson - Unqua Road
The Unqua Road house, June 2009.

The original cedar shingles have long since been replaced by vinyl siding, but you can recognize the master bedroom window, the one with the white shutters and windowbox in the 1955 pic. On the left side of the picture you can see where the garage used to be. The steps and railing are new, as is the circular driveway. Our old lamp-post, added after the garage conversion, still stands.

I was curious about how the place looked inside, but not enough to scare the crap out of the current resident by ringing the doorbell.

In August of 1967 we relocated to a new home - new to us, anyway - a grand total of three blocks away.  It was a bit more contemporary, at least by the standards of the day. Here’s a current photo:

Chez Elisson - Pocahontas Street
The Pocahontas Street house, June 2009.

Yes, that caption says Pocahontas Street. Pocahontas Street West, to be exact. If you didn’t care for ridiculous sounding Indian names, you had no business living in Massa-fucking-pequa.

The landscaping has grown a bit more lush in the eighteen years since Eli moved away, and the fence on the left is new... but this is pretty much how it looked when we lived there. The Japanese red maple, now huge, hides the front entry in this view, but my old bedroom window is visible behind the pink azalea. And that long, sloped roof is the very one upon which Danny Baldwin would climb on the odd evening, there to run around and drive my parents insane. [Years later, when he worked for a landscaping company that was doing some work at the house, he sought an audience with my mother in order to proffer an apology.]

Oh, the Baldwins. Alec, Billy, Danny, and Stephen... and sisters Beth and Jane. They lived one street over, at the southwest corner of Iroquois and Sunset Road, in a house that was, at the time, a Legendary Eyesore. It’s a respectable place now:

Chez Baldwin
The Baldwin house on Iroquois Avenue.

As with most Budding Delinquents, I’m sure they were a fun buncha kids. But this is only conjecture on my part. Alec, eldest of the brothers, was six years younger than me, so our paths rarely crossed.

Ahh, if only walls could talk... what stories they could tell!

No comments: