More Childhood Memories
of Bridgeport, Connecticut
Provided by John Babina
(Edison 1955, Hall 1956, Notre Dame 1961; and Success Park)
Remember making Cub Scout projects requiring homemade molds by using Plaster of
Paris? The big target marble in the game of marbles was called the dodo!
Watching the building of Bullard Havens Technical School was the biggest
construction project in our neighborhood. I could see it from my Success Park
bedroom window since we lived on the east side of the field and had a clear view
to the hill. Remember the "cheap" toys from the Pleasure Beach Penny Arcade were
made in "Occupied Japan"? [Little did we know what was coming!] . . . when many
items you bought were made right here in Bridgeport, and not China? The early
rent at Success Park, while under Federal Government ownership, was $17 per
month and included heat, gas, water and electric . . . and the garbage was
picked up by the city. Teachers could hit you with a ruler . . . and if your
parents found out . . . you caught it at home too! The dreaded report card day!
Yes, some kids "stayed back" then. A teacher did not need written permission
from the family lawyer to keep you after school for misbehaving. A field trip in
grammar school was walking around the block. Having to wash and get dressed up
to "go downtown" on the bus. Men wore suits and ties to watch Sunday industrial
league ball games . . . and Thanksgiving Day high school football games on the
radio. There was a local live radio broadcast "Breakfast Club" in the basement
cafeteria of one of the big downtown department stores (I forgot if it was
Howlands or Reads.) Remember when your bill and cash were sent by pneumatic tube
up to the Howlands' credit office and then your change came back in a felt
tipped brass cylinder that would shoot out into a basket. Remember when you
could only buy toothpaste in a drug store and soup in a grocery store? The drug
store on Success Ave. had a real soda fountain and sold hard liquor, too! Your
doctor made house calls. Common household remedies included ipecac (to make you
throw up!) mercurochrome, iodine, Vicks and calamine lotion. Your parents and
grandparents called the bus "the jitney" (slang for a nickel orig. unknown -
1903). Remember when you could get a paper "transfer" to change buses on a trip
across the city? A juke box played one song for a nickel (the nickelodeon!), A
payphone call cost a nickel . . . remember the gongs counting the change? Boy
Scout campouts at Sherwood Island State Park. Rookie boy scouts (tenderfoots!)
were sent out to get the "Cannon Report" (It was "b-a-n-g" written on a scrap of
paper!). Nobody would dream of ripping the bronze plaques off of war memorials
to sell for scrap. The Bridgeport police rode around in motorcycles with
sidecars. Remember the chant when we played kick the can . . . "Alli alli n
free" . . . did you know it actually meant "all (who are) in (are) free"?
Remember eating cotton candy, colored popcorn, candy apples, Indian apples,
pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, Mary Janes, Bonomo's Turkish Taffy, Jujyfruits .
. . Lime Rickeys, Yoo-Hoo Chocolate Drink . . . is KoolAide still around? . . .
.Sing-along in the movies to the "bouncing ball" . . . passing the bucket in
the movie houses for charity collections . . . some people were so conditioned
by church they would genuflect (kneel) before getting into the movie seats. . .
. stomping your feet and clapping in unison when the film broke . . . counting
down the numbers if the film start was miscued to the dead roll numbers . . .
the flash of light in the upper corner signaling the reel changes . . . wearing
the cardboard colored glasses with cellophane red-green lenses for 3-D movies .
. coon skin caps with tail . . . Silent 'Farmer Brown' Cartoons on TV Channel
13 out of Newark with background polka music before it went to PBS educational
TV affiliation . . . we did not know what a "Rerun" was on TV! . . . you got a
"free" glass or a facecloth in a box of Duz detergent. . . . and all the statues
in church covered in purple cloth during Lent.
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