And Some More Memories...

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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