A Stroll Down Cherry Lane

One thing leads to another. First my mind drifted to Dondi, the poodle who was hit by a car and fell down the storm drain. Naturally, I had to look at the actual site of that incident in Google Street View. There it is.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I took a virtual walk down Lexington Street to Cherry Lane School. It hasn’t changed that much.

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It was here that my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Rice, wrote in my permanent record that I had a tendency to begin ambitious projects and fail to complete them. Was she referring to my papier-mâché volcano? Or the elaborate diorama of a TV studio I tried to make out of clay? Maybe she was right.

It was also here at Cherry Lane that Miss Salerno tried to put ChapStick on Joe Sergio. She hated chapped lips and would chase him around with the ChapStick, trying to smear it on his lips. This was bad, but not as bad as when she tried to cut his hair. She was obsessed with Joe Sergio.

And it was at Cherry Lane where Mrs. Kennedy would award JFK fifty-cent pieces to her third grade students who did fine work or distinguished themselves in some way. I was among the handful of kids who never got one.

But what I remember best are the air raid drills. Sometimes we would get under the desks, other times we’d kneel in the corridor with out faces to the wall and our arms shielding our heads.

Of course, there were never any bombs, but it seemed like great fun at the time to pretend they were coming. At that age, everything is about fantasy and play. After the drills we would follow up on the playground, where we would make believe that the teachers were all vaporized, and climb from the rubble of Cherry Lane to rebuild the world.

6 thoughts on “A Stroll Down Cherry Lane

  1. Turtle Hook Junior High in Uniondale had a no-kidding bomb shelter in the basement . . . dirt floors, dingy lights, and cans of tinned water and biscuits as far as the eye and flashlight could see. Our bomb drills took us down there, as did an eighth grade archaeology project, where they buried a bunch of stuff in the basement dirt and had us go down there in the dark and pretend to be bone-diggers . . . . if I ever succumb to an asbestos fiber/dust related illness, I know where I am going to place the blame . . .

    1. Ah, asbestos. I worked as a laborer several summers in my father’s plumbing business. On boiler jobs, we’d peel the asbestos covering off the old furnaces, tear the big cast iron beasts apart, and haul them up of of the basement. This was before the days when dust masks became fashionable.

      The plumber on the job would keep any copper we salvaged; the lesser skilled help would take the cast iron. There was usually enough to cash in for beer money at the local scrap yard.

  2. We had the same street hockey, lacrosse ball and baseball-eating sewers in Hauppauge. There was never a problem anywhere else we lived – just Long Island. New England and Illinois towns had grates rather than gaping openings.

    Long Island eats balls…

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