My Parent’s Neighborhood

Posted on November 4, 2011. Filed under: Prose | Tags: , , , , , |

The year before my mother died we visited my parents in their Pelham Parkway neighborhood in the Bronx, taking the subway from our rented apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

I remember fondly how we walked with them to the Lydig Coffee House where my parents shared a turkey sandwich (white meat only please) on rye and an order of French fries. I walked slowly with my mom who had just gotten used to her cane while my husband lumbered ahead with my ever-rushing dad.

On the way we passed Last Chance Market where lush summer peaches and nectarines filled the outdoor stand. We also stopped at Lydig Variety, one of the many neighborhood five and dime type stores with stacks of underwear, winter hats and children’s toys. My mom had stopped here the day before to get my grandson (her only great-grandchild) a coloring book and toy train.

The following week, before we returned home, we visited their neighborhood again and I wore the black fisherman’s cap that I bought at a street fair because I had so admired my mom’s red one (she looked simply adorable) and we walked to the Burger King on White Plains Road wearing our matching hats.

During the days following my mother’s death, we stayed at my parent’s apartment and visited my dad every day at Albert Einstein Hospital where he was recovering from pneumonia. He wanted desperately to return home but that was not to pass. We had only just learned that he had Alzheimer’s and we would have to find a “facility” for him.

During the evening we roamed Lydig Ave. and White Plains Road (under the elevated subway train) often settling on dinner at the Rainbow Three Restaurant, owned by a Russian family. You could get a main course big enough for two meals including soup, salad, dessert and a beverage for 11.95.

We weren’t the only regulars at the Rainbow Three. A group of three loyal diners were there every time we ate and we listened in on their tsouris (Yiddish word for troubles) while we relaxed after a trying day.

My parents banked in this neighborhood at Chase, went to the CVS pharmacy, bought groceries at Key Food Market and bought takeout from the Panda Restaurant. Their life was in this neighborhood.

One evening we went to the D & L Kosher Food and Bakery, which was operated by a Russian family. My husband salivated over a plate of sturgeon and whitefish while I had the turkey breast sandwich in honor of my mom.

A woman of about 50 was tenderly helping her mother choose some delectable food item from the deli counter while her impatient husband was rushing her to leave. I so wanted to be that woman—to have a mom I could walk with to Lydig Ave.—to laugh and share a turkey sandwich.

After many months of struggling to find a place for my father, we finally brought him out to California and placed him in nursing facility near our home. We often took him out to McDonalds where he ordered his favorite—a fish fillet and French fries along with “a coffee.” When the sun was shining we sat outside and watched the cars roll off of the freeway, my dad fantasizing over the next car he would buy. Then we walked along the stores of the Manor Shopping Center and back to the nursing home.

“It’s okay,” he would say of the Manor neighborhood, “but I miss Lydig Ave.”

And so did we. We too developed a love affair with Lydig Ave., where on a subsequent trip we took my dad one last time to N & J Cruger Barber Shop for a haircut and shave.

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3 Responses to “My Parent’s Neighborhood”

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I love the way you write Laura, such a very good story teller. Glad to know your mom and dad have someone to tell their stoies to David. And the photo with the hats to go with it!

Wonderful descriptions! I wish I could visit (or live in!) that neighborhood too.

This is lovely, Laura. You are a master of concise personal essay. Beyond the specifics like the Russian-owned deli, your dad having Alz and the like, it is the longing of being able to walk with your mom. I’m glad you started a blog. Keep writing! Love to you, Elizabeth


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