48th Street - Just A Place Where I Lived
by Gerald A. Pollack
I don't have particularly warm memories of Sunnyside. It was just a place where I lived from 1940 through 1947. I never had a sense of it as a community. My father bought our house at 39-24 on 48th Street between 39th and Skillman Avenues probably in 1939 or so, and it was occupied also by my grandmother and another family, a mother and daughter.
I was 11 years old when I began to live in Sunnyside, and I attended first PS 150, the elementary school, and then PS 125, junior high. I had a good friend during this time who lived on the other side of Queens Boulevard. We drifted apart when I began the commute to Brooklyn Tech and he went to Stuyvesant. I graduated from Tech in 1947. My friends were classmates from Brooklyn Tech, none of whom lived in Sunnyside. After graduation, I went to college in Pennsylvania.
Except for visits, I never again lived in Sunnyside. It seemed to me to be a homey neighborhood, rather homogeneous with respect to houses, and probably also with respect to the incomes of the residents. It was pleasant enough, but I don't have any sense of nostalgia. Perhaps this is the case because my teen years were difficult.
During our time there, we had a small garden in back and shared a communal courtyard with our neighbors. In later years, this communal courtyard was abandoned and its grounds were divided and given to each of the adjoining houses.
We shopped at the stores of Skillman Avenue. During the war years, there were no supermarkets, only individual grocers who probably did quite well in that time of rationing. Peacetime and the advent of the supermarkets drove them out of business. At that time, the daily New York Times cost 2 cents and a day-old loaf of bread 10 cents.
My father continued to live in our house after his mother died in 1956, and at the end of the war the family with which we had shared the house moved to their own house. In the late 50s, my father remarried, moved to Manhattan, and sold the house.
I seldom drive to our old neighborhood nowadays, and when I do I look to see what has become of our old house. Sometime along the way, the open porch was bricked in, but I don't detect any other changes of consequence. In fact, it saddens me to see that the house seems to have fallen on hard times.
It was in 1944, sometime in October, I believe. FDR was running for his fourth term, and he was campaigning in New York City. He was in a motorcade that toured all of the boroughs on that misty/rainy day. I stood on Queens Boulevard that day, between 48th and 47th Streets, when he drove by on his way into Manhattan. He was in a convertible, and I got a good look at him as he cheerfully waved his hat at the bystanders. This is one of my happy memories.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt