I Loved Sunnyside

by Linda (Millet) Herman

          I loved Sunnyside! I was brought there on my first birthday, in 1942, and left with my parents for a larger apartment in Long Island City in 1958, just before graduating Bryant High School. Although a four-room apartment was finally going to give my parents a private bedroom, I certainly felt sad despite the tight three-roomer we were leaving.

 

           I also loved PS 150, where there were mostly good teachers. I can recall Mrs Goebhard, lst grade, Mrs. Kampf, 3rd grade and 5th, Mrs. Singman, grades 4 and 6. Elementary school was also where I made my good friends, one of whom I still have e-mail contact with and occasional phone calls (she lives in Seattle). The classrooms remain in memory, as well as Mr. Birnbaum, Principal, who told us how to spell his title with “pal” at the end because that’s what he was!

 

          What did I love about Sunnyside? I loved the small streets, the private houses and gardens, the friends I made (very important to a shy, only child of older parents). Sunnyside still appears in my dreams, even now, somewhat changed but still recognizable. No nightmares! I am searching for something, I don’t know what, but my more recent dreams all have the thread “you can’t go home again”.

 

          Downside? The McCarthy era when there were a number of families affected by the political climate, including mine. A visit from the FBI was terrifying, although my father was not arrested and did not lose his job. I guess he was just “small potatoes” and did not work for the Government or the City. I still can remember that evening, with my mother and myself huddled in my bedroom (the only room with a door). There was always a sense of keeping secrets, that bad things could happen, which has lasted with me down to this day.

          I am now 74, living in the West Village in Manhattan, just where I always had wanted to be when I looked across the East River from my Long Island City bedroom. For many years I worked as a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist in private practice, having received years of post-Master’s training in psychoanalysis, following an MSW from Columbia. I attended Queens college earlier and got a very good education which was actually FREE in those days! (It ain’t so these days!).

          I am retired, having struggled with serious cancer and treatments all of last year, and continuing on a reduced basis at Memorial Sloan Kettering Center Center – the place in NYC to be if one has the disease (or diseases). I am much better, and feel my life has been saved through a series of very arduous treatments. So Sunnyside memories are those of a baby, young girl and half of adolescence, but many years ago from the life-threatening but hopeful situation of now. Ageing is not easy!

Manhattan skyline viewed across the East River from under the Queensboro Bridge.