by Eric Corson
I had the privilege of growing up in Sunnyside, New York. It was a safe, quiet, nurturing community, though not as culturally diverse as it is today. I walked to PS 150 and to IS 125. The teaching was not outstanding, but it was adequate. My time at Bryant High School, in Long Island City, was not very memorable.
What stood out for me were the neighbors. My mother knew everyone and vice-versa. Everyone was friendly, no matter what their lifestyles or politics were. Many people stayed in their homes for many years. My mother was friends with her neighbors for 60 years. Neighbors looked after each other. I remember an occasion when my mother had a terrible ringing in her ears and fell and was crying out for help. Her next-door neighbors, hearing her cries through the wall, came into the house right away to help her. This was possible because they had a set of keys to her house.
I left New York in 1971, moving to Ohio till 1977, when I moved to Philadelphia, where I still live and work. All this time from living away from New York, I still continue to return to Sunnyside. Until my mother’s death in 2009, I took the train to New York once a week, had lunch and dinner with my mother, and spent time with the neighbors. My mother and I often walked along the streets to shop and simply stroll and we wound up meeting lots of neighbors.
Since her passing, I still continue to visit Sunnyside, checking on the house, which I rent out, and spending time with the tenants and the neighbors, often having lunch with them. My wife and daughter and I travel to New York and stay over weekends with friends on 47th street, taking advantage of the incredible cultural events in Manhattan. And, best of all, I stroll along the streets of Sunnyside, stopping into shops and restaurants and meeting neighbors.
Molla (at right) and neighbors play music together in her basement