The Sunny Side of the Day

by Richard Diem

          The sunny side of the day would begin as soon as I walked out the door of my ground floor Apartment 1L at 43-07 42nd Street.  Here was a wonderful neighborhood to grow up in where there was always something to do and friends to play with.  Even today, sixty plus years since I moved away, when people ask what Sunnyside was like, I immediately begin with, “four movie houses, a pool with a beach, and by Rawson Street, a roller rink.”

          Then I go on to tell them about the creativeness of our many games involving sports, and all the kinds of street games that our imaginations led us to.  We had our parks and schoolyards, and we also had the forbidden places such as “the lots,” as we called them, that stretched from 43rd Street to the 39th Street Bridge going into Astoria.  I say forbidden because mom didn’t want us going there, but we found climbing trees and swinging on the rope too much fun not to.  Besides, mom would never ask much more than, “Where were you?” and a plain, “Out with friends,” was enough to satisfy her.  I can’t imagine what she’d think about our excursions to Calvary Cemetery, and hanging out by Newtown Creek in the summer.

          Time has misted many of my happy memories.  Reading these stories, I can relate to lots of things in them.  I saw names I remember, and laughed especially at one story that spoke about the scary basement at 42-15 43rd Avenue.  If I remember it had some little ups and downs and we would sneak in with roller skates until we got chased out.  Exploring apartment house basements was another fun activity. 

          Surely a highlight often referred to in these stories was playing street hockey. That was my favorite, and when my mom wanted to punish me, what hurt far more than a beating was to take away my skates and stick and make me stay in my room while my friends were out playing hockey.

When I moved to Sunnyside around 1943, I entered P.S. 150.   Right away, in my first class room, there were no available seats, “Move over if you would Joel,” and I squeezed in, so Joel and I shared a seat of beginning and lasting friendship.  I went on to J.H.S. 125 and then Long Island City High School.  I graduated in 1954 at 17, and enlisted in the USMC for three years.  Since retiring I have worked as a caregiver for mostly men with Alzheimer’s.