Saturday, August 11, 2012

The sun sets on Sunset Park

“As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world.”
― Pearl S. Buck

My father-in-law grew up in Brooklyn, NY.  We just got back last night from packing up the house he grew up in so that my mother-in-law can sell it.  It was a bitter-sweet trip. 

I first went to NYC in 1999.  A 26-year-old girl who hadn't traveled much beyond Minnesota.  I loved it.  My father-in-law hadn't lived there in decades, but you could tell it was home to him.  You could tell he enjoyed showing his new daughter-in-law around.  A few years later when we went back and brought along his newest grand-daughter, he had a great time showing her his city.  He showed her off to his friends in the neighborhood.  He introduced her to Italian Ice.  He shared his love for Brooklyn with her.  

It was sad to pack all that up in boxes and close the door on the house.  The house has been in the family for close to 100 years.  There was a lot of stuff stored in closets and trunks.  We sorted through it, and packed a lot of it up.  I like the past.  I like things from the past.  It was amazing to find that stack of postcards dating back as late as 1907 (I think it was).  Many of them I couldn't read as they were written in Finnish, but the pictures on the fronts told a story of people who had traveled.  Of lives lived and shared.  Oh, and the books!  A large bookcase full of precious tomes.  Books at the early part of the 20th century were items to be treasured and read again and again.  You didn't spend money on the latest best-seller.  Money wasn't available to be frivolously spent. 

That book shelf used to be completely full.  Over the past few years, we've started taking some home.  There were still a lot left.  Some of them came back to Minnesota, and some had to just be tossed into the recycling.  That was the question for everything.  Does it make the journey to the Midwest, or does it get discarded here?  Yard sales aren't a very common occurrence in Brooklyn like they are here.  The girls and their grandmother spent one day selling a few things in the small front yard.  Bargain prices.  Stuff that we didn't want to take home became treasures in someone else's life.  All at clearance prices (as the sign my daughter made said).

Before we went, I had the girls list what they would like to do for one day in NYC.  Maeve (5)wanted to walk the Brooklyn Bridge and eat ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.  And then get Italian Ice from Vincent's Pizzeria near the house.  Nora (8) wanted to go to the Central Park Zoo.  And finish the day with Italian Ice.  Amelia (11) wanted to spend the day at Coney Island: ride the Cyclone, play in the ocean, and have Italian Ice.  There seemed to be some similarities with their list of things to do on their day.  We ate a lot of Italian Ice.  For as much as we ate, I sure could go for another right now.

Now the U-Haul has been emptied and brought back.  Things are stored in garages for the time being.  Out with the new and in with the old.  I need to clear some of my serviceable new things to make room for a few time worn treasures to take their place.   

It's sad to close the door on the house Brooklyn.  I have loved having a place to call home there.  I have been very fortunate to have gotten to spend so much time there over the past 13 years.  In the words of Dr. Seuss, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

“Brooklyn was a dream. All the things that happened there just couldn't happen. It was all dream stuff. Or was it all real and true and was it that she, Francie, was the dreamer?”
― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. So glad you have taken some pictures to add to your memories. I am also glad you have new treasures for your house. Great idea having the girls pick something fun to do for a day. The house will be gone but NY will still be there.

  2. Oh wow, you've made me cry, so many nice memories of the Brooklyn house! Bet it was hard to leave. And woohoo for being tall enough to go on the Cyclone, finally! <3 xoxo

    1. Alicia, I've been sad that we never made it to Matt and John's home in Brooklyn. Now I feel that I've been there for a short visit. Thank you for doing this. I would love to have a paper copy of this--would that be possible? Jo Ann