And how could I not visit Coney Island?
After all, it’s en route in our Island hopping tour – between Staten Island and Long Island.
My family plunked down its roots in Coney Island, on 21st Street. This is where my great-grandparents on my grandmother’s side lived. My grandmother with her three sisters and one brother.
This is the subway train stop that takes you to the boardwalk. The very spot where my grandmother and her sisters would stand and offer visitors and beachgoers a clean place to shower and change after beachgoing at their apartment – all for a quarter.
This is the famed Coney Island boardwalk. On this spot – or around here somewhere - my grandmother met my grandfather and told him to go home and grow up. They were married for 67 years. This is also the Boardwalk and the beach where my brother and my cousins and I ate chicken salad sandwiches with grapes and then had to WAIT on the beach blanket for 30 minutes before we can go jumping in the waves. It was a cruel ritual that we endured each summer.
This is the Cyclone. My grandmother rode it, as well as my mother. Skipped a generation with me. Now, this week, my husband and son got a chance to ride its rickety hills.
Me? I agreed to ride the Wonder Wheel with the family.
My husband, two boys and my parents crammed into one of the moving cars that shoots out into nothing over the beach.
This is the sign that tells the rider just how old the Wonder Wheel is, and that there has never been an accident in all the Wonder Wheel’s 89 years. This is the view up top of Nathan’s Famous Franks below:
And after a few hours, hot hungry and tired, we left the boardwalk to find our car which was parked by the Luna Park apartment projects. These were the apartments where several branches of the extended family lived for several decades.
I took a walk on the grounds. I looked up at the terraces where my cousins and I played tag.
The buildings were under a much-needed renovation. As I walked along memory lane, I noticed that the playgrounds of my childhood had been upgraded. Old school monkey bars and jungle gyms have been changed to the plastic, safer playgrounds of today.
But wait – some were JUST the same. The same concrete play structures were still there that I played on. So, for one more time , I climbed on them, with my youngest son: