Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Sunday Memory Drawer - JLo Sparks a Sunday Memory

It's amazing what will get you thinking sometimes.    Today's trip down Memory Lane was provoked by...of all people...the dopey Jennifer Lopez, who is the epitome of an expression my dad used to use when describing people who had no business being rich and famous.

"Five pounds of talent in a ten pound bag."

Well, JLow (my version of the name is fitting) came out this week and announced that she was eschewing the lifestyle of Los Angeles for a simpler life.   

In my hometown of Mount Vernon, New York.  But, then again, as JLow was born and raised in the Bronx, I guess Mount Vernon does qualify as an upgrade.  I know somebody who was one of her high school theater mentor/teachers.   I am sure that it's been at least a decade since JLow erased his number from her phone.

But I digress.  Here's what JLow had to say about her upcoming relocation.

“I’m just tired of the L.A. lifestyle and the fake people, honestly, and I feel like, at this point in my life, I’d rather just live in a place full of real, genuine people. I’ve been to Mount Vernon a few times over the years and the people there are real… they’re genuine, and yeah every community has its problems but the people there are good, decent people and they care about their community. Those are the things I find most important in deciding where to live.  I’m not retiring, I’m just looking for a change in life and I think I’ve found that in Mount Vernon, New York,”
Er, yeah, right.  Whatever.   Of course, this "people person" will likely build a mansion on the richer side of town...the North Side.   There will be high walls and massive security.   She will rarely leave the compound unless it's in a bulletproof limousine.   Her kids will go to private school in Scarsdale and, if she is ever out sans entourage, you will find her in neighboring Bronxville or Scarsdale.   Never in the burnt out discount wig store fronts of Fourth Avenue.


So, JLow, if you've got this blog bookmarked (unlikely but you never know), let me help you out on the town I used to love but never resembles Yucca Flats after they tested the atomic bomb.

Oh, I'm sure there are nice people there.  I have one friend who still lives in the house he grew up in on Prospect Avenue.   But these folks are residing in a twon that has seen much better days.   It wasn't that long ago that Mount Vernon, New York gave you everything you needed.

I remember it all.

The RKO Proctor's theater where my mom took me for a double feature every Friday after school.

The opulent Loew's movie palace which was the first victim of civic decay. It was destroyed for a parking garage that only rodents drive into.

Artuso's Italian Pastry shop which you could smell for blocks.

The Bee Hive coffee shop where my mom always took me before the Friday double feature. Always a BLT and a malted for me.

Ackerman's Pharmacy where I always had to pick up my grandmother's White Cloverine salve, which they had to special order for her. She used this goop as a cure-all for everything!

The Brodbeck's record store where I bought my "Bye Bye Birdie" soundtrack album. The one that had Ann-Margret wearing nothing but a red sweater on the cover.

Bromley's Fashions. A dress shop that had my mother on the earliest version of speed dial. I hated going there with her because she tried on EVERYTHING.

Shipman's Toy Store. They always stocked the latest edition of Colorforms.

Genung's. A small town department store. Yes, my mom had an account there as well. But, they had kids' clothing, too, so a weekly visit there wasn't as torturous as Bromley's.

Kaplan's. An old-fashioned butcher shop.

Green's. A five and ten where you could shop and eat at the same time. I got my talking Herman Munster action figure there. Okay, it was really a doll, not an action figure.

Albert's Hosiery. Stockings, stockings, and more stockings. Not only did my mother lose herself in there as well, but I always felt a little sleazy being there. Years later, the same feeling would come back when a girlfriend once dragged me into Victoria's Secret.

Intown Newspapers. A massive store that had any comic book I wanted. And I wanted them all. From Archie to Superman.

It's all gone now. Replaced by storefronts that cater to no one. I guess some of the downfall is economic in nature. The city pretty much has a low income look and feel. The high school is now an armed camp that makes Sing Sing look like Club Med. Anyone who wants to give their child a good education certainly overshoots Mount Vernon for places like Eastchester and Pelham. Mount Vernon itself remains as a carcass that has been picked so clean that the vulture have even moved on.

Once a wonderful quaint suburban city, Mount Vernon is now an urban armpit, ravaged by crooked politicians. And, guess what? It was equal opportunity corruption. First, it was an Italian (wink, wink)-dominated City Hall. After they skimmed the top and destroyed the bottom, the building was turned over to a bunch of equally evil Blacks and Haitians, who picked over what was left like vultures at a chicken farm. And, indeed, I now remember that, yes, I was an indirect victim of this.  My mother, however, took the brunt of it.

After many years of working for a major accounting firm in Manhattan, my mother opted to make her last career choice by working closer to her Mount Vernon home. Through a friend, she would be the book keeper for a new bakery opening minutes from her apartment. She went through the process of quitting the Manhattan job and even set up the bakery office systems for a week or two. 

And, then, the bad news... 

The food license the owner applied for was denied. 

"We're only giving small business licenses to minorities these days."

Uh huh.

The then-Mayor of Mount Vernon, Ronald Blackwood, had decided that new food licenses would only be issued to Black or Caribbean-born merchants. So, my mother was forced into an early and uneasy retirement. 

Sad.   And yet Blackwood was viewed as a great Mayor.   Yep.   For me, his last name perfectly describes the material used to make his head.

Trust me, nothing has improved there.   I always drive through town when I go back.    It really looks like what happened to Berlin after World War II.   

Yeah, JLow, the people are nice.   But you know and I know that you won't be amongst them.

See you on Palmer Road in Bronxville.  Unless, of course, you move out of town right after the first burglary.

Dinner last night:  Orange chicken.

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