Mendel Letters 90 — Alternate Side of the Street Parking
August 13, 2022
Where we lived on Jesup Avenue in the Bronx there was alternate side of the street parking four days a week for street cleaning. On one side of the street there was no parking on Tuesday and Friday from 11 AM until 2 PM, on the other side Monday and Thursday, same times. This was a real problem since you couldn’t drive and mother was working. I think Fay’s kids had been moving the car, but you needed me to pick up the job. Just before my 17th birthday, you signed me up for driver’s education at a Jewish School on the Lower East Side of Manhattan so I could get my driver’s license a year early. I failed the driving test the first time I took it in December but passed it on my second try just before my January birthday.
When I came home from high school my first job was to move the car so it would be good for the next day. I also started driving us to the luncheonette in Astoria, Queens on Saturdays when we were both working. An hour and a half combo walk and subway ride was only a 20-minute drive. Otherwise, you and mother really only used the car, a 59 Chevy Impala with enormous tail fins, on weekends to visit grandchildren.
Everything worked okay until June. At Bronx Science, there was alternate side of the street parking on the same days but from 8 AM until 11AM. As we came to the end of our senior year, no one was tracking attendance and lateness. I started leaving home about 10, you and mother were at work, picked up some friends, and we arrived at school when the parking there opened up. Our plan was exposed in late June. I was supposed to pick my friends up as usual, we had a state exam scheduled for that afternoon at 1 PM, I think it was the U.S. History Regents. That night I started experiencing severe abdominal pain and in the morning Mother rushed me to the hospital and I had an emergency appendectomy.
My friends had no idea what happened and called to find out why I was late picking them up. Plan exposed. That was the end of my use of the car for a while.
Hard copies of these typed letters were discovered in an old camp trunk in the basement storage facility of one of the few buildings that remain standing in this Brooklyn neighborhood. The building is quite decrepit and is scheduled for demolition. The letters were found in November 2048 by a teenager who believes they were written by his great-grandfather. The letters are addressed to Mendel, the letter writer’s father, who appears to have been dead for at least six years when his son, whose name we are unsure of, started to write him. The son appears very agitated in some of the letters. With permission from the family, we are publishing them on the date they were written, only 28 years later.
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