My friend Steve was in New York City this weekend. He’s got grandkids in Morningside Heights and another grandchild in Brooklyn Heights. This was his first time seeing the grandchildren since he got his Canon Digital Rebel XT.
Along with the nearly 300 shots he took of the kids, he also managed to capture a bit of my past – Brooklyn’s Hotel St. George. Steve did a good job making this shot look vintage, though it was taken yesterday.
When I was a little kid, growing up in a small apartment in a 2-fare¹ zone in Queens, there were few places nearby for recreation – especially during the winter. If you wanted to go swimming, there was no place to go except the Hotel St. George in Brooklyn Heights.
Even then, sometime back in the early 60s, the St. George was an old hotel, past its prime… if there ever was a prime for this hotel in pre-gentrified Brooklyn Heights.
It was a very long trip, usually taken with my Cousin Ira (who later became my Cousin Gary). We’d take the subway from Queens, through much of Manhattan and into Brooklyn. The subway exited directly into the hotel! We’d go 10, or more, hours without seeing the real world outside.
I don’t remember much, except the pool was immense with a few very high diving boards. I could swim the width, but not length, of the pool underwater with one breath. There were screaming, running, unsupervised kids everywhere.
You’d wear the key to your locker on a band around your wrist. The locker room and showers were communal areas with loads of kids, along with older men. I didn’t think about it then. I’m not totally sure this would be allowed today. Nothing untoward ever happened to me.
Cousin Ira and I would go a few times a winter. It’s so long ago I remember few details, except the memory of going one winter’s day and not realizing we had been there through a snow storm until I was almost home and walked up the snow covered subway stairs at Continental Avenue in Queens.
It was incredible fun for a young kid from a tiny apartment. It was worth the trek, which was probably close to two hours each way.
¹ – Two fare zone, a now anachronistic term, refers to a place that is so distant and poorly served, it took two full fares to get to Manhattan. In my case it was the Q65A bus and the IND subway.