Monthly Archives: February 2009

Retracing Steps Doesn’t Always Work

Several people have asked me how I could write a “biography of place” with such precision, considering that it is such a long time ago, more than a half-century. It all started with reminiscences with my mother of “the good old times. ” She was 96 years old at the time and had a surprisingly accurate recollection of events. As I listened to the telling of an event, I could see with amazing detail where it took place and what the surrounding s looked like. I proceeded from there.

My memories are mostly visual. The images have an antecedent and a consequent. It is like walking in on the middle of a movie and being able to play it back a ways to see how the current frame came about. The exercise became hypnotic and I was able to see places and events as if they were unfolding in front of me. It was, amazingly, all there. I tested the veracity of the script on my elderly mother and my (much) older brother. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t revising the images to current preferences. Each of the chapters became a rebirth of a childhood and a way of life that has long vanished. Thus, TROUBLE IN FLATBUSH. is a biography of place and time.

Coney Island, Now a Stuffed Animal

I was in Brooklyn not long ago and went to Coney Island to see how much had changed. It was a shock to see that it is all gone. A few trophy have survived as landmarks, but they seem like stuffed animals in a museum. I went back the pages of TROUBLE IN FLATBUSH. to revitalize my memories. It worked.