I set my H.G. Wells model time machine for 1965, not too long ago this time, and so was not overly dizzy from whizzing through the years. After awhile you get used to it–believe me, when you have to get to the Mesozoic you’re in the seat for awhile and it can get pretty hairy. Anyway, I stepped out of the machine (which is invisible, by the way, so no one noticed it) at the SE corner of 5th Avenue and 86th Street in my ancestral home of Bay Ridge.
It was Christmas time and red and green wreaths holding bell-shaped sconces over incandescent bulbs lit the sidewalks. A phone booth was still standing on the corner, and a Chock Full o’Nuts sits where a Verizon mobile phone store is found today. Behind me is the 68th Police Precinct, which was replaced by an ugly parking garage, and behind that is the RKO Dyker movie theatre, which in a future age would house Modells Sporting Goods.
Looking down the street we see a GM “fishbowl” bus, first used in 1960, and behind it you can recognize a Bond bread truck. The red and gold sign is not a Woolworth’s; the local 5 and dime is to my left, on the opposite corner. The Century 21 complex is still a few years away. Instead, the local hardware store, Birnbaum’s, has a rear connection to what was merely called Century Stores.
86th Street is lit by double-masted octagonal lampposts with Westinghouse AK-10 “cuplights.” These survived the overall purge of the early 60s and were outfitted with green-white mercury bulbs. Nonetheless they would succumb in a couple of years to GE M400s and Westinghouse OV-25s, which dominated NYC at this time.
A pair of nuns, probably Notre Dame School sisters, who taught school and maintained order by the ruler at St. Anselm’s School on 4th Avenue and 83rd Street, have avoided getting run over by Divine Providence.
Ah, there’s the local F. W. Woolworth, looking south on 5th Avenue toward the newly minted Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The Woolworth Luncheonette offered a variety of sandwiches and fried treats for less than a dollar. A collection of classic cars can be seen from here. Women wore dresses and high heels to go shopping in this era.
The kid crossing the street carrying grocery bags? That’s me, and to avoid a major space-time calamity — which would happen if I met myself–I was forced to quickly get back in the time machine and set the controls for 2018 again. Sometimes this time traveling can be a pain in the rear.
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