Throwback Thursday #47 – Hanging Out

Think back to where you liked to hang out when you were young. Your stomping grounds might have been determined by your ability to get to a variety of locations. It’s time to pull on those tangled memory strings and sort out some thoughts. Did you spend more time hanging out at friend’s houses or away from the eyes and ears of parents? If you stayed home, how did you spend your time? Did you have a favorite eatery? Did you go to the mall with friends? Did choose to socialize at bowling alleys, arcades, or roller rinks? Did you go miniature golfing or do another outside activity? Did you hang around after school killing time? What did you do? Did your parents typically know where you were? Did you prefer to “hang” with friends or family members? Was it “cool” to be seen hanging out at any particular place? Was there a place you wanted to hang out, but weren’t allowed to?

Rather than do this in pieces, I thought I’d just ramble. I grew up in Queens, which is a borough of New York city. It was (back then) other than Staten Island, the least developed part of the city. We still had woods and a few small farms. The area I grew up was part of the city, but the city had grown around it and it had stayed surprisingly rural. And yet, it was walking distance from the subway. Whatever was wrong with my childhood, growing up in the “country” with New York city a subway ride away was magical.

Valencia Theater – James Karla Murray –

We didn’t hang out at malls because we there were no malls. I hung out with my friends, all of whom lived on the same “block.” We hung out in Carol’s backyard because she had a set of swings. When it rained, we stayed on Mary’s front porch and played Monopoly. We did go to the local cheap movie theaters. The Carleton and the Laurelton cost 12 cents per child. We could stay all day and watch those cowboy movies over and over. Garry went to the same movie theaters. As he is 5-years older than me, we never crossed paths. That took another five years when we met in college.

These were the least expensive third-run movie houses. Everything else cost real money. Which we didn’t have. Also, we could walk there. It was a long walk, but if we took a bus, we wouldn’t have enough money for movies. It was okay. We were young and sturdy. Walking was okay.

There were plenty of first-run movie houses downtown in Jamaica, but someone’s mother had to pay for them. They were beyond our tiny allowances. The Loew’s Valencia was a huge theater. It looked like someone’s stoned out version of a palace and included a ceiling of twinkling stars. My brother and I saw “Shane” there. I was 5 and I remember getting lost staring at the twinkling ceiling. That movie house has (long since) been turned into a church. It holds more than 3,000 people, so that church must have quite a following. I wonder if the ceiling still twinkles.

Three little girls planning on digging our way to China. I’m in the middle with my two best friends – Mary on the left, Carol on the right
1960 – 13 or 14?

On my own, when I was old enough to take the subway, I’d cut out of school and head into Manhattan. I hung out at the Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Medieval collection held in a medieval castle at the upper end of New York overlooking the Hudson River. The castle was brought there stone by stone from somewhere in France. On Sundays, they had singers dressed as monks who roamed the halls singing plainchant. I never lost my love for the Cloisters.

I also hung out at the main Metropolitan Museum of Art which was a wonderful experience. Back then it was free. I think it still is, sometimes. Maybe for children or seniors. I got deep into the Egyptian collection which was set in an area designed to look like the inside of a pyramid with (fake?) mummies. As you walked through the museum, the time changed from the oldest (Egypt) to modern (right by the ladies room). It was a kind of time travel, especially if you had to go to the bathroom and you had to walk through the art and architecture of each age. Then, you got to travel back in time to meet your friend in whatever part of the museum you left them. I have no idea how it is arranged now, but it was magic.

New York Public Library

I also hung out at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. It’s huge. I discovered the stacks, way down in the sub-basement where I could find original material for whatever research project I was working on. Not for school. For me.

I never got picked up for not being in school because kids that are skipping out of school are not usually found in libraries or museums.

Of course, everything changed in college. The friends I grew up with were at out-of-town colleges. Most of our houses had been sold or knocked down. Our properties were huge and developers could easily fit two, three, four houses on a single plot. The street (I’ve looked at it using Google) no longer looks anything like it did.

And so the years have rolled along.

Categories: #Photography, Anecdote, Childhood, old movies, old photograph, Remembering - Memories

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27 replies

  1. Lovely post Marilyn and you have a good recollection
    I remember playing monopoly in the garden too


  2. What a fun glimpse of life as a child and teenager in New York. You were really blessed to have access to all that culture and knowledge. I recently went to Salt Lake City for a doctor’s appointment and was given a nasty shock as nothing much there looks the same. It was depressing in a sense, because there were always familiar landmarks that had been there for years which one couldn’t envision ever changing. Most of them are gone and/or ‘repurposed’ into condos and apartments. New York City has the landmarks, like the Library and so forth, that will exist after we’re gone. That would be comforting.


    • New York does NOT preserve old buildings — unlike Boston. I am grateful that at least the library and museums are still standing, but the price of real estate is insanely high, so if there’s an old building and it’s not officially registered as “historic”? They will absolutely knock it down. Boston does a lot more preservation and is in many ways is a more interesting city.

      Then, there’s Jerusalem where everything old is preserved and everywhere you walk is full of ancient artifacts. It really was like walking among ghosts. Living there was a privilege. Sadly, I can’t afford to live in two cities, but if I could add one, Jerusalem would be it.


  3. Our life experiences could not have been more different. I always admired city life from afar which was saying a lot for this country girl. What a lovely post!


  4. HI Marilyn, I really enjoyed learning more about your childhood and the places you liked to visit. I also loved museums and libraries.


  5. What an interesting way to grow up in Queens.


    • It was definitely different. I used to try to explain it — even back then — and it sounded farfetched. Living in the country IN the city? No one does that. But I did. There were inconveniences. All the public transportation was a long walk from home. School was a very long walk and they wouldn’t send buses because there were just 3 of us who we going to regular schools. Everyone else was in a Catholic school. The walk wasn’t bad in the fall and spring, but in the winter, it was very cold and icy. On the other hand, it was a great place in the summer.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. sounds like a lovely childhood Marilyn! New york must look a lot different now from when you were little!


    • I haven’t been into the city in almost 20 years. Even 20 years ago, it was very different from what I remembered and my old neighborhood bears no resemblance to how it was growing up.


  7. Thank you for joining in. It certainly seems like you had a great many memories if hanging out.


    • Yes. I think hanging out was the best part of growing up. Kids now are supervised all the time. They never get to make up their own games and just be free from constant supervision. OR they are latchkey kids. One way or the other, we had a lot more freedom than kids get now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Very true. I also think it was much safer when I was a kid.


        • You know? I’m not sure it was safer. I think no one worried about it being UNsafe. I think we have spent a lot of time being unreasonably alarmed by the news. We’ve been warned about danger so much we have forgotten that while there is always some danger in any world, kids are amazingly good at just enjoying life and not even noticing danger — if you just give them a chance.

          Liked by 1 person

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