Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A walk down memory lane

I haven’t been knitting much of late.. But, I do have 2 FO’s that I haven’t blogged about--2 more hats.
But I haven’t photographed them either!

Hats have been obsession for a few years now--and will continue to be.
I certainly have not exhausted the possibilities.
One of my early knitting projects was a hat. A grey wool watch cap, not to different than this hat. Made from the cheapest wool, (Red Heart wool) under the direction of Miss Lorelei, the local parkie.

Parkie’s (a dying profession) was what NYC kids called the person in charge of the park.
Officially they are Department of Parks employee’s, but they were always just called parkies.
Large parks had several parkies, but my childhood park, the Webster Avenue playground, had one, Miss Lorelei.(she has retired to the eastern end of LI, and might still be alive, --but close to 80 is she is.)
Her domain was the park, her castle, the park house. One half of the park house contained toilet facilities, the other was a large mutli-purpose room. The windowless side (common wall with the toilet facilities) held sports equipment. (mostly basket balls, but she also has a supply of ropes for jump rope games, and other sports equipment). There were also cabinets full of art materials. Spools of plastic for lanyards, paper, colored chalk, loops and frames to make potholders, wool and needles for knitting.. Lots of interesting stuff.

Parkies always has spare skate keys too, for those days when you had to skate! Roller skating wasn’t permitted in the park, but you could come in, and get your skates tightened, and skate right out!
There was a desk too, in the park house (that doubled as bench) and a first aid kit --and the parkie would clean with peroxide, and bandage, scraped knees.
Miss Lorelei ran a quasi nursery school for 2 hours every morning. I was there most days from age 3 till I started kindergarten, and still remember some of the songs and games I learned there. My parents had an apartment in a building on the same square block as the park (the building in the lower right, that has the 0.2 number from the scale) and from an early age I could and did go to the park by myself. The kitchen window of the apartment allowed my mother to see most of the park.
Afternoons, Miss Lorelei would occasionally join the boy’s in a pick up game of basketball.

She could knit, make lanyards, potholders; she knew the rules for marbles, and for skully, for tops, and could make a yoyo’s do tricks. The park was dotted with painted ‘game boards’ for these games and others (like hopscotch) She know how to do, (and did) most everything that could be, or needed to be done round the park.

She swept, (and nagged us kids like a mother) to put garbage into the garbage cans, and generally kept the park clean. She taught arts and crafts, and played sports, provide first aid. She was the first person in the park in the morning, and locked the gates of the park at night. Vandalism wasn’t much of problem--Partly because she was always watching out, and partly because she knew our parents, (well, our mothers most often) and she knew which school we went to. The park served the neighborhood,--90% of the kids went to the local public school (PS 87) or the local parochial school (Our Lady of Mercy) and she would not hesitate to rat us out to the authorities who could do us the most harm-(our parents and teachers). ‘Community service’ was the commonest punishment. If you defaced park property, you’d likely be assigned the responsibility of making it whole--by sanding or repainting, or repairing the damage you created.
The Parkie’s of my childhood hardly exist any more. The park houses (and toilet facilities) are boarded up now days in many parks. There is no one on site, all day, keeping track of what is going on. There are no balls to borrow. No art and crafts available. (Balls and other sports equipment were borrowed with a “security.” Most often, a house key (safe on a lanyard you had made with a park material) was temporally traded for basket ball. When you returned the ball, and got your key back.)
It was under Miss Lorelei’s tutelage that I made my first hat. It wasn’t my first knitting, but it was my first FO.

I remember hating it.. Endless inches of 2 X 2 ribbing! And scratchy grey wool to work with. It was likely in the fall of 1959, or the spring of the next year.
I was supposed to knit 10 inches (enough to make a watch cap and folded back brim) but I stopped at 7. It was knit flat, and sew up (not too well) with all the stitches (no decreases what so ever!) gathered into a drawstring. I am pretty sure I gifted the hat to my father (and being the loving man he is, he wore it).

Lest you think I am blindly nostalgic about parks and my childhood, I do also remember the broken arms, (from falls from the monkey bars,) the concussions, (from being whacked by a steel plated swing) the falls (and stitches) on hard concrete and granite steps, pinched fingers from the see-saws. But rough and tumble play was more acceptable then, and some injuries were considered a normal part of childhood activity. Injuries were tolerated, and deemed to be your own fault (from a very early age!) you were expected to realize that if you did something stupid, you could expect to hurt yourself. You ‘walked off’ as many injuries as you could, since they were usually acquired doing something you knew you shouldn’t be doing! And complaining about pain would result to inquires about what happened, and would often result in getting in trouble for doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing!

1 comment:

Sonya said...

Just wanted to say, I really liked this post. It has stayed with me, day later. Lovely writing. Happy Easter.