Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer Memories

It was the Summer of '76. I was 15 years old; just a youngster getting the opportunity to stay with my grandparents in NYC. When you're from a small mid-Western town, this was the perfect way to spend the Summer. My days were spent at Rockaway Beach, between 108th and 116th St. Nearly every day, I would gather my beach gear and head two blocks to the boardwalk and scope out my spot. With my transistor radio tuned into WNYC, I listened to the song that would define my memories of Summer. Care to guess??? "Silly Love Songs" . . . I'm not sure why, but this song more than any brings back so many amazing memories of that Summer of '76.

When I think back, I don't think I ever realized how fortunate I was to be able to spend this time with my grandparents. We laughed, we played cards, we walked on the boardwalk. My nanny would bring me my lunch every day at the beach - I could almost set my watch to her arrival. She would stand at the railing of the boardwalk, and yell, "Patty Ann, here's your lunch." If I close my eyes, I can still see her standing there. Later in the day, I would ride with my Pop down to the "Hall". The hall was where his band, The American Irish Society would play and practice. I remember helping myself to a cold bottle of Coke from the fridge, listen to the Irish music he played, and watch as he polished the instruments. The sense of pride I had for this man was like no other. Having spent two weeks in Ireland with Pop and his band just a few short months before, I knew how this band had shaped his life. He loved his "kids", all of us!

I made friends with many of the kids that lived near Nanny and Pop. The McCarthy's, the O'Laughlin twins, Danny Massetti, and a pimply faced boy named Stevie who apparently had a ginormous crush on me. Who knew? I imagine we looked something like this. At night, we would hop on the "EL" (elevated train/subway) and head into Brooklyn to watch a movie. That's how safe it was back then. A bunch of girls riding the subway by themselves at night. We spent our time laughing, eating pizza the New York way - a large slice of cheese folded in half. Perfection!

Back in the day, I'm sure my Mom looked like this.

It was the Bicentennial year, 1976. So while Nanny and Pop took the band into the city to play in the parade, I went out to Long Island to spend a few days with my cousins. My Aunt Renee and her family went into NYC to take in the amazing spectacle the City had in store. The Tall Ships that came from around the world were a spectacular sight. Gazing across the water to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island knowing that my family passed by the grand lady and walked the halls of this building gave me chills and such pride. The Twin Towers still stood above this great City. Who would have known that 25 years later they would be gone - and that the very cousin I stood beside looking at these buildings would be gone as well.

More than anything else, what I remember about this amazing Summer was family. The Kelly and Dwyer Families . . . immigrants all of them to this incredible country we've called home now for almost a century.



  1. Oh my goodness, Patty Ann . . . that was so touching!!! We're listening to Celtic music and drinking beer, getting ready for the fireworks tonight over Bellingham Bay (we just have to sit on our front porch!).

    That was touching to the bottom of my heart--thanks for that thoughtful post. Happy Fourth to you and yours!!

    xoxo Debi

  2. What a great post, Patricia! I love that your nanny brought you lunch every day! "Patty Ann!" And listening to you grandfather's band -- so cool! What an amazing time that must've been...