Saturday, April 28, 2012
Gangs of New York, c. 1964
Actually we were project girls --Amsterdam Houses in New York City. This is the section of the housing project closer to West End Ave. The top photo was taken in the playground we called The Boats and Barrels because that's what it featured for us to scamper around on, plus sliding pond and monkey bars, without that thick padding underneath that kids get today. The bottom two pictures were taken in The Little Park, right in front of the Boats and Barrels.
We were very confused project girls. We loved "West Side Story," and we identified with the Jets. But every girl in this picture has Puerto Rican or Mexican or Cuban heritage! Our mothers all spoke Spanish at home. Huh? What can I say, I think it was the song that did it, you know "When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way from your first cigarette to your last dyin' day." As I got older, I saw "West Side Story" with fresh eyes and realized that more than anything else I wanted to be Anita, dancing like crazy on a tenement rooftop. Or at least Rita Moreno playing Anita.
That's me with the poor fitting spring coat and baggy pants-- as the youngest, I got the hand- me-downs from two older sisters. (I changed to tights and Mary Janes in the last picture, with jump rope slung over my shoulder--don't mess with me, pal). My sister Maria is the tall girl with skinny jeans and ski jacket. My sister Elaine probably took this picture with her Brownie camera. Most of the girls in this picture I'm now in touch with via Facebook.
Click below to see who else is gathering around the May Pole theme...