383 Clinton AVenue was my home for 15 years,
from the age of 4 to 19.
An 18 unit apartment house, we lived in #18 on the top (4th floor),
that was anchored by four stores that flanked the double glass and
wrought iron doors in the center of the structure.
To the far right was Kaplan's Furrier, where my future husband
bought me the ultimate 50's trend, a mink stole! We were so young
and so foolish! But then, the 50's were a golden age and we were
invincible, oblivious to the winds of change; Roe vs Wade, Vietnam,
and Rosa Parks, looming on the horizon.
Next to Kaplan's and abutting the apartment house doorway, was
Jacoby's Candy Store where I met my future spouse. It was a hang-out,
a place to meet and hone our social skills, to flirt with each other
and while the time away as we sipped Cokes and listened to the Juke
Box. Peg and Jim clearly owned the business before the Jacoby's
but I was very small then and knew only that he had served in the
Navy, as did George Jacoby.
George and Edith Jacoby were like surrogate parents to us kids,
kibitzing, chiding, teasing or advising us, they were always, always
kind. They had two sons, Howard, the eldest and George Jr. Howard
and George fell into our age group and I'd love to know their whereabouts.
To the left of the apartment doorway was a stairwell leading to
the basement and the coal bins, storage bins and garbage bins, as
well as the Super's apartment. A nether region of which I was blissfully
Next to that was a barber shop and sad to say, I don't know his
name. My father didn't get his hair cut there and so, he's not a
part of my memory.
At the left outer edge of the building was "Joe's Laundry."
His store front windows were filled with what seemed then like hundreds
of snake plants that thrived in the steamy, almost tropical climate.
Walking into his shop was akin to walking into a sauna. The counter
area was in a large room, filled with racks of hanging clothing
ready for pick-up. Shelves were lined with bundled laundry and two
or three colored women (as they were called then) stood at ironing
boards, irons in hand and plying their trade! I remember my last
conversation with Joe. He was poo-pooing the upcoming Grace Kelly-Prince
Ranier marriage as opposed to the wedding of Margaret Truman, which
was going to be a simple, down-to-earth affair.
The double-door entrance into 383 Clinton Avenue is my most treasured
memory of the edifice. It was sanctuary! I felt safe and secure
there, neighbors and/or friends sitting on or standing by the "stoop",
acknowledged your passage. A one step ledge that brought you home.
We entered into a large lobby with marble tile floors and to the
right was a huge rectangle of gleaming brass: The Mailboxes, with
our name, "Grabowski" and Apt.# "18" written
on the little brass door that only we held the key to.