Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Maspeth

Maspeth Sign
WE LIVE IN A SINGLE FAMILY brick Cape Cod on a street just off the fork of Grand Avenue and Flushing Avenue. Right now there is a DOT Project going on as the island between these two thoroughfares and pedestrian crossings are improved for the safety of nearby St. Stanislaus Kostka School's students. My daughter used to attend Pre-K at this school, but this year, we have transferred her to P.S. 153 on 6oth Lane which is a farther walk up Fresh Pond Road but a better education bargain. It is a public school with a Beacon Program for talented children which I hope my kid can one day crash into.

Maspeth is an old little town (it was founded in 1642) in the borough of Queens, with a large Polish and Irish population. Far from any subway station, it has retained its residential neighborhood charm. It has a long veteran tradition and several American Legion Halls (Memorial Day parades on Grand Avenue are attended by such politicians as senator Chuck Schumer), but it also has numerous Irish pubs that can get quite rowdy on Friday nights when blue collar folks come home to party. Grand Avenue, the main strip, has many banks, restaurants and mom and pop businesses. It is complimented by the frontage of Mt. Olivet Cemetery, handsomely fenced and gated with ironwork grills. Inside, towering hundred-year-old oak trees dominate the headstones, and give one a sense of being in a time warp in the middle of the city. I have always enjoyed walking on the sidewalk under those trees.

Our house sits up a hill on 64th Street, which follows the gradient of the Mt. Olivet slope on the east. From the highest point of our street, one can see the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and from our attic window facing west, we can see the Empire State Building, the traffic on Kosciusko Bridge and the Fourth of July fireworks on the East River. During September 11 anniversaries, the twin shafts of light from where the World Trade Center look magical from that window as they penetrate the night sky. These are the extras that we got with the house, and we were not even aware of them until days after we moved in.

We have made changes to the house and property since we moved in in November of 2006. I planted an American sycamore on our curb and a northern red oak on the lawn by the rose bushes. I expanded the garden space in the backyard by digging up part of the concrete (work done by John Kenny, an Irish contractor who lived a few houses downhill) to extend the existing garden all the way to the back fence. I wanted to plant more trees and have a summer vegetable garden, to maximize my share of Long Island earth.

Here are pictures of the backyard before (taken before we moved in in 2006) and after (taken during Sara's 5th birthday party a year later. She is in red.) Aside from my little girl and her friends, you can see other things growing: a Jonathan apple tree, a littleleaf linden tree in the far back, and lots of beefsteak tomatoes.

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