This is the view from beneath the railroad station in Woodridge that was torn down in 1957 when the Ontario and Western Railroad went bankrupt. The Gerson brothers owned the fruit and vegetable store on the right. My dadŐs store was 2 blocks up. He took over their store around the time the station was torn down. Unlike the railroad, their business was thriving. They had no time for the retail business and wanted to focus on their wholesale line, selling fruit and vegetables in bulk to the hotels.
It is hard to describe the excitement we felt as 8 year olds when the trains came through town. Back then they were old-fashioned coal-burning steam locomotives, big, black and awesome-looking. Even when diesel trains replaced them, there was nothing to match the sight of people from the city coming off the train. This was also around the time when seeing an airplane was a big deal. When one of my pals saw one, theyŐd yell and scream at the novelty.
We loved the summertime, with trips to the local swimming hole—KaplanŐs lake—even if we were scared to death of getting polio. I used to go to my dadŐs cash register and grab a handful of nickels to play the pinball machines with. WeŐd go into the woods as well, marveling at wild flowers and all the other amazing sights of the Catskill forests.
In the wintertime, it was like Dylan Thomas—a ChildŐs Christmas in the Jewish Alps to speak. Snowball fights, sledding down the main street, snowmen—and all the rest.
It was only when I got to be fourteen or so that I became miserable. Short, unathletic, nerdyÉ The same misery that every maladjusted kid faces. Fortunately for me Bard College accepted me as an early admission and my life turned around.