It is long gone now, but many years ago, there was a small village of wooden clap-board homes, along the railroad, in the middle of Jamaica Bay near Queens, New York. The homes were built on stilts because of the ebb and flow of the tide. William grew up where he could go boating and fishing as a child. He used to love to watch the trains go by from his bedroom window.
Let’s think about water –while living on the water. Of course William enjoyed fishing and boating with his brothers and friends, what kid wouldn’t love to live where there is such adventure! However, imagine walking the boardwalk with a 3 to 5 gallon container in tow to dry land to collect water for cooking as one of your chores. Oh! You used rainwater collected as it came off the roof for washing yourself or your clothing. Unfortunately, the toilet was a different story. Have you ever heard of an “indoor outhouse”? There was a small room with a wood box that had a toilet seat, it was open to the waters of the bay below. Thus, a major reason for demolition of these homes in later years!
Outside of a few inconveniences this was a wonderful place to grow up! Who cares about inconvenience when you live, literally, on the water?
The photos and stories in Brown Bag Letter are synchronized. To preserve personal history, my hope is that the anonymous photo and story from a different family will keep the stories of our past vibrant and not allow these folks to fade away.
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