Doctorow’s World’s Fair

August 13th, 2012 § 0 comments

HG grew up in The Bronx of the 1930’s and 40’s. The Bronx was, and still is, a borough of neighborhoods, each a little village with its own landmarks and legends. The family unit dominated these neighborhoods making the streets safe because neighbors, family and friends were always watching, alert to any danger or strange occurrence. Little HG spent most of his waking hours on the street — a street filled with his contemporaries — boys armed with pink “spaldeens” and eager to play punchball and stickball and stoop ball and box ball and “association” football. These were afternoon activities. Night games were ring-o-leevio, hide-and-seek, johnny-on-the pony, kick-the-can. It was a world of small shops, fruit wagons (pulled by horses), street food sold by the desperate vendors trying to get by during the Great Depression. There were street singers who bellowed sentimental songs and were rewarded by nickels and dimes tossed from apartment windows. Few cars, but silence did not reign on Bronx streets. The knife and scissor sharpener made his presence known by shouting as did the man who bought old clothes for pennies and the various junk collectors. For HG, the happiest sound was the noise of the Bungalow Bar and Good Humor. Frozen treats for a nickel (Bungalow Bar) and a dime (Good Humor). The best evocation of those days can be found in World’s Fair, the remarkable novel by E.L. Doctorow.

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