We were seven kids housed within bricks and bushes on Manor Road.
We were a congregation in a sanctuary protecting our innocence and our dogs (RIP Red and Spock). We had Congregation B’Nai Jeshurun on Martling Avenue and the Knights of Columbus on Maine Avenue.
We were aware that the hidden binder in Four Star Video contained pornography.
We were raised on penny candy, nickel arcades, dime bags, quarter drinks, and dollar sundaes at the Fill Your Belly Deli.
We knew the value of a half dollar.
We shared our space with soldiers protecting their tanks and weapons at the Staten Island Armory.
We were brothers and sisters sitting on the porch In the summer.
We were raised by each other’s parents.
We were the residents of a cardboard clubhouse.
We were dwellers of basements leading to a communal garage.
We were comforted by bricks.
We were within a facade of rose bushes planted from days of yore.
We were illuminated every Fourth of July by snaps, sparklers, Roman candles, and bottle rockets.
We were outdone by the fireworks displays across the street.
We were the guardians of the lightning bugs in the summer night.
We grew up with Billy Joel, Bonnie Tyler, John Lennon, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Whitney Houston, and The Police blasting on boom boxes and rotating on record players.
We didn’t need Ralph’s Italian Ices when we had cups of Marino’s in the counter freezer.
We found solace in an Atari 2600 and a Commodore 64.
We were one of the few clans who owned the Colecovision ADAM computer.
We remember the greats: Space Invaders, Asteroids, Missile Command, Buck Rogers, Q-Bert, Burger Time, Galaga, Tetris, and every incarnation of Pac-Man.
We remembered when AOL was Q-Link.We were too poor for MTV, so we had The Box instead (Music Television You Control).
We were really glad they made the Children’s Aid Society.
We could sing the Mount Airy Lodge theme effortlessly.
“All you have to bring
is your love of everything.
Beautiful Mount Airy Lodge.”
We watched Steampipe Alley on channel nine and knew the name Mario Cantone before Sex and the City.
We wondered if Teddy Ruxpin would sing along to Judas Priest.
We have no idea how many Lite-Brite pegs we were missing around our house.
We knew how to play outside.
We planted tomato gardens and swam in an inflatable wading pool.
We chewed Bazooka gum and collected the comic strips.
We felt the bubbles sting the insides of our noses when we drank Coca-Cola Classic.
We remembered how Doritos were sharp enough to open an envelope.
We were too young to remember the guy who stole a tank.
We are too old to turn back now.
We were the seven.We were Jack, Nadine, Jesse, Alex, Laura, Lena, and Mitchell (RIP).
We were the seven who were never rich in our wallets.
We were the seven who won the jackpot.
-Jack M. Freedman (Jacob Moses)
-Published in From The Soil (Exeter Publishing, 2020)