Happy 94th birthday to the Spectator, John Maloney!

Well, the Spectator hit the ripe old age of 94 on February 19. It was President’s day and I gave the whole county a holiday in my name. When I was a kid, Lincoln had his own holiday on February 12 and Washington his on February 22.

I remember fondly my days growing up on the streets of Harlem in Manhattan in those glorious Depression days. Everyone was poor, but no one knew it. Everyone took care of each other; borrowing some sugar, or tea or a couple of potatoes. We walked to school each day – no rides and rarely a day off for a stormy day.

I attended Catholic school with the nuns from 1930-1938. The worst part was going into a classroom and having the nun tell you that she had your mother in class and your Uncle David and Aunt Mae. “You better be as good as they were,” said the nun. We studied many subjects like Civics, American History, Ancient History, Geography, English, Arithmetic, Spelling, Algebra, Music, and of course Religion and Bible studies.

After school was play time. We had no TV, no I-Pads, no electronic games. We made our own games and played the traditional ones. Stick-ball was the favorite, and of course, Tag, Hide and Seek, Johnny Ride the Pony, Ring-a-levio, Roller Hockey, Touch Football, Kick the Can, Red Rover Come Over…to name a few. There were very few fat kids in my time because we were always playing, leaping and running after school. No sitting on a chair in front of a TV set or playing games on the X-Box.

At six o’clock we had to be home for supper and homework. We listened to the radio for Orphan Annie, The Shadow, Jack Armstrong, Dick Tracy, Buck Rogers and Bobby Benson.

Saturday was movie day. Would you believe it cost 10 cents to get in for two main features, a western, two comedies and a chapter. Pepsi cost five cents for 12 ounces and a large Hershey bar was five cents.

I sold the Saturday Evening Post outside Columbia University for five cents when I was 11 years old and got one and a half cents for every one I sold.

Life was never dull. There was always something to do. We made our very own wooden wagons, flew kites and spun our “tops”.

I remember my dad getting gasoline in 1935 or so, six gallons for 97 cents! Wow!

The push-cart sold hot dogs for five cents with a free lemonade.

Nedicks was the place to get a hot dog and orange juice. We had ice boxes, no refrigerators, and they had to be filled with a 25 cent piece of ice during the hot spell. In winter you put the milk on the fire escape.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. Here’s to the good old days.

I’m grateful to God for the 94 years he has given me!

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