A Ride Around The Park

22 Jun

“Please Daddy! Please! Please! Please! Take us for a ride around the Park!!!”

Hudson County Park in North Bergen was one of our favorite places to go. We lived on 78th Street just off Boulevard East, and would often walk to the playground and the lake.   But our favorite thing to do with our Dad was to drive ‘around ‘ the Park.

Whenever Dad was driving us home, we would plead for this ‘treat.’ It was not a real ride around the Park. Instead it was a ride around the traffic circle in front of the Police Station. Dad would enter it carefully and then drive around the circle. If we were lucky he would do it two or three times. That was our very exciting “ride around the Park.”   My Mom thought we were all crazy, but we loved it.

Living by the Park was an adventure. Going to the playground was a favorite activity. We still had seesaws then and the merry go round. My brother was relentless in his active motions. I loved to go on the seesaw with him, a sort of excited fear. Would he let me go all the way up and down? Or would he jump off when he was down and watch me go flying? I had to hold on tight and have my legs ready to bounce!

As for the merry-go-round, this was a yellow circular toy on a pole. While some children sat on it, others ran in a circle while holding on to get it going as fast as they could, before they jumped on. It was not a good ride unless you felt like throwing up when you go off. And swinging was great fun. How high could we go and then jump off without getting hurt!

Children now no longer have these great fun activities. And to be honest, I do not know how my Mom kept from screaming at times. Although she did stop my brother from jumping off the seesaw, as I think seeing my sister and I fly through the air eventually made her nervous.

My brother and I rowing on the Lake in Hudson County Park.

My brother and I rowing on the Lake in Hudson County Park.

Walking around the lake was also fun. We always wanted to get to the island in the middle. We loved renting a row boat with my Dad and rowing over there.   But the best fun were the paddle boats. At first my legs were too short and my brother would yell at me to try harder, but eventually I could keep up with him. My sister was younger and would go with my Dad.

My Dad is rowing my Sister and me.  I think my Brother is taking the picture.

My Dad is rowing my Sister and me. I think my Brother is taking the picture.

When I got older, I would sometimes meet my old friends from when I lived on Third Avenue at Nungessers Bowling Alley or the White Castle. My Mom had strict rules, “Do not walk through the Park. Go up 78 street and then across Bergenline Avenue. “ Ha!   I always walked up to Park Avenue, entered the Park there and walked across.

When I got older, the rules changed. Something bad had happened in the Park when I was about 12 or 13. Now when I went to see my best friend, who lived around the corner on 77 and Park, our Dads would walk us. We would meet with our Dads at the top of 78th and Park Avenue. Eventually they calmed down. We were allowed to walk ourselves. But our Dads stood outside our homes and waited till they saw that we were together at the top of 78th street and then we would walk to the house we planned to play at!

Another friend of mine lived in red garden apartments next to where Stonehedge was built. I was allowed to walk to her place, but had to call the moment I got there! At the time I did not know what happened. But many years later, I was told that a girl was molested in the park. Something that was uncommon in the 1960s.

When I was in college I used the tennis courts at the Park. I spent two summers working in New York City. I would go into work with my Dad. One summer I worked at his office. My Mom and sister were in the Catskills. I think my brother was as well. In any case, Dad and I would eat dinner and then go to the park to play tennis. I played on my college’s inter-mural tennis team. So the summer practice at the Park was wonderful. On the weekends we would drive up to the Catskills.

I remember when the Boy Scouts held their giant Jamboree in the Park. My brother was in the Boy Scouts and he got to sleep in a tent at the park with thousands of other boys. There were tents everywhere! I wish I could find the photos. We could hear them at night, the noise was so loud!!!

Hudson County Park was an important part of my life. I do not think that a week went by, or even a few days, that we were not doing something in the park. Walking the trails or around the Lake. Meeting up with friends. Having a picnic. It was the best place to be.

When I was growing up it was Hudson County Park. No one called it North Hudson County Park. James Braddock was still alive. In fact, he lived up the block from me. We often saw him outside. He passed away when I was away at college. He actually died on my brother’s birthday. I am not sure when the Park was named for him. It is a great honor.

But to me, it will always be Hudson County Park. My memories for going for a ride around the park, or the playground, or the boats with my family and friends will cheer me forever.

5 Responses to “A Ride Around The Park”

  1. Rosemarie Mulvihill née Springer July 10, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    Having graduated in 1962 from NBHS, these photos bring back some wonderful memories. I lived at 7200 Park Ave and our super worked at Honekers Dairy.

    • zicharon July 10, 2014 at 9:42 am #

      I am glad you enjoyed the memory and the photos.

  2. Bob Sylvester November 13, 2022 at 5:49 pm #

    Grew up in North Bergen. Graduated HS in 1970. Knew the park well. Camped in the park during Boy Scout Jamboree. Went slay riding in winter. Uncle was a doctor who lived across the street on 79th St. and Blvd. East when it was private homes.

    • zicharon November 13, 2022 at 11:21 pm #

      I remember. My brother went to the Jamboree. He graduated in 1971.

      • Bob Sylvester November 14, 2022 at 12:37 pm #

        It seems like another lifetime. For me, the world was not threatening, just confusing. Had no idea of the future or the past. Didn’t know what I wanted to become. Sort of lived in the moment.

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