Tag Archives: sunbathing

How the Parker Imperial Cause My Most Embarrassing Moment

16 Sep

Growing up I lived on a quiet street in North Bergen, NJ.  We lived one block from a wonderful park, now known as James J. Braddock North Hudson County Park.  Just three houses away from Boulevard East and its wonderful views of Manhattan and the Hudson River.

I especially loved our backyard!  We had three levels. Level one was the garage.  We never parked there as the driveway was too small. But it was a great place to play ball games.  I loved to play 7-up ball, where you throw the ball against the side of the house or the garage and do different activities.

I also loved the bottom level because my neighbor Rose often sat outside with her cat, Snowball.  I loved both of them.  I think I own cats because of Rose and her love of Snowball.  I can still hear her calling in my mind, “A coo A coo A coo…kitty, kitty, kitty,” to call Snowball back into the house.

There were five steps up to the next level: the garden.  There were roses and Lily of the Valleys, shrubs and a tree growing in the gardens.  My bedroom window opened to the garden, and I loved the smell of the Lilly of the Valley.  I have planted them at my house as well.

If you walked through the garden, you would see another set of stairs that led to the top of the garage. There was a railing around the roof, so it was a safe area.

When I was a teen it became my not so secret, secret place because it was a great place to sun bathe!   No one could see me from the street.  No one could see me from the other houses.  The trees and garden shielded me.  I would put on my bathing suit, get a towel and go to the top of the garage with a book and a drink and hang out.

It was great until I was a junior or senior in high school.  That spring my quiet place was destroyed by the building of the Parker Imperial apartment complex.

It was bad enough that the houses across the street were knocked down.  It was bad enough that my friend Regina’s house and yard was completely enclosed by a high retaining wall.  It was horrible that wood and bricks and tools would sometimes fall off the building on the street, and cars. Thank goodness no was ever hit.

But the absolute worse for me occurred to me that spring.  After school, on the days when I had no activities, or no work,  I would change into my swim suit.  I had many choices because my Dad was in the textile industry and one of his clients was Gottex, the swimsuit company.  Each season they would make up samples of the suits from different fabrics.  Since I was the model size, occasionally Dad would bring home the samples for me to wear.

One really pleasant day, I came home from school and decided to sun bathe.  Totally not thinking about the Parker Imperial.  Just going to my safe place on the roof of the garage.  It was the last time I ever did that.  I think it was the last time I ever sunbathed in my life. Just to sunbathe.

I climbed the steps, put down my towel and drink and book.  Took off my coverup and set about sunbathing in my not very revealing bikini.  I even remember the bathing suit, it was white with red hearts embroidered on it, a Gottex reject.

Within minutes, my relaxing read turned into a nightmare.  I heard catcalls.  I heard whistled. I kept reading, not realizing what was happening. Then I heard yelling.  I looked up. At least 50 construction workers on the Parker Imperial were staring down at me.  I was so angry and embarrassed. They had destroyed my private, relaxing time.

I quickly wrapped myself in the towel and left the roof.  All the time hearing them yell, “Don’t go!”  Really, they had to be kidding. They had wrecked my day.  Not uncommon in the 1970s for this type of behavior.  But to have it right in my own backyard made it worse!

I hated the Parker Imperial after that.  I still hate it.  For a while my parents considered moving to this horrendous building. They went over when it was completed and had a tour of some of the apartments.  But I insisted that they could never live in that building!

To this day, even though I live so far from North Bergen, and even though over 40 years have passed, I cannot think of the Parker Imperial without thinking about that horrible afternoon and one of my most embarrassing moments.