IT WAS FUN WHILE IT LASTED by Frederic A. Birmingham


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This is a sentimental reminiscence of what it was like to grow up in New York City before World War I. The author's old fashioned family lived on 125th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in the days when Harlem was New York's first suburban community, when quail and rabbit could be shot on Fordham Road and when Van Cortlandt Park was a wild countryside. Mama and Papa were a generation behind the times. Papa, a country boy who delighted in the city, was an autocrat who dressed like a Victorian ""gentleman"" and in most things Mama deferred to him -- except when she felt the urge to visit her home in Brooklyn -- an area which exasperated Papa. The author recalls the family's Sunday excursions to New Jersey's Palisades, on the trolley to Rye Beach, to Coney Island, to the Manhattan bathing Beach at 149th Street and Riverside Drive, to the Cloisters in Inwood Park, on the Hudson Day Line, to the lake on Kingsbridge Road and to the theatres and restaurants which now no longer exist in Harlem. Everything seems finer in this romantic look backward: the ""funnies"" were really funny; cheesecake was superior; summer was a joy; and life moved at a simpler and easier pace. An exercise in nostalgia in which the commonplace, exalted, becomes special and the good old days, in retrospect, seem better than, in fact, they were.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1960
Publisher: Lippincott