I grew up in Flushing, New York, as bad a name for any place that could exist on planet Earth. To ease the pain, natives believed that it was a Dutch colony, which is true, and was originally called Fleushing, which is not true and not one iota better. The original name was an English bastardization of a Netherlands town called Vlissingen. If anyone from Flushing knew this, they sure as hell couldn't pronounce it.
Smack in the middle of both JFK and LaGuardia Airports, our windows rattled in the summertime and we often had to yell "Hold on!" when talking on the phone. Most of us lived in attached brick houses or apartments between Main Street and the Kissena Boulevard corridor. My house was only attached on one side, the other side being a plot of grass that we called "The Break." Having this extra swath of "land," as well as having the first color TV on the block practically made us Aristotle Onassis.
Mama and Me, 58th Avenue 1974
A favorite story of my mother's is about neighbors who had the unfathomable finances to travel abroad. When asked by fellow travelers what part of New York they were from, rather than reveal they were from Flushing, they deceptively answered "Forest Hills," which was like Central Park West in comparison. Problem: The other people were actually from Forest Hills (a real head slapper!), so of course came the next question, “What street?” Realizing the jig was up, the neighbors admitted to "58th Avenue," thus entering the Flushing-Hall-of-Shame. They came home, packed up, bolted to Sutton Place, and that was that.
My BFF and her husband both grew up in apartments in Flushing. Like George and Ouisie Jefferson, they too moved on and never looked back. The hardest workers I’ve ever seen, he is a doctor with 5 offices, and she is a dynamo model manager and a realtor. They’ve spent the last 20 years living on the south shore of Long Island, directly on the open bay. Hurricane Sandy hit them hard, but they rebuilt and now it is even more, what my travel agent calls "Deluxe Deluxe." Last weekend we spent the night and I slept like Rip Van Winkle on a $2000 mattress. I was so comfortable, Hubby came in at 11 a.m. to make sure I wasn't dead.
Me and my BFF, Silver Springs Maryland 1979
We joke about retiring somewhere, with my bilateral hip bursitis and her osteoporosis. We would do water aerobics all day and drink French Rose` all night. BFF doesn’t know this yet, but I plan on moving into her eldest daughter's bedroom, the one with the $2000 mattress and the balcony with direct water views. Best part, there will always be a doctor on call.