Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Game Warden Files--Brooklyn, part 1

We had found a suitable apartment in the Mill Basin section of Brooklyn and made an affordable deal to rent it as of the 1st of September.  I needed to report to work before then, so I moved with my necessary items to Brooklyn a couple weeks before we really moved.  It ended up that I spent the first 10 days or so in a guest apartment owned by a missionary organization and overseen by some family friends.  Being alone in a strange place for a few days allowed me to get my feet on the ground a bit before my family joined me.
I sold all my duty gear from Chatham PD to rent the U-Hall to get us to Brooklyn.  Revolver, cuffs and gun-belt all went to one of the guys who had been recently hired and was attending a basic school.  (As I write this, I'm in the process of trying to reconnect with that officer to see if he still might have that Model 19 S&W, and if so, would he like to sell it back to me.)  On the appointed moving day, a couple local officers showed up to help us load the truck and the next day we were on the way.
After unloading the truck, I parked it around the corner on a dead end street and Peggy came walking out to meet me.  It was one of those "What have we done?" moments.  Here we were, two country kids with two little boys, moving to one of the largest cities in our country.  As we walked, somewhat shell-shocked, back to the apartment--in which she'd locked the kids, if memory serves correctly--an older gentleman leaned over his fence, introduced himself and said "All the kids call me Uncle Frank. Welcome to the neighborhood."  We came to be very close to Uncle Frank and the extended family that shared the four-family house he was in.  One component of that family had three girls whose ages were spread around those of our two boys.  They became good friends and playmates in that little corner of what would be our home form the next 18 months or so.
One morning a car problem found me in a neighborhood gas station getting some work done.  The owner, Moe Blum, and his family got a chuckle out of having a game warden in their place.  Their little girl didn't know quite what to make of me; but kept up a steady dialogue with me the entire time her dad worked on my car.  They, too would become friends over the time we were there.  They come to mind often yet today, though we've lost track of all them.
We chose to go to King's Highway Baptist Church with the friends who worked with the ministry where I stayed, and developed a pretty good friendship with quite a few folks from there also.  We were quite comfortable.
One of the funniest things was a snowstorm that happened in February of our first winter there.  It was a great storm and shut everything down.  Coming from areas where snow was no big deal, we found our landlord's snowshovels and started digging out.  We dug out the sidewalk, an elderly neighbor's sidewalk--she wanted to pay Peggy for doing it--and started working on clearing out cars.  It seemed like we started something.  It became something of a party-like event with everyone helping everyone and things starting to look pretty good.  Suddenly a gate across the street opened up, and a guy hollered "YOU ALL LAUGHED AT ME!"  We stopped, not knowing what he was talking about and wondering if we had a madman on in the neighborhood.  There was the sound of an engine and then a Jeep with a plow appeared.  He joined the party and by nightfall we had a clear block.  Of course, we had the only clear block in quite a distance and pretty well had to guard our parking places to ensure we'd be able to get back into them.
Our landlady was a sweetheart.  She was a bit coarse; but underneath it all she was great.  She brought me pasta fagioli when I was sick, brought us stuffed peppers "just because...."  She even offered to take one of cats to the vet and use her credit card to pay for it to help us out one time.  Yeah, she was great.

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