Alright, maybe I had too much fun with the whole pun of the word “Dam” but containing my inner child can be at times, nearly impossible. Just the same as it was for the early settlers of Phoenix Arizona and the surrounding area, who relied on the Salt River for much of their irrigation needs, but much like the wild rivers of the West, it was often times either feast or famine and something needed to be done to control the flow of water into what would eventually become, a major metropolis.
Enter President Theodore Roosevelt, his influence in the early 1900s, along with the Reclamation Act of 1902, provided the federal funds to build the Dam and the lake that bears his name that sits just behind the Dam and by 1911, it was not only providing hydro electrical power, but once and for all controlled the flow of natural water into the Phoenix Valley.
In 1989, the Dam was resurfaced and expanded to the height of 357 feet. The realignment of Highway 188 over the new Theodore Roosevelt Bridge upstream of the dam also took place, building a beautiful single span structure that takes a giant leap over Roosevelt Lake and for many native Arizonans, serves as one of the only bridges they may ever cross in their lifetime since you could travel hundreds of miles before crossing a similar structure.
The bridge was painted blue to blend in with the surrounding area and also was build with an arch to it, so that drivers didn’t feel as if the bridge was sagging.
The area around the Dam is absolutely gorgeous and there are countless number of hiking trails, camping sites, boat launches and fishing holes…Arizona at its best.
The original Highway 188, traveled over the top of the Dam, kind of like Highway 93 does when crossing the Hoover Dam at the Arizona/Nevada border. The road can still be seen from a far, with some of the original light fixtures and it’s a beautiful sight, even from a distance.
Other sections of the lost parts of highway 188 can be found, mapping out the route that drivers would have to take before the 1980s when the Dam was given a facelift and a one way ticket into modernity.
Imagine the Model T or worse, a large Buick on this road…yikes!
Still, the Roosevelt Dam and bridge remains one of my favorite places in Arizona and should be a stop on your road trip through the state. Many men died in the building of what was a modern marvel at the time and their sacrifice insured the future of Phoenix and it’s suburbs.
Cross County version 2.0 has been met with what I can only see as praise, ingenuity and revitalization as the place that feels like an alma mater to me, the place that experienced steep decline in the 1990s and the place where the suburban shopping center experience was born is now teeming with life; not only of the human variety, but that of the new animals that call the shopping center home.
With overflowing nostalgia and devotion, my youth was forever branded with images of the great stone Rams and Lions that donned the promenade of the mall.
Jumping, playing, running up to and hugging these life-like stone structures, it gave me great joy and I think gave my parents joy as well, being able to watch their son befriend and take pleasure in a piece of civic artistry, the likes of which would never be seen again at the shopping center.
Children in the 21st Century can now be seen befriending new animals at the mall and making life-long memories and connections to a place that will hopefully always serve as a center for shopping, recreation and an overall democratic public space.
Forgetting the past for a moment, I took time the other day to embrace and appreciate the new animals of cross county and discovered similar children just like myself, reveling in the fantasy and splendor of the malls permanent residents.
Come with me and allow me to introduce you to a few of them now…
Say hello to Jermaine the Giraffe. His African roots have brought him to the New York City area, along with his friends and while he has to get used to some snowy days in the winter time, he surely doesn’t mind all of the little friends he makes each day, receiving countless hugs and climbers, all of which are welcome to prop themselves up on his tall head and enjoy a Giraffe’s view of the mall. He’s also a bit of a licker so beware because if he gives you a lick, you’ll be drenched from head to toe.
Lincoln the Lion or “link” as his friends at the mall call him, can be a bit of a curmudgeon and sometimes needs the attention and love that the children bring to him each day. He never realized that receiving a hug and kiss from a small child could be so much more rewarding and gratifying than mauling something to death. Despite wishing he was still in the wild, he also enjoys not having to hunt for food each day and figures his retirement is better spent watching over the kids of the mall…maybe contemplating eating some of the unruly ones on only the rarest of occasions…
Gonzo is a weird one but everyone still loves him. He manages to sit in the same position for pretty much the entire day and never seems to move, even though he looks like he would love to jump from store to store and perhaps even around the area, pole vaulting across the New York State Thruway and up Valentine Hill. The other animals and kids like him though because he’s a good listener and always will let the little tuckered out 4 year-old lean up against his big arms and catch a quick nap before heading home.
Speaking of tuckered out 4-year-olds…Tucker is the name of the turtle that you can find nearby and he is pretty much the slowest of the bunch, but that doesn’t stop him from having a good time. No, I mean he literally is the slowest of all the animals, he can barely tell time and even Yonkers Public Schools gave up on him and graduated him early. Still though, his big brown eyes win over the hearts of kids each day and you can find him near his other friends Gonzo and Jermaine, catching some rays and playing one of his favorite games, “how many five year-olds can I fit on my shell?”
Barry and Bob have their own area of the mall and on this day, I was lucky enough to see them playing in some remaining piles of snow, which they of course loved. After making the journey from up north, they seem to be satisfied with the climate here in Yonkers and even more satisfied that they were placed right near the speakers! So no matter what funky beats Cross County plays, they always have a move or two to show off to the kids, or sometimes they imitate what new dances the kids show them. It’s a match made in heaven!
Last but not least, we have Dave and Buster…two “slippery” kind of fellows that seem more interested in eating children than playing with them. Luckily though, their dreams of snatching up their prey are kept under close watch by Link the Lion, who make them sign a “no eating kids” clause in their contract when they agreed to move into the mall. So kids, happy playing on Dave and Buster! Yes kids, jump on them all you want, they can think “it”, but they can’t do “it”.
These guys, along with a few others I did not have time to highlight, serve as ensigns to what has become a revitalized and new and exciting place where people want to be. Here’s to the new memories and friendships that will be made over the next generation of children and here’s to Cross County, for making it happen.
Just to clear any confusion up front, my use of the term “Antiquing” is not meant to insinuate throwing flour onto a person’s face while they innocently sleep to make them appear dusty and old as seen on such programs like Jackass.
The term is also not used in this context to describe a woodworking and very interesting art form that crops up in usually the most remote areas of the country where you least expect it, or your average flea market.
No, today’s terminology is referring to the art of shopping for and searching out those golden nuggets of yesteryear, whether it is an 80 year-old baby carriage you seek, music, art, artifacts, signage, tools, patrons of Antique shops in NY and even here in Arizona seem to be very passionate and persevering in their search for the perfect hand-me-down.
Well take notes people, because I have discovered bar-none, the largest and coolest antique shop in America, which sits about 80 miles north of Phoenix in the town of Cottonwood, Arizona, called Larry’s Antiques & Things.
Now if you read reviews online, you will see the usual grumblings about how over-priced the place is and I do concur, prepare to dig deep as you make your way through the maze-like labyrinth of very very and I mean very interesting “junk”.
Here are just a few items I saw but really, if you are ever in the area, I highly recommend!
First off, the place really is a maze, winding inside and out with just an almost inconceivable array of treasures so if you do visit, plan at least an hour, yes, you will need a solid 60 minutes to really explore the place, both outside and in.
Really cool signage can be found floating around the entire property and while I get the point of this message…I don’t think this Ad would fly in 2013. I guess perhaps we have regressed in the sense and sensibility category in America.
What’s this for? Some ancient device? Did the Egyptians or Greeks use this?
I’m not sure why this counts as an “antique” since right now you can still head down to your nearest golden arches and clog up your already clogged arteries but nonetheless, the hamburglar is kind of a thing of the past, kids these days don’t care if a masked man who obviously just escaped from some minimum security prison wants their cheeseburger.
Ahhh…the Mother Road! When you live in Arizona like I do, you immediately become more connected with Route 66, which is certainly an antique considering some parts of the road don’t even exist anymore.
Now in NYC, there is always some little old lady who doesn’t have heat in the winter time, foolishly turning on the gas oven and filling up the house with toxic gas in the process, all in the name of warmth…perhaps this would be a nice Christmas gift for her…
These pants were at least 8 feet tall, despite being suspended on the wall. Obviously Andre the Giant worked here at some point.
Ok so some of the Antiques were creepy, like this old V.F.W. Wheelchair, dating back probably to the grim veterans of WWI. Who knows how many wounded veterans of war used this thing?
McDonald’s makes another appearance, this time as a headboard. I like this one though because pretty much all of the evil minions ever created by the evil empire are depicted here.
I don’t know about you but the old-baby carriages were the creepiest thing I stumbled upon, in an attic-like space of the shop no less! I mean I just feel that a carriage or “stroller” as the contemporaries call it is such a personal thing, someone’s bundle of joy was in this thing…maybe as long as a century ago!
Nothing beats an old-school beer sign/clock.
Here’s another for you Coors fans.
Here’s a bird’s-eye view from that attic-like area I was describing earlier. The place is an endless sea of treasures.
This guy definitely takes the cake for being the most unusual and weird collection in the shop. Perhaps a country western motif?
For all of you glass bottle lovers, yes, Larry’s has you covered!
God only knows what little corner of the country this guy came from.
Need a door?
An old card catalogue that has been converted to a storage type piece of furniture. This is one of the nicer ones I have seen and it’s amazing that each drawer has it’s own key hole.
Umm….yea, not sure to be honest what this instrumentation is. Perhaps a Cold-War device for spying on dirty Commies? Or an extraterrestrial communication device?
More dark corners of the Antique Shop.
Nothing like a rusted out gas can to add to the decor of a room.
Apparently when Macy’s get’s rid of their trash cans, they end up here…
Wow! Anyone have a guess as to have far back this guy goes? I mean this looks like it could have been early 1900′s even.
Wait, you mean to tell me you never immortalized your children in clay?
Filler’ up! I love that the gas prices are still set on the pumps, 38 cents per gallon, I’ll take it.
Larry’s definitely has a lifetime and then some of goodies and whether it is here in Cottonwood or in your neck of the woods, I always love visiting Antique shops. Well I should clarify, I don’t seek them out per say, but the occasional heavy dose of nostalgia is always good for the soul.
Never being one for top 10′s or 5′s or what have you, this is a stretch for me but an article that nonetheless, I felt many would enjoy given the fact that there are way more than 5 places in the city of hills to grab a greasy slice, with just the perfect amount of sauce and mozzarella.
We probably all have our own top 5 when it comes to slices, places we duck into because we know no matter how much time passes that the pizza will taste the same and others that we have cemented into our minds from our childhood. One can only hope and pray that they stay permanently open, never close and always have the same guys in the back slapping and tossing the dough.
Such a place made my number 1 on this list without hesitation, but in true countdown form, we’ll start at #5 and work our way back. I give you, my Top 5 Pizza Places in Yonkers, comment as you see fit.
#5 – Catania’s Pizza – 2260 Central Park Ave.
Many people don’t think pizza slices when they think of Central Ave. They think shopping, The Wiz, Caldor’s, Nathan’s, name your other defunct business, and of course, the sea of now commercial establishments that dot the landscape and further erase the character and charm of the major thoroughfare that we all once knew existed there.
Still, since 1976, Catania’s has been doing what they do, greeting their customers by name and doling out the ever popular, undeniable New York charm of customer service by greeting a newbie or an old-timer to the place with a succinct and humble question, “Whatcha want?”
A little then and now for you…Catania’s 1976…
The place hasn’t changed all that much, more seating, more variety of pies, but even still, they have their loyal customers that will only go here and as one woman said to me, “the crust is better here than anywhere else.” Also, look at the size of this mountain of garlic knots!
Yes, Catania’s is a good way to polish off an afternoon on Central Ave. of shopping, just bring your appetite and your love affair of Garlic Knots with you.
#4 Michaelangelos Pizza – 1037 Yonkers Ave.
At first glance, the place is nothing to sneeze at.
No real history in the area although 20 plus years is something to definitely acknowledge. No really cool signage or guys behind the counter that you will remember for weeks or years to come. What it lacks in flair though it makes up in quality of ingredients and taste, by far, Michelangelo’s Pizza is that prototypical New York pizza joint, where the slices are thin, crispy, greasy and cheesy.
There are two qualities about the place however that do stand out to me since I’ve been riding my bike here since I was a kid. For one, there is always and I mean always a copy of the Daily News or New York Post around for you to read.
Call the owner a tabloid junkie but I love that he passes it on for his customers everyday and if you’re like me, reading a news paper and having a slice with a grape soda is as good as it gets for lunch in my opinion.
Second, there are a number of pizzerias in New York that make you “hunt” for the Parmesan cheese, because it’s not just sitting out on the counter, collecting dust and becoming stale all day, but it is kept in its native habitat, a cooler place where all cheese should be kept for the most part…the fridge!
So you have to almost be a “regular” to find the cheese and yes, I have walked into many pizzerias in my time and have had to “ask” where’s the cheese?” As if to say, “Hi, I’m new here, I would love some Parmesean Cheese to go with this slice…please…”
In most cases, the cheese is hidden amongst the sodas and at Michelangelo’s, it’s no different, so if you decide to come for a visit, don’t be a newbie, simply find the sodas to find your cheese.
I know this sounds trite but the view outside on Yonkers Ave is always equally entertaining here. You can see anything from one of Yonkers finest pulling over a speeding motorist racing down the hill from the Raceway, or the more frequent sight of a disgruntled patron, who let their meter expire and now instead of that extra 20 minutes costing a quarter, it will cost $50.
#3 Midland Pizzeria – 853 Midland Ave.
One word sums up this pizza joint that gives it the distinction of being on our list, ambiance.
I swear you will feel as if you are eating in a nice cozy restaurant versus a loud and crowded pizzeria. The place has drapes on the window, a totally quarantined section for dine in customers and just an overall feel that I have always loved that make this place an excellent spot for a mid-afternoon date to the old Pizza Parlor.
Check these accents out…
I don’t mean to get all Martha Stewart on here but these little things make a difference to me and it’s such a nice touch in my opinion. The Pizza, well what you see if what you get…
Pretty typical NY slice but good and the menu is stacked with your regular red sauce standbys so perhaps dinner is more appropriate here versus ducking in for a quick slice. But if you do have a hankering for a slice, they were voted best Pizza not too long ago…
Also, they are very smart about smart phones and using them for their business and customer service. You can place orders and do all sorts of stuff and even earn free pizza!
Midland Pizzeria is good, period. Lunch or Dinner, early or late, but now we are into the top 2 places in Yonkers, and these places have to be good 24/7 in order to be the best. Let’s begin with a place on the West side of Yonkers that has a long history in the neighborhood.
#2 – Silvio’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria – 351 S. Broadway
For nearly 30 years, this place has become a neighborhood icon, with a polarity all its own and a loyal clientele who would pass by 10 different pizzerias to get to Silvio’s.
When you walk into Silvio’s, you really are treated like family, since the owner calls everyone, well at least the guys, “my brother”.
When I came to visit, it was the week of Good Friday and apparently in the pizza business, it’s the closest thing to defcon 5, where they receive more orders that night than any other night of the year, minus New Years.
Banking on the fact that people are not as religious as they once were back in the old days of Silvio’s, they seem to manage but back in the 80′s and 90′s, the place really hopped on Good Friday, all four pizza ovens going and thousands of pies sold.
On this day, I went with the Chicken Parm slice which was so fresh and so tasty, that I almost embarrassingly ordered another one, but something tells me in this place, much more shameful things have been done for much less due to how good the menu is!
This is the Cheers of Pizza places, everyone does know everyone else’s name and even what they are going to order. I witnessed one such exchange from two guys who were on lunch break working for Verizon. Here is how it went and keep in mind, these are grown men…
Guy #1 -” What should I get, frigin hungry bro”
Guy#2 – “You’re not gettin’ Knots, I can tell you that.”
Guy#1- “Screw you dude, I’m gettin’ da knots”
Guy#2- “Bro, everytime you get doze knots from Silvio’s you end up burping them up in the truck for the rest of the day”
Guy#1- “So, I don’t give a S%#t, I’m gettin da Knots!”
Guy#2- “You’re not gettin’ Knots!!!”
This went on for about 5 minutes. Bottom line though is that Silvio’s has the magical ability to bring us all back to our childhood by providing great food and an environment where we feel welcome, safe, familiar and warm. Garlic Knots or not, Silvio’s is a place that deserves a permanent spot on South Broadway, institutionalized by the City as one of the treasures of Yonkers.
#1 – Angelo’s Pizzeria – 986 McLean Ave.
Since you only get one childhood, certain memories and association can only be made by so many people, places and things. In my case, it’s Angelo’s Pizzeria.
This is the place that has not changed. This is the place where I can still picture being 14, being 17, being home from College and going to grab a slice even before stopping at home, being 24 and bringing my wife to, because I wanted to give her one of the “biggest slices” so to speak of my childhood.
I can picture bringing my son here, my Dad, my friends, the lady of the night, who cares…anyone that would go with me I would drag to this place, it’s the way it’s always been and it will be that way until the final pie comes out of the oven and they turn the lights off.
What started in the summer of 1995, has now carved out a piece of my heart and in 18 years of coming here, I think I order up the same thing each and every time, a slice of regular and a Sicilian slice.
An electrical fire a few years ago on the floors above put a real scare into me, hearing on the news, “A Yonkers Pizzeria experienced a fire last night…” and then you say to yourself, pizzerias are a dime a dozen in Yonkers, it can’t be Angelo’s…but it was.
Sadly, they were forced to close for the better part of 2011, but reopened and are still going strong. Representing Italian American Pride along with Anna Artuso’s Pastry Shop just up the block, in a sea of Green, White and Orange, that dominates the rest of McLean Ave.
I cannot encourage you enough to stop by this place for a slice, especially on a Friday evening, my favorite time to go, when it seems as if everyone becomes Italian that evening and the whole neighborhood orders from Angelo’s. It’s something to marvel at really, the well oiled machine of the guys behind the counter, the delivery boys, phone ringing, lines 10 deep, tables full, yet everyone and I mean everyone is being serviced.
I came here on a Tuesday so the lines were tame but still the same service and quality of a Friday night. Friday nights though are special here…Just like I did with my friends, teenage boys still crowd around a table, having their slices and pre-gaming their evening of fun, girls and rabble rousing.
Parents bring their kids, old men dine alone, people order out, phones ring off the hook, it’s great and is, without a doubt, true New York, true Neighborhood and true Yonkers.
As with all of these places, they mean different things to different people, with some looking for something hot to eat, others looking to continue their unconditional law of patronage. Whatever the reason, Yonkers is better off for these places and businesses like these automatically increase the quality of life for the neighborhoods they serve, delivering on service, nostalgia, belonging and above all, pizza!
Now that I am living in Arizona, my search takes me to the desert to find similar places, where maybe the lights don’t shine as brightly as they used to, but the locals know what is good and what is crap. Such is the case with The Chicago Hamburger Company located in Phoenix’s Arcadia neighborhood.
Having grown up in Yonkers, a slider to me is something you can only really get from White Castle and consists of your usual mystery meat, grilled onions, ketchup, mustard and pickle.
When I first came to Chicago Hamburger Company as an 18 year-old, I was blown away that someone else had mastered the art of the slider but even more importantly; as I got older, I began to appreciate the place for what it really was, a homage to transplanted Windy City faithful, who are looking for a taste of home and to be surrounded in all things Chicago.
The place is amazing, upon entering, your greeted by a sea of Greater Chicago Area signage, some are notable and others are probably only recognized by true Chicago…ians? Not sure what they call themselves over there.
Even the sign for the place that looms large at the corner of Indian School Rd. and 38th St. is something of a character, with its larger than life representation of a slider, the buns looking to me like huge bars of soap and the meat…well the meat certainly does look mysterious at this large a scale.
But it really are the treasures inside the restaurant that I believe keep people coming back for more and since 1975, people who now call the Valley of the Sun home and long for the cold winter nights on Lake Michigan can pile into Chicago Hamburger Company, eat well and reminisce of the days in the old neighborhood.
Like when mayoral candidate Richard Daley ran for office…
Or DPW signs for alternate side of the street parking in the Greater Chicago Area.
Other pictures are from of course, one of the heart beats of the city, their beloved sports teams.
Also, you can use the grease from the slider, hotdogs and fries to try your hand at some old school games!
This place has found its way into the hearts of many Phoenicians, who can appreciate it’s authenticity as well as those from the windy city, who still find their way here each night to watch the local Bulls, Cubs, White Sox or Blackhawks play as the place usually shows most Chicago sports game locally.
Whether it’s cops, news anchors who have a few hours off between the evening news and late night news, teachers, students and everyone in between, I’ve seen them all here at one time or another and it’s their devotion to this particular slider haven that enables the place year after year, to carve out a tiny section of Chicago, here in Phoenix.
Unless you know your Italian-American history lets face it, Arizona does not conjure up images of Italian refugees, escaping the shanty hillside towns of Italy in search of a new beginning and a new life in America, particularly in the dry, unforgiving desert of Arizona. But that’s exactly what happened over a century ago!
After the Italians colonized the obvious places such as New York, Chicago, Boston and other cities, they also came to Globe, Arizona, a town located about 75 miles east of Phoenix and to a place that was probably not even on any US geological maps back in 1913, one full year after Arizona itself got its statehood.
Globe features a wide array of heart stopping, culturally sound entertainment options. From the local Pizza Hut, Italian influence I think, to Taco Bell, a true reflection of the Spanish-American lineage that dates back to the time of the early Spanish explorers.
Of course I kid, but what Globe Arizona does have, in its blunt and bittersweet way, is a rich and vibrant past and a dismal, if often anonymous, present.
Considered one of the most important mining towns of the 20th century in Arizona, Globe became a bonanza for mining copper, coal, and raising cattle, sitting at an altitude of about 3,500 ft, the town gets its name from the Apache Indians, meaning “place of metals”.
As it often happens however, boom times went bust and by the 1970′s, the town’s decline was well underway. Most of the coal and other natural resources had been mined and businesses, along with patrons began to look elsewhere for their daily needs.
Nowadays, retirees and staunch hold over’s colonize the place and of course, Italians, which accounts for the amazing amount of beautiful Italian Cyprus trees that dot sections of town and completely stand out as visitors from another planet among the natural landscape of the high Arizona desert.
With some of their roots measuring 5-6 ft in diameter, these trees grow in some areas to over 75 ft in height and in some cases, are as old as Arizona itself. It’s a beautiful touch of the Mediterranean in the desert and a nostalgic declaration from the Italian community, showing their love of Italy and their desire to make a home for themselves in Arizona, complete with accents from the old country.
Some dreams have lived and some have died over the years in Globe, but I have always appreciated the landscape, the rolling hills, the Italian Cyprus and the history that surrounds the now sleepy town of only 7,500. Highway 60 only shows a fraction of the trees that are planted all over town so I would suggest getting off the main highway and either by car or preferably foot, climb the hills of town and appreciate and see Globe Arizona for what it really is.
Many of these “Arizona mining towns” had their heyday years ago, but Globe to me is one of the best examples of a place that can still roll with the changes of time and still assert itself with pride and beauty and merge together the natural landscape of the desert with the hopes, culture and dreams of its current residents.
The recent loss of Nathan’s on Central Ave. in Yonkers, a staple of not only the local landscape, but of innumerable childhoods such as my own has bit the dust and has literally been turned to dust, thanks to a myriad of forces beyond the battle scared veteran of delicious frankfuter’s control.
Sure, perhaps the residents of Yonkers and or City Officials could have rose up against the development of the area and in fact, the demise of Nathans was set in motion long ago, with rumblings year in and year out on the development of the area and finally, in what was a mere few weeks notice, the place of childhood dreams was taken from the very people who spent hours pumping quarters into games and indulging in the culinary art of meat in tube form.
Thankfully though, Nathans will survive, nearing their 100th anniversary in a few years, you can still go out to Coney Island or to your grocer’s freezer and find the good stuff that so many of us grew up on. But the shuttering of the Nathans on Central Ave. is a loss that cannot be rectified by mere hot dogs and crinkle cut fries, the place was and always will remain, something special for all Yonkers residents and residents throughout Westchester.
Many have told me that I’m way too sentimental and that me being torn up about the closing of Nathans is like being torn up about the loss of the original Pizza N Brew, or Tower Records, or the original traffic pattern along Central Ave. near the Ground Round…or even, The Ground Round itself. To them I say, yes, call me old-fashioned, call me sentimental, call me closed-minded and habitual, I could care less.
I took some time a few days before Nathans served up their final Hotdog to marvel at the history of the place. For better or for worse, it hasn’t changed much since I was was a kid and probably way before that as well. The stains on the ceilings and walls have not changed, the Fun Chicken has not changed, the condiments stand has not changed and perhaps most importantly, the people have not changed as well.
Sitting there, in the same booth where I enjoyed my 5th birthday, I was surrounded by one story after another, from patrons who also were trying to grapple with and put into context, the permanent loss that they were only days away from experiencing.
Some cool old signage could still be found on the upper parts of the walls of the arcade.
It really was freakin sad to be honest, we were all in a purgatory state, eating our Hotdogs with mustard and sauerkraut and taking an extra few seconds between bites, to somehow burn our last few images of the Yonkers icon into our subconscious, to hopefully be stored away forever. Walking into the arcade, despite the changes in some of the games and newer lighting, I could always be easily transported back to my youth, whether it was pinball, street fighter II, Afterburner, WWF, baseball, car racing, basketball, whatever.
The sacking of Nathans however is perhaps, a right of passage for me. Being in my 30′s, I’ve only experienced a few losses so far in my life, be it people, places or otherwise. In life as I have come to find out, we all lose bits and pieces of our past and the more time that goes by, the more we cannot hold onto.
Perhaps it’s good that the new CVS/Nathans/whatever else they build will be unrecognizable and will help in the healing process. Even now as I drive past Charlie Brown’s on Central Ave. I feel a sense of sadness for the loss of another childhood landmark as it now sits as a dormant, hollow shell of what it once was; so perhaps, cold turkey is best.
Still though, I feel angry that it’s gone and that anger cannot be quelled by simply heading to Brooklyn. I suppose time will heal this wound as well and as with any loss, my mind will find a way to make peace with the past, as I hope yours will too.
To my old friend that I spent hundreds of quality hours with as a kid and adult, I bid adieu.
Today’s post is something old really and it is simply an FYI for those who have not seen it or have not partaken in it.
In the “Little Ireland” section of Yonkers on McLean Ave., where we have chronicled many things from bakeries to St. Patrick’s Day decor, another neat thing about this closely knit and proud ethnic section of the city is the fact that you can get Irish newspapers in many of the grocery stores in the area!
What a treat for those who are home sick or those who still care about issues back home to read publications like The Kerryman
The Clare Champion
Or my personal favorite, Leitrim Observer, which I find has less of the political mambo jumbo and they stick to more feature stories about the people of the neighborhoods.
Next time you run in for Lotto, Beer, a bacon and egg on a roll, or whatever fits your Bodega needs, also grab an Irish newspaper and immerse yourself in a culture that has called Yonkers home for over a century.
As quickly as it took to turn out the lights, the Burger King in Cross County, a main stay for over 40 years is now defunct, slated to lay dormant among the throng of commercial real estate until further notice.
Now I realize that many of you may be thinKING…why is he getting sentimental over a crappy lil Burger King. Truth be told, I have spent hundreds of hours of my life, going back to the age when I was too young to walk into the store, waiting on lines, playing in multi-colored ball kiddie play areas and perhaps most fondly, mastering the game of Street Fighter II, which sat next to the game Mortal Combat near where the bathrooms are located.
These two video games alone kept me company and catapulted me to stardom through the 1990′s and on a rainy summer afternoon or a cold winter day, whether it was chicken fingers, quarter pounders or video games, my life always seemed to find its way into that Burger King.
And now it’s gone. Will another franchisee buy the Burger King and simply turn back on the lights? Who knows. Will it become a Five Guys Burger…more than likely.
The fact remains that Yonkers, just like NYC, is a city that never disappoints in keeping up with the times and tearing down the old, before you can even catch your breath and have a chance to spend sometime sitting back and recalling your experiences from the past.
Is it not bad enough that the Cross County mall has received a 50 year facelift, rendering it completely unrecognizable? The mall where I first learned what it was like to hold hands with a girl, to go out with friends with out the supervision of my mother and countless other coming of age experiences.
In my humble opinion, the original developers got it right and the mall in 2012 resembles a place that really has no character and fails in every attempt in my mind to bring people together and showcase an esthetic concourse for shopping and promenading.
The place is already under renovation with chairs and booths being taken out.
It’s an eerie sight to see the dimly lit counters of a Burger King. This is so definitely a place that WOULD be open in one of those “I know what you did last summer” movies and the kids would run in because they were of course being chased. Freddie Prinze Jr’s line would read, “Hello…hello…man, looks like this place is drive thru only…ahhhhhhhhh”
Well, I bid farewell to you my childhood friend and one that has served millions and millions over a long 40+ year career. No more long lines. No more messed up orders. No more nasty bathrooms. No more Mr. Bean look-a-likes as managers…has anyone seen this guy or know who I am talking about?? No more colored ball play areas. No more Street Fighter II. Time to turn the page.
My apologies to those residents who live either near Getty Square or even on the now infamous Mill St. I say “infamous” because I have unofficial cited it as the spookiest place in Yonkers for one reason in particular. As you enter off Main St. you turn into a courtyard which is a dime-a-dozen, but as you proceed further into Mill St., it reveals its creepy secrets…
Proceeding toward the end of the courtyard, you begin to hear a rush a water and it is at this point that many people who have lived in this section of Yonkers know exactly what I am talking about. For those who don’t though, proceed with caution…
In order to investigate further the sound of the rushing water, you need to open this gate…
Then, Mill St. reveals it’s secret, that the Saw Mill River, now in rapids form due to the flume that it has to travel through to flow beneath Getty Square, is exposed between two buildings and for a brief few seconds, whatever or whoever may be flowing downstream is hit with a ray of light before going back underground for the final 500 ft journey out toward the Hudson River.
Now truth be told, I was afraid…very afraid. Afraid that someone could push me in or worse, pull me in. Imagine seeing some transient riding the waves down river, bathing in its glory and having the time of his life, vicariously transporting himself out West to the mighty Colorado River.
I imagined Shredder himself, leader of the Foot Clan; pulling me into the river and into his world, where I would become a minion, tasked with defeating once and for all, those pesky Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
What ever the case, I think we learned something today. That you can judge a book by its cover. That small courtyards in downtown Yonkers can reveal secrets that sometimes you’re not prepared for. That the Saw Mill River is truly a river of secrets, a river that pops in and out of daylight in dozens of locations along its snake-like journey toward the Hudson through Westchester.
Next time you find yourself in Getty Sq., be sure and check it out and while I suppose most of you will not experience the trepidation that I did, I think you will enjoy Mill Street’s hidden little secret.