A Snow Storm in Brooklyn



Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Williamsburg

A tree grows in Brooklyn, and snow falls. Both are scarce, as were friendships on Madison Street. My only friend was a girl my age whose single mother was a police officer. Only once was I invited to her house to play. It was a row house like mine with three long rooms: windows in the front and a fire escape in the back. One corner in the middle room was piled high with play things: a new bicycle, roller skates, Monopoly and checkers, a jump rope, hula hoop, a Tiny Teen Suzette and other small plastic dolls. My eyes glittered when I saw her pogo stick and comic books.

I reluctantly agreed to play with Susie, believing I might stay for lunch and if lucky, enjoy the toasted cheese sandwiches I knew were Susie’s favorite. Instead she insisted on dressing her small schnauzer in the glamorous clothes of her Revlon doll. When the dog lashed out, it was my hand he bit.

Shortly after this incident, further proof that our friendship was ill-fated occurred one day after a rare snowstorm. An unusual storm, snowplows moved waist-high snow, trapping cars at their curbs. Mounds of snow separated one parked car from another. I stood on the curb watching all the kids sledding on shiny garbage can covers. One of the teenage boys, hacking into a mound of snow between two cars, created a cave. Curious about what the inside of this snow cave looked like, I moved the abandoned shovel aside, knelt down, and crawled into the opening. But my timing was wrong. I had just had an argument with the policewoman’s daughter who often got herself into messes by always wanting things her way. As I entered the cave, she began to pound on the roof. Not being very agile, I was unable to back out before the snow began to cave in around me. At first I was terrified. I crawled backwards inch-by-inch, and eventually emerged – but I was packed in fallen snow. And then I was angry. I ran toward Susie, who hadn’t had sense enough to run, and punched her in the nose. The blood gushed. She ran home, screaming, her bloodstained gloves covering her spoon-shaped face. I ran the other way sure that Susie’s mother would arrest me and that I would spend the rest of my life in reform school, a delinquent, sharing a cell with teenage girls with bleached blond hair.

Flo Gelo was born in Brooklyn, where she lived until her early teens. She’s published numerous articles in professional literature about illness, death and dying. This story is one in a series about her life on Madison Street.

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