Growing up on West 16th Street between Mermaid and Neptune in a cold water flat in the 1940s and '50s

Interview Date:
August 2018


Carmela recalls growing up in Coney Island on West 16th Street between Mermaid and Neptune Avenues in a cold water flat with a coal belly stove and an ice box.  She lived there until 1959, when she got married and moved to her husband's neighborhood, Dyker Heights. On the block was "Lucia's store," her grandmother's candy store, where her grandfather also repaired shoes.  When her grandmother bought a two-family home on West 16th Street for $3,000, the whole family moved in. They raised chickens and ducks in the backyard while a neighbor kept a goat.  As one of eight siblings, trips to the beach meant going early in the morning and putting your blanket to save a spot for the family because so many people came to the beach in those days. Memories of Steeplechase Park include sneaking in, asking patrons "could we have that ticket?" and riding the "electric horses" and the Caterpillar ride. "I have all happy memories," she says. "Life was easy."