A trip down memory lane in Brooklyn, NY

I was down the basement earlier doing some cleaning when I came across an old photo album. When i looked inside i found pictures from late 1956. I remember going with my dad to shoot those pictures, He had just gotten a new twin lens reflex camera, and i convinced him to throw a roll of Kodacolor into it and take a walk up and down our block in Brooklyn, photographing the houses and the cars. I should first set the scene. We lived on a typical block in the southern part of Brooklyn in a middle class neighborhood. There was a 6 story apartment house at either end of the block, with single family houses in between. The houses were small (1300-1400 square feet), 2 story, built in 1924.

The first pic shows the first house on the west side of the street. I never knew the people that lived there. Their car was an ugly little black 1950 Buick Special Sedanette with a Dynaflow. It looked like a water bug (palmetto bug for our Southern colleagues) scurrying back and forth. Next was the Neilson’s house, with their 1956 Cadillac series 62. Mr. Neilson bought a one year old Cadillac from his next door neighbor Mr. Fish, every year when Mr Fish bought his new one. Sure enough, the next picture is of Mr. Fish standing next to his brand new 1957 pink and black Sedan DeVille. Sadly, this was to be Mr. Fish’s last Cadillac. Next was the Scheinblum house with their 1955 Red and Black Plymouth Belvedere. Then we come to the Pinkertons, with their new 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser. That car had every gadget in the book, including memory seat. The Bovary house, that we come to next had the two dullest cars on the block. Senior had a 1954 Pontiac Chieftain with a flathead six, and Junior had the same car with a flathead eight. I was fascinated, though, with the way the Chief Pontiac hood ornament lit up at night. The next, and last house on that side of the street belonged to Mr. Chertoff, whose new 1957 Lincoln Premier had somewhat outrageous styling. We then crossed back to our side of the street and came to the Benson house, where they had a 1954 Chevrolet of unknown model, in an awful 2 tone paint scheme of light cream and brown. Continuing South, we came to my uncle’s house. My uncle owned a large NYC taxi fleet, and, in exchange for keeping the fleet stocked with only Chrysler Corp. cars, he got special pricing from the corporation for his own cars, plus other goodies. Accordingly, he had a gorgeous black 1957 Desoto Firedome 4 door sedan. Our house was next, where my dad had recently picked up his 1957 Chrysler New Yorker on introduction day. Both those cars were absolutely gorgeous. Next door to us, was Mr. Garofalo, with his 1951 Plymouth Belvedere, and the only standard shift on the block. But then, this was a guy that heated his house with coal until 1959!! Next to him was Mr Haber with a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere 2 door hardtop.
Note: All names are pseudonyms.

The next two photos were too faded to make out details, and so, apparently, is my memory.

Something that I found notable was that by 1956 We the People (at least the ones on my block) had voted that standard transmissions (and six cylinder engines) were obsolete.


Hmmmm… Southern Brooklyn…
We moved from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, a decidedly middle-class neighborhood (except for the Mafiosi who lived in the few mansions :wink:) in 1956, and your description sounds a whole lot like our old Bay Ridge neighborhood.

I have to say that the only cars I recall were Mr. Lawton’s '53 or '54 Buick Roadmaster, a neighbor’s hot-rodded '49 or '50 Mercury, and our doctor’s '53 Chevy that was painted what could only be described as Feces Brown.

Did you also live in Bay Ridge, by any chance?

Lol, no, bensonhurst

I’ll bet if you surveyed a similar neighborhood today the cars would average out much older than those cars were in 1956. Cars in the 50’s lasted maybe 4 years before they were in serious need of repair or replacement, today 4 year old cars are very, very common, they run well and look pretty good.

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Plus, back then your car was a big part of who you were. Now, nobody cares. Those neighbors bought new cars not because the old ones were worn out. I doubt if anyone on our block put more than 10,000 miles per year on their cars. My father bought a new car every 3 years and the old one had probably 15000 miles on it. The styling changed enough annually that he didn’t want to be seen driving an “old heap”.

I sure would like to see some of those pictures. You paint a beautiful scene. Unfortunately for me the same event would be in the early 1980’s in suburban So Cal. But let me see if I can remember what I saw walking to the end of the block to the school bus stop…

Next door was a yellow 67 Galaxie and a white 73 LTD. Next door on the other side were the Duvalls, who had bad luck wrecking cars, he was always driving a late 60’s-early 70’s full size Chrysler. The 70 Three Hundred–red with black top and interior–was a beautiful car. Across the street were the Cranes, friends of ours. He was an airplane mechanic who drove a 63 Dart, she was a housewife who had a Vega wagon. Next to them was “the old Cuban” who drove a 74 Ventura.

Back to my side of the street, next was Mr. Monson, an old drunk who had a 69 Sport Fury in his yard. White with light blue vinyl top and interior. It seemed he never had money to put gas in it, which was ok because the liquor store was in walking distance. Next was Mr. Kozai, he ran the Texaco station and drove a 63 Chevy II and had a beautiful silver 70 Chevelle in the garage. His wife had an 82 Olds Delta 88. Next was Mr. Jariqui, a gardener. His work truck was a 69 Chevy C20, two-tone dark blue and white. Not a scratch on it despite being a work truck. Business must have been good, since Mrs. J drove a brand new Chevy Citation.

After that was a family I don’t remember, and next was the Monroe house, first house built on the block back in the 40’s. He had a 68 or so Ranchero and a 59 Galaxie that was his baby. Still had bias ply tires in the 80’s. Next to the Monroes was an elderly man who had a Dodge Polara in the garage but didn’t drive anymore. Then was the Yoshida family. He was a doctor, and they leased a new pair of Caprices every year. He drove a 2-door and she drove a station wagon.

Across from the Yoshidas were the Cho family, the only ones on the street with a pool. Mom drove a Datsun B210 and dad had a 72 Satellite Sebring. Next door to the Yoshidas were friends of mine, the Numarks. They had 3 kids, so mom had a 68 Country Squire, complete with wood grain, and dad had a Chevy Beauville van.

Thanks for the chance to share some memories, it was fun.

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Love reading about these!

Our neighbors across the street in the 1960s had a Thunderbird for the missus, a 1957 Ford Fairlane retractable hardtop in gorgeous red with white interior for him, and the son had a 1969 candy apple red Mach 1 Mustang. The son still has his pony, twice restored, and his dad’s fliptop which is in mint looking condition.

My folks had a 1956 Olds 88 sedan with the B-pillars, V-8 Rocket engine, white and gray with gray interior. Later they added a second car, a 1965 Olds 98 with V-8 engine, gold exterior and interior, and huge flat-floored trunk; a true land yacht.

Why don’t you scan some of those and put them up? I’d really like to take a gander.

I had thought about it, but my dad was using an early version of kodacolor, which didn’t age well. Both the prints and negatives are badly faded and discolored. I scanned a couple as a test and they were unviewable.

Old Kodachrome prints tend to lose all of their colors, except for red, and they look really… unnatural.

Kodachrome actually held up a lot better than kodacolor.

Then, Kodacolor must be really bad!

It was. But very vivid color when new.

I have read that photo restoration services know how various color photo dyes typically age and, after scanning, can do a decent job of digitally recreating original color - I’ve done a little of this myself with acceptable results and a good professional probably can do better.

You also might look into whether a local historical society might be interested in the photos.
A relative in Seattle volunteered at the darkroom of a facility that kept negatives going back to the days of glass plates and there was a steady trickle of interest from people who were restoring homes, etc., and wanted to know how things were.

Thank you, I will look into both of those.