Changing Times in Yonkers: It Ain't Like It Used To Be

Hitler's Face on the Palisades Viewed from the Hudson River

Hitler's face, c. 1941 as seen from the Hudson River on the Palisades of New Jersey. Focus on the upper left side of the rockslide. In 1947 another rockslide obliterated Hitler's face. (Photo by the Yonkers Ferry Corporation.)
Hitler's face, c. 1941 as seen from the Hudson River on the Palisades of New Jersey. Focus on the upper left side of the rockslide. In 1947 another rockslide obliterated Hitler's face. (Photo by the Yonkers Ferry Corporation.)

Newsies & Bootblacks

Photo by Lewis Hine
Photo by Lewis Hine

Remember the Juke Box?

The Good Old Days/Good Old Music
The Good Old Days/Good Old Music

None of us is getting any younger, of course. But some of us, who have seen 50 come and go, tend to become a little nostalgic.

We long for "the good old days," the days of yesteryear when the music was our music, when the dances were our dances, when girls were girls and boys were boys, friends were friends -- and good triumphed over evil.

It's pleasant, after you've begun the back nine of life, to recall the days when it was a sin to tell a lie, when convicted criminals went to jail, when the kids -- nonviolent and drug free -- that roamed the halls of our grammar schools and high schools couldn't wait to grow up to become responsible adults.

We all thought, in those days, it was a good idea to love one's country, to be proud and patriotic, to be willing and ready to fight for our country -- and for the rights of our friends and neighbors, whatever their race, religion or nationality.

Remember the Trolley Cars

Today, we look longingly back at those days; days when trolley cars rode the rails on our main streets and took us everywhere we wanted to go -- cheaply, efficiently and, more to the point, enjoyably.

We resist the temptation now to say, "Those days are gone forever."

Where there's life there's hope; what goes around comes around. Maybe we'll all wise up one day and take a good look at ourselves; at what we were, what we've become.

Not long after you've passed the south side of 50, you begin to notice things, little things. It's a cliché, but true, that one of the things you observe very quickly as you get a little older is that the cop on the beat -- I beg your pardon: the cop you see in the patrol car -- seems to be getting younger all the time. You want to ask: Is he -- oops, I mean he or she -- really over 21?

The Times They Are A-Changing

And, there are other things! For instance, have you noticed:

* * * Banks don't give you clean, new money all the time anymore when you cash your check. In the old days, they'd weed out the faded, torn bills and often give you crisp new ones.

* * * When the telephone rings these days it's just as likely to be somebody trying to sell you something as your long forgotten aunt calling from Keokuk, Iowa.

* * * It's not easy to get fresh fruit anymore, even in season -- especially tomatoes (Oh, what I'd give for a good old-fashioned, vine ripened tomato!)

* * * Getting your car fixed is about equivalent to what it used to be like getting a tooth pulled.

* * * That guy you saw digging a sewerage hole in your neighborhood recently was a girl!

* * * It doesn't take half the time it used to take to make out Christmas cards.

* * * Few people turn their front tires toward the curb anymore when they're parking on a steep incline.

* * * A lot of things that used to be free -- such as festivals -- now charge you a fee, or, perhaps ask for a donation.

* * * Your golfing partners are a lot more likely to talk about their recent quadruple bypass than yesterday's basketball scores.

I wrote this "My View" column for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on April 23, 1994. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages. To view my HubPages Profile Click Here

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No. 7 Trolley shown on Main Street in Yonkers, New York

No. 7 trolley winds its way up Main Street heading toward Yonkers Avenue in Yonkers, N.Y. Genungs Department Store can be seen in background. Trolleys were replaced in Yonkers with buses in November 1952.
No. 7 trolley winds its way up Main Street heading toward Yonkers Avenue in Yonkers, N.Y. Genungs Department Store can be seen in background. Trolleys were replaced in Yonkers with buses in November 1952.

'Mama Beth' Torpey Revels Sings a Song She Wrote: 'Bitter Times'

Bing Crosby Sings 'That's What Life Is All About'

More Good Old Days with Bing Crosby: 'Love Thy Neighbor'

The Good Old Days with Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters

Andrews Sisters Sing (Ya Gets No Bread With) 'One Meatball'

Bing Crosby Sings 'Brother Can You Spare A Dime'

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Comments 20 comments

Bob 9 years ago

Thought you were on your way to Maine... Anyway , this column I really enjoyed. I guess when you reach our age it's nice to remember the 40's and 50's.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 9 years ago from London UK

The good ole days;)


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America

I never realized that "Newsies" are the paperboys and not the newspapers until I saw the photo at the top of your Hub! Now I finally understand what Charity Newsies fully means. here it's either tomorrow or next Saturday. Boy! - a lot of people stand in the middle of the street that day!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Bob and compu-smart. Patty, Before I retired in 2000 our newspaper put together a basketball team from our old editors and managers to play a game against the senior ladies basketball champs (I actually have a video tape of the charity event.) Our team was called The Hour Newsies. although the police chief and superintendent of schools were starters on the team. (We won!)


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 9 years ago from Sydney

Love reading your Hubs, even though some of the politics is lost on me (I'm an Aussie). It's the quality of writing - you can tell you're a professional writer. Being just on the wrong side of 50, I have no trouble identifying with this particular Hub, though!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I'm glad you enjoy my hubs, Marisa. Thanks for your kind comments. Everything I write comes from heart. They say one person can make a difference -- I'm trying to do my part.


Mr. David 7 years ago

Yes in the 'good old days' where men were men and women... well you could ignore them as much as you wanted and they would still bring you dinner. When you could spit on a black person or even beat them and call them that ever so fun word that is so taboo now. Man, I wish I could go back to the good old days and make homosexuals feel inhuman and remind myself that being white and male is the way to be. I could laugh at difference as much as I wanted. Oh the good old days. And as for living in the 50s, at least I didn't have to be 'politically correct' jeeze, if I want to slap the ass of my secretary, subjugate blacks, immigrants and gays, I should be able to. You are 100% RIGHT, I wish we still lived in the past. It would be SWELL. Rise up and take back white bread suburbia for ALL (excluding blacks, gays, immigrants, anyone not white or conforming to the idea of patriarchy). I applaud you and your effective criticism of this 'ridiculous' modern day society. You sir are a saint.

Bing Crosby RULES!!!!!!!

(Oh and Gunga Din is the BEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME. I like the part where they kill all the In..(oh just to live in the past for a moment) Sandniggers.

I hope one day you build a time machine so we can all go back to the 50s and hate on non whites and women.

God Bless.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

No doubt about it, Mr. David, the good old days left a lot to be desired. The history of the world is rife with shameful prejudice and violence. If you look at the state of the world today, I'm not sure that we've made much progress in this regard. I can only hope that all of us will make every effort to right the wrongs of the past -- and present. At the same time, each of us is obliged to make the most of our lives in the face of adversity. We are also obliged to work toward achieving equality for all. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let's make the "good old days" good for everyone. If you think we can't, I say what President Obama says: "Yes, we can!"


Putz Ballard profile image

Putz Ballard 6 years ago

The good old days were tough but to be honest they probably were the best of our lives. Each day of our life is a gift from our Creator measured in time and since we are not promised tommorrow, we must make the most of our today.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

The good old days were tough for most people, Putz, I agree. But close, friendly neighborhoods -- which exist only rarely today -- made up for a lot of hardships. The friends and neighbors we had then had to leave the neighborhood to seek work many miles from home, breaking up family unit and scattering former neighbors. As bad as the factories may have been, they provided jobs and stability for many. Today, families and friends are badly separated by geography and income disparity. Change is needed.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India

Hi William - quite a bit of nostalgia there! Yes. there is a sadness with the passing of old ways but is it because we are getting more reflective and sentimental? At least we have the memories!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

There's definitely nostalgia there, Shalini Kagal, nevertheless I still believe society has been going in the wrong direction for the past several decades. Both our social and economic systems are flawed, I think, causing unnecessary international tensions and poverty and homelessness here at home. We need to do better. But, as you say, we'll always have the memories.


DTR0005 profile image

DTR0005 5 years ago from Midwest

Brilliant!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you, DRT0005.


Lori 3 years ago

Well my Dear Bill,I truly need to let you know my amazement of your wonderful writings and of course your intelligence (not like me...lol) I am so thrilled you sent me your HUB, I am tickled Pink Love it,and as you brought out we get nostalgic (sorry about my spelling) as we age, my favorites are Feankie Lain, sinatra,andrew sisters,Nat king Cole..Aww hell all of the wonderfuill singers from way back when, So A Very Special Thank Youfor all the enjoyment you have given me,especially the rough(est) time in my life.You remind me of my late hubby

Same age and so onbto earth and helpful,sharing all your wonderful knowledge,bringing back such wonderful memories, as a One time Graphics artist, (still dabble)my buiness cards read

"Only Memories Last Forever"

Thank You Mr. Bill,you ever need photos/or repair of photos ( old photos

I love working with) just yell for me.

You are very special !!!!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 3 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

You are too kind, Lori. I'm glad that you enjoyed the great old music -- and special thanks for the offer regarding repair of old photos. You are special, too.


Sue 2 years ago

I grew up on Woodworth Ave. in the 40's also. Had the best times.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 2 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

It sure was wonderful along the Hudson in Yonkers, Sue. I lived at 142 and 156 Woodworth. Only two years ago my best friend from Yonkers, who lived on the floor below us at 142 Woodworth, made contact again after not seeing each other since 1952. It's a wonderful world.


Patricia Fennessey Cala 9 months ago

I now live in Silicon Valley, CA. And when I happened upon the fact that there were old pictures. And I could see what my mother and father lived near. I had to look obituaries to find old friends.

I went to BSA on Park. Found out through your posts that the school was actually owned by the Flagg family. In BSA at that time, one of the students was Maryanne Flagg. They were a family of 12 and lived in the castle at the top of Broadway / Park Hill. There was an elevator that moved travelers from Broadway to the train, that used to move from the Professional Building, stop at Flagg's Castle and then towards NYC.

I saw that the elevator has gone and so has the train.

It was not an elevator but I can't think of the name it would be called.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 9 months ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks for commenting, Patricia. A while back I saw a photo of an "elevator" near Getty Square but I've been looking but haven't been able to find it. I remember seeing the Putnam RR bridge over New Main Street in the '40s. I love railroads (and trolleys) and I've written two or three columns on the subject back when I was a reporter/editor for The Hour newspaper. In fact, I've read recently where NYC is proposing trolleys in some areas -- and I'm hoping Yonkers will follow suit.

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