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Diving into sweet Ravenhall memories

This past Labor Day weekend was the most glorious one we’ve had in a long, long time, Saturday was perfect, as well as Sunday, which might surprise those of you in Brooklyn who went to the beaches in Coney Island on Sunday and left because of cool winds. Because DoubleTree is located in a valley in central New Jersey, the weather is often nicer than here in Brooklyn. Due to its closeness to Staten Island and Brooklyn, we often meet people whom we’ve known in the past, who long had left the old neighborhood.

Here is how Ravenhall got me together with some people I hadn’t seen or even thought about in 60 years. Ravenhall was the Summer Mecca for those living in the lower East side and Brooklyn. Now, unless you’ve been there, you would never know that Ravenhall Baths in Coney Island had the largest pool, four diving boards, a four-wall handball court, bar and restaurant,private beach, chinning bars, rooms and lockers and was located between Steeplechase and Washington Baths on Surf Avenue. $32 entitled two of you to season passes for admission to the park, steam room and showers, solariums, a locker room from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and had access to the beach.That was when the boardwalk was much higher, before they filled it in and bathers spread their blankets underneath it to get away from the hot sun while some perverts would enjoy looking between the cracks of the boards above them.

Floating in the middle of the pool I heard the word “Ravenhall.” I spent all of my youth at Ravenhall, going there daily on the subways from little Italy and not until the early fifties did I stop going, ironically, when I moved to within walking distance of it.

I swam over to where I heard “Ravenhall” and asked the ladies around the table, “Did anybody say Ravenhall? I was a lifeguard at Ravenhall.” Well, that broke the ice and everyone started reminiscing about Ravenhall and all the fun we all had there.When Joe Apples came over, his wife told him I had been a lifeguard at Ravenhall. He looked familiar and when I saw the two of them together I recognized them from Mulberry Street.Had my longtime buddies been there this weekend instead of the yearly reunion we had in May, it would have been old home week for all of them. They all lived on Mulberry Street in the 40s, some in the same tenement. Small world, isn’t it?Now Joey Apples lives near me in Bensonhurst.

Everyone in Ravenhall knew each other.I was in the same age bracket as Apple’s sister-in-law; Apples knew my cumpare Cookie, whose parents were in his age bracket and remembered them as great Peabody Dancers. Directly opposite the table was somebody else who looked familiar. He played Four-Wall Handball and knew a lot of people I knew who played the game. After 60 years I recognized him. This was Apples and his wife’s first time at the DoubleTree. When invited to come along for the weekend, he asked how much, and was told $159.He said to himself, that’s not bad -- $159 each for the room, surf and turf dinner and breakfast -- $318 for two.He almost toppled over when his friend told him that’s $159 per couple. “Wow, what a score, I just paid $30 for two buffet breakfasts alone%u2026how can you beat it?” To be continued%u2026”because little girls are smarter than boys.”

Screech at you next week!

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