City Lore: Splendor at Last

Peter Osnos, The New York Times, Sept. 12, 2004

A troop ship transported my parents across the Pacific, and in the spring of 1944, they arrived by train in New York. My parents were in their late 30’s, my brother, Robert, was almost 13. I was still in a basket, barely 6 months old, with an Indian birth certificate that declared “Caste: Polish.”

My parents found an apartment in the Belnord on 86th Street and Broadway, another fabulous neo-Classical stone pile that had started to get a little shabby. The rent was about $125 a month for seven rooms, split among three families, and some of the furniture came from the Salvation Army. But it was a great place to be a child. There was a large courtyard where bike riding and ball playing were permitted. Over time, the other people in our apartment moved out, and my parents, with what in retrospect seems like amazing equanimity, re-established careers and even bought a summer home on a lake in New Jersey. It is hard to believe that they were barely a decade from their harrowing escape.

“The Belnord was a great place to be a child.”

Peter Osnos

Read the full articles in The New York Times

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