Date: January 01, 2013 09:53PM
This is amazing to read. I had never heard of "Monoxide Island" but I laughed out loud when I read "the apartment building in the middle of the street that you drive around". Before they split the street, which I think was shortly after 1960, 55th was a normal street with a lot of commerce. On the SE corner of 55th and Woodlawn was Finnegan's pharmacy. Its old-fashioned marble soda fountain counter is now in the Museum of Science and Industry---you can get an old-fashioned sundae there on weekends. Walking east and on the north side of 55th you came to St Thomas' Church and to the A&P, where I shopped every week. Back to Woodlawn and walking west, there was a bar called The Compass where a lot of famous comedians got their start, including Mike Nichols an Elaine May, and Shelley Berman, among others. Tw0 blocks north of 55th, 53rd was also commercial, moreso than now. At Woodlawn, NW corner, was a small dime store with an old lady attending who sat in there day in and day out. I remember the merchandise she sold and probably all of it is now collectible. As you walked east on 53rd the stores got bigger and more elegant. Some sold the latest fashion, Danish Modern furniture. The park that is there now, wasn't. The original Co-op was on 57th (that was 1953, 1954), and a drug store called Stern's with a tree outside where everybody hung messages, and a lot of bookstores, and a restaurant called Continental Gourmet where a 3-course dinner for two cost $5.