Monday, April 9, 2012

The Stoop, Part II

My stoop, after a big snow.

"Susan Says..." is still out in the field, so here's the second installment of "The Stoop." I hope you enjoy it and look forward to seeing you with a new post on Thursday...

First kisses, games, performances of popular music of the day--I am not the only one who enjoyed and, subsequently, treasures the memories of a special stoop. I may, however, be the only one to have made a gruesome discovery on a trip back to my old house.

On a sunny day, a few years after the brownstone of my youth was sold by my aunt, I packed up my two boys to visit the old neighborhood. I had moved out of New York City but occasionally returned to my old stomping grounds to visit, shop and buy a specific pastry only found in the local bakeries (something heavenly I always called a "chocolate bell"--a moist, rich hunk of chocolate cake topped by a dollop of chocolate cream and totally enrobed in dense, shiny chocolate ganache---in the shape of a bell.The chocolate bell is, perhaps, the greatest invention of mankind edging out penicillin and the light bulb by a crumb) and gaze lovingly at the exterior of my old house and, of course, actively hate the new people inside.

On this fateful afternoon, I pull into the spot by the fire hydrant directly in front of the house and look upward only to get one of the most extreme shocks of my life as well as a whole new reason to hate--and plot to murder--the people now occupying my former address. Brace yourselves, stoop lovers--the stoop was gone.


Completely. Lopped off. No more. In it's place was a paved parking spot. Gone, also, was the silver maple I had planted when I was four and which had grown into a magnificent shade tree. Gone was the small garden with the mock orange bush. Gone were the four o'clocks, the irises, the wild chives and the clumps of purple violets. Gone.

The front of the house had been redone entirely. The only entrance was on the ground floor now. I think I blacked out because I, literally, don't remember what happened next. It must have involved some form of hysteria because I had black trails of mascara running down my cheeks and the kids were screaming.

My stoop was gone. The lions, gone. Where were they? In a dump? Their granite faces staring at nothing from the bottom of a mountain of refuse. I am feeling faint just writing this.

The house is like a body without a head now. I still visit the street and sit sadly in front. Yes, I believe in progress. And, yes, I know the value of a place to park but to remove a stoop is a criminal action. I am too scared to ring the bell and try to talk to the monsters within so I just sit and think awful thoughts about them. Often my grown sons accompany me. Only the older of the two ever played in that now-spectral front yard but both share my sense of loss.

Even in its wildest dreams, my stoop never imagined an internet that would host its tribute. I will return again to sit and hate the people who removed it and then drown my sorrows in a chocolate bell...or three.

I will also enjoy my memories--when my block was the most beautiful place in the world and I was the ruling princess of an artfully built structure made of limestone and sandstone known by the term "stoop." To exist in memory is not such a bad thing, I suppose....especially when the memories are as good as mine.


  1. Aww... that sucks. I know when my parents visited Long Island recently they took pictures of the house I grew up in. My father built it. One of our Christmas trees was planted in the front yard and grew quite big before we left our Maple Avenue house. Now to find, all our big Rhododenron bushes under the windows were dug out, hopefully not trashed but replanted somewhere. Our tree was chopped down.. gone. My grandparents lived next door and all their bushes gone too. At least to the other side of us was my great grandparents house and the one big old tree, thank God still remains standing. Growing up on Long ISland was like the country almost back then. I remember my mother saying city people are moving in. City people are the ones who change things and rip up shrubs and cut down trees. I often wondered why these people moved out there in the first place if they didn't like the shrubbery or trees... why didn't they stay in the city? Like your lions and stoops... why would people want to destroy beauty? Who are these people? I don't mean to sterotype "City people" but it was a phrase used back then. My front stoop wasn't very big, but lots happened there. It was where you sat waiting for someone to come out to play, it was a way of being outside and part of the action even if you weren't allowed to get off due to being punished. It was where I waited for my dad to come home from work. It was where I sat and cut off the end of string beans in a bowl and out of a brown paper bag. It was where my mom came and sat and surprised me with an evening purse to go with my dress for a dance. I put on my skates there with the silver key to tighten them and where Donny the boy down the block showed me his pee pee... lol. Ahh... the good ole days! Love you!

  2. What kind of a lunatic would get rid of a *stoop*?!?!?! Suppose they went to sell the brownstone someday, who's going to want a brownstone without a stoop?!?!?! And you can't just rebuild a stoop - nobody knows how anymore! Isn't the neighborhood protected by some kind of Historic District thingummy?! As for parking - whaddaya live in Brooklyn for, nitwit?! Take the subway!! You want a car, rent one!! (See, this is the kind of anonymous note you need to leave for the new vandals, I mean owners. It will be good for your soul, and will spell it out for anybody who is too half-witted to realize the value of a real, honest-to-goodness STOOP.)

  3. I have to say that the reason that I am here is because I did a search for chocolate bells. I live out west now and no one knows what they are. Thanks for remembering. I was beginning to think I had only imagined them. LOL!
    I am sorry about your old stomping ground. That is heartbreaking. I can only imagine what my old neighborhood looks like now.