Photo of Joey and Arlene seated on runningboard of 1940s car

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Scenes from My Life On Hemlock Street: A Brooklyn Memoir by Arlene Mandell

The Kiss


Many years before I saw Rodin’s splendid marble statue of lovers embracing, I experienced my own sublime moment. I was six years old and had just finished first grade. I also had my very own boyfriend, Joey.

In a photo album my father started when I was born, there’s a faded black-and-white snapshot of me and Joey sitting on the running board of my father’s 1937 Chrysler. Joey has a shy smile and straight brown hair. I have a shy smile and straight blonde hair. We are not touching.

On Hemlock Street, and probably everywhere in Brooklyn and the world, most boys were tough and nasty, but Joey was quiet and gentle. I remember how happy I was to have a boyfriend, and most of all, I remember The Kiss.

Arlene and Joey seated on running board of 40s car, 1947

My father and Mr. Schwartz, the milkman, were chatting on the front stoop. The sun was beating down on the brick steps. I could smell the coffee grounds Mrs. Parisi had just sprinkled around her rose bushes that were guarded by a black iron fence.

Joey walked up to me and stared into my eyes. He had a determined look on his face. He leaned forward and pressed his lips against mine for two or three seconds, right in front of my father and Mr. Schwartz! Then his suntanned face blushed dark red. I let out a little gasp and looked at my father to see if he was angry, but he was smiling.

I decided that kissing Joey was almost as good as eating a Creamsicle!

Before school started again in September, Joey and his family had moved to Long Island, which was as far away from Hemlock Street as California or the moon.

© Arlene Mandell, 2009

 
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Welcome to Hemlock StreetBlock PartyBuilding the Ferris WheelCrossing Pitkin Avenue • The Kiss • Invisible BabyAunt Minnie's Second WeddingMurder Inc.A Real Italian DinnerSleeping with Nettie SachsDuke Snider Breaks Our HeartsCherries in the SnowMy Thirteenth SpringNo Room of My OwnDeeply in LoveHangin' Out and Makin' OutResolutions Made and Broken