If you’re from Jamaica Queens there’s a few things that defined your child hood existence. I’m sure a lot of these things cross generations, but I was teenager in the 90’s so some of these may have that 90’s/ early 2000’s flavor.
The Q4, Q5 and Q85 was your bus unless you lived in Brick Town and you had to take the slower never coming Q42. We took dollar vans when they were really a dollar and had paper color coded bus passes instead of the fancy plastic stuff they give out now.
The last stop on the dollar van was Green Acres Mall Parking lot. And if you were going to Sunrise Movie Theater you walked through the hole in the gate that was a short cut for like nearly two decades before they decided to lock it.
Us Jamaica Queens kids spent our summers riding our bikes in packs down the back blocks of Linden, Merrick, Sutphin, Foch, Springfield and Baisley Boulevards. We ate free lunch and made frequent daily trips to The Store. 50 cents pickles, 25 cents bags of chips, and 5 cent sour powers were our staples. Oh and how could I forget Beef Patties & Coca Bread. If you wanted hips that was what you ate with determination. We ordered Hero’s not Subs because they rescued our hunger and we brought Pizza by the slice for $1.25. Bikes were always left on the sidewalk but you chanced not having a bike if you took too long get back outside, so I guess even back then the struggle was real. Dirty waters or street vendor hot dogs were $1.00 and they were mainly found on Jamaica Ave or the Ave where your mother dragged you to Buster Browns to get school shoes if you went to catholic school like me or to Cookies to get uniforms. Gertz was another place on The Ave that you frequented and Wool Worth was still around but you remember it vaguely. Your mother or grandmother could remember when The Colosseum was Marcy’s and the train ran overhead. The Regency House was the fanciest hall I remember going to as a kid, and to my four and five year old eyes; it felt like a real life castle.
Getting into high school was just as strenuous as getting into college, and you had to ride at least one bus or a train if not two or three to get there. If you wanted to front like you was about your school business you went to Jamaica’s Main Branch Library to pretend study. You’d spend like thirty minutes there, before hopping on the train or jumping the turn style all the while praying 17 Hail Mary’s that the transit cops didn’t bust you.
If you weren’t the child of an immigrant you had at least 5 friends who were and if they didn’t speak a different language they definitely spoke one of the many Caribbean patois when you went to their house for dinner. (According to The NY Daily News Queens is the most diverse neighborhood on the planet)
Your friends had nick names like Stinkie, Spoonie, Black Jesus and Chicken Wing. As a teenager walking down The Colosseum block on The Ave was the cool thing to do. Oh and you never walked in the middle. Your JanSport book bag had dozens of strings which you slid off of other people’s book bags while standing cramped on the city bus like sardines.
That lady with blond dreads that stood in Jamaica station shouting Black Soap, Shay butter had a booming voice and baby smooth skin that made her as legit as they came. In High School you were a fiend for Margarita’s Pizza and your jeans were baggy whether you were a boy or a girl. Oh and the baby hair… Slicked down baby hair, name plates and name rings were like badges of honor that you and your friends definitely wore while making up dances after school and on the weekend.
When you went to Times Square you always traveled with a group of at least five and Bar Code was the spot to chill at.
We loved Tupac but bumped Biggie It Was All A Dream cause he was true to NY. Brooklyn got all the props and everyone wanted an outer borough relationship after LL Cool J’s Doing It. Lil Kim’s Hard Core was like an anthem, but Queen’s artist like Lost Boys were actually seen in the hood and made you proud to be a Queens head.
You and your girls always had madd gossip and every time you got up with them, the conversation started with a
“Girl let me tell you!!”
We used words that are now distant street slang memories, like: Word, Hype, Feigning, and Phat…
Queens is like the suburbs of the five boroughs and growing up there you had all the benefits of city living but with a yard and plenty of back blocks to play on till the street lights summonsed you indoors. That’s my word; “I wouldn’t trade my Jamaica Queens roots for nothing”!
About the Author
Nefretiti A. Morant is a wife, mother, blogger and author who has always possessed a love for the written word. In 2012 Nefretiti decided to pursue her passion for writing. She started a poetry blog which has evolved into a popular site for inspirational writings on pursuing your dreams and believing in one’s self.
The Queens native graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology from The University of Pittsburgh. Using her knowledge of human behavior Nefretiti builds life like characters, that entertain in colorful prose. Her punchy, page turning literature offers entertaining reading with a flair for the dramatic.
Nefretiti’s inspiration for writing comes from her belief in positive thinking and her desire to inspire individuals from all walks of life.
Nefretiti currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two children, but she’s adamant that she will always be a Queens girl at heart.
For more information visit the website : https://nefretitim.net/