Crotona Park Lake

No, it didn’t freeze. What’s going on? We had cold weather for the last two weeks and the lake hasn’t I frozen, It was frozen, but to a depth where skating was not permitted. I’ll go to the Crotona Park Lake and see what’s going on.

While crossing cobble-stoned Boston Road, for good luck I made sure to step on the four trolley tracks at the center of the road. That should bring on a freeze.

Now I was alongside my alma mater, P.S. 61. Trotting along its raised playing field, a right turn onto Charlotte Street. led me to Crotona Park in the Bronx.

The monkey bars in the playground to my left beckoned, but it was too cold for bare fingers. Why bother? A short jog will bring me to the lake.

A “parkee” was turning a drill bit into the ice.

“How thick is the ice?” I shouted.

“Four inches. It’s not thick enough for skating. We need six inches,” he replied.

On my way home, I wasn’t concerned about tomorrow’s important spelling and math test. The lake wasn’t frozen that’s what bugged me.

When Dad came home he turned on the radio.

The German army, after defeating Poland was deep into Russia. This news was for older people, I was ten years old and I wanted the lake to freeze. But, at the end of the program came the good news, a cold wave was coming.

A few days later the lake froze. High above the boathouse’s flagpole, a white flag with a red circle at the center announced that skating was permitted.

I was prepared. Two pair of woolen socks, a sweatshirt, a windbreaker and I was off to the lake. All the skaters changed from their shoes into their skates at the benches circling the lake. My worn woolen socks were patched by my mother’s thick darning needle. Any color will do. As Jacob had his multi-colored dream coat, I had my multi-colored socks. This was an embarrassment for the best speed skater on the lake, so I changed from sneakers into skates at a stall in the boathouse bathroom. Laced up and gloves on, I stepped onto the lake on par with the crowd.

From a distance the shoes of my Hans Brinker-era figure skates appeared to be made of a beautiful suede leather, but as one approached, he realized that the nap on the leather had pealed over the eons leaving a rough surface. The blades were a ¼ inch wide thus allowing a learner to manage without turning an ankle.

In spite of all these impediments I wove through the skaters on the lake with gusto.

There was one kid I couldn’t stomach. Whenever I left my friends to scoot around the lake, this annoyance was right behind me. There was no problem in getting rid of him. After a few rounds around the lake, he dissolved into the crowd.

Now, how do I contend with this gale of a wind that had unexpectedly swept over the lake? Many of the skaters left soon after it had arrived.

With the wind at my back, I achieved a speed I had never experienced, but, when I made a turn, and I moved my legs, I remained fixed to the ice.

Time to go home. No, I wasn’t going into the stall in the boathouse to remove my patched socks, and slip on my sneakers.

I cleverly unlaced my skates, placed my fingers underneath the top of my sock and lifted my foot, leaving the sock in my sneaker. I left the lake for home on par with the crowd.

The year is 2018, I am in good health, and have a vigorous walk. I attribute this to my genetic inheritance and my annual trips to the frozen Crotona Park Lake.

 

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