Samantha Berkley is a writer, teacher, and musician living in Brighton Beach. She has also worked as an oral history interviewer for the Coney Island History Project.
Right around the time my Grandma Nettie began to lose her memories, I became a scavenger, unearthing the mysteries of my neighborhoods lost past.
She smiled with braces and not with her burgeoning teenage lips. She flapped her hands in class like an anxious toddler about to try something new. Cynthia is twelve with hairy armpits; she’s not a kid anymore. But she speaks in baby tones to me and says things like, “Ms. Berkley, can I tell you something?”
Back in the 1980s, Brighton Beach had a little league field where mostly American Jewish boys and girls from the neighborhood played. I was one of those girls—there were three of us—and a star pitcher for my team. The field was snuggled between a synagogue and a pre-war building.