New York Tales from Curious Borough Dwellers

011 : Ken H. Judy at Coney Island, Brooklyn
Born 20th Century in Brooklyn, NY. Ken H. Judy currently works as a Software Developer. Why New York? I want to raise my daughter in a great city. He digs the following Gotham bits: Chelsea Market, how it draws you out of yourself, great city walks, living in history, the subway. He is, however, a bit miffed by summer smells; hot, hazy, humid; roaches and mice; cabs; subway platforms. For more info on Ken H. Judy you should send an email or visit http://judykat.com/ken.

image: Ken H. Judy

I glanced up to see another shape hit the sand.”

My wife, daughter and I went to Coney Island for perhaps the last ever summer weekend of Astroland[1]. We rode the Wonder Wheel for the first time. My daughter visited her favorite rides, including the kid coasters. She’s a screamer, and she flew down those gentle curves, her eyes on fire with excitement.

At dusk, we stepped onto the boardwalk. We’ve been here many times but I’d never noticed the boards themselves in such sad shape: lifting loose, broken, some even missing. We watched a hula hoop show time-warped from vaudeville and positioned as close as I ever want to be to the Karaoke that blasted from the gazebo across the way.

Soon, we wandered over to the beach to watch fireworks. We’d brought a blanket and decided to sit on the sand clear of the ropes strung out to protect us from the launch area. In one of those amazing coincidences, we ran into one of my daughter’s school friends camped nearby.

As the first explosions shrouded us in sulfur and smoke, I heard a boy ask his parents, “Are we going to die?” I laughed but glanced at the fireman stationed by the ropes about forty feet away.

My daughter loves fireworks but hates the blasts. She grabbed tight, and I covered her ears as we watched. She was afraid the explosions were going to hit us. I said something innocuous and parent-like to reassure her.

Then something did hit me, leaving a small, black smudge on my shoulder and a 2” burnt shard of thick cardboard in the sand next to me.

I glanced up to see another shape hit the sand. My daughter got this one right. Fragments of exploded shells were raining onto the crowd here on the beach and up on the boardwalk.

It occurred to me to move off but we stayed. I held my daughter close. No one else left either. In fact, this was the last of a weekly summer event[2]. Every Friday for months, New Yorkers had sat with their children in this same sand making this same decision. Living in New York changes your tolerance for small dangers.

referenced works

  1. In late-breaking October 2007 news, Astroland will be open for one more summer. New owner Thor Equities shrugged and decided not to shut the 1970s theme park down just yet. (Source: Associated Press)
  2. The fireworks were audible through much of Brooklyn on those nights, leaving many of us scratching our heads as we wondered about the obscure celebratory holidays that might have inspired the blasts.

location information


017That's when I knew I wanted to live in New York: in the midst of those fragile bralets and bodysuits.— Ling Ma

016The guns, we tell the police later, were black like ice.— Tara Deal

015...my own talisman against the folly of my youth.— Andrea Jarrell

014Y'all in a band'r somethin'?— Abraham

013Perhaps it was the lanky teenager with the bright red book-bag that made me think I saw Adam.— Carrie Teicher

012I remember flattening myself against the streaky windows of the PATH train like an insect.— Erin Fisher

011I glanced up to see another shape hit the sand.— Ken H. Judy

010Vibrating almost imperceptibly in the breeze like a woody tuning fork.— Rob Giampietro

009Then the jazz stopped and the radio said the war had started in the Middle East. — Roland Kelts

008Shirtless Boris Yeltsin’s skin reddens as he reads a book.— Michael Maiello

007Port Authority was there with open, non-judging arms.— Khoi Vinh

006His almost-loss was my almost- nonexistence.— Matthew Rand

005On the cold hard floor of the orphanage, I sang, longing for the day that they would come and rescue me.— Jen Egan

004He was a lawyer, after all.— Kristin Gardner

003The parking lot gate was open, and we ran in with the skateboard.— Lorraine Martindale

002We arrived on completely Russian streets, with Russian signs and a familiar rudeness.— Kseniya Melnik

001...the hourly clicking of Oxfords and high heels across the parking lot.— Tam Nomgum


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