Based upon his never ceasing love of his old neighborhood, retired Suffolk County Judge Edward Kiley recently put together a reunion of his childhood friends from the Bushwick Section of Brooklyn. Approximately sixty people, some from as far away as Florida, joined together for an early morning Mass at Saint Barbara's church on Central Avenue, where they were welcomed by both the clergy and the present parishoners of the site of their childhood religious foundation. One woman remaked, "The last time I was here in Saint Barbara's church was the day we got married." Members of the group walked around the cavernous church talking about childhood recollections of Forty-hours Devotion, First Communion, Confirmation, Father Ryder, Father Zimmer, and many others from the church.
Then, on the sunny Septmber Sunday, their coach bus rode up and down all of the streets and avenues as people shouted out with joy, "there's my old house," "that's where Skeep used to live," "Oh no, my house is gone," and "...there's Grove Street park where we spent so many days." As the bus traveled along Palmetto Street someone called out, "Look...up there...it's Bushwick High School!." As the bus continued on, the members of the group spoke of stick-ball games with "three sewer shots," of old movie theaters, LaRosa's bakery, neighbhood saloons, old sweethearts and of friends long gone. The average age of those on the return visit was about sixty-five to seventy and there were many tears shed during their return to Bushwick, some of sorrow, but many, many more of joy. Most of these former residents of the neighborhood had not been back for thirty or forty years and for many, this trip was truly a once in a lifetime return to their beloved Bushwick. Thank you Ed Kiley for putting it together and for your undying love of Bushwick.