Kew Forest is its name. A residential tree-shaded, narrow street three blocks long. It was my crucible, the center of my canvas in the neighborhood of my mind. We lived on the edge of Kew Gardens and Forest Hills. Hence the name, Kew Forest. Lifted from the British Kew of Botanical Gardens, there were no such gardens here nor were there any forests or hills.
A few steps from our apartment house was my father’s corner drugstore, named Kew Forest Pharmacy, the vapors of which still reside in my nostrils. That special mingling of perfume, egg salad or tuna from the sandwich board and crude drugs seeping out of apothecary jars can never again be replicated.
Against the outer wall of the store I spent many innings of my childhood throwing tennis balls or pink Spauldeens in a simulated ballgame of which I was batter, fielder and ump. Over time I beat a portal through that wall and took my father’s place.
All this was recently brought back to mind by, of all people, Donald Trump. It seems that for two years he attended Kew Forest School, now a blemish to the street of my memory.
Directly across the entrance to my building was the private school. I never set foot inside. My school was first P.S. 99 and later a public high school. Kew Forest School took up an entire block most of which was a grassy field, the perfect park for us kids. From age 8 to 21 we scaled that chain-link fence dozens of times to play touch football or softball.
One day I went over with my buddy, Johnny Kassabian. He was holding a knife in his hand for some Boy Scout project. The blade went through his arm decommissioning two fingers. Out of this I learned the technical name for the nerve damage, Palmar fascia aponeurotic expansion of the palmaris brevis. It marked the beginning of my love for language.
The snooty students would frequent my father’s store. Many took booths, ordered drinks from the twelve-seat soda fountain and sat for hours with two straws nursing a cherry coke.
I missed Donald by a few years but I can see him commanding his peers on the baseball diamond, hurling insults at the opposing team having learned a life of privilege and posturing behind that fence.
Though he has now become part of that street of many returns I won’t let him tarnish my Edenic tableaux. Yet into each garden a little rain must fall.
He is a reminder how I once stole a broomstick from the basement of my apartment house for a stickball bat and of my many trespasses climbing over the Kew Forest fence. And didn't I boast and lie and sneer back then more than once? I'm sure of it. That was the Donald Trump in me. I can't recall ever winning at Monopoly, stuck for the most part at Baltic and Mediterranean while Donald was building hotels at Park Place and Boardwalk.. on the other side of the fence.