Until I was 10 we lived in a housing project in Queens. Filled with young families, Pomonok was often a way-station of a five to ten years before affording a home in the suburbs. It wasn't bad; in fact, I remember enjoying the ready availability of friends to play on the huge lawns we were not supposed to set foot on, and being able to walk to school.

My elementary school, PS 201 ("what are the colors of 201? Red and yellow!" they'd have us sing in assembly), abutted a city playground, which the school used for morning line-up and recess. In addition to basketball and tennis courts, the park had an odd, small, recessed concrete-filled basin of sorts with sprinklers for little kids to cool off in the summer that became a small ice skating rink in winter.

I was voracious reader. All through elementary school, when my parents presumably thought I was asleep, I was actually reading under the covers with a flashlight. Thinking back, I have no idea where I'd gotten a flashlight from, or where I hid it when I wasn't using it. When the lights (and flashlight) were off, and the room dark, I'd look up at the corners of the ceiling above the foot of my bed.

There, in each corner, I'd see putti. Or their shadows, anyway.

Not full-bodied putti, by the way-- just the head-with-wings kind. (As a Jewish child, my exposure to putti was limited so I assume this visualization was based on -- who knows-- something in art books or museums. Or maybe in the housing project we simply had low-income or discount putti.) And every time I got up to look closer, teetering on the mattress as high as my toes could manage, the putti would promptly disappear.

I found this behavior highly annoying. Especially as they'd re-appear once I'd lay back down on my bed.

From the angelic realm to urban grit... next I'll post about SKELLY, the game we played on the asphalt.