The old saying says "You can't take the New Yorker away from anyone who as born and raised in the Big Apple". This past weekend, was living proof as I spent the day on Sunday at a familiar and iconic amusement park best known as Coney island to all. I was invited to mingle with some members of a cherished group I belong to on Facebook which focuses on reminiscing about "The Classic 39 Honeymooners episodes". An elite 8 from "328 Chauncey Street" (The Kramdens and Norton's home address in the beloved series) mixed it up reciting dialogue from each episode and "The Grand High Exaulted Mystic Ruler" presented me with my official Racoon Cap, which I proudly wore during the golden moments we spent together.

This excursion also marked my first subway ride which took place prior to COVID-19. I embarked on the Brooklyn bound D train (Yes, I wore my mask while on board) for the one hour trip from 42nd Street and 6th Avenue and I found the crowd sparse for a usual Sunday morning as ridership is still not up to par due to the pandemic, but as cautious as I am, my arrival went without a hitch. It took a little longer than usual as the D line was re-routed southbound due to construction, but eventually it's final stop would be at Coney Island, an area I'm so familiar with since my youth. The last time I was there was back in May, 2019 as I spent the afternoon with Sonia, "my near & dear Yonkas gal" with another appearance on the horizon, to be announced.

A lot has changed as my vision of the legendary amusement park got smaller (is it my imagination, but when I frequented the friendly confines of Stillwell and Surf Avenues, there was not much to offer as opposed to my younger days. The important aspect was hanging out with "my fellow Racoons" as Andrea, my Honeymooners buddy from Cozumel, Mexico saw me from afar and ran over to greet me with a hug after not seeing each other for 3 years (her last visit to the ol' hometown). I was introduced to fellow group members as our first stop was "The Original Nathan's" (a traditional stop when you visit Coney Island) The culture shock was one of their famous hot dogs cost $5 (a far cry from when I paid a quarter to 50 cents in the good ol' days) but for one day, an exception was made and thanks again Andrea for covering the lunch time tab. I owe you one, sweetums!

Next up, a chance to hit the amusement park as half of us stayed on solid ground playing arcade games while the other half took a turn on the famous "Wonder Wheel". I am out of practice on Skee Ball, but we'll get it right some day. At least my skills on pinball STILL shine and then it was off to check out the haunted house (Spook-A-Rama) and we mixed it up with the bumper cars as this group of "full grown nuts" entered their second childhood and I confess: it was truly lots of fun to act like a kid again. Again, these rides were pricey as opposed to the days when i was really young, but when you're spending quality time with quality people, money is no object. You only live ONCE so embrace the opportunities when you can.

Amidst the cloudy, raw afternoon we headed for the famous boardwalk reciting Honeymooners dialogue with some raindrops falling from the sky which did NOT put a damper on our good time. The cover photo was taken at that particular locale and we even saw a crowded and packed beach as the city is trying to resume normalcy after being hit hard by COVID-19 last year. I was pleased to see my ol' stomping ground as vibrant as ever.

By 4:30 pm, the rain accelerated and we shifted over to an Italian restaurant where some of the best pizza I ever ate was served and we even demonstrated the difference between "an itsy-bitsy piece" and "a teensie-weensie piece" (another classic skit from one of our favorite episodes of The Classic 39). By 6 pm, the "hilarity" ended as we all went towards our respective destinations, even though we wanted to extend our get-together further. I'm sure "The Great One" himself, Jackie Gleason was smiling from up above as we all continue to keep his Ralph Kramden legacy alive each and every day.

FYI--A BIG thank you to Andrea as she gave me a copy of The Classic 39 on DVD for my birthday....Baby, YOU'RE the GREATEST! So I end this article with a WOO WOO (The traditional Racoon chant) to my fellow members and to YOU for reading about this memorable 8th day of August. Till we ALL meet again....AND AWAAAAYYY WE GO!!

(328 Chauncey Street members pictured in cover photo:

(FRONT: Joshua, Elaine and Stephanie  CENTER: Grand High Exaulted Mystic Ruler Carlos, Andrea, Ron and Dennis   REAR: Don and Christina. Absent from photo was Sarah who met up with us at dinner afterwards....You are ALL a TREASURE in my life!)

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