Every so often we are lucky enough to be hired to provide a Nostalgia Tour – a trip down memory lane for old school New Yorkers who have long since moved away. Matt recently got a chance to spend the day with a wonderful family – the Braverman / Blumenthals from San Antonio, who was returning to Brooklyn to celebrate the family matriarch’s Phyllis Braverman’s 80th birthday.
Both Phyllis and her husband – Dr Shelly Braverman grew up in Brooklyn – Shelly grew up in a couple of different apartments on Ocean Parkway in the Flatbush neighborhood (today’s Kensington) and Phyllis grew up near Mill Basin. He went to the legendary Erasmus Hall HS, she went to James Madison. They fell in love while watching movies at the recently restored Loews Kings Theatre on Flatbush Ave, and they got married at he Brooklyn Jewish Center on Eastern Parkway.
Shelly and Phyllis Braverman with their family outside the Brooklyn Jewish Center
We went to all of these. However, the highlight of the tour, without any doubt, was getting inside both Shelly and Phyllis’ childhood houses! As we were staring up at Shelly’s childhood apartment home, and as Shelly was pointing out his bedroom window, the kinder-than-kind super of the building overheard us, mentioned that he lives in the ground floor apartment with the exact same layout as Shelly’s childhood home, and would we like to come inside and take a look? Would we?!? So we did. A very friendly Russian wife and daughter were more than gracious, even offering a baked savory pie when we toured their home. (We declined.)
Shelly and Phyllis Braverman getting a tour of her childhood home!
The other, most amazing experience was that once we arrived at Phyllis’ childhood home in Marine Park, we introduced ourselves to the gaggle of Modern Orthodox children playing on her former front porch. Once we explained that Phyllis hadn’t been here in 70+ years, once again, we were ushered inside the house by the gregarious matriarch of the family. Phyllis went room to room, pointing out where her bed was, where they listened to the radio, where her family sat around the table for dinner talking and enjoying the bounties of Brooklyn. The current occupant of the home quipped “So, not much has changed!” Laughter and tears of joy all around.
Look at that happy couple!