Ellie's Brighton Beach Memoirs and Reunion

Saturday August 16, 2014

I spent the first 11 years of my life on West 22nd Street in Coney Island. At 11 my family moved to neighboring Brighton Beach for one year in what one would call a transition time after my UFO encounter in Nevada. From there we moved on neighboring Manhattan Beach where I spent the next 36 years until moving to Bay Ridge where I presently live. It's interesting that no matter where I moved - I always lived within one block of the Atlantic Ocean. I have fond memories of my life and times in Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach and the people I met along the way.

My memories of Brighton Beach take me to a basically Jewish community - immigrants from Russia and neighboring countries - hard working people who came here to build a good life for their families. The energies of Russian immigrants today often falls within those parameters, but Brighton Beach has a strong Mafia influence - similar to what you see on TV and films.

Moving to Manhattan Beach, I maintained friendships in Brighton, most of whom moved to the suburbs after marriage, allowing for another group of Russian immigrants to become part of Brighton's changing scene. I still have a few friends who remain in Brighton Beach - Sherry, Pat, and Lorraine for example - meeting this evening for laughs and a trip down memory lane.

Sherry and her family lived across the street from me on Corbin Place (photo above). The day Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc over much of Manhattan Beach and neighboring Brighton Beach - only Corbin Place - the block that separates the two neighborhoods - remained basically untouched without explanation.

Sherry and I reminisced about our life and times on Corbin Place where we raised our children. Her grandson, Daniel Meersand, 31, went to Hollywood and has had much success. His screenplay The Pyramid is scheduled to be released December 5, 2014, by 20th Century Fox.

Sherry lived two doors down from Darren Aronofsky's grandmother ... both families in my generation still living in the old neighborhood. It's interesting that Darren's first successful screenplay was Pi when he was Daniel's age - and Daniel's screenplay is The Pyramid. Interesting energies came out of Corbin Place indeed.

I know Pat Singer from the Brighton Neighborhood Association (BNA) where we worked on projects back in the day. At 74 she still runs the BNA currently involved with the annual Brighton Festival - Sunday August 24, 2014. We talked about the early festivals when I walked along Brighton Beach Avenue with friends and family sampling ethnic foods and buying interesting items from street vendors. Of course things today are not the same - the children of yesterday - becoming the parents of today - bringing their children to the festival. Below Pat shares her story about Brighton Beach when her ancestors came here from Europe, the beginning the BNA, and its festivals over 30+ years.