A Note from the Author
Throgs Neck is the Bronx beyond the IRT, or Interboro Rapid Transit as native New Yorkers used to call the numbered subway lines. It lies between the Throgs Neck Bridge and Pelham Bay Park, the last stop on the number 6 train. My family moved there from the south Bronx in the late sixties, when the “Neck” was still an Italian and Irish working class enclave. There were few Jews, fewer Protestants, no blacks, too many wise guys and four Catholic churches. All within a three mile radius. My mother was the first Puerto Rican in the neighborhood.
I am descended from three immigrant waves that made the Bronx their home across a hundred years spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: German and Italian on my father’s side and, of course, Puerto Rican on my mother’s. While they spoke different languages, they shared the same Catholic faith. So the Catholic churches in the Bronx provided a natural community for these immigrants coming to America to escape poverty and oppression. With each wave, the church changed languages. The Catholic parochial school my great grandmother attended conducted classes in German. The pastor in the church where my father and I were baptized spoke Italian and little English. When we buried my Puerto Rican Aunt at that same church in the early 2000s, the priests and congregants spoke only Spanish.
I’ve lived and worked in New York City all my life. I attended college here, earning my graduate and undergraduate degrees at New York University in Greenwich Village. Since leaving my parents’ house in the Neck, I’ve resided in various Brooklyn and Manhattan neighborhoods. These days, I live in the Bronx again, this time a few blocks from Yankee Stadium. Immigrants continue to make the Bronx their home for many of the same reasons my ancestors did. But now they come from Bosnia, Senegal, Pakistan, Mexico, Ethiopia, Russia, the Ukraine and too many other places to name. Here they join African Americans, long-time Bronxites whose American roots date back to 1619 and beyond. They are all my neighbors. Everyday, I hear a wonderful variety of languages and dialects, a feast for a poet-playwright.
While some of the writings on this site may not be regional in setting or content, they all draw images and language from the Neck, where I return frequently to see family.
Eugene A. Melino, Oct. 14, 2022
Author website here