Wayback Wednesday: Living by the Crack Park

The summer before last, when I was up in New York for my annual summer visit, Shannon and I drove past one of my old apartments in Troy, and I made her stop so I could take a picture. I had been thinking it might be fun to start posting photos of my past (that is, pre-blog) life here at some point, so I decided to grab a photo while I was in the neighborhood. It was almost six months later that I posted my first Wayback Wednesday post based off that idea – and yet somehow, a whole ‘nother year has passed and I still haven’t posted the photo that started it all.

And so, here it is:

To the immediate right of the alley, top floor...
To the immediate right of the alley, top floor...

This was my second post-college apartment, where I moved with Wendy and Marlene in the summer of 1994. I broke the lease on my first apartment to move in with them because this place was so cheap that even with the penalties I incurred I was still saving a ton of money. And by “so cheap” I mean: we paid less than $200 per month, each. For a three-bedroom apartment.

It will come as no surprise then, when I say the neighborhood was dicey. When I would tell people where I lived, they’d say, “Really? By the crack park?” Oh yes, really – on at least a couple of occasions I opted to drive around the block a few times before parking rather than interrupt the drug deal taking place on my front porch. (Though in defense of my ‘hood, I was double-shifting retail and waitressing gigs, which routinely got me home after midnight – it’s not like this was typical daytime activity or anything.)

In addition to perhaps being on the wrong side of the tracks, it was also a strange apartment. My bedroom (the top-floor window to the right of the alley) was so small it allowed only two feet of clearance around my full-size bed, not even enough room to open the closet door. I don’t really remember where I kept my clothes, since I don’t think my bureau fit either, but… well, it was a long time ago. The living room was all in shades of sea-foam green – carpet, walls, flowery drapes. There was, initially, no shower – just a giant claw-footed tub (to this day the best tub I ever had) – though our landlady did eventually install a shower head and wraparound shower curtain.

When I think about it now, I remember it as being dirty, not because we didn’t keep it clean, because we (mostly) did, but because it had an air of decrepitness and despair about it, in that way badly maintained older buildings often do. It was somewhere I wanted to make better – I even cut up some of the carpet at one point with an eye to fixing up the wood floors – but I lacked the resources (both money and knowledge) to do so.

As I’ve been writing this and briefly describing just the apartment and the neighborhood – not my life there – it has occurred to me why it’s taken a year and a half to share this photo: I have a lot (a. lot.) of emotions tied up in that place. It was everything that is awesome and awful about being 23 and learning to be an adult. Any memories I could share here would hardly even begin to tell the story.

But if I could spend about a week sitting on the floor drinking cheap wine and listening to “Exile in Guyville” on repeat, I could probably do it justice.


Random note: every time I attempted to type 1994 in this post, it came out 1194. It’s as if my subconscious considers this apartment so far in the dark recesses of the past that it might as well be in the Middle Ages.

Also: Strangely enough, the building looks neither more nor less crappy in this photo from 2010 than it did back in 1994. Wonder why that is?

7 thoughts on “Wayback Wednesday: Living by the Crack Park

  1. Shannon March 7, 2012 / 2:34 pm

    Steve “Mr. South Troy” was, and still is, amazed and horrified that you guys lived there given its proximity to Prospect Park. And then even more appalled that I spent more than several nights on occasion!

    Still, I have many a fond memory there….erm, things I will NOT go into on this blog. 😉 Sorry Mom! It really was part of a pivotal time in our lives.

    Yeah, I guess you did have to make me stop. Even in broad daylight, I was not fond of the idea of parking near the entrance to Crack Park.

    On a side note, wasn’t that on our way to North Adams and the Porches? That was a fabulous girls overnight trip. We need to go back and take Wendy with us!

  2. Eileen March 7, 2012 / 3:52 pm

    Sarah. This makes me think. Weren’t you, at sone point, going to do a series on all the places you’ve lived? I still think that’d be really cool.

    • Sarah March 7, 2012 / 7:05 pm

      I believe this would be one of those. It’s a very special, rare series. I need to go back and find the other one so I can at least start tagging them all the same.

  3. Shannon March 7, 2012 / 4:20 pm

    I’d be very curious (and hopefully a contributer) to read that as well!

    She might be interested to hear that our Colleen Rd abode is now under restricted access. Repeat main ruptures and now unstable hills surrounding the area thanks to Hurricane Irene have made Campbell Rd (the main road to access Colleen Rd) nearly impassable unless you live there. Glad we got pictures during that same trip where we took the Crack Park picture. I even think we got pics of Riverview and Valley View too…she should have them all by now! Just sayin’, wink wink nudge nudge.

  4. Mom March 7, 2012 / 5:00 pm

    I hope it’s okay for me to say that I am glad you don’t live there anymore and that you all survived the “growing” experience it afforded. 🙏 Amen.

  5. wendalicious March 7, 2012 / 8:37 pm

    Mom: for what it’s worth, I don’t remember any shady things happening there. Granted, I wasn’t there all the time (boyfriend in Schenectady), and I was also working full time. The worst thing I remember was our sketchy landlady. And that awful bathroom. And the washing machine and dryer in the kitchen. And the cats…

    The best things I remember? Probably not the place for those memories. But wine and pizza figured heavily into those days. I think 10,000 Maniacs said it best, didn’t they???

  6. Marlene March 7, 2012 / 8:52 pm

    I remember the neighborhood kids playing ring and run with our door bell. I guess it was rally easy for them to get away by the time we got to the door.

    It was my first apartment out of college and I loved the old building. It could have been a fabulous place, if it wasn’t so run down, with the built in china hutch and huge walk-in pantry. We had many good times there…

    On a side note, there was also a Catholic church across the street, right next to the park, and my dad was a deacon there for about a year whit I was in college. I remember going there with my parents a few times and the congregation used the park as a parking lot on Sunday mornings. I never saw any crack there on a Sunday, and I’m guessing my parents didn’t either or they would probably have freaked about us living there. Instead they were oblivious to what kind of neighborhod it really was.

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