Yet, they all still call Woodhaven home. They love talking about the old neighborhood and sharing memories of how things used to be.
You can mention certain name and places and the stories will start flowing. Lewis' of Woodhaven. The Forest Park Carousel. Anniversary Day Parades. Rich Haven Little League.
Woodhaven has, and will forever, remain close to their hearts.
One former resident started off 2019 by returning to her hometown to visit friends and family. Marie Isabella spent more than a half-century in Woodhaven before moving to New Jersey a few years ago.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy where I am,” she told me after she returned from her brief trip to Woodhaven. “But I miss Woodhaven. I miss my friends on 92nd Street.”
Former neighbor Janet Forte described Isabella as the ultimate Italian-American mom who was always cooking and socializing with neighbors.
“It was like she never left,” she said. “She came in, sat down at our table, and we all picked up conversation like she had never moved.”
Isabella spent the afternoon catching up with friends and neighbors and reminiscing about old times on 92nd Street.
“We used to have a lot of block parties,” she said. “There was lots of neighbors going back and forth to each other’s houses. All our kids grew up together, played together and went to school together.
“And everybody used to help everybody,” Isabella added. “If you needed something, if you needed an aspirin, you could go to your neighbors.”
A favorite pastime was gathering on a neighbor’s stoop, having coffee and cake, watching the stars, and enjoying each other’s company.
In other words, just being neighborly.
It’s not something you see very often here in Woodhaven these days, is it? Forget about block parties, how about neighbors just getting together to chat?
How often do you talk to your neighbors? A nod and a grunt doesn’t count, I’m talking about a real good conversation.
How many of us even know our neighbors' names? How can we be expect to “love thy neighbor” when we don’t even “know thy neighbor”?
When you hear people pine for the good old days, these are the kinds of things that they miss the most.
Isabella’s visit back to Woodhaven lifted the spirits of her former neighbors.
“Marie was a staple in the neighborhood,” Forte said. “She was well loved and when they moved, everyone kept in touch.”
As for how the neighborhood has changed, Isabella said she wasn’t gone long enough to notice any significant changes.
“Loving one another is still the same, isn’t it?” she asked. “People still enjoy being with people. I love it here and I’m glad I came back.”
Isabella enjoyed her visit back to the neighborhood so much that she’s decided to come back for this year’s Annual St. Thomas Rummage Sale.
“For years I volunteered at the rummage sale,” she said. “That was a lot of work but a lot of fun. I’m going to come back this year, stay in Woodhaven a few days and volunteer at the rummage sale.”
You can take Isabella out of Woodhaven but it looks like you can’t ever take Woodhaven out of Marie’s heart.
Do you know of any residents we should spotlight here in this column? Maybe someone with an interesting story or background or interesting talent?
Please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.