Hester Street Chronicles

Mary Polon recounts a story from her childhood as a Polish-Jewish immigrant in New York, involving two calamitous trips to Coney Island, her mother’s ingenious hiding place for her prized “screws,” and a lifelong feud with their downstairs neighbor.


Mrs. Polon lived at 88 Hester Street, in New York, which used to be the center of an Ashkenazi Jewish neighborhood, but in recent years the street has become part of Chinatown.  Today, the tenement and the fire escapes that Mrs. Polon describes in the video have become Chinese storefronts:

88 Hester Street, New York, today

Go to Media Burn to hear more about Hester Street, including stories about a second husband who was so large they couldn’t close his coffin, a rotund mother’s mid-life decision to parade around in a bikini, a wintertime nude race up a fire escape, a hooker with a heart of gold (sort of), and more.



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