Yesterday marked my visit to Ridgewood, a neighborhood in Queens, New York where I grew up. This area was important to the development of Sunnyville Stories.
This stretch of road right by my former home is Traffic Avenue. My own former home was situated right by here. Traffic Avenue lived up to its name; factories here sent out trucks throughout the week, occasionally causing damage to our property.
This street you see here is the street I used to live on in the 1980s. Grove Street was important to Sunnyville’s development. It was during my time here the seeds for Sunnyville were planted. I explained in the origins of Sunnyville that I was used to having everything I needed in the immediate area and a move to a rural area was a jarring experience. Getting back to what I said before, I was lucky to have exposure to many cartoons of the 1980s as well as cable television while I lived in Ridgewood. The cartoons of the 1980s, especially to Maple Town (the inspiration for Sunnyville), were integral components to Sunnyville’s creations.
This building you see here is Public School #71 of Ridgewood. I went to elementary school here. It was definitely a much more innocent time back in those days – nowadays, New York City public schools always have armed police officers inside with the authority to arrest students at the drop of a hat!
Moving on with my discussion, I had a teacher here who taught me something that remains with me to this day. I was always taught to think of unusual ideas. That remains with me and helped in the creation of Sunnyville. I wanted to do something that was more innocent and fun as opposed to the cliche storms of superhero comics or the rebellious, anti-establishment attitude of many small press/underground comics that I saw at the time. Why not do something very different?
This building you see here is the Ridgewood branch of the Queens Public Library. I made many visits here as a child. Here, I read many books on all kinds of different subjects of fiction and nonfiction. On top of that, I used to come here in the summer. One of the fun activities they had here during the summer was showing film adaptations of famous stories such as Frog and Toad and Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears.
It was nice to see Ridgewood again as it was once my home and also important to the development of Sunnyville Stories. At the same time, it felt sad to see how much everything had changed. The population of Germans and Italians who used to live there have largely been replaced by Slavic peoples such as Poles and Romanians. Much of what I remember is gone. On top of that, gentrification is happening slowly but surely in Ridgewood which is something that is common throughout New York City.
Things have changed a lot.