Ridgewood, New and Used
It was strange to see Kredens in today’s New York Times Under $25 review since I only became vaguely aware of its existence three days ago. For three years I lived at the intersection of Fresh Pond Rd. and Woodbine St. where Kredens now stands. Despite my fondness for food, I very rarely ate in the neighborhood. The pickings were pretty slim, mostly pizza and fast food chains. I only regret never trying Bosna-Express, which now has an Astoria location, if I’m correct. For being a predominately Polish and heavily Eastern European area, that culture never surfaced in dining establishments as it has in Greenpoint.
This past Sunday I made my bimonthly or so trek to the Williamsburg-Ridgewood border for a Western Beef excursion. We rarely drive any farther up Metropolitan Ave., at least not since moving to Brooklyn a few years back. But we wanted to hit that big mess of a thrift store on Wyckoff Ave., off the Bushwick-Ridgewood border and decided to detour along Fresh Pond Rd.
I wasn’t even sure that the resale shop still existed because I hadn’t been in years. They used to have a greeting card section full of ‘70s get well cards and that Flavia crap that my grandma gets off on. The cards, which I still have about eight of because they’re so awesomely bizarre, aren’t quite like the touching ones on her website. Mine are for troubled children, as evidenced below. The adorable/disturbing owl was drawn by Rena Hunnicut of Borger, Texas who won a National Association for Retarded Citizens art contest. A treat from the same thrift shop.
Inside: If this happens to you, just remember that it's okay to smile and look away. It shows you have courage inside and that you believe in yourself.
Inside: thinking of you
By NYC standards, the space is sprawling, and hardly picked over, though with the eastern Williamsburg line of demarcation constantly expanding I’m sure it’s being encroached. I’ll admit there is a fetid quality to the store, it’s not suburban Goodwill shiny and organized or even at a Salvation Army level of acceptableness. The eerie back room stacked with plywood armoires and particle board TV hutches smells like something died or possibly relieved itself inside. But at least the junkiness keeps the scavenger spirit alive.
Fresh Pond hadn’t changed much, they did knock down a diner for a drive-thru Commerce Bank (apparently, Ridgewood hasn’t made the same upper middle class stink as Park Slope), Maasbach’s had been turned into another branch of the mediocre Corato’s Pizza. I’d always considered this corner of Queens the land that time forgot, and was pleased to see my notions weren’t being challenged.
What was new were a small handful of what seemed to be Polish restaurants, like all of a sudden residents had the same bright idea. I didn’t feel inspired enough to stop (admittedly, borscht, pierogies and the like aren’t in my top ten cuisine repertoire) but I couldn’t help but think how welcome these diversions would’ve been six years ago. I guess somehow the New York Times has also picked up on this new Polish food growth spurt.
Thankfully, the thrift store whose name I can’t recall, mostly because I’m not sure it has one, was still there. I was horrified by their “moving to a new location” signs in the front window, but James thought it was a ploy. Not me, what kind of ploy would that be? A barber shop had taken over the formerly adjoined space where all the paper ephemera existed like my much loved greeting cards. But the bulk of the space was intact.
Books and magazines have always been a favored section for me, but theirs is a messy set of poorly lit shelves hidden in the back. I could barely make out the titles on book spines, but I hit a mini jackpot with the periodicals. There was a pile of early ‘90s Gourmets, (some with mouse droppings stuck to the spines) that grabbed my attention. I like seeing who was writing at the time, and weirdly, almost none of the names rang a bell (Nina Simonds, Laurie Colwin and Gerald Asher, excepted). The oddest aspect was how damn dated everything looked, both the content and ads. Weird Victoriana clip art, shoulder pads, big eyebrows, big jewels, big hair—only twelve years ago?
Granted, it doesn’t take much to make me feel old, but the ‘90s are still pretty fresh in my mind. I was in college in the early part of that decade, art school nonetheless, and I don’t recall style, fashion and design being so…so, ‘80s. But I’ve always felt like the first three years of a decade still mimic their predecessors. We’re just now establishing the ‘00s. 2000 to 2003 totally belong to the last century.
Does this scream ‘90s to you?