The garden is a testament to Port Authority Police Officer Bruce Reynolds who gave has life so others might live on September 11th. This garden of tranquility is appropriately named for Bruce who, as a child, began tending to the undeveloped little plot of land. Under the careful tutelage and watchful eye of Bruce’s father, Jack Reynolds, the tradition continues to this day. In the spring the garden is literally teeming with activity as neighborhood volunteers plant, dig and prune as nature once again comes alive.
MyInwood.net reader Jane Guerra recently shared her childhood memories of working beside Bruce in the garden which now bears his name.
“I remember Bruce when he was underfoot as a kid, when we were teens working and sweating under Jack’s focused ‘stay on task’ eye. How we look back and love every minute of building and creating that Garden! How we look back and wish that we’d known about 9/11, a date thirty years in our future, a veritable eternity away, so that we could have grabbed a hold of Bruce and surrounded him in our arms, not letting him go anywhere. I worked there during the summer of ‘71, I believe it was. I was a student at SHM, the all-girl’s Catholic High School, the Garden’s backdrop. Jack Reynolds would have us go up to The Woods with wheelbarrows and we’d haul them full, stacked to the brim with wood chips, back to The Garden.
We used to take the A down to 125th Street to collect our City paychecks. Hey, forty dollars a week for a teen back then was gold. We met other kids from downtown who’d take the train up to work with us. It was there that I learned how to make ‘corn rolls’ on black kids’ hair. I loved those kids that we met and worked hard with there.
Of course there was no commute. The garden was across the street from my ‘house’ (apt.) in Isham Gardens, when the towers were still up on the roof-” The Castle” in which a lot of us kids were raised together, and remain like brothers and sisters to this day, no matter where we’ve traveled or where we’ve lived.
Jack worked miracles during those lazy, long days of summer in the 1970’s, using us and the ‘older teens’ as the original hard workers (i.e., Stevie Hanford and Dennis ‘Roach’ Mulford). There was no way we could have imagined what Jack, all along, had envisioned.
When we started, Bruce’s Garden was nothing but an empty lot full of dirt and broken glass. We stayed and worked until Jack’s vision was realized – we built The Well, put the stone bricks in there that line the little paths, planted all sorts of seeds, about which we had no clue, but ‘Jack says to just do it.’
‘Father What-A-Waste’ (because he was so good lookin’) Jack Abrams – one of many Paulist priests, used to come up from the Rectory in Good Shepherd to check up on us and give us encouragement. We stayed until it was completed, and we stayed as the first invitations for the public to visit went out. We also stayed to perform (playing our guitars) and invited guests to perform, for fundraisers. We stayed until we suddenly started to grow up, in the days before we’d all disappear from Our Inwood to go on with our lives.
Although many of us left, Inwood never did, and never will, leave us. God bless Bruce, his wonderful Dad, Jack, who did so much for a bunch of kids who didn’t have anything else to do that summer, and for you for starting this amazing website. We’ll be on this site, my family and I, since we are doing what we always felt we would do after living elsewhere for thirty plus years. We’re moving back to Inwood, come November ‘09. We’ll rent an apartment somewhere. It’s a little worn around the edges, Inwood is, to our comparative eyes, as we are, but it is still vibrant, still beautiful, still Home. To everyone who grew up there, and to everyone who lives there now and loves it, it is, nothing less than “My Inwood”. We each have a 100% share in its priceless stock.”
And the memories just keep rolling in:
MyInwood.net reader Gerri Zaiko, sent in the following photos taken in Bruce’s Garden in 1975. Gerri also sent the accompanying description:
There were kids from the Dyckman Projects and kids from Throggs Neck that were assigned to work with us.
Here is the first batch of pictures from 1975, when we had our own bi-centennial celebration. The woman who looks like an Indian, is Jack Reynolds wife Geraldine.
I do have pictures from 1976 when we worked not only in the garden but learned how to do silk screening down in the meat market. We held our own Bi-centiennial celebration up there. The memories I have could go on forever but I am leaving them there.
Thank you for bring back the sweet memories of a delightful childhood in a neighborhood of love.”
Author’s note: Jane and Gerri, thank you these thoughtful contributions to the website. If others reading have memories or photos they’d like to share I encourage you to write in as well. This is your Inwood as much as it is mine and these stories deserve repeating.