A Sunday in Lincoln Terrace Park
Brooklyn’s parks are the closest most neighborhoods get to a town square, a refuge for all across class and culture. Coming to you not from the fields of Prospect Park, but the smaller spots across the borough, “A Sunday in…” spotlights residents who turn to the commons — and asks what’s on their mind.
Lincoln Terrace Park is a rolling green space on the border of Crown Heights and Brownsville. The 21-acre “pleasure ground” — a term the Brooklyn Eagle once used often to refer to Brooklyn’s parks — has tennis courts, basketball courts, hills and glades. It’s bounded on the southern end by East New York Avenue and on the northern end by Eastern Parkway. From the east it extends to Portal Street and on the west to Rochester Avenue. The park is split in two, bisected by Buffalo Avenue.
Revamped in 1939 with federal aid as part of FDR’s Works Progress Administration, the park is partially named after Arthur S. Somers, a Brooklynite who headed the Board of Education in the early part of the century.
Men played a spirited game of cricket — though the park is also known for netball — on Sunday afternoon as onlookers watched. Others played tennis, children danced through the sprinklers, a few homeless people slept on benches and others just relaxed in the 90 degree sun to unwind.
“I need the trees. I need the grass. I need the cool breeze. I need it for healing, man,” said Ricardo Waldron when I asked him why he comes to the park.
“I was born in Barbados and I never got over coming to this country. I grew up with trees and backyards and the beach. So sometimes I have PTSD and I’m sitting on my step with a cool breeze and I just flash back to Barbados,” said Waldron, who added that his dad made him move when he was 16.
Now Waldron studies and writes about Ancient Egypt, including a book he published called “The God Genes Decoded.”
Of all the people I have spoken with in parks, many have asked me not to take their picture, but Claudette was the first to ask to look at all the photos I took of her, make me delete them all and then tell me to wipe them from the iCloud as well. She decided to take a selfie herself because she said my photos were “bad.”
Claudette, who does psychotherapy and interior architecture, headed into the park Sunday — she never goes to Lincoln Terrace Park — because she saw men playing cricket.
“I was meeting someone and she’s not responding, so rather than walk to her house I had a seat here and they were playing cricket,” she said. “My dad used to play cricket. My siblings play cricket and rugby. That’s what made me sit down. And then I just started thinking about my dad,” Claudette said. Her dad died recently and she moved back to Queens Village, where she grew up, from Brooklyn.
Mike and ‘his sister’
“I come here a few days a week. I stay here with my sister by the tennis courts. That’s all. It’s peace. It’s peaceful,” said Mike Torres, who has lived in Brownsville since 2008 since he moved with his sister from Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“I like Bed-Stuy better,” his sister, who declined to give her name, said. “It’s more quiet over there.”
The scooter belongs to her and she uses it for her job as an Uber Eats driver. “It could be a better job. It doesn’t pay that well and the battery on this thing doesn’t last long.”
You may think of it as a country club sport played in bright whites, but Charles East insists that in the U.S., tennis is a game of the people. Hailing from Jamaica, East says that only the wealthy played the sport there.
“Where I’m from, it’s a rich person sport. Here in the USA, it’s an opportunity to play the game — and I find it interesting and challenging,” he said.
East runs the Lincoln Terrace Tennis Association, which has a kids program on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. from mid-May to the end of August.
“Nadal. He is very dedicated and doesn’t give up on a point ever. He also has a lot of stamina.”
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