2004-06-25 / Community

‘Lead Us Not Into Penn Station’: A Story That Touches The Beach

A Wave Review By Howard Schwach

‘Lead Us Not Into Penn Station’: A Story That Touches The Beach

A Wave Review By Howard Schwach

It seems as if having once lived in Rockaway makes one want to write about growing up nearby the beach while reliving the movement of the Brooklyn Dodgers to California.

A few weeks ago, we reviewed "Still Pitching," by an ex-Rockaway resident. This week, The Wave presents another book, a novel rather than a memoir, written by Bruce Ducker, who was a 1952 graduate of PS 114 and who grew up on Beach 144 Street in Neponsit.

In his letter to The Wave, Duker wrote, "It occurred to me that you might enjoy another Rockaway boy’s novel, set only a few years earlier [than "Still Pitching"] replete with stories of selling ice cream on the Riis Park Beach and Pee Wee Reese Night at Ebbet’s [Field]."

Ducker is right. We did enjoy reading his novel, set mostly in Brooklyn but touching repeatedly on the Rockaway peninsula and the beach.

Like "Still Pitching," Ducker’s book, "Lead Us Not Into Penn Station," is a story of growing up in the 1950’s.

The book is a picaresque, a story that follows three young men through the rapids of loyalty, status and morals – taking them from the beaches of Riis Park and Coney Island to the edge of maturity and commitment.

It is 1955 and Danny Meadoff and his friends move easily from high school athletics and academics to the beginnings of the summer season, with its beaches and its girls.

There are problems, however, in Danny’ world beyond those of growing up and enjoying life.

Danny’s father, a small success in the rag trade, is facing money problems that threaten Danny’s easy life and force him to find a job selling Fuller Brush products throughout Brooklyn. His friends, who introduce him to the ponies at Aqueduct set up some moral questions that have to be answered before the summer ends.

As the book moved towards its satisfactory climax and the Dodgers get ready to move from Brooklyn, Danny and his friends grow and learn.

It is a very satisfactory summer read.

Published by The Permanent Press in Sag Harbor in 1994, the book is available now from Macadam/Cage Publishing in San Francisco.

Ducker is the author of seven novels, most recently "Mooney in Flight."

"Lead Us Not Into Penn Station was awarded the Colorado Book Award in 1995.

A lawyer, Ducker lives in Colorado and is a jazz pianist as well as a pilot.

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