My family was among the original residents. We moved in on the last day of 1949. I was a baby then. I guess that day was chosen, because my parents' rental lease for the little basement flat was probably up, and they couldn't afford to pay for another month. They spent New Year's for 1950 as owners of a small two bedroom co-op garden apartment on the second floor.
I have no real memories of that apartment, because we moved out pretty quickly to an adorable, though tiny two bedroom duplex, which gave us a backdoor to a garden. It was almost like having a house, because the apartments next to us were of one floor and didn't have backdoors. A few years later we moved again. This time was to the largest type of apartment in Bell Park Gardens which had three bedrooms on one floor. Ours had an extra few inches, because there was white siding instead of bricks in the front, the living-room wall.
My memories of Bell Park Gardens, which we left in 1962 when I was thirteen were rather idyllic. It was a community, very homogeneous, lots of young families of similar backgrounds, lots of Jews. Almost everyone was Jewish. At least one of the couple had to be a veteran of the American Armed Forces, army, navy etc. Our parents didn't have accents, but most of our grandparents did.
There were no Holocaust survivor parents I knew of. It's strange, because I now have friends of my generation who grew up in other New York neighborhoods in which "all the parents were survivors." They were raised on the tragic family Holocaust stories whether hearing them or the haunted silence of the secrets that were too traumatic to voice.
Diary of Anne Frank was publicized and made into a play then a movie.
First published under the title Het Achterhuis. Dagboekbrieven 14 juni 1942 – 1 augustus 1944 (The Annex: Diary Notes from 14 June 1942 – 1 August 1944) by Contact Publishing in Amsterdam in 1947, it received widespread critical and popular attention on the appearance of its English language translation Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girlby Doubleday & Company (United States) and Valentine Mitchell (United Kingdom) in 1952. Its popularity inspired the 1955 play The Diary of Anne Frank by the screenwritersFrances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, which they subsequently adapted for the screen for the 1959 movie version. The book is in several lists of the top books of the 20th century.Soon after that was the legendary capture of Adolf Eichmann by Israel. All this World War Two history was new and amazing for me as a young Jew in a such a peaceful and Jewish New York neighborhood.
One thing I've always wondered about is how Bell Park Gardens and the other then new developments surrounding it had so many Jewish families. The advertisements recruiting veterans to sign up for inexpensive housing opportunities were certainly published for the entire veteran population. My fathers stories of his service in the United States Navy were about being the only Jew, or the only Jew not afraid to admit his Jewish identity. My uncle had similar stories. So how when such a small percentage of American soldiers were Jewish did these veteran housing projects end up so overwhelmingly Jewish?
If you have an answer, please reply in the comments, thanks.