I don't ride the IRT 6 along the Westchester Avenue el much anymore but when I do, I generally prefer to stand so I can look out the windows at the everchanging Bronx. The el rises from the bowels of the earth just before the Whitlock Avenue station where many years ago one could look down at the giant swimming pool that long served the area.
You have to stand should you wish to look down at the old Ward Theatre while you try to recollect which movies you saw there in years past.
I watched Italian grocery stores turn into bodegas and now occasionally witness a new turn as Korean produce shops sprout up along the way. The names of the stores and even the banks keep changing as the Dollar Savings Bank at Hugh Grant Circle became the Dollar Dry Dock.
The views keep changing as the old multi-colored roll-up awnings that added so much color have faded out of the scene. Metal gates are now rolled down as the shops close for the night and graffiti adds a touch of unwelcome tinge to the scene. Here and there a young artist may have created an interesting mural on some and these often capture my interest as I try to discern the meaning and the personality of the creator.
I enjoyed watching the erection of the Westchester Creek Center at Westchester and Waterbury Avenues during 1988 and 1989. I thought back to the old Seabury farm and recalled the little victory gardens that dotted the site even as this project began.
I recalled the old Gulf gas tanks near Zerega Avenue that served as a landmark for so long until their disappearance from the scene about twenty years ago. From my vantage point on the el, I monitored the repairs to the clock tower on St. Peter's Church and often looked off to the east to spot the Whitestone Cinema. The latter brought back memories of the outdoor movies that once occupied the site. It had been a working farm much earlier.
My greatest regret as I look down at the Bronx from the IRT is not so much that the scene has changed but rather, that I failed to capture so many of these changes on film.