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The Lost Shoe and Psychology

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Living in Brighton Beach Brooklyn offered some unique settings. The main one is the boardwalk. Stretching almost three miles, it goes from Brighton 15th street to the gated community at the end of Coney Island, called Seagate. The boardwalk was a main thoroughfare between Brighton Beach and Coney Island, that is if you didn't want to drive or take the trolley car.

As a young child the boardwalk was a place our family often went to. On hot days or nights it was an open air location to get a breeze off of the ocean. On Tuesday nights, it was Fireworks best viewed from the boardwalk. On any other day it was a path to the beach. We lived just 1/2 a block from the beach and it was indeed our playground. Quite often I would play stick ball with my friends in the morning or early afternoon and then, around 3 p.m., when the crowds left the beach to go home via the train, we would go to the beach. We then had to beach to ourselves as most people needed to get home to other parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan or the Bronx.

As I got older there came a time when I petitioned my parents to let me walk to Coney Island with a friend. Finally after many attempts they agreed to let my friend and I go to Coney Island by ourselves. The only stipulation was to be home before it got dark outside. We swore that we would be home well before sunset.

So with the permission of our parents, money in our pockets, my friend and I walked to Coney Island on the boardwalk. Using the boardwalk meant there would be no streets to cross; no traffic lights and no way to be hit by cars.

The walk took about 15 minutes and soon we were at Steeplechase Park and ready to go on rides. With allowances in hand we purchased tickets to the several rides. There were many to choose from and we took care how much money we had and how many rides we could go on.

The horse ride, most probably the most famous, was on tracks that snaked around the building that housed it. It was something like a roller coaster but not as steep. This is look at its origins of the horse ride and Coney Island in general.

My friend and I really enjoyed that ride and so we went on it twice. The second time on the ride my shoe feel off my foot and fell through the tracks. These two boys were now confronted with some adult decisions. We decided to walk back to Brighton Beach but after a few feet on the board walk I realized, that just wearing a sock on one foot would not work because I began getting splinters in my foot from the board walk. We sat on a bench and I asked my friend to walk back home and bring me a shoe so that I could walk home without getting splinters in my foot.

My friend complied with my request and went home to get a shoe. He did that and returned with the shoe in hand. We were now able to walk home. The only problem was that it was getting dark. Remember the part where we swore we would be home before dark. It did not happen.

While my parents knew the situation my friends parents did not. When we returned home his parents were furious about our being home late. Despite explaining the situation that caused us to return home late, they would not hear of it. In fact they blamed it all on me. They came to our apartment with their son. The question was asked of my parents, what are you going to do to punish Marty for being home late with their son? After all, it was my fault and punishment should be exacted.

My father politely listened to them, even though he knew the situation, but also knew they would not listen to reason. He then told them he would take me into the bedroom and exact a punishment. This is where psychology came in, see previous blog for details. The barber strap was brought out and shown to them. He took me into the bedroom and closed the door. My father explained to me, in a low voice, that he would have a pillow next to me on the bed and when he hit the pillow I was to scream as loudly as I could, feigning pain. To the people outside I was being punished by this barber strap. We got pretty good at the timing and the wack/slap and the yelling sounded real and the sound of the strap and my yell coincided. We both smiled at our deception but also knowing we could not laugh out loud about this as they might hear us.

Outside waiting in the living room, listening to the punishment and the loud crying that I did was disturbing to my mother and sister. We could not tell them the real story.

After all was said and done, he did use psychology on me, the barber strap, but also used psychology on them; thinking I was being hit as punishment.

Afterward we smiled again but I was cautioned not to come home late again or else he would use psychology on me, and smiled.

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