“I loved growing up in Woodhaven,” she says. “I lived on 89th Street between Jamaica Avenue and 86th Road and everybody knew their neighbors on that block. They all looked out for one another.
“Out here in California, people could live next door to you year after year and you still don’t know their names,” Ennd added.
It was her love for her childhood in Woodhaven that led Ennd to start a group on Facebook for those like her who enjoyed sharing memories of the days of their youth.
“I was missing Woodhaven and wishing there was a place where I could reminisce and maybe reconnect with some old friends,” she said. “But there wasn’t any place like that, so I figured why not start one myself? I knew it would be popular but I had no idea it would be this popular.”
“Your Memories Of Growing Up In Woodhaven” has been around for over a decade and has over 6,000 members, both former and current residents, sharing pictures and stories about their time spent in Woodhaven.
“I think it works really well because we screen each and every member,” Ennd explained. “You have to answer a few basic questions that anyone who grew up in Woodhaven would know. As a result, our membership is packed with people who really know and love talking about Woodhaven.”
On any day you can visit the group and see posts asking how many people remember Wilkins Ice Cream Parlor or how many people remember the little store that sold French Fries for 10 cents a bag on 88th Street.
The members of the “Memories” page have a shared culture, a common past. Many of them went to the same schools and had the same teachers; they shopped in the same stores and played in the same playgrounds.
“Out of the 6,000 members, I can tell you I don’t know most of them, but we all know the same things and the same people,” Ennd said. “So it’s easy to bond with each other.”
One former resident that Ennd connected with through the group is pop legend Brian Hyland, whose smash hit "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini" reached #1 in 1960, when Hyland was 16 and still a student at Franklin K. Lane High School.
“I saw they were having a doo-wop concert near me and Brian was in it, so I sent an email to his management team,” she said. “I figured it was a long shot but, hey, you never know.
“I got an email back from Brian himself and the next thing you know, the phone rings and it’s him,” Ennd continued. “You could have knocked me over with a feather!”
Ennd and Hyland hit it off right away, talking about the old days growing up in Woodhaven.
“We were talking about different things and all of a sudden he says to me, ‘Yeah, I can tell you’re from Woodhaven,” she said, laughing. “The things we were talking about, you just have to be from here to know.”
Eventually, the two reconnected in person after the show and have kept in touch ever since.
“This year, this past week in fact, was the 60th anniversary of ‘Itsy Bitsy’ and we were hoping to have a special day honoring him in Woodhaven this summer before this pandemic put everything on hold,” Ennd said.
Sure enough, the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society had many discussions with ennd about having a big celebration, plans that are now on hold until the summer of 2021.
“It’s going to be great, a big party and a great reunion and everyone can share their memories of growing up in Woodhaven in person,” she said.
But until next year, you can catch up by joining the group online and adding your voice to the treasure trove of Woodhaven memories that Laurie Ennd has built online.
But be warned, once you start reading through the memories you’ll find it almost impossible to stop!