By Antwan Lewis
FOX 5 Reporter
I’ve always loved Brooklyn, even though I grew up in Virginia. During the summers, my whole family would come up to visit relatives in Red Hook (Thomas and Rachel McNair - my aunt and uncle; they were very big in the community). Often, we would drive around the borough and I would stick my head out and listen to all of the sounds; it was so different than the Norfolk area. While staying in Brooklyn, I remember hearing Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder being played at 1am. We were supposed to be asleep, but it was such energy; I loved it. Every day, we’d go to the corner to buy a hot dog. All of these things that were not so common in our Commonwealth, are things that I remember now. It’s what I loved about New York.
As you know, Red Hook was a tough place when I was growing up in the 70’s; we are talking about a time when Red Hook was not Sunnybrook Farms, it was a place where there was crime. We could not go too far from the apartment building and my grandma was always very protective of us, but it’s evolved and the city has maintained its faith in Red Hook.
Tourists and in-the-know New Yorkers go there now. There has been a resurgence and my family is still there and they are proud to be community activists. These family members gave me a connection to New York; even though I had a Southern accent, I could still talk about New York in a confident manner because I had fond memories that I could draw on.
My uncle and my aunts were very helpful, they wanted me in Brooklyn, they are still mad at me for not living in Ft. Greene or Park Slope, but I wanted to be in the city. I wanted to be in Manhattan and my uncles gave in. Yet, they are still there if I need them and for that I am very thankful. If it weren’t for those summers in Brooklyn as a child, I wouldn’t have been able to adjust to New York as well as I have.
I was in Red Hook last summer to do a story on Carmelo Anthony joining the Knicks (he’s also from Red Hook) and while I was there, ran into some of the guys from the apartments, and when they figured out I was a nephew of the McNair family now working for Fox 5 one of them started taking me around to others in the complex saying “He’s one of us.” It was those summer visits to Brooklyn as a child that helped ease my transition to New York when I started working here.•