When I was a kid I loved New York. My grandparents took me in to museums, the planetarium, and sights like the Statue of Liberty. School trips took me to concerts, plays, even the opera. With scouts and the Y we went to baseball games and the circus at Madison Square Garden. In late Junior High I started going into the city with by buddies, mostly to baseball and hockey games. In High School it was to hang out with my girlfriend Wendy at folk clubs in Greenwich Village, a German Restaurant she liked on 86th street and the New York World’s Fair. In college I worked in the city at WOR and after work hung out at discos and clubs where WOR engineers were sometimes comped. Suzi came out to visit and we had Sunday in Central Park and even saw Count Basie at the Riverboat Room. I loved the city.
After college when we went east it was to visit my family. Every time I wanted to visit the city mom would object. “It’s too dangerous” or “It’s too expensive.” It was about this time that local TV went from 15 minutes to 30 minutes and then to an hour. To fill the time stories of crime, rip offs and drugs filled local news. It made my mom, who used to work in New York, fearful. We got out of the habit of going into the city, and when we go did we had to plan it like an expedition up the Amazon. What route will we take? What streets will we avoid? Suzi and I dove into other cities without hesitation. We went to plays in London, art museums in Vienna and when I went to Washington for work, to blues and jazz clubs. Other cities were fun but New York was somehow off limits.
Mom died five years ago but we still go back to Jersey to visit friends. Two years ago we started to go into the city again. I decided this was the year to fully reclaim New York. I suggested a play. Suzi said “what about the cost?” But in London we usually go to several plays, and London is NOT less expensive than New York. So this trip we did reclaim New York, we dove into the city in the middle of the insanity of a papal visit (like the pedi-cab driver wearing papal vestments.) My mother would not have approved of our plunging through the crowds, form Times Square, to Downtown to Flushing. And while the best views of New York are still from Jersey, it was good to be back.