Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Big Apple


I have a lot of friends and family who’ve traveled to the bustling city of New York City on many occasions. They all come back praising the city and eager to share their adventures there. I can say honestly say that until this past Sunday, I was unable to give an honest opinion about the place...oh I’ve been there...or close to it...many times, but never dipped my toes, so to speak.
The first time I had the chance, ‘had’ being the operative word here, to visit NY was almost forty-seven years ago. I was newly married to husband #1. We decided to join his cousin and his wife one night for dinner and somehow the plan was hatched to take a quick ride to New York and check out the sights. This was before google maps and GPS devices. The car we rode up in was already exhibiting signs of an early death, but when you’re young...you’re adventurous and stupid.
Did we take a map? Nope! Did we have enough gas? Yeah, right!  No, we just jumped into the car and headed north. We had been on the road for some time when cousin shouts out, “I think that’s the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Wow, the Brooklyn Bridge! I was so excited to see the bright lights and the fabled Times Square. Did I mention that we didn’t take a map? After the fourth time of driving over the Brooklyn Bridge and not knowing where the hell we were, or why we kept winding up at that stupid bridge, we gave up and headed home.

Big Apple Part 2

My second husband had no desire to visit New York, ever. He was a Philadelphia Fire Fighter until he retired and also had a side job as a truck driver. His experience with traffic, as a truck driver, had turned him off to ever visiting the place. Luckily, I was working at the Academy of Natural Sciences and our volunteers were treated to a yearly outing. One of the outings was to New York’s Museum of Natural Sciences. I had finally made it to the city, but because we were on a schedule, did not get to see the city itself.

Big Apple Part 3

Would I ever get to see the city? I had another opportunity to go to New York a couple of years ago, when my granddaughter, Allie Gilbert, was attending Moore College of Art and Design. She was part of their big yearly fashion show and needed some swatches. She wanted me to keep her company. I was so excited to be asked to go with her, but while on the Mega Bus, it began to rain...let me rephrase this...it was a monsoon! Luckily I had an umbrella, but that was lost quickly in the crowd. My velour jumpsuit was soaking wet and hanging from my body as my granddaughter dragged me from one fabric store to another.
                                 Camden Comic Con                             

We were on a tight schedule as the bus did not wait for anyone and Allie had to be back in time for a class. At one point, I asked, “Allie, are we near Time’s Square?”
Her reply, “It’s that way, Grandmom, but we don’t have the time to visit.” She took hold of my hand and continued pulling me from one street to the next. Big sigh...I arrived back in Philly, soggy, cold, and doomed, so I thought, to never enjoy New York.

Big Apple Part 4
My friend, Jean, and her husband Rich travel to New York all the time. Rich was born and raised there and, Jean had worked and lived in the city for many years. Traffic did not bother them; they were experts at dodging crazy drivers. Jean needed to visit two big beads shops in order to make charms for dog and cat collars. This is something she is planning on selling. I'll let you know when.
Jean asked me if I would like to come spend the day with them. “Will we actually be able to walk around and visit some of the tourist spots,” I asked, as flashbacks of the ‘swatch’ collecting debacle flashed through my mind.
                                     Jean & Marie at the Grand Central Station                     

Jean’s assurance that we would see as much as possible sealed the deal and I went with her. I had a ball! We did visit the two stores and then visited Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Plaza, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and finally had drinks at the Tavern on the Green in Grand Central Park. We even met the very hospitable Proprietor of the Tavern, Jim Caiola.

I finally got to see the Big Apple in style and, I’m going back with Jean to visit even more places once this heat wave passes. I loved New York City, but guess what? NYC reminded me a lot of my own home town, Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love has pretty much all the razzle and dazzle that the Big Apple offers, only smaller and less congested.
I’m going to visit the Big Apple again, but you can bet that I’ll be encouraging the people of New York to come visit our Little Apple.

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