Warning: The blog you are about to read is X-rated No, make that an R rating. Well, let’s say PG-14. At any rate, it’s about my losing my …….. No, not that. What’s the right word? My ideals? My expectations? My innocence? For once I’m at a loss for words, so let’s just get on with it.
I’ve been meaning to write about this day since I came upon this feature article in the New York Times last Spring.
It was marking the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens.
There were personal accounts of people who’d had their lives changed by attending.
My memories of the Fair aren’t quite so dramatic. In fact I found the whole experience a let down. You see, as long as I could remember I’d heard my mother waxing poetic about her repeated trips to The World’s Fair of 1939, also held in Flushing Meadows Park. To hear her tell it, it was the most exciting, awe-inspiring experience she’d ever had so I had great expectations. My mom, a Brooklyn girl, had been 24 years, fresh out of college, with the high expectations of The Greatest Generation when she visited. When it had its second coming 25 years later, I was a 17-year-old streetwise Manhattan baby boomer, but still I was willing to give it a chance – especially since we got a day off from school and didn’t have to pay the two bucks
The catch? We had to wear our school uniforms. It was Catholic School Day at the Fair. Fifty years have passed so I’m a little fuzzy on whether it was just high schools or elementary schools too. I guess if younger kids were included, they went with their classes as a field trip. But high school students were on our own as long as we could figure out how to get from Manhattan (the center of the universe) all the way out to (what we viewed as) God-forsaken Queens. (More on this later – it’s the X-rated part)
As for the Fair, itself, I have only boring memories. I remember the lines being terribly long, and we just couldn’t be bothered standing and waiting. (As if we had better things to do?) We did stand on line to see Michelangelo’s The Pieta, and it was truly breath-taking, bathed in blue light.
But that was it, as far as exhibits went. We visited a lot of bathrooms to comb our hair. I’d soon go for the hippie look but this was 1964’s pre-hippie world and our idea of looking good translated to teased hair, black eyeliner, and white lipstick, and did I mention hair – teased hair. And don’t forget the rolled up skirts (a practice I’ve noticed today’s Catholic school girls still hold near and dear)
Oh yes, we did consider one line worth joining – a log jam ride. I rode in front and saw the splashdown coming, so did everyone else except Susan who was wedged in at the rear, and didn’t see it coming.
Did I mention teased hair and lots of eye make?
So no, the world’s fair was not exciting and did not live up to my expectations. I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought upon reading the commemorative article, had it not been for the trip there.
As I said we were left to our own devices to get there so of course I went with, as kids would say today, my four homies. Grace, Tina, and I were coming from different ends of Manhattan, and Suzanne from the Bronx, so we met at the Time Square subway station. Susan’s family had recently moved to Queens so we were to meet her at the Queens Plaza subway station. But when we got there, she was nowhere to be found. As it turned out she was waiting at Queensborough Plaza – where we were supposed to be.
I’m not sure how we figured this out. No cell phones back then so we couldn’t call her. Although we’d never heard of either plaza, we learned that Queens Plaza was, and I guess still is, a hub where different subway lines come and go. Somehow we figured out what train to take next. So there we were – from left to right – me, Suzanne, Tina, & Gracie, standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the platform. We felt the rumble and saw the lights of the approaching train still in the distance, far down the tunnel. We still weren’t 100 percent certain so we decided to confirm that this was indeed our train. A business-type (banker?) man was standing next to me. I still remember he had on a pinstripe suit.
“Is this the train to take to Queensborough Plaza?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “But don’t take this one. Another one will be coming.”
I related his answer to everyone – still shoulder-to shoulder. ( Can I take back my earlier comment about us being street-smart? We decided to wait for the next train.) As this train rumbled in, however, another noise distracted me – the rattle of a newspaper, a newspaper he held in front of his fly. I looked from the corner of my eye and saw his fly was open, and he was beating his front and muttering in its direction.
Well, maybe I wasn’t street-smart but I was a cool New Yorker. I wordlessly scooted behind my friends to stand at the far end of our formation – leaving poor Suzanne, dare I say, in the line of fire. Only when I was safely positioned, did I lean forward and point. Well, I won’t get graphic, but let’s say he finished the act – just as the doors of the soon-to-depart train began to close. Somehow, four screaming girls managed to wedge themselves in, still shoulder to shoulder, still screaming.
And when we’d calmed down – you know what bothered us most? Not that he’d done what he did, but that we’d picked him to ask because he was wearing a business suit. Who’d expect a business man in a pinstripe suit to be a pervert?
If your name is Virginia, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I say it’s about to start again. As for the rest of you, if you don’t know the story of Virginia O’Hanlon and the letter she wrote to the New York Sun, back in 1897, asking if there was such a thing as Santa Claus, and the answer she received back, you are blessed…….. and most likely not named Virginia.
Yes, fellow Virginias, since 1897 we have been subjected to some wise guy, apropos of nothing, assuring us that “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.” And it’s about to spread like the flu. Look what I found in the New York Times last week.
As if Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus hasn’t plagued three generations, now they’ve gone and written a book and a DVD so it will spread the curse to yet another generation, all the young and upcoming Virginias.
And it gets worse, there I was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade when this loomed on the screen
That “Virginia” now has her own balloon.
Yes, dear tender little V’s you might as well learn young. It doesn’t have to be Christmas, it can be the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Flag day; it can even be November 2 – the point is you’re never safe. There’s always some jokester who, upon learning your name is Virginia, will smirk and say —well, you know what he’ll say. ( and yes, this does seem to be a male thing)
Maybe we should all move to Virginia. Then when we’re accosted by one of those a $$#@%es, all we’ll have to do is point to our license plates.
Some dads watch football on Sundays, my dad swept the driveway and sidewalk outside our Bronx rowhouse. In the summer, it was a challenging job because in addition to the regular city soot and debris, my mother’s beloved mimosa tree, which due to its size should never have been planted there, insisted on shedding its feathery petals and tendrils anywhere it pleased.
In the fall, he exchanged his broom for a rake and raked the pesky feathery leaves of said mimosa tree in addition to the mighty oak trees across the street
Daddy was usually out there for hours at a time, doing a job that would have taken anyone else twenty minutes at most. Why? Nine times out of ten, one of us would look out the window and he’d be at the fence talking to someone. Look out twenty minutes later and he’d be out on the sidewalk talking to someone else.
A decade and a half passed, in which time I moved to California and back. Daddy lived to be 94, but fell victim to Parkinson’s Disease for the last decade of his life. Since I was responsible for his care, I was running back and forth to the house on Bruner Avenue daily. I cannot count the times I was stopped as I entered or left by someone who asked “How’s Doctor Fair feeling?” I had no idea who these well wishers were, but they knew Daddy. For this reason, we lovingly call Daddy the Mayor of Bruner Avenue.
What brings this to mind is my own love(?) affair with my driveway. Come fall and I am out weekly too – but for good reason. Living in a quarter-acre of forest makes raking akin to shoveling snow in the midst of a blizzard (been there – done that)
Since my property, with all its stone walls and fences does not lend itself to leaf-blowing, I haul the leaves up into the woods and construct cute little walls of leaves.
Daddy would be proud of me.
Or would he?…..
Sorry Daddy, the remaining quarter acre of The House of Mars has priority over the road So if you want me, I’ll be with my good buddies…
and we’ll be here….
or maybe here….
If we’re not there, we might be here…
Uh, oh don’t look now but the driveway needs a tune-up
Maybe someone will come by and talk to me.
But the ending always comes at last.
Endings always come too fast
They come too fast, but they pass too slow.
I love you and that’s all I know.
If you’re an Art Garfunkel fan you’ll know that verse from All I Know, written by Jimmy Web. It was an ode to a failed romance. I admit, when it was current, I was in just such a situation and found it comforting to sing along at the top of my lungs anytime it played on the radio. But today, with Eastern Standard Time back in position, November upon us, and alas! temps in the 30’s I’m singing it to last summer.
But before I let it go, thanks are in order to a few hearty and loyal friends who have stood by through thick and thin and to this day, refuse to desert me.
And these guys are super-loyal. They’ll be out there every day of the long winter, just as they were on the hottest driest days of summer.
So will they
This summer was unique in that it was the first year I grew tomatoes. Here are the last three; the last three definites, that it
And the maybes
Anyone have a recipe for fried green tomatoes?
I am an inveterate reader – put it in front of me, and I read it. The only thing I don’t read is my smartphone – mainly because I don’t have one. Because of this, I’m free to read signs – neon signs, metal signs, wood, plastic and paper – in windows, on walls, up on billboards, on the sides of buses and the walls of subway cars. In fact the subway is where reading all came together for me.
From infancy until I started kindergarten at age 4-1/2, I spent two torturous two hours riding the subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn ( and two hours back) each Friday to visit my grandmother in Brooklyn. Subways have changed a lot over the years but, back then, as today, passengers avoiding eye contact are prisoners of the ads staring down at them. I still remember the light of recognition flashing at me when I noticed that the letters, c o f f e e on the ad looked just like the c o f f e e on the can in our kitchen. I don’t recall what I said but my mother said it brought smiles to all the fellow N’Yawkers on the train. (I also knew the word BAR since there was one on every corner in our neighborhood.)
Well, I don’t ride the subway quite as much but I still read signs, always, all the time, and some of them merit a second look. Speaking of coffee, let’s start with this one.
Do you remember when coffee was the flavor?
And how about this in the front of Office Depot.
Empty cardboard boxes – -$1.00 ( the ones from which they’ve already sold the paper?) .
And now for an internet moment……
Note it’s a page with yoga-related links
What I’m puzzled by, is the box of related links. Hold on, let me enlarge it
Coffin for sale? Just think – all these years I’ve been thinking yoga was good for me.
So you see – friends who chuckle and think I’m referring to writing when I say words are my life don’t know the half of it!
If you’re a Red Bull imbiber, I guess you know you’re entitled to a $10 refund. It seems some disillusioned Red Bull “athletes” won a class-action lawsuit claiming they’d been misled by the sports beverage maker’s claims that drinking Red Bull would boost their performance and reaction times. I’ll reserve judgement as to whether they were incredibly gullible or just thought of a way to boost their chances of fifteen minutes of fame. They’re sure not getting rich off it! But it did get me thinking and I ‘d like your opinion.
Should I sue the avocado growers who banked on me seeing the bright red RIPE and not the smaller blue-bordered when soft.
But I guess I don’t have any legal leg to stand on since misleading as it may be – they are telling the truth.
And how about this. I didn’t buy it but one of my co-workers did. The words screamed out at me when I opened the fridge in the break room.
Now I ask you – fruit but no pulp? Hmm.
Get a load of this statement. Domino sugar is taking a chance on my interpretation.
Oops! Guess you can’t see it. I’ll write it out.
Well, I’m a firm believer in karma, so I’ll let these go. But there is one question that’s been going round and round in my inquiring mind for many moons. Anybody remember Keds and PF Flyers, the Nikes of the 1950’s?
Did Keds live up to their promises?
How about PF Flyers?
My mother would never buy them for me so I had to make do with generic sneakers. She said all those ads were just nonsense. But maybe you had a pair of Keds or PF Flyers. Was my mother right? If she was – you just might have the makings of a class action suit.
I never knew since my mother refused to pay their prices. She said it was all just nonsense p. so any baby boomers out there, was she right? If so, maybe you can sue for nonsense. Red Bullers did.
When I arrived home from work last Wednesday, this was my first clue that it had been an exciting day at The House of Mars :
Seeing the truck wasn’t a surprise.
Seeing how close it was less than a yard from the house was!
I’d arranged (sort of) to have two trees cut down. One was growing very close to the house, and its branches were dangling perilously over the power and cable lines. I do hate to end any life but since nearly half the lower branches were dead I rationalized I was putting it out of its misery. Plus, it had misbehaved in a storm a few years back – dropping a limb, the size of a small tree across the walk.
I asked around the neighborhood if anyone knew of a good tree surgeon, and heard the same answer time after time. “Lussier, he’s the best there is.”
I know it’s the rule of the wise homeowner to seek out three companies and get quotes from all, but it seemed the man could do no wrong. And so finally, after putting it off for over five years, I made the call on a Monday morning. Everyone had warned me Lussier could be slow to respond so I was not surprised when I had to leave a message for him. No problem, I thought, I’m not on a hurry. Procrastination suits me well, but drat! I found a message on my phone Saturday – he could come by on Sunday morning to take a look! Sigh
Long story short – He gave me a great price on the two trees and said he would clear out several pesky ones that had sprung up on the slope down to the road and seemed to be losing their sense of vertical.
That was it!He gave me a great price and said I’d come home one say that week and find my trees gone.
True, to his reputation, a week passed and the trees were still there. Then, the following Wednesday, he came, he saw, he conquered.
There was more but one of my neighbors with a wood stove had already begun work clearing the yard.
The puzzling part was that there was not a soul around – just the trucks . It was a bit ghostly. The neighbor who’d sung his praises the loudest surmised he was on another job. Without his truck? I thought, but said nothing. Instead I called Lussier and of course, left a message.
“Come back for your money.” I also assumed he wanted his trucks!
I got back no message but the next morning at 8, there he was climbing out of a pickup truck and coming up my driveway – coffee cup in hand.
Yes, he’d got my message but it was late to call back. He’d been out “riding dirt bikes with the boys.” He’d said he’s be back that evening for his money but right now he “had to drive to work.” And sure enough, faster than I back my car down the driveway, he and his truck were gone
PS – Seven days and counting – the money is still waiting on my dining room table.