Archive for the ‘St Patrick’s Cathedral’ Tag
I was on a mission, an advance party charged with finding a restaurant. I had several criteria. Since we would be attending a 7 PM music event on the West Side of Manhattan immediately afterwards, it had to be in the vicinity of West 72nd Street, and since it was early September, which is technically late summer, we preferred it have outdoor cafe seating.
Normally I’d let my fingers do the walking and make reservations on Open Table, but since my train got in at 4-ish, and we planned to eat at 5:30, which is early by New York standards, I knew I’d have no trouble finding a place. I decided to walk over from Grand Central and take a look in person
Well, it didn’t take long for me to become totally distracted I had progressed but one block when all it took was one well-displayed sign in a store window.
I knew what a variance was, having sought the help of my friendly town building department in pinpointing the location of my septic system years ago. I was told a variance had been issued for it. That was all they know
“what’s that mean?” I asked.
“It’s an exception to the rule.”
Curious to see what was going on after hours, I turned the corner and proceeded to the next sign.
Of course I had to make my way around the entire building
Is the whole thing rat-infested?
I finally tore myself away and proceeded onward when total panic struck. My heart rate actually increased. Had I crossed the border into a parallel world? Into another dimension? I stepped back. Here I was on the corner of 50th Street and Fifth Avenue, but where was St Patrick’s Cathedral? Had aliens absconded with it? I mean where could a cathedral that took up a square block disappear to? I took a few deep breaths to calm myself, and stepped back to logically assess the situation. There had to be a logical explanation. And there it was.
I was on the corner of 50th Street
but not Fifth Avenue
So distracted had I been by the rat poison sign, that in my desire to explore, I’d turned north a block early onto Madison Avenue without even realizing.
But time was a-wasting, and I was on a mission. I gradually wound my way north and west when ……..what was this? It was a typical Halal food cart but I’d never seen so many people lined up at a pushcart.
I decided to research the matter scientifically and do some comparisons.
right next door
across the street
on the next block
Even an ice cream truck just as people were getting out of work on a hot evening proved to be no competition.
But maybe that’s because it wasn’t Mr Softee.
(If you’re not a New Yorker, you don’t know that after years of luring successive generations of children out of their homes for soft serve ice cream cones with its annoying music, Mr Softee raised such ire that a newer prissier New York City issued noise restrictions targeting the trucks during the reign of King Giuliani)
But oh my goodness, time was a-wasting.
Well I managed to find a few restaurants then proceeded on to meet my friends on our agreed-upon corner. They suggested a restaurant they’d passed on the way over from the Museum of Natural History, where they’d spent the afternoon. And what are the odds? Of all the restaurants on the West Side, it was the one at the top of my list!
End of story.
Well, not quite. A few weeks later I found an article about the opening of Urban Space Vanderbilt, a new upscale midtown food court…..
right down the street from the rat building.
On my way to buy underwear is the answer.
Where were you on November 22, 1963 when you heard John F Kennedy had been shot? is the question.
I was obeying my mother’s command. Other mothers admonished their children to always wear clean underwear lest they be hit by a car and taken to the hospital and be found to have on dirty undies. For my mother, it was preparation for any trip I took. “Go buy new underwear.”
Th trip I was about to undertake was not an exciting one. Part of the senior year experience at my Catholic Girl’s high school was a three-day retreat at a monastery in New Jersey during the short school week preceding Thanksgiving. We had been dismissed after lunch the preceding Friday because ????????????I have no idea why since we wouldn’t be departing until Sunday. Maybe it was so we could all go buy new underwear!
At any rate, there I was walking west on East 75th street toward 5th avenue to take a downtown bus to EJ Korvette’s on 47th and Fifth. It was a cold blustery day, much like today, and as I rushed head-on into the wind blowing east from Central Park, a doorman stepped out of the polished wood shelter of an apartment house lobby and called out
“The president was just shot.”
I don’t recall what I said. Probably “oh no.” The next half hour or so is a blank. I probably headed on in disbelief and waited for the bus.
My next recollection is visual – looking out the window as the bus headed south and noticing the clusters of people planted outside stores windows on Fifth Avenue, watching news accounts on televisions that had been placed in the windows.
The next memory is aural – the eerie sound of all the church bells on Fifth Avenue – St Patrick’s Cathedral, Thomas Episcopal Church, and others – all chiming in discordant symphony. No words were needed. Everyone knew what they meant. Our young president was gone.
I had not intended to write about this but a serendipitous occurrence urged me on. A classmate of mine with whom I’ve reconnected via Facebook posted a question for me on her timeline. She seemed to recall that we’d been dismissed early but didn’t know why. In replying to her, my mind took another weird hop, skip and jump and I realized the spot where the doorman stepped out to tell me of Kennedy’s shooting was half a block away from where three years earlier, JFK, then a presidential candidate, had waved to me, a 13-year-old schoolgirl standing on the median of Park Avenue; he, on his way to his first debate with Nixon, and I, waiting for all the motorcycles and limousines to pass so I could catch up with my friends on the other side of the street. If you missed that post, here it is.
And now, fifty years later I’m flying to San Diego in the morning to spend Thanksgiving with an old friend. And I’m taking a very bold step. I’m packing old underwear!
See you when I get back!
I was in the city Saturday to have lunch with my oldest friend J.J. Let me explain – She’s not my most elderly friend, but the one I’ve had the longest. We met when I was in 3rd grade and she in 2nd, in the school lunch room Being a busy body, I noticed she was having trouble getting the noodles out of the chicken noodle soup her mom had poured into a thermos bottle. I moved over, and helped her. Having met at lunch, we still keep our friendship going, meeting from time to time to share this meal. And Saturday we were meeting at a restaurant on the Upper West Side.
Although we were both born and raised on Manhattan, neither one of us still lives there. I was taking the train into the city and she was driving from NJ. Since I arrived at Grand Central Station with lots of time to spare, and it was a 3 S days (superb, summer, & sunny) I considered walking over to the West Side instead of taking the subway. The decision was made when my cell phone rang. It was J.J. She was stuck in traffic on the Jersey Turnpike. I had plenty of time to dilly dally.
I walked up to Fifth avenue and ay yi yi.
Oh yes, it’s tourist season.
But I plunged in, and went with the flow. Until I heard two gems that brought me to a halt – both from the mouths of visitors from overseas.
Location – 5th Avenue and 50th Street across the street from St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Speaker – a woman (perhaps German) speaking to a tour operator: “Ah St. Peter’s Cathedral? Yes.”
It was all I could do to suppress the urge to say NO. St Patrick’s!!!!!!!!
I mean even if she was expecting to see the postcard perfect St Patrick’s,
And thrown off by its present appearance as it undergoes restoration
Give me a break. How much bigger could the letters be?
Location – Still on Fifth Avenue – a few blocks north, at 56th Street.
Speaker – another woman – possibly from a Mid-Eastern country, speaking in an excited tone to her husband . Tramp Tower! Tramp Tower. In her defense, this was most likely just a matter of her accent, but still I had to smile. For you non-New Yorkers? Ever watch Celebrity Apprentice ? Recognize the building?
No? Then in the words of The Donald – “You’re fired!”
These were all, as the young folks would text, LOL moments, at the expense of tourists. But as I headed west on 57th St. I recalled J.J’s words when she’d call to tell me she’d be late. I was dismayed to realize her years in New Jersey were weighing heavy on her.
Jersey people always supplement their location with their exit on the NJ Turnpike
Or the Garden State Parkway
My cousin lives in Hazlet, but just in case you’re not sure, he’ll supplement it with Exit 117. When I used to summer at the Jersey Shore, if you asked me where our group rental was, I’d say Manasquan (period). But if you’d asked one of my Jersey house-mates, they’d have said Manasquan, exit 98.
And so when Jackie explained “I’m still at Exit 11” I had not a clue and had to ask . Where is that”
Just on case you’’re on the Turnpike and looking for Woodbridge NJ. It’s Exit 11.