Summer of 1990, Both New Yorks

20 Nov

Kathy and Scott in New York

Scott, Rebecca, and Gwynne, 1990 The Two New Yorks

In the summer of 1990, I introduced my friend Scott to the two New Yorks, the one that epitomizes New York for the rest of the country: New York City, and Lansing, New York, where my family was then living.  Minnesotans would often tell me that I had the wrong accent, expecting me to sound like a Brooklynite, but I grew up in Ithaca and actually sounded more like a Minnesotan.  Scott had never been to New York, so I looked forward to being able to show him the sights–my way.

I drove my car from Ithaca to “the city,” while Scott flew in from Minneapolis.  He loves musicals, but Les Miserables turned out to be something of a disappointment because his ears hadn’t popped yet.  His first choice of tourist attractions was between the Empire State Building or the Twin Towers.  He chose the former because it had a longer history.  I don’t know if he regrets that now that his chance to see them has crumbled into dust.  As you can see from the picture, we chose to ride in a horse and carriage around Central Park, designed by the famed landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted.  We also saw the Metropolitan Museum of Art and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which are both located close to where our carriage is in the picture.

So far our trip sounds pretty prosaic; however, since I was with Scott, as any one of Scott’s friends who is reading this knows,  he can never go on too long without impressing his personality onto the environment. When we worked at Byerly’s, there wasn’t a day that passed where we didn’t hear him sing or tell an off-color joke.   At Macy’s he got his mojo going by telling the clerk that the perfume I was buying smelled like cat urine.  Because he was Scott, he managed to get a laugh out of her.  When we were on the Staten Island Ferry, he befriended a young French family with two little girls.  In New York City, the natives often avoid eye contact, but Scott was used to Minnesota nice, so he gave the family a warm welcome.

We managed to get in at least one fight, as is usual for our trips, because I wanted him to stop to see the Statue of Liberty close up.  He refused, saying that he could see it from the ferry.  Once we returned to port, however, he agreed to walk all the way back to our hotel in Times Square, where our $125 dollar room had a double bed that was sagging on one side.  I was used to spending all my time in Manhatten, but we walked through Greenwich Village and Soho, which was a first for me, since my parents had never appreciated the hip side of the city.  I appreciated doing something in New York with him that was a first time for me as well, so I was able to act as a tourist rather than a host.

At night we walked around Times Square near our hotel.  Scott pretended he was Gene Kelly and sang “Singing in the Rain” while twirling around the lampposts.  We also went to a karokee bar, where he sang “Mack, the Knife.”  He had further adventures alone that night when he discovered he had run out of cigarettes.  What a dilemma!  I warned him about going out alone, but he plunged out into the night to satisfy his nicotine cravings.  Once he was back in the room, he expostulated, “There were women calling out to me, saying,  Hey, Sailor!”  He enjoyed my consternation.

After several days, we drove the car though the Poconos, stopping to see my aunt and uncle in the Catskills, where they lived at the edge of what used to be my grandparents’ farm.  Scott marveled at the beauty of the countryside.  He continued to be impressed as he toured through Lansing at the end of our long car ride.  The maple tree that you see in the picture where Scott is swinging with Rebecca and Gwynne is now gone, replaced by another maple without a swing.  My parents no longer own the Greek Revival that the tree stood in front of and my father has passed on.  I also feel nostalgic about my nieces, who are both in their twenties.  Rebecca is a jeweler in Brooklyn, while Gwynne is working on her M.A. in Linguistics at Georgetown.

Back then, they were at the “cute” age and Scott, who has always been good with children, had a lot of fun with them, as you can see in the picture.  Scott also had a number of firsts in Lansing, including eating lamb and enjoying it, and being introduced to blueberry buckle.  In addition, he has always been tickled with my parents, whom he used to picture as Margaret Thatcher, because of my mother’s elegance, and Brian Keith.  The weather was perfect and everything was blooming in its summer glory, making the vacation a halcyon one in my memory.

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