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A Little Trip to the Big Apple

A pilgrimage to familiar territory.

I’d been planning this trip since last July, when I learned that my cousin, Mark, had donated some of my father’s photos to the New York Historical Society Museum and Library. It seemed like a nice excuse to bop around my childhood stomping grounds.

Bob at JFK, working on transportation logistics

Of course, I immediately turned to Bob for help booking flights and lodging, something he happily takes on any time we go anywhere. After landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport, we pulled our suitcases over to the side so Bob could decide how best to get into Manhattan.

Cookie on the E Train

Ultimately, we rode the AirTrain to the E Train, a frugal and adventurous choice that bolstered my New Yorker persona.

Camille and Ralph at the bus depot

We stepped off at the Port Authority exit and after we dragged our suitcases past broken escalators and up to the gum-encrusted sidewalk, Bob asked me to pose beside Ralph Kramden, the fictional bus driver of fifties sitcom fame.

Remember The Honeymooners? It was one of a few shows that met my Mom and Dad’s approval. Back then, families watched television together and, at least in my family, kids were forbidden to turn on the TV at any other time.

A room with a view

It was a short walk to our hotel. The street smelled of diesel fuel and pot, with undertones of freshly-baked bread. Some corners reeked of cotton candy. Pizza smells wafted from open doorways and food carts. We put away our clothes and looked down at the city from our room on the 30th floor of the Hampton Inn Manhattan/Times Square Central.

Bob on the street

It was still early, so we took our cameras down to Times Square.

The Minskoff Theatre

The Lion King is still showing at the Minskoff, where cousin Frank recently retired as prop manager.

Everything, everywhere, all at once

Manhattan’s streets are a cacophony of construction, traffic, flashing billboards, food trucks, and pedestrians.

Mickey counts his take

Plenty of color, lots of ways for people to lighten our wallets.

Tourists, like us.

We funneled into a crowd watching a man flip himself over backwards with a mere bend of his knee.

Ahem

Sorry. Had to include this one.

New York’s finest

NYPD was everywhere, and I must admit that at least once, I kept pace with them to make myself feel less vulnerable. I was hoping to see an officer on horseback, but so far have not run into any.

Bryant Park at golden hour

Finally, we arrive at my favorite photo from our first day in New York City: sunlit London Pales at Bryant Park. As always, it was Bob who thought to make this a destination.

Truth be told, he was interested in trying out what’s been touted as “the most luxurious public bathroom in all of New York City,” willing to stand in line until the plastic-gloved lady beckoned.

“How was it?” I asked when he emerged. “Gritty and smelled like piss,” Bob said, “A lot prettier on the outside.” And that’s what we came here for, to get the real flavor of New York City. Not what you see in the movies, nothing like little Pittsboro, New York is at once coarse and stinky and grand.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

5 replies on “A Little Trip to the Big Apple”

It’s funny how the “older” generation viewed the Honeymooners as appropriate given Ralph Kramden’s abusive behavior.

More to be pitied than scorned, my Nana used to say. Not sure why we laughed at Ralph. His outbursts (abuse!) don’t seem so funny today.

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