On Presidents Day, about three dozen people of varying ages gathered at the entrance to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden for a family walk with the birds. You couldn’t have asked for a better winter: sunny, not too cold, light breeze.
Our guide, a woman wearing a bucket hat adorned with colorful bird prints, made some introductory remarks, and we were on our way.
“Yellow-bellied woodpecker,” she shouted 10 minutes into the walk.
The group stopped short. Binoculars were raised, fingers pointed, viewing tips shared.
Other birds we encountered included a downy woodpecker, a Cooper’s hawk (a blue jay’s warning calls alerted us to its presence) and a white-throated sparrow camouflaged in the dense branches of a bush.
Towards the end of the walk, a bird somewhere ahead began to sing.
“Cardinal,” announced the guide, and the search began.
In the flurry of activity, I wondered if anyone else was paying attention to the brilliant whistling melody.
“Isn’t singing wonderful? I asked loud enough for everyone to hear.
At least one other member of the group, a man, heard me.
“It looks like a car alarm to me,” he said.
It was around 1952. I was 10 and loved that my family had to move from the downtown D to the local West Fourth Street AA.
The vertical I-beams on the platform had vending machines that dispensed miniature Suchard chocolate bars for a dime a pop.
I always pulled the little plungers to see if the chocolate bars would magically appear without the necessary pennies.
One day, ta-da! : The pistons of the four machines weren’t working and I was filling my pockets with free chocolates by the time the local arrived at the station.
As I boarded the train with my family, I saw another boy approaching.
“Free chocolates!” I shouted, pointing to one of the machines. “It’s stuck!” »
As we drove away towards Spring Street, I was happy to see the other boy busy “milking” the machine at a breakneck pace.
— Giulio Maestro
A little late
I boarded the M104 and took my place behind a grey-haired woman dressed all in black. The white tag on her sweater stuck out from her cleavage.
I patted her on the shoulder.
“Excuse me,” I said. “Do you want me to put your tag inside your sweater?”
“Yes,” she answered. “Where were you three hours ago?” »
“You should have called,” I said.
We both laughed.
Early on a sunny Saturday in 1975, my friend Beth and I climbed the stairs to the elevated trails of Far Rockaway and grabbed the A.
The train slammed and rumbled along the beach roads, into Brooklyn, then through the tunnel into Manhattan. The car lights flashed as the train creaked at every stop along the way.
In Washington Square, we jumped, climbed the stairs to the street, and emerged into the daylight of a beautiful fall day.
We strolled through Greenwich Village, stopping at stores where teenagers a few years older and much hipper than us oversaw copious inventories of art posters, handmade jewelry, t-shirts and clothes. a wide assortment of other beautifully random items.
The profusion of goods was more than exciting for us. We drank in the sights and sounds, excitedly shuffled through some small purchases, and did our best to connect with the culture around us.
To save money, each of us had brought a sandwich. At one point we found a side street. We sat down on a sidewalk between two parked cars and had our picnic.
Beth’s sandwich had coleslaw in it, something I had never thought to add. It created a seismic shift in the way I think about food.
Later we caught the A in Union Square, making sure to get back before dark.
— June holder
I was working as a fourth grade teacher at a private school on the East Side. As a year-end gift, the parents asked their daughters to engrave their names in a silver picture frame, which was given to me wrapped in yards of tissue paper inside a Tiffany box.
I put a graceful look on my face as I unwrapped it. I lifted the frame and smiled at each of the 15 girls who had “signed” it.
After school, I snuck into a pawnshop on Lexington Avenue. The man at the counter looked approvingly at the Tiffany box.
I removed the distinctive blue cover, took the frame out of the tissue paper and handed it to her.
He stared at her for a few seconds.
“Tell you what,” he said. “I don’t want this, but I’ll buy the box.”
—Mary Jo Robertiello
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Illustrations by Agnes Lee