Good morning to everyone. I was sipping my coffee this morning going over various ideas of what my blog should be about when I started to think about summer vacations. I have had so many different vacations in my lifetime and so much that happened on each one, but my New York vacation was more than the just the average one.
When I was a young girl, my mother decided that we would go with one of her lady friends named Mabel on a vacation to New York. Now, this was an exciting trip because we were going to fly there. Neither my mother nor I had ever flown an airplane before and this alone was a very exciting, pivotal addition to the trip. We anticipated all the things we would go and see. And the week we were to leave for New York, the airlines went on strike! That was the summer of 1966. I couldn't believe it....and boy, neither could my mother....We were all set and ready, and our transportation was grounded....so istead...my mother's friend Mabel, make alternate transportation plans...The Greyhound Bus! Now let me tell you...traveling from Chicago Illinois on a Greyhound bus at the end of July was not my mother's idea of the perfect way to travel. It was warm, uncomfortable, and long!! Now, if this wasn't bad enough....my mom's friend also made the hotel reservations. To my mother's horror....Mabel had made them in a YWCA. I remember at the time, thinking...why my mother didn't ask her in advance where we were staying or even why she wasn't part of the decision making. We had taken vacation's prior to this one! I suppose, since Mabel had been to New York before, my mother just assumed that she knew the best places to go.
Well, there we were, in New York City, staying at a YWCA, after having ridden for umpteen hours on a Greyhound bus. We were definitely not off to a good start. Now, the rooms were clean, but not anything that my mother would call special. Mabel said that you wouldn't want to rent a car there because parking would be a difficult thing to do in New York and there was plenty of alternate transportation...what MS. Mabel really meant was it would be cheaper to walk.
I guess, you need to know that my mother was a pretty self sufficient woman, who in the 50's drove her own car and worked what was typically a man's job. So she was not the average, run of a mill type woman who was all that concerned with pinching pennies when it came to a vacation. We took buses and underground transportation and walked....A LOT!
I remember the places we went to see...Greenwich Village, where standing at a Bus stop...some young women started talking to me, and before I knew it my mother stepped in and swooped me away. Evidently, my mother at the time, recognized that the woman was interested in other woman...something very different in those days and something surely never encountered back home. The Mother bear syndrome kicked in.
Next, we went to Times Square, and that was probably one of the most memorable walks we had ever taken..Being in Times Square was such an experience. We were looking up in every direction and at all the sights...We had just come from getting ice cream in one of the shops and as we are crossing the street, in the middle of Times Square my mother is talking to Mabel and asked her a question....and there came no response...My mother and I turned around to look for Mabel, and there she was, laying face down in the middle of the street in Times Square with her face ,smack dab in her ice cream cone. The only thing visible was her bright Red hair. It was a sight to see for sure! We went over to help her up and try to get her to the sidewalk and my mother pulled out her handkerchief to try to clean her up. Her poor knees had gotten scraped and were bleeding, we didn't have any bandages with us, but my mother had a couple of Kotex in her purse and used one to at least sop up the blood It must have been an hysterical sight to see for all the people passing by. To think back now...I can hardly stop laughing.
No that was not the only adventure in New York. We got to take the ferry out to Staten Island to see that magnificent Statue of Liberty. Wow, to imagine how tall she was! And back then, you were allowed to climb all the way to the top. Now Mabel's knees were quite sore from her trip on Times Square...so she took the elevator up so the second floor, if I remember correctly. and of course, I, being just a kid, wanted to climb all the way to the top and look out of her crown. Unbeknownst to me, my mother was hemorrhaging....she needed to have a hysterectomy and put it off until after the trip to New York. So, my poor mom, she climbed all those stairs up with me. What a mom won't do for their child! I remember the stairway was narrow and winding and once you started up, there was no way to turn around and go back down. I never realized what a sacrifice my poor mom was making just to make me happy. She of course would have never allowed me to do it by myself. I so appreciate that gesture now. What a mom! I got the experience of a lifetime because of her. Bless her sweet heart...I wish today that I could tell her so, but she has since passed away.
The next experience was quite funny when you think of todays modern ways of looking at things. I remember that we had tickets to go see the Rockettes at Rockefeller Center. My mother was aghast at the costumes that were worn on stage and that her young daughter of 11 years old was sitting in the audience viewing what seemed to her, quite provocative costumes. I went to see the Rockettes a few years ago here in Chicago, when that thought had crossed my mind. Compared to what children see now a days on television and in the movie theaters, those costumes were nothing!
And then there was a night when mom and Mabel decided to have one grown up night on the town and left me to stay at the YWCA alone. I remember how strange it was, because in the room there were no cushioned chairs to sit on like we have these days, but downstairs in the lobby were couches and cushy chairs to be used. I remember taking my Nancy Drew book with me and went down into the lounge area to relax an read. I never said a word to my mother, because she might have had a coronary. It wasn't that I wasn't old enough, it was just that she wasn't sure how safe anything was over there.
The one thing I remembered about the trip was that I had been saving all my money to take there to buy something special. I landed up buying my mother a gold charm bracelet. I had seen how much she had admired it in one of the stores and I gave my money to MS. Mabel to go in to buy it so my mom wouldn't know. Her birthday was coming up in August and I wanted to have something really special to give her. I remember when she opened it on her birthday, how surprised she was! For years after that vacation, I saved up to always buy her a special charm to go on it. A couple of months ago, some of her items found their way back to me. You can't imagine the tug at my heart when I opened that box and found that charm bracelet full of charms looking back at me. Memories of a lifetime flooded through my head. As I touched each charm, I remembered each thing it had been associated with. Each special moment in our lives. What a treasure. To think all of that came from a trip that was considered a train wreck back then, was worth it's weight in gold!