Memories of New York & Vic
July 8, 2004: The afternoon of Victor's service in Portland, Me. This is approximately what I talked about.
Steve and Nancy and Steve's wife Kit (by email) have told you about what Vic meant to them and how he affected their lives. You have known him, as an older man. Now I would like to tell you about what our life was like in New York City when we were much younger.
Vic and I met in the late 1930s as part of a young adults' church group. We participated in many activities, most of which were very inexpensive, since it was post-Depression time, and none of us had much to spend.
Most of the things
we did were outdoors, in-season. In the winter we went ice skating on a frozen
pond in Van Cordtlandt Park (the Bronx).
We brought our own ice skates; sat on the frozen ground and put them on, and "hid" our shoes under the steps of the building where we went to get warm and refreshments were sold.
Most of us were
not great skaters, but we joined the crowd there and had fun. Afterwards we
dispersed to our own homes (apartments) via trolley (cost 5 cents). Some of
us lived in the Bronx and others in upper Manhattan. Occasionally we also went
sledding on the hills in Van Cordtlandt Park.
One of our other outdoor "sports" was roller skating at night around the streets surrounding Yankee Stadium--when there was no game scheduled. The pavement was smooth and we had our four-wheeled ball bearing skates that fastened onto the soles (leather) of our shoes, tightened by a skate key.
Again, none of us were fancy skaters but it was enjoyable just being together with no one to bother us. Transportation to the stadium was by elevated (subway) or trolley (5 cents again).
In the summer on a Saturday, we sometimes hiked through the woods of Van Cordtlandt Park up to Yonkers where there was a huge outdoor swimming pool in Tibbets Brook Park. The cost was 25 cents to get in and put your clothes in a wire basket which the attendant put on high shelves, and gave each person a numbered tag on an elastic wrist or ankle band.
Better not lose it or it would be hard to redeem your clothes! There was a deep end to the pool with eight diving boards in a semicircle. The middle part was swimmable and walkable, and the shallow end (for non-swimmers) curved around in a semi-circle too.
Afterwards we ate our picnic lunches on the grounds and later hiked back through the woods. There were usually a bunch of us--mixed--with more girls than guys.
Officially we were called the reflectors Club and had regular meetings twice a month. we had formal by-laws and elected officers but our meetings were not that formal. we paid dues which were used to rent the room for our meetings, and other expenses like the publication of a monthly "newspaper" (mimeographed) called "Reflections." Articles were written by various members of the club. Sometimes there was poetry, editorials and illustrations by talented members.
On occasion we would put on a "talent night" or some other entertainment and invite parents. We also brought a Victrola and records for dancing after the meetings.
One of our members, Joe Sloane, was a great Shakespeare fan. he encouraged us to attend plays on and off Broadway with some of the well-known stage actors. Since I worked on 42nd Street near the theater district, I purchased tickets on my lunch hour. Theaters were small (no amplification except for voices). We sat--as a group--in the balcony, using opera glasses for close-up looks. cost of the tickets--$1.10 each (not like today's prices!)
Afterward we would go to Walgreen's'; Drugstore on 44th or 45th Street and have ice cream sodas in their downstairs room. On Joe's 21st birthday, we even brought a cake and had a celebration. The management loaned us a knife to cut it!
Sometimes on the weekend we would hike across the George Washington Bridge--fairly new and only one level then--and up the Jersey shore to the Dykeman Street Ferry--back across to Manhattan via the Hudson River. We did a lot of walking in those days--by necessity and for pleasure. Very few autos--no need for them as public transportation was abundant and cheap.
Our big annual event was our Memorial Day bike ride to Westchester. We met at my apartment ( my mother, sister and I lived in the west Bronx). A few of us owned bicycles, and others rented them from a shop near there. Cost $1 per day plus $1 damage deposit. We took our lunch and spent the day riding, picnicking and resting.
The weather always seemed to be good, and we would come home tired, sunburned and sore. Memorial Day could be any day of the week--May 30, and was a big holiday.
These were our adventures--and wonderful ones--which stopped when World War II intervened and our young men went off to various parts of the world. Fortunately, all of our group returned safely, but by then we were in different places. We did keep in touch with each other--and still do--those of us who are left.