#7 train, Court Street Station
Photo of the day: THE PHONE CALL – “I love you not only who you are but for who I am when I am with you, and words can not express how much I love you and care about you. I hope that you will never forget how much you mean to me & love. But I can’t keep going on knowing that you don’t feel the same way about me. If you love me let me know, if you don’t let me go, oh and…we need a pound of potatoes, oregano, chives and bean dip.”
Photo of the day: THE WORLD WAR II VET – In 2012 I spotted this old veteran outside Penn Station. He had the most determined walk and I loved his unique flair, so I followed him with my camera till he eventually got lost inside the cavernous train station. I approached him to ask if he needed help, he kept telling me he wanted to go to Central Ave in South Orange, New Jersey. So we looked for the train together. Everything about him touched my heart. His tattered clothes, the scraps of cloth he had tied as kerchiefs, he hadn’t shaved very evenly, his inside-out t-shirt and his perfectly tilted beret which was absolutely covered in (his favorite) cat hair, but his medals were perfectly polished and cared for. I just fell in love with him. He told me he is a lecturer on wars, esp. WWII in which he served. He was very spry, I believe he was at least 85 years old yet still filled with such gentille determination. We reached the Jersey bound train platform but no personnel in Penn Station knew of the address he wanted to go to, but I luckily found a kindly conductor who promised me he would look after our vet. I finally helped him get on the train and off we went, each our separate ways. . .
B train, 1:00am, New York City
Photo of the day: “LET US DIRTY” – 1:10am, Anthony Alonzi fixing his eyeliner after the Cher concert. On the B train, Brooklyn.
Photo of the day: WELCOME TO THE JET AGE – 1964 and the New York World’s Fair offers a look into the future! The marvels of microwave, the pleasures of plastics, amazing atomics, electrifying electronics, riveting rockets to the moon, mega cool monorails, the kaleidoscope of color television, video phones and computer pen pals! Golly gee wiz – it’s the greatest! Come to the New York World’s Fair fair and you’ll experience the marvels of the new jet age!
Postcard story of the Week – A DARK AND GLOOMY DAY IN 1906
Description: 9054. A subway station in New York.
November 20, 8pm, 1906
To: Miss Mary Ostrander*
This is a dark and gloomy day,
*Today there is a Ostrander Elementary School – 137 Viola Avenue – Wallkill, NY 12589.
The subway station is from the Wall Street area. Note: the .5 cent subway fare was on the honor system – you came down the stairs, bought a ticket and then handed it to the clerk.
Having checked weather patterns for November 1906 Manhattan, it was an unusually rainy month. So, is Lisa’s “gloom” referring to the weather or is the dank and dark subway station representative of some sort of sad news?
#7 train, 46th Street, Sunnyside
Photo of the day: BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE – It is 15°F (-9.5°C) here in New York City and last night winds were howling as we received 10″ inches (.25 meters) of snow for our first blizzard of 2014. But the commuters aboard the local #7 train at the 46th Street station in Queens were oblivious to the frigid conditions outside as they concentrated on their books and iPhones on their way home.
Photo of the day: BENT OUTTA SHAPE – Dinosaurs of a (not so long ago) bygone era. A fire call box. When was the last time you saw someone use one? In today’s era of cell phones (what happens if there’s a blackout and you can’t recharge??) and the national 911 system, the corner fire alarm call boxes are ceasing to exist here in New York along will public telephone booths. This casualty was seen in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn at the corner of 7th Avenue and 86th Street.
The next dinosaur to go into extinction are the gas stations, they are being sold off rapidly in Manhattan for the valuable land. Next…?
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
Photo of the day: HANS CRUISES NEW YORK – I spent five days taking 35 Germans and one American on a total sightseeing tour of New York City! They saw the whole big apple from top (Harlem) to bottom (Battery Park/World Trade). The minuses: getting up at 4:30 am to travel from Queens so I can meet them at their hotel in Seacaucus, Jersey at 8:00am. Dropping them off in Jersey at night and that long, long cold mass transit bus ride back. The pluses: The wonderment in their eyes seeing Times Square for the first time. Taking the famed Circle Line Manhattan boat cruise at sunset. Their eagerness to walk along Fifth Avenue decorated for the holidays. The giddy Empire State building visit. The look in their eyes the next morning after they visited the places I had recommended. The hugs and German home made cookie I got at the airport as they sadly said goodbye…makes all worth while 🙂
Can you tell it was cold?
Mondays on Memory Lane: I REMEMBER SUBWAYS WHEN . . . – They had rattan seats – when the rattan came loose, it would pinch you in the ass – all you needed was a nickel and a dime to ride the subway, 15¢ – they gave out paper transfers – porcelain handles that squeaked – the subways were so noisy you had to wait till the next stop so that you could talk – they had vending machines on the platforms: assorted gums like Chicklets for 1¢, Dole orange juice machines with separate spigots for water and juice concentrate – there was still a Miss Subways – there were large paper ads shellacked onto the walls instead of the peel and stick kind today – the stations were dimly lit with simple household light bulbs – we still had token booth attendants – those thick wooden turnstiles – there was a dusty/musty smell in all the stations – garbage was piled high on the tracks – ladies wore white gloves on the subways (this helped keep your fingers from not getting black from reading The New York Times) – all businessmen read their cleverly triple vertically folded NY Times, it was an art – there were wonderful square cardboard ads on the car walls advertising the movies with a show at Radio City Music Hall – when (I Love) Lucy got the loving cub stuck on her head and takes the subway disguised as a beekeeper – there were no musical performers on the trains – that vertical emergency brake pole that was on one end in every car, that would clank as the train rattled – trains shook, rattled and rolled – going from car to car while the trains sped through the tunnels was really dangerous and scary – men gave ladies their seats – porcelain ceiling fans – those teeny tiny tokens! – you could open the windows at your desire – the conductor changing the route signs at the end of every station – you got dressed nicely simply because you were taking the New York City subway, wondering if you might sit next to an actual ‘miss Subways!’ . . .
Radio City movie & show – 1974 subway ad
Photo of the day: ONLY IN NEW YORK – do you see a woman going to the upscale trendy Trader Joe’s supermarket on Sixth Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood to do her grocery shopping, then only to hail a cab to take her groceries home, therefore doubling her bill. In Queens and Brooklyn the ladies have shopping carts, in Manhattan – they have cabs…only in New York
Photo of the day: STYLISH BAD ASS BIKER GRANNY – I don’t which caught my eye first? The overalls? Wearing sandals on a motorcycle? The ‘big’ bag? The ultra cool vintage colored Vespa bike? The matte black bubble helmet? Being in the middle of treacherous NYC taxi traffic? The determined look? Or the fact that she is probably somebody’s really cool grandmother! God I love New York! GO GIRL !
Photo of the day: A STREETCAR NAMED FRANCET
– A trip Brooklyn go to the supermarket/grocery store is more of an unusual experience than you think! The local Fairway Supermarket chain has turned the Red Hook Brooklyn waterfront into an day-trip shopping experience. Built into an old industrial building and site, it has become a day at the beach.
On the back patio are three wonderful old trolley cars from a bygone era in New York. They were supposed to be part of a planned waterfront trolley from Red Hook to the Brooklyn Bridge that has been debated since the 1980’s. About a decade ago they were restored by trolley buff Bob Diamond, who hoped to run them on a line on Columbia Street and Furman along the waterfront for a proposed Trolley Museum and restoration project that has never happened. (He was also was the guy who found the first tunnel in NYC under Atlantic Ave.) He actually got some tracks built before the city pulled the plug. They have been left to deteriorate in back of Fairway since. Further ravaged by hurricane Sandy, their streamlined beauty remains.
As for Fairway – many were skeptical (and quite vocal) back when Fairway planned to open a store in Harlem. And then for their fourth store to be in industrial Red Hook, Brooklyn, well, people thought they were just plain nuts. But how could they resist the gorgeous waterfront with a view of the Statue of Liberty? The Red Hook location ended up being a diamond in the rough, having the advantage of space and size (the largest store at the time at 52,000 square feet), plus all of the qualities that made them a star in Manhattan – on premises-roasted coffee beans freshly ground to order, the largest artisanal cheese counter around, the best of the best deli and appetizing organic and natural foods at competitive prices, the highest quality USDA Prime Beef from their Butcher shop including our own USDA Prime dry-aged beef, the freshest seafood, the largest selection of daily-delivered produce, traditional groceries, kosher selections, and a made-from-scratch bakery. Oh, and the specialty imports – olive oils, exclusive artisanal oils and vinegars, tapenades and sauces, spreads to perfectly complement your perfect cheese, it’s the stuff you dream of. Red Hook is a one-stop-shop that holds a special place in the Fairway Market family of stores. The word ‘cavernous’ comes to mind – IT’S HUGE! !
With café seating for 50 and a waterfront view, Fairway Red Hook is a joy for people to come to shop and for lunch! Customers can set their carts aside, order a scrumptious meal, and in no time be sitting facing the Statue of Liberty having a nice chat with a friend. Surrounded by up-and-coming housing developments and an artist community, the Red Hook store has a unique opportunity to be involved with the community. They donated $30,000 to help rebuild the hurricane Sandy ravaged community. The store itself was completely wiped out inside – a total loss. But they are back stronger than ever in such a short time. Grab your flip flops, sun tan oil and go – – – to the supermarket!
Photo of the day: THE LOST WWII VETERAN – I spotted this sweet old man outside Pennsylvania (Penn) Train Station, and fell in love with his flair and his determined fast pace, so I followed him with my camera. He seemed very concerned to get to his destination, but as I kept following him, we wound up at the end of the station and I could see he was lost. I asked if I could help him. He kept telling me he wanted to go to Central Ave in South Orange, New Jersey. So we looked for the NJ Transit train together. He told me he is a lecturer on wars, esp. WWII in which he served. He was very spry. I believe he is at least 85 years old and seemingly very poor. His white t-shirt was a printed t-shirt turned inside-out, his ragged coat adorned with the medals of his past. The two scarves around his neck in a very Parisian manner seemed to be scraps of fabric he had found, his hat covered with cat hairs.
When we got to the correct platform the conductors knew of no such address but promised me he would be put on the train heading in the right direction and we would have to hope for the best when he got there. I felt so protective of him that I wished I could accompany him myself to his destination safely. The conductors gave me a warm smile and promised they would take care of him. Sadly, I never did get his name. I finally helped him get on the train and off we went, each our separate ways. . .
Photo of the day: THE WHOLE BALL OF WAX – When you are a daily New York subway rider, you come to know ‘the regulars’ on your train. That man who always folds The New York Times so precisely when reading it’s almost an art, the Russian woman who loves wearing leopard patterns, the Indian man who listens to Bollywood soundtracks so loud on his iPhone ear bugs – you can hear it clearly three seats away, the girl who seems to think the subway is her bathroom and meticulously applies her makeup stroke by calculated stroke, the snoring businessman who prefers to wear gray suits. But then there are the other “irregulars”: ‘Lady Karisma’ a woman who wears emerald green sequins, plays a melodica and announces the history of Brazilian music before she sings Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘The Girl From Ipanema” off key, the kid selling candy “for my high school team”, the air head folk singer who singing on the minority laden 7 train is just so, so out of place, the crazy lady from 46th Street who wears totally mis-matched clothes with a preference for lace gloves and veils, eats bags of sunflower seeds and very busily talks to herself – but don’t touch her, she gets testy.
But this being New York…there is always something new to surprise me in this never ending stream of a free show. The other day I was crammed onto a #4 uptown train during rush hour and had barely any room to move my head to look around. As I glance to the left, the lady with the big oversized bee-keeper-like mauve hat did catch my attention. She was terribly engrossed in working on something with her hands. There was also a strange odor coming from her way. Not offensive – just not a recognizable smell. Ok, curiosity getting the better of me, I inched closer. The smell was of the wax she was kneading. There she was – making an old fashion shoe out of candle wax, yes you read that right. A shoe…out of wax. She had a cardboard box of dirty, presumably found candle stubs that she was breaking pieces off of in order to add and mold them very meticulously to her shoe. By the way, the matching shoe was in the box. I tried getting a look at her face but the mauve bee-keeper hat prevented that. She studied the shoe, turned it from all angles in order to apply the next piece of dirty wax just right. I watched her with fascination. As the train pulled into 42nd Street and I got off the train, I just wondered ‘what does one do with a pair of wax shoes?!’
Photos of the day: ♫♪ ON THE 20th CENTURY LIMITED ♫♪ – The 20th Century Limited was an express passenger train operated by the New York Central Railroad from 1902 to 1967, during which time it would become known as a “National Institution” and the “Most Famous Train in the World”. In the year of its last run,The New York Times said that it “…was known to railroad buffs for 65 years as the world’s greatest train”. The train traveled between Grand Central Terminal in New York City and LaSalle Street Station in Chicago along the railroad’s famed “Water Level Route”.
From February 1978 to March 1979, “On The Twentieth Century” was a big, splashy art deco Broadway musical starring none other than Imogene Coca, John Cullum and Madeline Kahn. Imogene stopped the show as Letitia Primrose with her rousing song “Repent!”.
“On The Twentieth Century” 1978 Broadway cast lp
Last weekend May 11-12, 2013, the extravagant 20th Century Limited made a much sought after reappearance at the Centennial Grand Central Terminal Train Show. The crowds were twice what the police expected. It was a two to three hour wait to see the ‘Limited’ alone, but it was worth it! The New York police made the very unpopular decision to shut the show down early to handle the overflow crowds. I was literally the last person to make it in line to see the famed art deco train at 1:00pm. Phew! The upside of that was, since I was the last, the Grand Central volunteers were so happy to see I was the last one – I got a private tour! I was dizzy with euphoria as prying eyes outside were looking in wondering ‘who is that guy?!”.
In the stainless steel operational kitchen.
To experience this treasure from the past all alone is incredible. The sleek art deco fluid designs, the wonderful mint green art deco colors, the big deco furniture, the sheer elegance of every detail is exquisite. It was sensory overload. These were the days when travel was a luxury and an exciting experience you got dressed in your best for. Ladies with hat boxes, men with top hats and ties, children with their nannies in tow. I saw the whole train. The private dining room, the main dining room, the art deco bar, the sitting room, the sleeping quarters for the crew, the luxurious suites, the deco bathrooms, the all stainless steel kitchen-still operational. The best feature of all is the elegant high style art deco observation car in the back, shaped like a bullet. Wandering through the train James Bond’s intrigue with the adjoining rooms in “From Russia With Love” came to mind. Marilyn Monroe in her upper sleeping berth of “Some Like It Hot”, the romantic and thrilling memories were everywhere. I was told the most oft asked question asked upon seeing the sleeping berths was “Where’s Marilyn?”. The train is privately owned and you can rent it for $14,000 a weekend to travel the scenic rails of America. Get 20 of your best friends together, dress in your vintage best and it’s worth it! ALL ABOARD !
The owner, way in the back of ‘Star Trak Inc.’, finally taking a rest in his domain.
Waiting for the bus
Photo of the day: WAITING – for the M101 bus on Third Avenue, voted the 2012 “Schleppie of the Year”. The M101 was given the Schleppie Award as the city’s least reliable bus, more than a quarter arrive bunched together or with major gaps. The average wait time of 8 minutes is a non reality. When the bus does arrive, it can move as slowly as 3.9 mph (miles per hour) – that is slower than an amusement park bumper car. I watched this man for ten minutes . . . he gave up and decided to walk instead. I ♥ NY.
SNOW GLOW: During my hiatus from blogging and Facebook, the blizzard of February 10, 2013 hit Sunnyside Queens, New York and I got the photograph I had been wanting to get for a long time. The street my mother lives on, 45th Street, near Queens Blvd. has a great view of the passing #7 train. When it rains or snows it always has an atmosphere of eerie yet romantic, old world yet in today’s times and a great misty light play. I grabbed my camera and stood in the snow for two hours till midnight photographing the storm and the light plays. This is one of my favorites moments.
BUMPING IN TO MARILYN: Marilyn and the New York subways will be forever linked together since her iconic subway-grate skirt blowing scene from the 1954 film “The Seven Year Itch”. Coming out of the Trans Lux movie theater (Lexington Avenue/52nd Street) having seen “The Creature From The Black Lagoon” Marilyn wanders over the grate and joyously exclaims “Oooh, do you feel the breeze from the subway?! Isn’t it delicious?”
Incredibly and sadly, there is nothing there on the spot to commemorate that sizzling moment, but the photos from that infamous scene will live on forever – you think of Marilyn – you think of that white Travilla halter dress which Debbie Reynolds recently sold at auction for $4.6 million dollars.
One the most perfect photographs was shot by photographer, her friend and film maker Sam Shaw. Thanks to the MTA’s Art for Transit Program you can now ‘bump into Marilyn’ again for all of this 2013 in our subway system. The supersized version of Sam Shaw’s well-known 1954 photo is part of an exhibit. The exhibit also features seven of Shaw’s other Monroe photos. Later, in 1957, he spent a day with Marilyn wandering around Manhattan, taking photos in Central Park – at a bench and rowing a boat, window shopping along Fifth Avenue and perched above the FDR with then husband #3 playwright Arthur Miller .
The Sam Shaw lighted photo exhibit is on view inside the 42nd Street-Bryant Park subway station on the B, D, F, M and 7 lines. Manager Lester Burg of the Arts for Transit program says matching a mass transit setting with a popular figure from mass culture seemed a good fit. I would agree, ‘isn’t it delicious?’
CANINE PLASTIC SURGEON: Droopy dawg? Limp tail? Sagging boobs? Ears too big? Juggly jowls? Can’t afford Joan Rivers’ plastic surgeon? Take your dog to Doctor Armond, plastic surgeon of the dogs! This ad appeared recently on New York City subways just in time for April Fools. What it really is, is an ad for TV’s Comedy Central Show, the link PuppyLift.com takes you directly to The Kroll Show on their station.
I have to admit – this being New York, where dog walkers get up to $25 per dog per half hour, where dogs wear Prada coats and Gucci collars, spend an hour on the doggie psychiatrist’s couch and then go to doggie hair style salons to finish off their day only to go home to eat catered meals and drink bottled spring water . . . I was fooled by it…for a moment 🙂
“In your Easter bonnet,
with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest ‘lady’ in the Easter parade.
I’ll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I’ll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade.
On the avenue, Fifth avenue,
the photographers will snap us,
And you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet,
And of the guy I’m taking to the Easter parade.”
There are certain people that are just “so New York” – this is one of them. “Ms.” Columbia.
Nothing but sheer unmitigated joy streams from him/her and people absolutely light up when she appears. The gall, nerve, insanity, craziness, devil-may-care attitude with a broad grin is absolutely infectious. The delight of living in New York, is you never know where she, the parrot on her head and her dyed-to-match-poodle are going to show up! Saks Fifth Avenue, parades, Greenwich Village, Wall Street, Broadway, Chelsea or on the Queens number 7 train heading for her own Easter parade 🙂
Interview of the day: THE FRIENDLIEST MOTORMAN ON THE #7 LINE ~ One of the friendliest motormen on the 7 line! A long time veteran of the rails, married with 2 children. He asked to remain unnamed and just be recognized for his bright smiling …face, so let’s just call him ‘Smith’. To familiarize you with the MTA lingo, the person in the front is the ‘motorman’, the person in the center of the train operating the doors is your conductor. There isn’t actually very much communication between the two. Most of the communication is between the motorman and headquarters.
He clocks 5 trips a day (the maximum allowed by the MTA.) I asked him what was the most memorable trip, Smith replied: “Yikes! They had me ride right into a tornado in April of 2010. My reaction was like that you see in a cartoon, your eyes pop out of your head, you can’t believe what you are seeing and you react just like a Warner Brothers cartoon…and then you pull yourself together and say to yourself ‘Keep the train steady and moving, you can do this’.”…and he did! His annoyances: “The people at headquarters giving us instructions aren’t here, they don’t know what we are facing or many times are up to.” Also the signals, he pointed out if any one of them is out or wrong it can cause the train to come to a halt and even cause damage, we stopped for a moment and he pointed one of them out and said: “Do you realize how old they are?” So what are his joys? His daily joy is approaching the 103rd Street/Corona Plaza stop. Smith said: “There’s a little bodega down there I can see from my booth and there are moms out front with their little kids. The kids see the train come to a halt and see me looking down at them, so I give ’em a big smile and toot the horn to see their eyes light up, it never gets old.”
His best story: Smith a long time ago met a young man along the line. Not very well dressed, struggling with school and finances. Smith gave him a pep talk and encouraged to keep in school and hang in there. He saw him routinely on his way to school, always in shabby clothes. A few years passed and he saw him dress a little better and ride at different times of the day. It turns out he was job hunting. A few more years passed and Smith pulls into a station one early morning and there at the very front of the platform was someone he thought he recognized. But this man was so well dressed. It was the same young man! He had gotten a decent job and was finally making a bit of money. Smith had watched this young man go through his and our daily struggle and watched him become a success. That makes Smith feel good to this day. As for me, I had a big smile, Smith had put a face and a warm smile behind the person we all take for granted daily. If you see him – give Smith a big smile – you’ll get one right back!