It was with great excitement and some fear that our family visited the storied city of New York fifteen years ago. We called it our Great Eastern Vacation…and indeed at that time in our lives it was probably the most ambitious journey that we had embarked upon accept for our Great Western Vacation, but that is for another blog. One of the first things that I noticed was that traffic on the streets of Manhattan did not seem to follow any particular recognized rules of the road. Car horns were honking constantly…many times at me…and virtually all of my fellow drivers were either taxis, limos, police cruisers, or buses. Many of the taxis appeared to be especially beat-up. As I was attempting to park in front of a hotel, to check on reservation availability, a limo driver jumped out of his vehicle and began to vehemently curse the car just in front of me that had taken his perceived parking spot. Whereupon the angry chauffeur then saw a friend of his and suddenly ceased cursing and greeted him warmly. Mary Jane hurried into a Days Inn, the third hotel we had sought reservations at, while I tentatively waited with Aaron and Jonathon. When she returned to tell me that we had reservations for the night but that the price went up June the first…I responded that whatever the price we must book the room for the second night and get off the road before we had an automobile accident.
The unusual sights and sounds of the city were almost overwhelming to our rural eyes. Staying near Times Square and Broadway we traversed the evening streets and I was struck by the empirical fact that all of the major television news networks were within a few blocks of each other. We passed many homeless and one poor soul who had a sign around his neck that stated people could curse him for a dollar.
Just the noise of the fire trucks and the crush of humanity below our hotel window was a sensory experience unlike anything in the mid-west. Frank Sinatra sang that he wanted to wake up in the city that never sleeps…and I finally realized what he meant. The excitement of being at the nexus of the financial and entertainment world in the United States was a strange and compelling elixir.
We attended our first Broadway show, “Taller than a Dwarf” with Matthew Broderick and Parker Posey. As we sat just a few rows back from the front I looked to my right and there was Leonard Nimoy setting in the row adjacent to mine on the other side of the aisle. As we walked back to our hotel after the conclusion of a wonderful production, although it seemed the critics did not agree, either Aaron or Jonathon exclaimed that Kevin Bacon and his wife Kyra Sedgwick had just walked passed us. Low and behold it was the famous couple and so we did what country people do and stared from a distance at them. As more tourists noticed who they were they quickly hailed a taxi and departed the area.
June 1, ‘2000’ was our bus tour of New York with the highlight being a tour of the World Trade Center. We toured the South Tower. I noticed that I felt strangely uneasy the entire time that I was in the tower. I had no idea why and usually I am not given to feelings of trepidation. One year and three months and ten days later…the horrific tragedy of 9-11 occurred. We all wondered if the tour that we had taken just a short time before was in the South Tower that sad morning. We also thought of the many employees that we had seen and encountered and knew that certainly many of them lost their lives in the horrific tragedy.