Seventh September Blog.
*******. We started out around ten p.m.. My friend, her friend and myself, starting from Toronto. It was in August, and the weather was good. We packed the car with clothes, food and Heaven knows what else, all we would need for a weekend drive. Not sure of the seating arrangements at this juncture, but the friend ( sorry, I cannot remember her name) would be the driver. We were heading for the border between Canada and the USA.
The journey, at this point, must have been uneventful as I remember little of it. Going through the border crossing though, we were asked to alight from the car. I remember talking to the guard who checked our credentials ( passport, where we were headed and so on) and, as it was either very close to, or, my actual birthday, he wished me a Happy Birthday. Something of the sort, it is a little unclear in my mind. One if thos particilars that never sra very long in the memory because it is not that important. So long ago. At my age, time has a habit of not keeping track of most small items that it does not need to remember, concentrating only on the larger, more important memories.
However, we were across The Rainbow Bridge, onto American soil and on our way. We were headed for The Big Apple. New York.
We had intended to take a week but my friends were unable to get a whole week off. So, it was decided! New York and back in a weekend. Approximately 600 miles each way. WOW! Some journey!
The time must have been ljust after midnight, and we drove on an I. ( an Interstate road – lije an English motorway) all the way down towards New York, through The Catskill Mountains, in pouring rain, I might add. No pit stops. None available.
Needing to get rid of liquid, was a problem. My friend, sitting beside me in the back seat, got a plastic cup and proceeded to vent liquid. We laughed. Laughing and oassing water into a small cup at the same time, was even more comica. Her friend from the driving seat asked ” how can you stop and start like that?” We never did find out. Many years later (after having a child myself) i found out, it’s child’s play, how she managed. At the time though, with the offer of a cup, I was not able to comply, so hung on until finally we came to a very busy stop, a few miles north of the bridge into downtown New York. It was a laughing point for a long time afterwards, and it can ystill illicit a giggle all these years later.
Moving on a short way, the girls found a kind of lay-by and slept. Again, I was devoid of keeping up, spending an hour just enjoying being so close to NY City. I might add that I had been very sick with the worst chest infection ( almost) I have ever had. But the temperature was so high and quite humid, so I was not too troubled by it. The bridge over the Hudson River was our next goal, not too far away. We set off.
The bridge across the Hudson felt as if it were the beginning of New York City. First though, we were going through places like Harlem, The Bronx and so on. Not sure which part was which as buildings are buildings, nothing to choose between them as this point. We finally fetched up on Manhattan Island. The hub of the city.
This was 1964 and in New York, hotels were at a premium, it being the time of The Worlds Fair. The place was packed with people from all over the World. We were lucky, finding a hotel with some room, where we took a suite overnight. We had brought with us food and drink so no need to spend more. My friends were always aware that it was cheaper to prepare and carry food with you, not wasting cash on restaurants etc. where one could spend a lot of money. Thrift was our byword
Our target in New York was Macys, the big department store. Great, searching for bargains. I bought a swimming costume ( not that I have ever been able to swim) and odds and ends. Coming back to the hotel, it was very hot and the humidity was rising. The girls went to the pool in the basement. I sat at the open window ad Zi really dud not feel like being wet. I could see in the distance, The Empire State building, then, the tallest building in N. Y. City. My chest was making me feel very tired and rough. After their swim, my friends lay down for a sleep. Driving all night is very tiring.
Much later that evening we took subways to Greenwich Village. On each corner about 8 policemen with guns, stood watching the evening crowds go by. We found a bar, a German Umpaah bar. Sat drinking pale beer from huge steins, singing Umpaah songs, swaying from side to side in time with the music and with others at the long trestle tables. It was funny, their was laughter, gaiety, it was rousing, Very enjoyable.
The night wore on and we must have left the bar about 3. 00 a.m. Sunday morning. The streets were empty but fresh newspapers were already available. We took the subway back to Manhattan, to the hotel, stopping first at a milk bar for something milky, washing the beer taste away, I guess. Then back to the hotel to pack up. We had to be back in Canada before nightfall as the girls had to work the following day.
Things happen! We drove around looking at the adverts for the Worlds Fair but also, looking for a garage. The car had developed a fault. We found a place and got the car fixed. I suppose it must have been close to 11 a.m. by this time. Back over the Hudson and head for the hills.
By late afternoon, the Interstate was packed. Everyone was lane-hopping, not an easy or safe thing to do at 90+ MPH. I dread that memory now, but at the time, thought little of it, as you do when young, nothing phases you. The closer we got to the Canadian border, the lower the sun sank in the sky. It was bright red as it slowly disappeared ove the horizon. We travelled through Buffalo and headed towards Toronto, about two hours distant. Such was the beautiful end to a fabulous weekend.
A weekend I shall never forget. Another country, many new experiences. Altogether, I visited Canada five times through the years, lots of different experiences each time. These are memories I can call upon in my writing, in my painting, should I so desire. But all of them happy, happy days.
Take care out there, my friends.