Wednesday, July 29, 2009
86th Street ~ The Heartbeat of Yorkville
On a good day, I'd weasel a quarter off my mother on 83rd Street. Then I'd hit York Avenue, walk half a block north, go up the stairs of 1582, walk into Apt. 2 South, make a little small talk and say, "Hi Nan, how are you , can I have a quarter?"
Then I'd stroll north, crossing 84th & 85th Streets, go up the long stoop of 1616 York Avenue and walk into the first floor apartment on the north side of the building ~ same routine, "Hi Pop, Yankees won yesterday, how are you? Can I have a quarter?"
Once in a blue moon, they all said, "Yes."
When they did, I had my movie money ~ 75 cents for Loews or the RKO. Who needed food? I was going to see a new film all by my lonesome. Up 86th Street, I ran. It never bothered me to go in during the middle of a film. I liked trying to figure out what was going on, who was who, and I always stayed for the entire movie anyway.
Under the street bed of 86th Street between 1st & Lexington Avenues beats the heart of Yorkville. It's been there since the end of World War I. Maybe longer. Between those avenues were the pleasure domes of my childhood, the late 1950s and 1960s. The three movie houses, Horn & Hardart, Cushman's, Prexy's, Karl Ehmer, off block, Schaller & Weber and the Heidelberg Restaurant, Berlin Bar, Merit Farm, Papaya King, Ideal Restaurant, Salamander Shoe Store for my special need feet with the store's gift of a air-filled balloon for every child on a straightened out metal hanger because they were too cheap to buy helium, Woolworth's and Lamston's around the corner, Martin's, Singer's, Lotus, Little Hofbrau and countless other restaurants.
Last night, I stopped by the new Barnes & Noble bookstore near the 86th Street subway entrance to check out the new books. There in the center of Local favorites & the New York section was Lost and Found: Stories from New York, (see photos).
My family's played, shopped and gallivanted along 86th Street for 100 years. If they were here, everyone of them would have a baby seeing my story, "Madame Butterfly Goes Down,"in this book.
Thomas Beller's terrific anthology, Lost & Found: Stories from New York, is available at: