Saturday, January 23, 2010

Penultimate Stoops to Nuts Show & Remember, Safety Last

I strolled Yorkville with Dad all the time. Whenever I could I tried to direct our walk past Rappaport's Toy Bazaar on the east side of Third Avenue between 78th & 79th Streets. They had gorgeous model sailboats in the display window perfect for cruising Central Park's sailboat lake south of the Alice in Wonderland statute. I pictured myself in my captain's cap directing my "Flying Dutchman" over the sea just off Fifth Avenue.

One day when I was eight, I got Dad to turn left on 79th Street putting us directly in front of Rappaport's. It was a warm Saturday, the street was crowded with people. Dad grabbed my hand and we did a punt return dance through and around most of the folks. I wanted to stop and pitch Dad on the boats, he wanted to get to 72nd Street to meet a friend. As he pulled me forward and I pulled him back a tall man said, "Hi, Tommy." I said, "Hi, John." Dad gave me a funny look and we kept going. Crossing 78th Street a short chubby man with a moustache said, "Hey, Tommy." I said, " Hi, Jeff."

Once we were on the sidewalk, Dad stopped dead and twisted my head up with his hand so we made eye contact. "Who the hell were those two men?" "Oh, they're Emergency Room doctors at Lenox Hill." Dad shook his head and we kept walking.
Later that night, Dad said to Mom, "I think Tommy should wear his new football helmet all the time." My mother's face said she was given the idea strong consideration. I had no defense. My stitch collection was starting to make my face look like a hockey goaltender. A clumsy fellow, I regularly fell off the ten cent rides in front of Woolworth's, Lamston's & Grant's.


Anonymous said...

Oh RAPPAPORT'S TOY BAZAAR! You're story touched me. I used to DO THE SAME THING! On weekend walks wt my Dad I always insisted on walking by the toy store to look in the window. One time at age 4 I was so preoccupied to get over there I crapped in my pants before we could get home. Back then in the late 60s/early 70s we lived at 167 E.82nd and later 151 E.80th. Do you remember the electric train store they had on 3rd Ave. and 82nd?
-Mad Dog

Thomas Pryor said...

Thanks, Mad Dog, yes, I remember the train store, one of the top stops in Yorkville.

Anonymous said...

Great Story Tom...all my athletic equipment and toys came from there....I was born at Doctor's Hospital and my older brother and I also knew the ER staff local hospitals. I feel like the Yorkville crew of the 60's and 70's were the last of the true Manhattan neighborhoods...I am so glad to share that history with you and others. Thanks again for the great memoir

Thomas Pryor said...

Thank you, Anonymous, I thought Doctor's Hospital was one of the coolest buildings in Yorkville. It was ritzy & spooky. Spent a lot of time in there visiting my grandmother on her countless hospital stays. One of my dad's cousins, Marie Pryor, was a nurse there for years.

NoreenD said...

I lived at 1385 Third Ave., right over Rappaport's Toy Bazaar. I hate to tell you how much time I spent looking in the window. Christmas time was the best. There were so many dolls and I wanted them all. My father bought one of those sail boats and we sailed it in Central Park. I remember when there was no Alice in Wonderland in the Park and I saw it being built. That part of Manhattan was the best place to grow up. 1385 and Rappaport's are gone now but I still miss them.

Thomas Pryor said...

Thank you, Noreen, I too, remember the construction of Alice, we were lucky to be at an age when the Central Park's Children's Zoo opening was Disney for us.