Sunday, November 29, 2015

My Grandfather's View On Nassau Street In 1916

My grandfather, Thomas E. Pryor, was committed to a Staten Island orphanage for 8 years.  He was 8 when he entered in 1909 (his parents died of pneumonia) and a day shy of 16 when he was discharged to his Aunt, Mary Pryor, who lived at 300 E. 42nd Street in 1916.  

Below is a picture of my grandfather at the orphanage, his birth certificate, his intake/outtake card from Father Drumgoole’s Orphanage and his 1935 Hack license.

A few years ago, doing birth certificate business for my daughter downtown in the Courts area, I walked along Nassau Street and saw the vacant lot where the first New York Times office opened in 1851.  Through the lot I had a cool view of the Woolworth Building.

As I strolled about I thought about the day my grandfather was released from the orphanage in 1916.

The next day was his birthday. I imagined he walked downtown enjoying his new freedom, past the Brooklyn Bridge along Nassau Street turning into Broad Street at Wall Street.  When possible I looked up at buildings I knew were built before 1916 and mostly served the publishing industry at the turn of the century. I made believe it was my first time.

I saw what my grandfather saw as a young man. New York City busting the sky even on the side streets off Park Row and Broadway.  This blew me away. Below are some pictures from my walk and link to several others.


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Saturday, November 28, 2015

A 1965 Elmhurst Adventure With The Kinks

Rode the # 7 through LIC, Sunnyside & Woodside along the El yesterday on my way to Elmhurst to visit Aunt Barbie Pins. Took some pictures, I'll add more later. Here's an old Elmhurst tale.


I was talking with a friend about how much I love Ray Davies and the Kinks music. This reminded me of a frigid November Saturday afternoon in 1965 when I was eleven.

For some reason, I was staying over my Aunt Barbara's apartment in Elmhurst. I liked to wander around the neighborhood by myself, so I was window shopping along Roosevelt Avenue under the El, breezed past Jackson Avenue. I had a buck, which meant today I would buy one 45 single, and it better be a good one. When I was eleven, no decision carried as much weight and thought as buying a record. There was a small music store near the Jackson movie house. I tired out the clerk looking over the new releases and finally decided on "Till the End of the Day," by the Kinks, because I heard "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?" the flip side once and liked it fine. It was a unexpected gift buying a single when the B side was a good song too.

I ran a half mile to Barbara's apartment on Macnish Street, not breathing, said hi, and went straight to the Victrola. Saw something disturbing.

"Barbara, why is the record player unplugged?"

"It's broke.'
OK now I was in hell. New music with no means of playing it. I dropped into a chair. Barbara saw the shape I was in and made a suggestion.

"Tommy, Joannie's not home, but why don't you go try Betty?"
Barbara, my Aunt Joan, and their friend Betty Mulhern, all lived in the building. Betty Mulhern was Emma Peel, Barbara Feldon and Serena, Samantha's evil cousin all rolled into one. If you didn't like brunettes, and saw Betty, you'd like brunettes. She danced every new dance, and her wild hair flew. She wore tight shorts on long legs, she wore clam diggers, she painted her pretty toes. Her eyes sparkled, her nose twitched. I couldn't make eye contact with her without my belly feeling funny.

I went down the hall and knocked on Betty's door. Music was playing.

"Hey Tommy, what's up?"
"Hmmm, I have a new record, Barbara's player is broken. Can I play it on yours?"
"Sure, come in."

I put it on. Betty was doing the dishes, and she started to sway her hips. All I could do was watch her move back and forth, back and forth.

I played both sides five times. Would have made it six, if Barbara didn't come in to retrieve me.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Biking Along The East River

Had business on Worth Street a few years ago , biked south along the East River, rested in Foley Square, visited Oliver Street to say hi to one of Al Smith's homes. Gov. Al lived there from 1907 to 1923 a few foot steps from Henry Street in the St. James Parish.

Here's a link to a photo album of the bike ride.

Do you need a gift for an ageless kid?

On sale, tomorrow, Friday at Logos Book Store, save 25 % ($4.25) off the $16.95 list price. 

Or purchase the book online at Amazon (113 five-star reviews out of 113 posted) or Barnes & Noble.