Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Back when I was a kid....

I was talking to my coworker last night and he was telling me about growing up near New York back in the '60s. Back then, most of the t.v. shows were filmed in New York, so it was easy for him to get tickets. He got to see the Carson Show and the Ed Sullivan show among others. I asked him if he saw the Beatles on Sullivan and he did, although not the famous 1964 show where they appeared on Sullivan the first time. He also got to see Diana Ross and the Supremes live. He told me that his aunt was going crazy when she saw the Beatles....screaming and screaming. She didn't faint, but there were girls there who did. Of course, this seems so bizarre to me, because people don't pass out when they see rock stars anymore, or at least not in the mass numbers that they did for The Beatles, Elvis and Sinatra, or any of those other old pop stars.

He also told me a funny story about his aunt, who apparently had a propensity for drama. One night they went out to a show and then to the Playboy Club. Now, this wasn't a strip club as one might think. Instead it was an exclusive dinner club where the waitresses wore the skimpy bunny outfits. Kind of like an upscale Hooter's or something. K's aunt was wearing a long cloth coat with a fur collar, and when they went to check the coats, the coat check lady said "I'm sorry ma'am, but we don't check furs." His aunt responded "This isn't a fur, it's just a fur collar!" But the coat check lady wouldn't take it. So his aunt ripped the collar off the coat, stuck it in her purse, handed the coat to the coat check lady and said "Here you go!"

Talking to him about growing up in New York reminded me that my great-aunt lived in New York in the 1920s. She lived on Governor's Island, which lies at the mouth of the East River, between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Governor's Island is actually a prison site; I'm not sure if the prison is still open, but back in the '20s it was. Today I asked my grandmother about it and this is what she told me: my aunt lived with my great-uncle who ran the electric system for the whole island. When she moved there, she had only lived in small town Pennsylvania for her whole life, so New York was very intimidating to her. Every day she explored a little more of the city, until eventually she knew it like the back of her hand. My grandmother lived with my great- aunt for a year when she was a teenager, and Aunt M would frequently send my grandmother on the ferry into Brooklyn to buy things like brown eggs and unsalted butter, which was unavailable on the island. These days it's unthinkable to send a kid alone into Brooklyn, but I guess things were different back then.

I thought those stories were really interesting. They gave me a snapshot of life that was very different than my own, and I think both living situations were a little unusual. I wonder in the future if the younger generation will find my lifestyle very interesting and different. What stories will they want to hear? What have I done that's different with my life?

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