There was one family on Washington Avenue that had a set. They were an old couple with no kids, and they would invite kids off the street to watch TV in the late afternoon's every so often, they were the Fein's. But the real impressions made on kids back then was New York City itself.
What happened on the street, in your neighborhood, that was what mesmerized a 7 year old back then. That along with traveling, especially those wonderful trips we took to Long Island.
It was not only the chance to swim, and ride a bike without fear of it being stolen or worse, being hit by a car, that was the treat for me, it was Pennsylvania Station, and the Long Island Railroad.
The Old Pennsylvania Station.........
It was like being in Rome, the statues, the masonry, the columns, the fourth largest building in the world at that time, 8 acres, and a ceiling 150 feet high!
Trains running under the East River, then above ground all the way to Long Beach, how cool!!
Nothing on TV back then could match that, for me.
...Nowadays, on my trips to New York City to chase down independent artists, I land at JFK, catch the 'Air Train' and then you got it, the Long Island Railroad, to Pennsylvania Station.
On every trip as I step off the train at the station, my sense of smell tells me it is exactly the same odor from the 1950's. However that's where the similarity from a bygone era ends.
The above ground part of the terminal has been demolished, and you can now visit it and see a basketball game, a hockey game, or a concert. You can also purchase some sneakers, or a team jersey, and use a Chase ATM machine. The statues, the architecture, the work of the masons who were shipped in from Italy, along with the marble, the same marble use by the ancient Romans, was removed and demolished in 1963.
I remember the protest to keep the station, and I would make it my business to pass by as the demolition was in progress, kinda like a 'wake' that lasted months.
There was no chance to save the landmark, because it was owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad, and they were going broke, they had no choice. The railroad bought up all the small homes and businesses with cash, door to door in a matter of weeks to acquire the land, in a covert operation.
That piece of land was know then as the 'tenderloin' district.
Soooo, now the above ground is an arena and the vestibules once adorned with the work of artisans from all over the world, are a mass of food courts. Pizza, coffee, doughnuts, tacos, juices and salads are plentiful.
As a result of this action NYC passed the 'landmarks' bill. The bill is the reason Grand Central Station is still standing and exempt from a similar fate.
Soooooo, I get a lump in my throat with every trip through the station now, but I still have vivid memories of the great trips through there sixty years ago, and it makes me remember how cool my mom and dad were....Throwback Thursday's!!
|Madison Square Garden, above Penn Station 2013.|
follow me:: Pete Carma