Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Travel - Newsies and New York City

     With the opening of 'NEWSIES', my wife Deb and I booked an overnight weekend stay in New York City to watch my first Broadway show. We traveled by motor coach arriving in the city relaxed and ready for sightseeing.
     We met up with Connecticut friends Anne and Ted Jones and dropped our bags at our hotel on 40th Street. They travel into Manhattan Island several times a year and are familiar with getting around the city. The pair were our tour guides giving me a chance to take a step back and just enjoy the day and shoot some snapshots.
View of Central Park
     I had a motive for our trip which involved my childhood. The last time I stayed in New York was with my family as an eleven year old. I wanted to compare what it was like as a boy and and how I look at things as a middle aged adult. The first thing I noticed this trip was that the blocks didn't seem as long when walking around but the skyscrapers are just as tall. Back then we took a ride on the Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan and rode the subway to Coney Island. My parents went out to a show and we stayed behind at the hotel with my older brother watching us. I can remember stuffing myself on New York style pizza. It was a rare treat for our family to get out of Pottstown and I made sure to take it all in. This time, we were seeing a Broadway show and walking around keeping the day very low key. No rushing from place to place just being in the city again was enough.
     As a boy, my parents allowed my brother Gary and me to buy some souvenirs to remember the trip. It's what I call the 'Yellow Submarine' and 'Sgt. Pepper' era of my life. Influenced by the Beatles, we each bought a Nehru jacket and a heavy medallion and chain. We thought we were the coolest dudes in town when we got back home. On this trip, the only thing I got were a couple of N.Y. lapel pins. Photographs are my souvenirs these days.
Nederlander Theater
     Once we got our bearing the four of us headed to Central Park and walked a couple miles listening to sidewalk musicians and caught up on what's new in our lives. From there we had lunch at Matt's Grill at 55th and 8th Street. Anne's cousin Terry Ferguson owns the business since 1995 along with his father Matt, the namesake of the restaurant and bar. We took our time and had a long lunch chatting with Terry and munching on a tasty pub style meal and sipping a Belgium beverage.
     After lunch we worked our way up town. Landmarks along the way were the Radio City Music Hall and the Ed Sullivan Theater home of The David Letterman Show. From there the girls couldn't help but stop at the M&M store on Broadway with the smell of chocolate drawing them in.
    Then, we stood in the heart of Times Square with the crowds hurrying by. We looked like the tourists that we were doing a 360 to see all the visuals attached to the high rises.  It's sensory overload with honking cabs zipping by, people chattering and me taking in all the New York hustle bustle.
     Next on our agenda was the 8 p.m musical at the Nederlander Theater. The Broadway show 'NEWSIES' was of interest to me as it's based around the newspaper business and newspaper boys or newsies of 1899. Carrying the Philadelphia Bulletin for a year when I was fifteen years old and now working at The Mercury gave me the link I needed and a reason to plan the trip to the city that never sleeps.
Times Square on Manhattan Island
     The storyline is a David vs. Goliath battle. Rich and influential publisher Joseph Pulitzer raises the price for the teen-aged ragamuffin newsboys to sell the paper. The newsies decide to take on Pulitzer and go on strike refusing to hawk the paper. It's a choreographed song and dance battle of wills and you can figure out who wins in the end. The packed house cheered from the completion of the first number and gave the cast a long standing ovation at the final curtain. The theme of the little guy winning hit home with many attending the show. The short running show is a big hit.
     We were all energized after and took a walk to see Times Square at night. LED screens lit the sky with a rainbow of colors. We called it a night around midnight and were up early the next day.
Flowers on memorial
     After breakfast we took a walk over to Rockefeller Center and was surprised to see people and the Easter bunny ice skating on the frozen rink in April. It was Easter Sunday and many women wore modest bonnets while others modeled extravagant flowered covered hats.
     The last stop on the trip was to the 9/11 Memorial which was completed for the tenth anniversary this past September. The memorial is free to the public but you need to go online to secure a pass for the day and time of your visit. A printed pass is your ticket onto the site and we were required to go through metal detectors before entering.
     Much of the surrounding area, the museum, along with several buildings are still under construction at ground zero. We walked along the pristine grounds and tree lined walkway toward the two cascading pools where the World Trade Center twin towers once stood. I ran my hand over some of the names etched in the memorial of those lost on September 11, 2001. There was a quiet respect shown by visitors slowly walking the memorial grounds. We stayed for an hour and drove back to Times Square to catch a bus ride home.
The 9/11 Memorial and one of the cascading pools.
     The Empire State Building came into view as we drove up town. As a boy riding the express elevator and looking out over the city was the high point of my youthful stay. Even today it's a fascinating sight to stand at the base and look up at the cities famous structure. My return trip to the 'Big Apple' is now complete.
     But, it's not the final one. Plans have already been made to meet and take a ferry ride to The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where Deb's grandmother first entered the U.S.A.  I threw in a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge to round out our next adventure.

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