I’ve been away for a few days. Here’s why…
When my son, Sam, was 8 years old I told him that I’d take him to any city of his choosing in the United States the year he turned 10. I also promised to take him to any city in the world the year he turns 20. Without hesitation Sam chose New York for 10. (He’s leaning toward Paris for 20.)
Sam turned 10 this past August and while we had hoped to get him to NYC this past October, my Dad’s sudden illness and passing made that impossible. In fact, Dad died the very week we had originally planned to make the trip.
My Dad had a long held admiration of, and affection for New York City. He went there many times. But the first time, long before I was born, is the one that thrives in my imagination. He was in college in the late 1940’s. During one of his summer breaks he decided — being a lifelong Yankees fan — that he would hitchhike from his home in Arkansas to New York City and take in a game or two at Yankee Stadium. Dad saw a great deal of the United States in those days by walking out to the highway and raising a thumb toward the passing truckers, traveling businessmen and families on vacation who had room for one more. So, it was no big deal for him to take a couple of weeks to thumb his way to the East Coast and back. Except it was a big deal — he ended up being befriended by a Doctor and his family who invited him to stay in their guesthouse for a few weeks. He got to know the City and he saw the Bronx Bombers as much as he could while he was there. The experiences he must have had! If I had a Time Machine, one of the first places I’d visit is New York in the years just after World War II.
The first two times I went to NYC I was with my Dad. So it did my heart good for Sam to choose it for his ten-year-old trip. We’ve only been back for a couple of days but I don’t think our family will ever forget our week there. We stayed at a house owned by some good friends in Brooklyn. We did a lot of touristy stuff but we really enjoyed just living like Brooklynites for a few days — walking to the grocery store, local eateries, a block over to the subway station and three stops into Union Square. The picture at the top of this post was snapped as Sam (followed by Tracy) emerged from the Union Square station onto Manhattan concrete for the first time. He took to it like a duck to water.
Being in the City, seeing it again for the first time through Sam’s eyes I was struck by what a great movie town it is. I’m not just referring to movies set in New York. I’m talking about movies that are quintessential New York movies — where the City is as much a character as anyone else in the story. Over the next week or so, I plan to post two New-York-related-movie posts here. One is an essay about The Wolf of Wall Street — which I’ve been jotting notes for off and on since I saw the film in December. The other will be a general post on some of my favorite New York movies. I hope you’ll check back for those and join the conversation if you’re so inclined.