Monthly Archives: November 2019

Alwyn Court

Day One Hundred and Fifty Four Walking the Avenues of Central Park South from Sixth to Seventh Avenues from West 59th to West 54th Streets November 8th, 2019

I have never seen such a drop in temperature in one week. It is only a week since Halloween and on Halloween night it was 71 degrees and humid. I had to turn the heat off in the house and turn the air conditioner on one last time before I went to bed. That was unusual but the reason why I keep the air conditioners up until the weekend after Halloween.

Walking the Avenues of Central Park South this afternoon there was a distinct drop in the temperature by the afternoon. It was freezing in the City by 2:30pm. When I came out of the Cornell Club where I was doing all of my work, it must have been around 48 degrees and continued to go down. By the time I finished walking all of the Avenues, it must have been 40 degrees as the sun went down. I could tell by the way everyone was dressed this afternoon that no one was prepared for this.

I started my walk at Hop Won Chinese Restaurant at 139 East 45th Street for lunch (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food at the restaurant is always impressive and very reasonable. A combination platter is $9.00 for an nice sized entree, fried rice and an egg roll. On this trip I had the Sweet & Sour Shrimp with fried rice and an egg roll and a Coke ($10.95 with tax) and your could not beat the portion size or quality.

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Hop Won Express serves excellent Chinese-American cooking and is reasonable

They served me eight nice sized tempura shrimp in a light sweet and sour sauce and they were sweet and fresh. Their fried rice is very good, a little light sometimes on the ingredients but still good and the egg rolls here are good. This is why the restaurant is so popular at lunch hour for people in the surrounding office buildings and with tourists.

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The Sweet & Sour Shrimp here should not be missed

After lunch, I walked up Lexington Avenue to East 59th Street and walked across the familiar neighborhoods of Turtle Bay and Midtown East which I had finished walking over the summer. Both are going through extensive changes with renovations and refittings of older buildings and the knock down and total construction of new ones. The Manhattan of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s is slowly becoming a memory as the City morphs into its next step of existence, which seems to be very upscale. The commercial and residential buildings are definitely catering to a certain clientele.

I started my walk on the Avenues of Central Park South at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 59th Street. This section of Manhattan is some of the most expensive real estate in the world and with the changing of the neighborhood and rents skyrocketing, I saw a big change not just in the buildings with their updates and renovations but a change in the businesses as well. Those 1990’s leases are coming up on their twenty year anniversaries and a lot of smaller businesses are being pushed out. If you do not own the building or have a certain lease with the landlord, you might be facing a double or triple increase in rent and its too much for the smaller restaurants and services like drycleaners and shoe repair shops.

Sixth Avenue (or Avenue of the Americans which NO ONE calls it) has seen a lot of changes over the years especially from Central Park all the way down to West 34th Street and it still is changing as we speak. Yet there traces of the old Manhattan that still stand out on the Avenue.

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57 West 58th Street The Coronet, an 11 story brick building

At the corner of West 58th Street is 57 West 58th Street, The Coronet Building, a 11 story condominium building that was built in 1901. The building is built of red brick and limestone and what gives it its unique look is in the detail work of the entrance with its arched entrance and quoins, a type of wedging on an angle, that are made of limestone and detail work around the windows. The Beaux Arts detail work was very fashionable at the time (CityRealty 2018).

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The beauty of the entrance to 57 West 58th Street

Another standout building on Sixth Avenue is one that sits on the corner of 57 West 57th Street. This 20 story Art Deco Building was was built in 1928 of stone and glass and was renovated in 1988 by Der Scutt, the architect behind Trump Tower.

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57 West 57th Street beauty is in the Art Deco details

They restored the facade of the building and redid the lobby . Some the details of the building were gold-leafed for effect (LoopNet).

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The entrance 57 West 57th Street with the fancy grill work

At the edge of the neighborhood is the famous New York Hilton Hotel Midtown at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 54th Street. This hotel is the largest hotel in New York City and one of the largest in the world. The hotel was designed by architect William B. Tabler. When it opened in 1963 with 2153 rooms it was the largest hotel in the City (Hilton History and Wiki).

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The New York Hilton Midtown

The hotel has a lot to claim to fame. John Lennon wrote “Imagine” in the hotel, the first cell phone was used here in 1973 and President Trump recently gave his victory delivery speech in the hotel in 2016 (Wiki).

When walking back up north on Sixth Avenue at the corner of West 55th Street is artist John Rennert’s sculpture, “Listen” on the spot where the well-known “Love” sculpture used to be.

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Artist Jim Rennert’s “Listen”

Jim Rennert Artist

Artist Jim Rennert

http://www.jimrennert.com/

Mr. Rennert was born and raised in the Southwest in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. A former businessman, Mr. Rennert later wanted to try his hand in being an artist and a sculptor in 1990 with much success. His works have been shown all over the world with his portrayals of the success and obstacles of the modern working man. His works are formed with a combination of bronze and flat laser steel. “Listen” is one of his public works (Artist Bio).

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“Listen” sits proudly at the corner of West 55th Street & Sixth Avenue

Rounding West 59th Street I continued down Seventh Avenue and was struck by the beauty of a building even under scaffolding. Alwyn Court is one of the most beautiful buildings in this part of Manhattan.

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Alwyn Court at 180 West 58th Street

The Alwyn Court at 180 West 58th Street was built at a time when the wealthy were abandoning the large mansions of Fifth and Madison Avenues and wanted luxury apartments instead (ie Income Tax has been introduced). The building was created between 1907-1909 and was designed by architects Harde & Short in the French Renaissance style with terra cotta ornamentation done in the Francis I style which gives it the unique look.

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Alwyn Court’s terra-cotta ornamentation on the doorway

The beauty is in the detail work of the building and it is going through a second cleaning and repair. It was designated a landmark in 1966 (Wiki).

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They don’t design buildings like Alwyn Court anymore

Further down  Seventh Avenue you come to one of the most famous buildings in the world, Carnegie Hall at 881 Seventh Avenue at the corner of West 57th Street.  One of the most recognized music venues in the world, this building was designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and build by Andrew Carnegie, business owner and philanthropist in 1891. It was one of the last largest buildings in New York City build with masonry and no steel frame (Wiki).

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You can see by the last three years of Christmas blogs that I have written that I have visited Carnegie Hall many times for the holiday concerts. The joke “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice” is so true. The best and most talented perform here.

Carnegie Hall Christmas

The Holiday Concert at Carnegie Hall last Christmas was amazing!

There are more interesting buildings further down Seventh Avenue that are going through a renovation. 850 Seventh Avenue is a elegant detailed eleven story building at the built in 1910 with its stone exterior and its Art Deco features. It is very impressive when you look from the other side of the Avenue.

850 Seventh Avenue

850 Seventh Avenue

One sad reminder of the changes in Manhattan comes with 854 Seventh Avenue, the former home of the Carnegie Deli which closed in 2016. This was one of the most famous and iconic eating places in New York City and was in more TV and movies that I can remember. The restaurant was opened by Leo Steiner and Milton Parker in 1937 and the most amazing food including over-sized pastrami sandwiches, Matzo Ball soup and cheesecakes. I had eaten there many times in both high school and college and then when I was working in the City. The building remains empty today as the new owners are waiting to demolish it and build a residential building there (Wiki).

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The famous Carnegie Deli in its heyday at 854 Seventh Avenue

Across the street from the former deli is 853 Seventh Avenue, “The Wyoming” apartment building. What stands out about this beautiful twelve story building built in 1906 is the elegant Beaux-Art style detail work around the windows and roof.

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853 Seventh Avenue at the corner of West 55th Street

Heading back up Seventh Avenue, don’t miss the famous Osborne Apartments at 205 West 57th Street which faces Seventh Avenue. This elegant apartment house was built and designed by James Edward Ware between 1883 and 1885 in the American Renaissance style with masonry bearing walls and the building itself looks like a giant brownstone.

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The Osborne is Victorian elegant at its best at 205 West 57th Street at the corner of Seventh Avenue

Home to the famous, residents have included Leonard Bernstein, the composer, Sylvia Miles, the actress and Ira Levin, the novelist.

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The splendor of The Osborne lobby can not be matched

It was just starting to get dark when I rounded West 59th Street one more time for the last Avenue to walk and Broadway is always interesting. Having walked this main artery during the summer months three times, I gained a respect for the complexity of the businesses and apartment buildings that line it from Inwood to the Bowling Green. This former Indian trail offers a lot of interesting things to see and do.

My first stop was a visit to the new Nordstrom department store at 235 West 57th Street in the heart of the business district. After years of working at Macy’s, I always remember my store manager saying that they never wanted to open in NYC because of the unions. They felt they could never give the service that they were known for by opening in Manhattan. What twenty-five years does to a City!

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Nordstrom Manhattan at 235 West 57th Street

I have to admit that the store is pretty and has beautiful merchandise but the staff was either so busy kidding around with each other or on their cell phones, they were not paying attention to the customers too much. The restaurant on the top floor was the busiest department I saw in the store and they seemed overwhelmed.

A couple of things I did notice when walking through the store was the staff was so young and not dressed in the traditional conservative Nordstrom way that I knew of the suburban stores. The dress code went out the window here. That and no one ever approached me no matter what department I entered. Big change from the 90’s store that I remember. The second thing I noticed was that no bags were leaving the store. I always remember my boss saying that was the sign that a store was doing well.

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Nordstrom Manhattan

Walking down Broadway in the later afternoon and evening, this part of  Broadway is full of large office buildings that are somewhat generic but here and there are still traces of old New York.

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The Dream Hotel Midtown encompasses old and new

At the corner of Broadway and West 55th Street is the Dream Midtown Hotel at 210 West 55th Street. What makes the hotel unique is that it is a renovated 1895 Beaux Arts building that also encompasses old brownstones on West 55th Street for a unique design. The hotel is basically a hip new hotel surrounded by New York elegance and the hotel has done a wonderful job restoring this old building.

My last stop up Broadway was at the Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which I had visited a few times over the summer to see the ‘Post Punk and New Wave Art’ exhibition. It is really different from the more traditional museums in the City.

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The Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle

The museum was founded in 1956 and has had a few name and location changes over the years settling in this building in 2008 with a total redesign of the building by architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture. The museum’s purpose direction is dedicated to creativity and craftsmanship of the artist along with their materials and techniques (Museum history).

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I thought the exhibition on the Post-Punk and New Wave era was really interesting as I remember the music from that era.

There had been some controversy when redesigning the building. It had been originally built in 1964 by A & P Heir Huntington Harford to house his collection of art as a museum. The original building before the renovation was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone and opened as the Gallery of Modern Art. According to what I read, the building was never endured by any of the architectural reviewers and only came into notice when the building was sold in 2002 (Wiki).

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The old 2 Columbus Circle “The Gallery of Modern Art” before the renovation

This museum and the Dream Hotel Midtown are examples of what is happening in Manhattan now. The reuse of buildings and the old mixing with the new as  businesses are being reworked into old establishments and that morphing Manhattan into its next stage of existence.

I walked around Columbus Circle as the lights were coming on and the temperatures were starting to cool. The holidays are around the corner and it looks like the City is gearing up for them.

Central Park was still busy and the carriage rides were in full swing that night. A lot has changed since the 80’s.

 

Places to Eat:

 

Hop Won Express Chinese Restaurant

139 East 45th Street

New York, NY 10017

(212) 661-4280/867-4996

https://hopwonrestaurant.netwaiter.com/

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Friday 8:00am-8:45pm/Saturday 11:00am-7:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4760804-Reviews-Hop_Won_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1214

 

Places to Visit:

 

Museum of Arts and Design

Jerome and Simona Chazen Building

2 Columbus Circle Building

New York, NY 10019

https://madmuseum.org/

(212) 299-7777

Open: Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d524927-Reviews-Museum_of_Arts_and_Design-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aunt Dee and I at the Pumpkin Blaze

Day One Hundred and Fifty Three: Here’s Halloween Again October 31st, 2019

I can’t believe that Halloween is over again! It comes and goes so quickly and I can already see the traces of Christmas on its way. There are times that I can’t believe that July and August go by so fast and then there are the holidays.

Halloween, as you can see by the last few years of this blog, have become more than just handing out Halloween treats to kids at my house. In fact, even when I have been home I rarely see trick or treaters, the most being 14 kids about ten years ago. Kids today at least in my part of the neighborhood have little interest in doing this anymore.

Halloween started for me on the first weekend of October with the ‘Pumpkin Blaze’ at the Van Cortlandt Manor (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). Last year I saw the Blaze on the last weekend it was open on the first weekend of November and the temperature had dropped to 32 degrees and I said never again. I wanted to see it when it was warm out and I could take my time to really see the displays.

So I asked my Aunt Deloris to attend with me as a delayed birthday present to her and on October 7th we headed up to Croton-on-the-Hudson to see the Annual Pumpkin Blaze. It was unusually warm that night at 62 degrees but there was the threat of rain later that evening. Still for the entire time we were at the Van Cortlandt Manor, it was mild and pleasant. Since we attended on a Monday night long before Halloween, the crowds were not as large.

It was a spectacular display this year with many new displays to ohh and ahh at while walking the paths around the manor. To let you all know, the Pumpkin Blaze is a volunteer event and major fundraiser for the Hudson Valley Historical Society. Thousands of hand-carved pumpkins are illuminated all over the grounds of the estate and the light makes it quite intriguing.

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The pumpkin carving starts in late August and early September

As you enter the path into the estate, they are lined completely with lit pumpkins. That lead to the Circus train display and the Tappan Scream Bridge, both made from a combination of real and plastic pumpkins, The train had gotten longer and more detailed over the years with detailed ghostly animals arriving at their destination.

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The spooky Circus train

Another display that was amazing was the Museum of Modern Art display that had with copies of famous works in pumpkins. It was in honor of the renovation and extension of the museum.

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The Andy Warhol Soup Can

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The Headless Horseman Scream

As we exited the ghostly museum, you pass the musical carousel and the Albany Post Road that was lined pumpkins. There were pumpkin jack in the boxes, pumpkin dinosaurs and pumpkin mummies. The displays were bigger, more detailed and more elaborate then years past.

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Pumpkin Dinosaurs

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The pumpkin carousel

The paths leading to the Van Cortlandt Manor were lined with a pumpkin cemetery and then the dinosaur displays. This lead to the light show at the Van Cortlandt Manor that was lined with pumpkins and a light show that illuminated the house. The house was surrounded by pumpkins of all faces and expressions along the path around the house. This lead to another cemetery that had the Van Cortlandt family names as you exited the property.

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Van Cortland Manor at Croton-on-the-Hudson

As we exited the property it lead to a series of tents that carried all sorts of gifts and Halloween items, two different food concessions with hot dogs, cider, homemade doughnuts and popcorn. It was very active after everyone had walked the show.

Then my aunt and I came across this giant pumpkin that was craved out of wood that everyone was taking pictures at and we pose for our own Halloween portrait. That was a lot of fun dodging the other families to take the shot.

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My Aunt Deloris and I at the end of the Annual Pumpkin Blaze

Just as we were leaving the site and heading to the car, the heavens opened up and it started to rain. We just made it to the car as it started to pour. As we headed back to New Jersey and crossed over the Tappan Zee Bridge, the rain started to let up to a light dizzle. When we reached Paramus, it was just a light mist.

We stopped for dinner at the Suburban Diner at 172 Route 17 North in Paramus, NJ ( see review on TripAdvisor) for a snack. The snack ended up being a large Turkey Club Sandwich with a side of fries, cole slaw and a pickle. This thing was huge! My aunt ordered a BLT that was just as large and for two  people who just wanted a ‘snack’ we devoured everything. I guess it was all that walking.

I continued my Halloween activities to where it all took place, Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, NY, where the months of September, October and early November are very busy. Historic Hudson Valley has lots of events this time of the year, one of them being the Pumpkin Blaze.

Another event I attended was the “Home of the ‘Legend'”, a tour of Washington Irving’s home, ‘Sunnyside’, which is located at 3 West Sunnyside Lane in Irvington, NY (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). I had visited the house years ago but they now had a Halloween tour of the house.

‘Sunnyside’ was the home of Washington Irving from 1835 until his death in the house in 1859. The house was originally a small two room stone house had been built around 1690 for a tenant farmer and  had once been part of the Philipse Manor estate grounds. When Washington Irving bought the house in 1835, eyeing the home when visiting his son Oscar who lived in the area.

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Washington Irving’s Sunnyside at 3 West Sunnyside Lane

With his friend, George Harvey, a painter, they created the home in the Romantic style with almost a fairy tale appearance. The ‘storybook’ home is covered in wisteria and has the most beautiful views of the widest area of the Hudson River. The author wrote some of his most famous stories from this house. He lived here with his brother, Ebenezer and his five daughters after his business failed so the house was a busy one.

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Washington Irving’s study

The house was sold to John D. Rockefeller for the State by Washington Irving’s great grandson, Louis Irving in 1945 preservation. The house tour is really interesting as the old Victorian wing was torn down to preserve it to the time of Washington Irving so it has the original kitchen, ice house and barn. These ten acres were a working estate.

I got to see Washington Irving’s study and bedroom with the original furnishings which I thought was interesting. It does have a small kitchen for all those people and the bedrooms the rest of the family had were almost the size of today’s contemporary homes. So it must have been tight for the family.

When you exit the kitchen from the back to end the house tour, you head to the back lawn where the ice house is located, the gardens and the barn. There are ten acres to roam around with ponds and streams and again that amazing view of the Hudson River. This tour should not be missed when it opens back up in the Spring.

The last  event I went to in Tarrytown was ‘The Unsilent Picture, which took place at the Tarrytown auditorium. The program was a movie based on a story line mystery that takes place one evening and the local actors play out the characters to scare a family member. I was so tired from the cold and it was so boring that I think I fell asleep for five minutes and missed a section of it. I just didn’t get the interest in the whole thing. I would bypass this in the future.

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The Unsilent Movie

Here is the trailer for the movie:

One Halloween event you should look into is the Victorian Halloween Tea lecture at the Staatsburg Historical Site/Mills Mansion in Staatsburg, NY.  These lecture teas are very interesting and the food is wonderful.

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The Staatsburg Historical Site/Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive

I have been a Friend of the Mills Mansion now for about four years finding that I was going to a lot of their events it just made it easier to join and get priority on their special events which are enjoyable. This event was a tea and lecture of how the Victorians recreated Halloween from a dark more countryside evening wrapped in mystery to an engaging urban event with costumes, specialty foods and traditional events like apple bobbing that guests then made their own. Local Historian Carol Kohan discussed how the event went from a dark rural event to fun and engaging holiday.

Mills Mansion Halloween

The Victorian’s made everything elaborate and overdone and the Halloween celebrations were ‘taken up a notch’ with elaborate costumes, parties, bonfires and desserts and candies that were to be served. There were special invitations and cards that were to sent and rules of etiquette.

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Following the Civil War and at a time when disease was not understood the way it is now, there was an interest in spiritualism and seances were in vague as people want to reach out to their loved ones. So having a medium at a party was part of the activity. The Victorians knew how to transform a holiday.

During the discussion, we enjoyed an afternoon tea of the specialty Staatsburg Tea blend, a variety of finger sandwiches, pumpkin and cranberry scones and many types of pastries including mini pumpkin cheesecakes, tiny devil’s food cupcakes and assorted sweet cookies. The caterer always does a nice job with the food and service here.

Afternoon Tea

The food at these function are excellent and plentiful

After the tea and lecture, we took a detailed tour of the Mill’s Mansion which I had taken many times but this was with another tour guide and he gave us another perspective to the house. He mentioned stories of the Mills family that I had not heard before and we also got to see how the renovations of the house were going. It looks like the dining room and entrance hall will be finished in time for the holiday party.

All of these activities lead to the big event in my Halloween every year, the NY Greenwich Village Halloween Parade which I have been marshaling now for five years. Participating in the event this year, I got an invitation to go to Rokeby, the estate of the Aldrich/Livingston family to see the puppet rehearsals. This year’s theme to the parade was “Wild Things” and the puppets and costumes were to reflect this.

Because I had the above Afternoon tea at the Mill’s Mansion the next day, I stayed at an Airbnb for the night and that was interesting. I had a feeling that the host really did not want to meet me as she scrambled out the door that night.  The room was in a small private home near downtown Kingston and the nice part was that I could enjoy all the restaurants, museums and historical sites (See VisitingaMuseum.com for the sites I visited) and go back to the room to sleep.

After I checked into the Airbnb, it was off to The Rokeby Estate which is a 400 acre property in Red Hook, NY. Most of the artists for the Halloween Parade and the Sinterklass Parade in December (see my blogs on this as well) live on the Rokeby Estate in the homes that surround the old mansion.

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The Rokeby Estate in Red Hook, NY

By the time I got up there, it was just starting to get dark and trust me, the roads are not paved going up to the house and it gets dark up there. I parked by the barn where all the magic happens and they create and assemble all the puppets. This was interesting because I got to see all the designs and all the construction areas of the barn.

The rehearsal went by well and they even created music for the puppets to dance to when performing. Then the participants holding the puppets lead everyone to the Rokeby Mansion and we all assembled on the porch which was lit with Christmas lights and watched the performance from there.

Halloween Parade Puppet Rehearsals 2019

The Wild Things at the Puppet Rehearsals at Rokeby

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The Max’s of the Wild Things

Watching from the porch of Rokeby was a lot of fun and what a place to view everything. Before it got dark, I got to talk to Tracey and Wilt Aldrich and introduce myself (we are like 12th cousins by marriage) and we got to chat before the performance. I got to see the sun set over the Hudson River from there and it was spectacular. The colors over the mountains was amazing and you can understand why people moved up here.

After rehearsals, it was off to Rhinebeck for dinner at Pete’s Famous, a diner concept downtown that I highly recommend. I had a much needed Hot Turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes ($10.95) and a Coke (see review on TripAdvisor). The main meal was loaded with that thick turkey gravy that diners are known for when serving this dish. The meal started with a Chicken and Rice soup that really warmed me up. It was nice to warm up in the restaurant and chat with the waitstaff.

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Pete’s Famous at 34 East Main Street in Rhinebeck, NY has wonderful food

After dinner, I just walked around downtown Rhinebeck, NY knowing that Sinterklass was only four and a half weeks later. I could see that the Christmas lights were being put on the trees already. Then it was off to bed and back to the Mills Mansion for the tea. The parade would be four days later.

Halloween Night was really unusual again this year. The weather was threatening rain all day and it was weirdly warm being 71 degrees and humid that night. Somehow we never saw the rain that night and as it got dark didn’t even notice the clouds.

I got the parade early this year arriving at 3:00pm to meet with the Head Marshal at the gate (and my distant cousin by marriage), Marc Schuyler. I had lucked out and had been invited to the Marshaling meeting the week before which made me better prepared for the parade. By the time I got there, most of the marshals had arrived and I got to work with the locations of people and where everyone was supposed to go.

Halloween Parade 2017

My ‘cousin’ Marc Schuyler and myself at the parade entrance

With the exception with one pain who lived near by and snuck into the parade route, we did not have one problem this year and getting people into the parade was easy. We had no hassles this year and because it was not raining as expected, the parade route got really busy. People came out for the parade in droves and the costumes were more creative than in previous years.

We got all the bands in, all the ‘Thriller” dancers checked in and all the float people into the park on time and kept the tourists out. By the time we closed the gate at 8:00pm, there was no one left and the parade was in progress. By the time I got to Sixth Avenue and Spring Street, most of the parade was uptown.

I got to see about four floats go up Sixth Avenue and one band before the rest of the parade was people in costume. There was everything from Superheros to cheerleaders in that parade. People dressed as horses, birds and trees. Lots of Jason’s and Freddie Kruger’s and spirits of death. People were dressed like little kids and cartoon characters the list goes on.

There was a small get together after the parade but that was not until 10:00pm so it gave me about an hour to walk around the Village and watch people in action. I swear I walked all over the Village and Soho and every street and restaurant was mobbed! Because it was so warm outside all the outdoor cafes were open. All the outside tables were taken and it seemed that every restaurant was packed with people with more waiting. Even the McDonald’s and littlest pizzerias were busy. With no rain and warm weather, people were in the mood to be outside one last time.

A group of us had light dinner that night at Da Umberto on 107 West 17th Street in the Village and the food and service were wonderful.  They had a nice buffet set up for us and we had a choice of a Risotto Bolognese, Penne with a Pesto Cream sauce, Rigatoni with Vodka sauce, or Eggplant Parmesan as the main dish, a wonderful salad with house dressing and a Tiramisu for dessert. The food and the service was excellent and we had a nice evening just sitting around and talking about the parade.

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Da Umberto is an excellent restaurant! Make sure to try the pastas

When I left the party around 11:30pm, it was still going strong as was the street party after the parade. People were still eating outside, house parties could be seen from the windows and people were still parading around in their costumes.

When I got home just past Midnight, I felt the first drops of the storm and when I got inside around 12:15am, the heaven’s opened up and did it rain! It pounded the roof. God had really spared us all of that. It was the last night that I slept with the air conditioner  on and the heat off because when I woke up it must have dropped 25 degrees and the heat went right back on.

Another Halloween over and here come the Winter and Christmas!

 

A glimpse of the parade on YouTube:

 

 

Places to Eat:

Suburban Diner

172 Route 17 North

Paramus, NJ  07450

(201) 261-2605

https://www.suburbandiner17.com/

https://www.suburbandiner17.com/menu

Open: Sunday-Wednesday 6:00am-2:00am/Thursday 6:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46712-d4474628-Reviews-Suburban_Diner-Paramus_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Dominick’s

34 North Front Street

Uptown Kingston, NY  12401

(845) 338-4552

Open: Sunday 9:00am-4:00pm/Monday-Saturday 7:30am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48003-d1187760-Reviews-Dominick_s_Cafe-Kingston_New_York.html?m=19905side

 

Pete’s Famous

34 East Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY 12572

(845) 876-7271

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Petes-Famous-Restaurant/113374415362954

Open: Sunday & Saturday 6:00am-3:00pm/Monday-Friday 6:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48486-d823142-Reviews-Pete_s_Famous_Restaurant-Rhinebeck_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Da Umberto

107 West 17th Street

New York, NY 10011

(212) 989-0303

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Thursday 12:00pm-3:00pm/5:30pm-11:00pm/Friday 12:00pm-3:00pm/11:30pm/Saturday 5:30pm-11:30pm

https://daumbertonyc.com/

Menus

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d423279-Reviews-Da_Umberto-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to visit:

Van Cortlandt Manor

525 Riverside Drive

Croton-on-the-Hudson, NY 10520

(914) 336-6900

Van Cortlandt Manor

Van Cortlandt Manor School Programs

Open: The house is closed for the season. The house is open in July and August for select tours. Please check their website.

Fee: See website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47560-d116391-Reviews-Van_Cortlandt_Manor-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3677

 

 

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside

3 West Sunnyside Lane

Irvington, NY  10533

(914)-336-6900

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside

Open: Sunnyside will be closed until May 2020 and then reopens for Spring Hours.

Fee: Visit the above website

My review on TripAdvisor;

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47953-d104379-Reviews-Washington_Irving_s_Sunnyside_House-Irvington_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VistingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3673

 

 

Staatsburg State Historic Site/Mills Mansion

75 Mills Mansion Drive, US Route 1

Staatsburg, NY  12580

(845) 889-8851

Fee: Adults $8.00/Groups and Seniors $6.00/Children under 12 free

Open: Monday-Wednesday Closed/Thursday-Sunday 11:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48676-d107418-Reviews-Staatsburgh_State_Historic_Site_Mills_Mansion-Staatsburg_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2137

 

The Halloween Parade

Every October 31st-Halloween Night in Greenwich Village NYC

Start time 7:00pm

Halloween Parade 2019

The Halloween Parade get better every year!

The Institute for the Study of Ancient World

Institute for the Study of the Ancient World/New York University 15 East 84th Street New York, NY 10028

Institute of Ancient Studies III                                                                                        Don’t miss this little ‘gem’ of a museum down the block from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is fun to discover these small gallery museums that the University’s run.

Institute of Ancient Studies II

Visiting a Museum: The Unique, Unusual, Obscure and Historical

Institute for the Study of the Ancient World/New York University

15 East 84th Street

New York, NY  10028

(212) 992-7800/Fax (212) 992-7809

http://www.isaw.nyc.edu

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d1572637-Reviews-Institute_for_the_Study_of_the_Ancient_World-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I just happened to stumble across this museum on the way back from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw that they were having an exhibition entitled “A Wonder to Behold: Craftsmanship and the Creation of Babylon’s Ishtar Gate”. The exhibition is on the craftsman who created the ‘Ishtar Gate’ and the ‘Processional Way’ in the Ancient City of Babylon.

Institute of Ancient Studies IV

Glazed brick art from the ‘Processional Way’

The small exhibition contains many examples of clay bricks that were used to build the decorative walls and pathways, artwork from the ‘Processional Way’ were displayed as well as smaller decorative art pieces from the time period.

Institute of Ancient Studies III

Some of the works in the exhibition

The exhibition also showed tablets from the time period, information on…

View original post 426 more words

The Hudson River Valley in the Fall

Day One Hundred and Forty-Nine Visiting the Hudson River Valley for Fall Events and to see the foliage September and October 2019

I have been travelling up to the Hudson River Valley much more than usual this Fall. There has been so much going on between the events up at the Dutchess County Fair Grounds since the Fair in August and all the of the ‘Mansion Hopping’ and visiting to historical sites for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com”,  which I have been concentrating on building over the Summer and Fall. I have been visiting on most weekends between September and the end of October.

Travelling up to the Hudson River Valley in the fall is an amazing time. Because of the lack of rain over the summer, the foliage turned much earlier than it usually does and the trees starting turning yellow and red in the end of September and beginning of October as opposed to last year and the year before where it was more the end of October and middle of November.

I started my journey up to Dutchess County right after the Dutchess County Fair at the end of August and continued through the end of October for Halloween events. I had bought a small Santa from a woodcarver for a small Mother’s Day present for my mom and she absolutely loved it so I had to seek him out again at events through the next three months. He was tough to find.

My first trip Upstate was for the Cornell-Marist Football game on September 21st. Because I have to teach college on Saturday mornings I left for the game later in the afternoon and I got to Marist College during the beginning of the second quarter.

The Marist College campus off Route 9 in Poughkeepsie is one of the nicest college campuses I have been to in a while. The campus sits right on the Hudson River and the nice part is that the football stadium is located right off the highway so as I was driving in I could see what was going.

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Big Red Football

Long story short it was not the greatest football game I had ever been to and we won 21-7. Cornell University has not invested in its football team the way it should and it was like watching two high school teams play.  The funny part was that Marist College and Cornell University have the same school colors so it was hard to see who was rooting for who in the stadium.

The one nice thing about the stadium is that on the other side of the stands of the stadium that Marist has lawn sitting and that is the best way to watch the game. It was also about 85 degrees that afternoon so it was the perfect football weather and I got tan while watching the game.

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Sitting on the lawn side of the field is the best place to sit

After the game was over, I decided to explore the campus. God, the Marist College campus is gorgeous. The campus has expanded over the years since I went to school at the Culinary Institute of America and our campus was beautiful as well. Marist College has rolling hills, lush green lawns and the most amazing view of the Hudson River. People should just visit the campus to walk around. The foliage was just starting to turn so the view of the river and the hills that surround it was spectacular.

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Homecoming and Reunion Weekend at Marist College

The next weekend I was back Upstate again to the fairgrounds in Rhinebeck for Oktoberfest. This interesting event was the smaller of the two events that I attended at the Dutchess County Fair Grounds after the Annual Fair in August. This was a smaller craft event that took up one section of the fairgrounds mostly where the craft exhibition space had been during the fair and the rides were located. I had gotten this event and the Sheep & Wool event later in the month mixed up and the wood carver was not there (later when I did meet up with him at the Sheep & Wool Festival he said that he was not invited). Still I stayed and explored the fairgrounds on this warm sunny day.

Oktoberfest 2019.jpg

Along the main path, there were all sorts of arts and crafts vendors and gourmet food vendors selling their wares and there were a few food vendors towards the back of the event but the lines were so long that I decided to eat outside the fairgrounds. So I took a trip up to Red Hook, NY which is located just north of the fair grounds and had lunch at Village Pizza III at 7594 North Broadway (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for some lunch.

The food at this Village Pizza is just excellent and so reasonable as well! I had the most delicious Calzone ($6.95) that was just loaded with mozzarella, Parmesan and Ricotta cheese and was a gooey delight with every bite. Their red sauce that I have mentioned in my of my Upstate New York blogs, is just excellent. Well spiced and loaded with flavor.

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Village Pizza III at 7594 Broadway in Red Hook, NY is just excellent for lunch and dinner

I came back two weeks later for the Sheep and Wool Festival which was a whole different experience. The Sheep and Wool Festival which takes place the third week of October was a much bigger festival, larger than Oktoberfest but just a little smaller then the Fair. It was a lot of fun walking through the rows of yarn, specialty crocheted and knitted hats, blankets and baby items plus all the handcrafted items for the upcoming holidays.

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The Sheep and Wool Festival

I did find the wood carver, Joe Gleeson,  on this trip and was able to buy to small Santa’s that he had in stock. It seemed that he had a good sell through at the Dutchess County Fair and there was not much left and he was just trying to keep up. I love Mr. Gleeson’s surrealist designed Santa’s. After making that purchase, I walked all over the fairgrounds looking over the displays and all the crafts people. There were a lot of interesting vendors offering the most beautiful and interesting items.

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Carapace Farm Puppetry by Susannah White

Mr. Gleeson has the most beautiful wooden carvings of Santa’s, Elf’s and Snowman. Bonnie’s Beast’s offered the most creative felt and knit play animals from felt wool. Artist Patricia McGarth created homemade all natural doggie treats that tasted like an all natural cracker. They were not bad to eat for a human. Utopia Bath Ltd. has an interesting bath line and lotions. Artist Susannah White builds and creates puppets through her Carapace Farm Puppetry. She carries the most interesting hand and finger puppets and masks. Artist JoAnn Clark is a fiber artist who specializes in Needle felted folk art. She created the most interesting animal art and figurines. Ameila McIsaac created flowering art through her Flowering Art Homestead company.

 

Sheep and Wool Festival

The sheep were surprisingly friendly

For lunch, I discovered that Janken’s, the Food Truck vendor I had eaten lunch at during the Fair was at this festival as well and I made the ‘B-Line’ to have lunch there. For $15.00,  I got their special again. This was a half pound freshly ground beef patty that was juicy in the center and caramelized on the outside. Then they top it with Cheddar Cheese, Smoked Glazed Ham, Pulled Pork and homemade pickles with a side of freshly made potato-cheese porgies cooked in butter and sweet onions with a side of sour cream. Okay, yes it is not for the cholesterol minded person but I eat this twice a year and do I enjoy it. I walked the Fairgrounds twice just to work it off.

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Do not miss the Hamburger and pirogi special at Jayken’s Food Truck

After the time at the Sheep and Wool Festival, it was next to the ‘Pie and Punch Evening” at the Kearney House in the Palisades Interstate Park. I had been to the Kearney House two weeks early on a Sunday but it was closed due to a Square Dance fundraiser they were running so I saw this on the Internet and thought it sounded fun (Please see the reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). The house would all be lit by candles and fireplaces as there is no electricity in the house. What could be nicer?

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Kearney House at the Alpine Landing is lit by candlelight

Well just to let all you readers know that the Palisades Interstate Park is closed after dusk and does not reopen until it is light out the next day and there are NO lights either on the roads going down the hill to the basin or in the parking lot. When I mean the park is pitch black, it is pitch black. I thought this was dangerous since the road leading to the basin is very steep, not much of a barrier along the cliff side and no lights on the signs. Let’s just leave this that there was a small boulder that I did not see and it did not get out of my way. The next hour in the park was not fun!

After I calmed down and was an hour late for the event, everyone could not have been nicer to me at the get together. Once I relaxed and had some hot spiced punch and a few pieces of pie and some cheese I calmed down. The boulder aside, it was a very nice event and I had a good time.

The Kearney House is an old Revolutionary aged home that had been used by the Kearney family as Inn and resting place for sailors and shippers using the Hudson River back when it was bustling with trade. The family ended up selling it before WWI and it was bought by the parks system. The division that runs the Kearney House and fundraisers for its upkeep run these themed events.

The house was all lit up by candlelight in both rooms and both fireplaces were roaring when I got in the room. It was the pies that calmed me down. They offered three different pies, Strawberry Rhubarb, Apple and Pumpkin that were from a bakery in Closter, NJ and were ‘out of this world’ delicious. The apple pie had the sweetest filling and tasted like pears were baked into it along with the apples. The strawberry rhubarb had a tangy-tart sweet filling to it and the pumpkin had a nicely baked creamy almost custard like filling all with this amazingly buttery crust. This is the type of pie that can make you forget all of your problems.

Kearny House

Kearney House story telling

On the table as well were wedges of sharp cheese and accompanying breads, roasted peanuts, ice cold water and served to you by volunteers in period costume. If I had not been so shaken when I entered the house (and of course the couple who helped me with the car told everyone at the party what happened so everyone was extra nice to me) and all the volunteers who helped with the event had not been so nice, it could have been a bad night.

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The house lit by candle light and by the fireplace

Still there was a tour of the house both upstairs and into the attic, a musician playing songs and then a half hour of story telling all by the glow of candle and fire light that made the evening special. I ended up having a nice time talking to the other guests and getting to eat the endless slices of pie.

I left a little better than I arrived but I will tell you two things: I am NEVER going into this park again after dark, so matter what the event is and that was the last time I set foot in the Kearny House. It was so dark in the parking lot when I left I almost tripped on the barrier on side the of it.

My next trip up to the Hudson River that next Sunday lead me to Beacon, NY to visit Pollepel Island/Bannerman Castle Island and to visit the mysterious castle in the middle of the Hudson River (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). I had talked about visiting Beacon, NY in my other blogs for the Third Thursday Shopping nights during the holidays and my visit to the DIA-Beacon in VisitingaMuseum.com.

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Bannerman Island

When visiting Bannerman Island please remember that it is open seasonally and opens in later April and closes at the end of October so you have to plan your trip there accordingly. I got there the last Sunday it was open and please note that you do need advanced reservations to go to the island. I lucked out as there was two trips out to the island that day and there had been a cancellation that afternoon and I was able to make the boat trip.

The trip was on somewhat rough waters as it was a gloomy day with the sun peaking out only at the end of the tour. When we got to the island, we landed at the small dock and then had to walk up over 70 steps to the landing  at the top of the hill. It wasn’t hard but hardly ADA compliant. We had excellent tour guide who knew the whole history of the island from when the family bought the island in 1900 to when the sons sold the island in the 1950’s.

Bannerman Castle III.jpg

The Bannerman Castle was actually an armory for munitions for the Bannerman company. Francis Bannerman IV bought the island to store his inventory of his military supply business and the items were stored there awaiting shipping to all over the world.

The castle itself had partially blown up in the 1920’s when the munitions caught fire and then in turn burned in 1969 and  the interiors were destroyed. Recently part of the wall to the castle collapsed so the building is now being held up by metal rods to prevent further collapse.

The tour took us up the path toward the former arsenal so we could take a better look which is pretty dramatic sitting by the water with the vegetative growth around it. Mrs. Bannerman had once had the whole area landscaped with an exotic garden. Now that part is all growth and weeds.

Travelling up the path from the ‘castle’, we walked up the path that had been landscaped by the local garden clubs who have been put in charge of landscaping the old paths and gardens leading to the family mansion at the top of the hill. The mansion is going through a renovation so there is not much to see but there is a small gift shop inside and the history in the building. The outside of the mansion is being landscaped and used for theater show, movie nights and concerts. The views of the river are spectacular.

Bannerman Mansion view

The view from the mansion on top of the hill

We exited down the back path and saw more interesting views of the Hudson River. There are more gardens on the way down and we heard more of the history of the island in that it was closed off until recently and was only visited by kayakers and adventurers. The island is now open for all sorts of activities.

On our way back, the tour guides gave us their own take on visiting the island which was pretty funny. They run these tours and can’t believe how mesmerized people are by buildings that were falling apart.

As we took the boat ride back to the dock in Beacon, I noticed that the foliage had an unusual line to it up on the hill. It was dead towards the top of the hill and the rest of the trees were combination of yellow and green. The tour guide said that an unusual early frost hit the trees and the ones at the top of the hill had already gone dormant.

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It was unusual foliage in Beacon, New York

For the rest of the afternoon, I explored downtown Beacon and all the innovative stores and trendy restaurants. I ended up though eating at a Pizza and Stuff II Pizzeria at 339 Main Street. The pizza there is delicious. Those trendy restaurants prices are ridiculous and I am not too sure how the locals afford some of these places.  Still it is a beautiful and quaint downtown with nice businesses set in the distance of the Hudson River mountains. The foliage around the town sets the tone.

As Halloween approaches, there will be more to do and see. Check out my blog on Halloween Again 2019.

 

Places to eat:

 

Village Pizza III

7514 North Broadway

New York, NY  12571

(845) 758-5808

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Village-Pizza-III/113437418688745

Open:  Sunday 1:00pm-9:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-11:00pm/Friday & Saturday 11:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48473-d819096-Reviews-Village_Pizza_III-Red_Hook_New_York.html?m=19905

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/886

 

Janken’s Food Truck

Not much information but there are at the Fairgrounds during events

 

Pizza and Stuff II

339 Main Street

Beacon, NY  12508

(845) 838-2222

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47291-d5510044-Reviews-Pizza_and_Stuff_II-Beacon_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

Dutchess County Fairgrounds

6636 Route 9

Rhinebeck, NY  12572

(845) 876-4000

http://dutchessfair.com/dutchess-fair/general-info/

(Open for Seasonal Events)

 

Marist College Campus

3399 North Road

Poughkeepsie, NY  12601

(845) 575-3000

https://www.marist.edu/

 

The Kearney House/Alpine Landing

Palisade Interstate Park

Alpine, NJ  07624

(201) 768-1360  ext. 108

https://www.njpalisades.org/kearney.html

Open: The Kearney House is open seasonally usually weekend from 1:00pm-4:00pm; closed for the season except for special events. Please visit their website.

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g29743-d19332567-Reviews-Kearny_House-Alpine_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3519

 

Bannerman Island

Pollepel Island

Newburg, NY/Beacon, NY

(845) 237-2326

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47508-d2252346-Reviews-Bannerman_Castle-Cold_Spring_New_York.html?m=19905

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48254-d2091254-Reviews-Bannerman_Cruise_Walking_Tour-Newburgh_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3554

 

Vendors to seek out at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds:

 

JoAnn Clark, Fiber Artist Needle Felted Folk Art

woolwoman4U@embarqmail.com

(724) 735-4637

 

Joe Gleeson, Woodcarver

Gleesa@optonline.net

(845) 229-8458

 

Susannah White, Carapace Farm Puppetry

carapacefarm.com/carapacefarm@gmail.com

(716) 464-0931

 

Bonny’s Beasts & Birds

http://www.bonnysbeasts.com

 

Utopia Bath Ltd.

http://www.utopiabathltd.com/www.utopiabathltd.etsy.com

 

Amelia McIsaac, Floweringheart Homestead

(518) 821-4769

Ameliafloweringheart@gmail.com

 

Patricia McGrath, Laughing Paw Farm

http://www.laughingpawfarm.com/info@laughingpawfarm.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights of the Marist-Cornell Football Game:

 

Lester's

Lester’s 1534 Second Avenue New York City, NY 10021

Don’t miss the seasons at Lester’s, a true Upper East Side Institution.

Lester's III

Lester’s is perfect for the Preppie set and the Sleep Away Camp group.

Lester's II

Little Shop on Main Street

Lester’s
1534 Second Avenue
New York City, NY 10021
(212) 734-9292

Home

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-7:00pm/Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm/Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm

Five Locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Greenvale, Rye Brook and Westport, CT

I came across Lester’s, a clothing store for children’s, teens and adults when I was walking around the Upper East Side on ‘Day One Hundred & Four’ on my blog “MywalkinManhattan” when I walked this section of the Upper East Side. I saw crowds of school kids coming in and out of the store with their parents and stopped in for look.

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Don’t miss the children’s section

What I discovered was a store that almost sets the tone for what most people would think the Upper East Side teen might want for school, summer camp and casual wear. The store was stocked with all sorts of jeans, tops and shoes for the toddler to teens alike. There are Layette sets for infants…

View original post 378 more words

Wah Fung No. 1 Fast Food

Wah Fung Number One Fast Food 79 Chrystie Street New York, NY 10002

Don’t miss the excellent roasted meats at this Chinatown hole in the wall restaurant!

Wah Fung Number One III

The meats are delicious here!

Wah Fung Number One II

Dining on a Shoe String in NYC

Wah Fung Number One Fast Food

79 Chrystie Street

New York, NY  10002

(212)

Open:

Tuesday-Sunday: 9:00am-7:00pm/Closed Mondays

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4355773-Reviews-Wah_Fung_Fast_Food-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I have visited Wah Fung Number One Fast Food Restaurant several times on recommendations from YouTube and reviews on TripAdvisor . It is considered to be one the best restaurants in New York City for Chinese Roast Pork and one of the cheapest (see my reviews on TripAdvisor).

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Wah Fung has a simple menu

This tiny hole in the wall restaurant is located across the street from Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, a thin strip of park that separates Chinatown from the Lower East Side. The lines for food that are mentioned online are no exaggeration. The two times I visited during the week the lines were about ten deep but move very quickly. Everyone takes the food to go.

The food is wonderful if you like simple Chinese cooking. They have…

View original post 346 more words

Sun Sai Gai Restaurant

Sun Sai Gai 220 Canal Street New York, NY 10013

Don’t miss Sun Sai Gai for afternoon snacks.

Sun Sai Gai IV

I love the selection of food here.

Sun Sai Gai

Dining on a Shoe String in NYC

Sun Sai Gai

220 Canal Street

New York, NY  10013

(212) 964-7256

Hours: 7:00am-8:30pm

http://www.sunsaigai.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d534662-Reviews-Sun_Sai_Gai-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Sun Sai Gai is a small restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. I have been coming here for years after discovering their selection of buns for sale for between $1.00-$1.50. Two of these buns are the perfect quick meal or afternoon snack. I love both their Roast Pork Baked Bun ($1.20) and their Steamed Pork Bun ($1.00). Both are soft buns that are loaded with sweet roast pork. They are huge and flavorful and I have always found them to be fresh (See review on TripAdvisor). They are a great snack when walking on the street.

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The roast pork buns are excellent

Another recommendation on the sweet side is their Custard Buns ($1.00) and their Egg Tarts ($1.00), both of which are on the savory/sweet side. The custard buns are…

View original post 459 more words

Hacklebarney Cider Mill Farm

Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill 104 State Park Road Chester, NJ 07930

Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill is a unique and family run farm stand that I have been coming to since I was four years old. They have the best baked goods, apple cider poached hot dogs and homemade apple cider.

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The farm is fun to visit!

Hacklebarney Farm VI

Dining on a Shoe String in NYC

Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill, Bakery & Farm Store

104 State Park Road

Chester, NJ  07930

(908) 879-6593

http://www.njcidermill.com

Open: Thursday-Sunday-10:00am-5:00pm/Closed Tuesday-Wednesday

Review on TripAdvisor and link to their site:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46355-d3512231-Reviews-Hacklebarney_Farm_Cider_Mill-Chester_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Don’t miss this New Jersey institution tucked in the corner near the entrance of Hacklebarney State Park, one of the most beautiful and underrated parks in New Jersey. Just driving down State Park Road brings me back in time to the mid-1970’s when we used to stop at the farm for apple cider. My mom always liked to have it in the house to serve with dinner when we were growing up. The best part is that they still press their own.

Coming to Hacklebarney Cider Mill Farm is a step back into the rural era of New Jersey and the family that runs the farm respects its history and does not treat it like a theme park like the…

View original post 597 more words

Steinman's Department Store

Day One Hundred and Fifty Two: Reading the Prologue to “Love Triangles”, Book Two in my New York Trilogy at ‘The Author’s Spotlight’ at the Hasbrouck Heights Library October 7th, 2019

On the evening of October 7th, 2019, I did my second book reading of my up coming novel, Book Two in my New York Trilogy (the first being “Firehouse 101” published in 2005), “Love Triangles”. This is the story of Wharton Business Senior and Retailer Alan Balantine-Garfinckel adventure into New York City for the Christmas Holiday season working at Steinman’s Department Store.

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Justin Watral, Author and Blogger

(Author Justin Watral at the Brooklyn Book Festival 2012 promoting Book One “Firehouse 101” (IUniverse.com 2005).

Alan who finds love while working in New York City gets more than he bargained for when while choosing between falling in love with his girlfriend, his best friend and a fantasy Champion figure skater his world is turned upside down when a mysteries rodeo cowboy enters the picture. How will true love conquer all?

Steinman's Department Store

Steinman’s Department Store’s first floor that mesmerized Alan Ballantine-Garfinckel

I read the beginning of my novel to a room full of hopeful authors and their friends at the Hasbrouck Heights Library in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

Steinman's Department Store II

Steinman’s Department Store at Christmas: Their first floor chandeliers

 

Here is the Prologue to my upcoming novel, “Love Triangles”.

B. Altman & Co. III

The dazzling B. Altman was the inspiration for Steinman’s Department Store.

B. Altman & Co. II

I hope you all enjoy it and will buy the book:

 

Prologue

She came back to campus and now I have to flee, Alan thought. It was never easy confronting an old girlfriend and Alan didn’t want to start now. He took the coward approach and decided to leave campus. Not a good move in this bad economy but he decided it was time to leave Philly.  Alan and his best friend, Jerry were winding their way through the career fair on the University of Pennsylvania campus for most of the morning without much luck.  After over a decade of knowing one another, Jerry still acted like the whiny undergraduate Alan had known his freshman year.

“I can’t believe that they’re going through with it,” Jerry exclaimed as they passed the tables of recruiters. “They must be kidding themselves. They have known each other for almost forty years. God, my mother is such a shit. She is always pulling things like this! Why does she have to divorce the guy now?”

Alan did not want to discuss this any further having problems of his own to deal with at the moment. He had known Jerry’s parents for years and they never seemed happy. Jerry’s mother was a self-centered bitch, who always wanted things her own way regardless of everyone else’s feelings. Jerry’s father had gone along with it for years, her demeaning his every move. While vacationing in Europe, he caught her cheating with another man. It was the last straw in their marriage and Jerry knew it.

Jerry’s parents were now trying to get a quickie divorce while still in Europe. Jerry was flying abroad at the end of the semester to try to talk some sense into the two of them. Alan was grasping with his own issues. After losing his long term job at Sears when they closed his store as part of the downsizing, he had decided to go back to Penn and study at Wharton. His father wanted him to come into the family consulting business and Alan wanted to delay that as long as possible. His mother provided the excuse by recommending that he apply to Penn, where she had been a professor since their move to Philly years earlier. He knew he needed to get off campus. His ex-girlfriend was returning.

Christine and he had started dating as underclassmen. She had played center and had been the co-captain of Penn’s Women’s Basketball team and had been Alan’s girlfriend throughout most of his junior and senior years. There were a lot of things that Alan had been attracted by, her blond hair, her green eyes and a winning smile that lit up a room. After they clobbered Harvard for a share of the Ivy League title their junior year, with Christine leading the way, Alan had met her by approaching her afterwards to congratulate her on the winning basket.

Alan had always tried to put Christine on some sort of pedestal that even she could not understand. Their relationship had been strained from the beginning. By their senior year, as he watched her defend the Ivy League Women’s Basketball title, he knew that the relationship had cooled. Christine had told teammates she didn’t know if she was winning the championship for the team or to keep the relationship going. It struck anyone who knew them as odd as they always seemed like the happy couple.

Now over a decade later, she was returning to coach the team she lead to two championships and a second berth to the NCAA’s. In that time, she had also played professional basketball for New York and had been on the Olympic team, winning a gold medal in the Summer Games. Even with all that, none of it impressed Alan enough to rekindle the relationship. He just wanted a fresh start.

Too many people were entering the business school without any concept of what they wanted to do with the degree once they got it. The economy was a wreck but Alan knew there might be something out there that would give him a break from school. He wasn’t even sure what he wanted to do when he graduated the next year and didn’t want to have other younger students around to remind him of it.

“I know why you are leaving and it has nothing to do with Christine,” Jerry said as they rounded the corner looking for the Ritz-Carlton booth. “You can’t blame her for not being champion skater. Alan, that was a decade ago. You think you would have gotten over all that years ago. You built Christine up to be something she wasn’t and then you fucked the whole thing up. Ironically, here she is a decade later an Olympic champion herself and you still don’t care.”

“Shut up Jerry,” Alan said, not believing what he was hearing.

This was from a person who was a virgin until he was 38 and never had a serious girlfriend his whole life. The only reason why he even lost his virginity was that he saw the movie, “40 Year Old Virgin” on cable and did not want to have himself labeled the same.

Jerry knew the truth behind the breakup and couldn’t believe that after all these years Alan still harbored the same crush. Years earlier, when everyone else was glued to the TV for the controversy in figure skating scoring and medals that were shuttled to appease different countries and fighting skaters, Alan fell in love. When the skater had taken the ice, Alan wondered who she was and why everyone applauded her so much. When she finished her short program, the whole arena went wild.

It was what happened when she looked up and smiled. Alan’s heart raced and he knew that was the woman for him. It was her spunk, her determination and the look in her eyes of great accomplishment. The commentators were going wild with her performance and you could hear the boos in the background with her marks, which later everyone commented were too low for her performance.

The sports announcer said that she had done it to prove to herself that she could accomplish her goal of returning to skating and coming back to land the jump that made her famous a decade earlier. She showed such grace and dignity that even Alan felt it did not deserve the third place finish. She really deserved the gold!

It was later on in a documentary that Alan realized that she had not wanted to go to the Olympics. ‘I had already been there’, she commented and she wanted to give someone else a shot at competing there. Magazines hailed her as a great sportswoman and represented finally what was good in competition. She may not have won the event that night but she won the hearts of everyone who liked a comeback kid. It was the moment that Alan developed a major crush on skater, Darlene Durbin, the ‘Queen of the Quadruple’.

“That has been your problem for years, Alan,” Jerry explained as they walked. “You have held every woman you have ever met to that peak. In your eyes, no one is good enough, including Christine, who herself won a gold medal.”

“But no one ever applauded her like that,” Alan explained. “Alan, you were at the basketball championship. They applauded the team and all the players. They even gave the team a standing ovation,” Jerry exclaimed. “You saw it on TV. Even both of your parents could not believe you broke up.”

That spark wasn’t there, Alan said to himself, that heart and that great sense of accomplishment. It wasn’t in Christine’s eyes that night. She had done it for the team, but that sense of self-accomplishment wasn’t there.

“I just can’t explain it to you, Jerry. You wouldn’t understand the whole relationship,” Alan said, searching for the Ritz-Carlton booth and a chance to get off the subject.

Making the wrong turn down the isle, instead of being at the Ritz-Carlton booth, Alan was standing in front of the recruiting desk of M. Steinman & Company of New York City. While Alan looked at his map for a minute, the bored recruiter was happy to finally talk to someone. The recruiter was getting annoyed with having to direct undergraduates to the banking and financial booths (as if they would get jobs in this economy, he thought). He looked at Alan and saw something in him and then started his pitch.

“There are a lot of changes happening at Steinman’s,” the recruiter, George stated. “We have a whole new management team, new advertising and have reintroduced our old logo from 1896 as new. We even brought back our original slogan, ‘Steinman’s, it’s always a pleasure’.

Alan was not sure what he wanted to do with his time and thought that going to New York might be a nice change, plus it was far enough from Philly where he could avoid the college but close enough by where he could come home as needed.

“Do you have any retail experience?” George asked, trying to get Alan interested. George would later tell the interviewers in New York what a catch Alan was for the company.

“I was born to do it George,” Alan said. “I had been working at Sears as an Assistant General Manager until the company closed my store due to the downsizing.  That’s when I decided to go back to graduate school. There has been too much instability in the field and it has not gotten any better with this economy.”

George explained that Steinman’s was holding its own in New York and the recent renovation of the old store on Fifth Avenue brought curious shoppers into Steinman’s, who as Millennial’s had pretty much left it to their grandparents to shop. There were so many positive changes in the company and they were looking for people who understood the business to work along with them.

“Alan, please look over the material and call to schedule an interview. We would like to meet with you. I think that you will be a good match. There will be a second round of interviews in New York and you will be able to see the workings of the store. I would like to see you soon,” George said as he shoved his business card in Alan’s hand and scheduled the on-campus interview.

Even though Alan was much older then the usual candidate, he could be placed in a higher position then the typical college graduate. Alan agreed to the interview and said he would see him tomorrow.

Alan felt a sense of déjà vu. Had this happened before? Something seemed so familiar about all this but he could not put his finger on it. He said goodbye to George and set off to look for Jerry. Jerry was probably boring some recruiter with all his parents’ marriage woes. For God sake, the guy was almost 40 and he was worried about his parents?

Jerry saw Alan and waved down to him. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company was down this aisle, he pointed out. Alan could see the hotel display from a distance.

“Where were you all this time,” Jerry asked. “Ritz-Carlton was down this side of the aisle. We went the wrong way. You must have read the map upside down.”

Alan explained that he was talking to Steinman’s Department Store out of New York and had arranged for an interview for tomorrow. Jerry asked him if he was crazy.

“You always told me that your father nearly went crazy after losing the family store decades ago and that you never wanted to enter the field again after that whole thing at Sear’s. You have the rest of your life to go into that business, especially if you join your father in his consulting and buying business.”

“It’s not that Jerry,” Alan explained. “Something seemed so right about it. It was like I was going home. Steinman’s reminds me so much of what I grew up with in DC. The stores were always considered very similar. Hell, I remember my grandfather complaining that old man Steinman used to come to DC just to steal his ideas. Besides it would be nice to spend the holidays in New York. Let’s face facts; I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.”

“You are just avoiding Christine, Alan,” Jerry said. “You just want to avoid the issues of your breakup and not see her around campus. You built her up to be something she wasn’t and then you screwed it all up. You had no one to blame but yourself.”

“Shut up, Jerry,” Alan growled as he walked towards the Ritz-Carlton booth. “Don’t let your parent’s problems cloud your judgment about mine. I am getting tired about talking about it and let’s change the subject. Did I tell you I had the elevator dream again?”

Jerry shook his head but knew of the dream. It seemed that Alan had been having this dream ever since he hit puberty. Alan had always reached a certain point in the dream and then always woke up before it was over.

As Alan got older, the dream would progress but would never reach a conclusion. He always woke up. Jerry asked what had happened this time. Alan told him this time the elevator had reached the top floor and the door had opened. He stepped out into an open plain. He saw a figure in the distance. As the figure approached him, he woke up.

“You have gotten further then before,” Jerry said as they waited in line to talk to the recruiter from Ritz-Carlton. “What do you think it means?”

“It means I am closer to finding a solution to a problem,” Alan explained. “I don’t know what it is supposed to mean, Jerry. I just don’t understand why I keep waking up before it’s finished.”

When Alan was younger, it always ended up being a wet dream. Now as an adult, he woke up hard. When he and Christine were sleeping together, she had no idea of the dream. He was always hard and she enjoyed love making in the morning. Alan never told her the reasons. Jerry asked him what he thought he was going to find in New York. Was it the answer to this riddle?

“I don’t know, but I need a change. I need to get out of Philly and away from my parents. I have been cooped up in Philly too long. I knew I should have gone to graduate school elsewhere. While it is great that I am saving so much, I don’t like the fact that I am Professor Garfinckel’s son,” Alan stated with some disgust.

Alan did not like the fact that his mother, a Senior Professor at Wharton, pushed him so hard to attend the school. He had liked working but she worried about him being lost in his career.

“Maybe what I am looking for is in New York, you never know,” Alan stated as his turn with the Ritz-Carlton recruiter came up.

The night before his interview with Steinman’s, Alan had the elevator dream again. This time the dream was longer and more vivid. The dream had always started the same. Alan was walking down a long hallway of office doors and then an elevator at the end of the hallway would open up on its own. He would press the button to go up and the elevator door would close with a thud. As the elevator rose, it went faster and seemed to want to get to its destination as quickly as possible. The elevator light panel criss-crossed quickly and twinkled like a Christmas tree. Alan began to worry that the elevator might crash through the roof.

Then as suddenly as the elevator rose, it began to slow down. It stopped with a small jolt and the red flashing light flashed “17th Floor”. The door slid open quietly. Alan stepped out of the elevator onto an open plain, as far as the eye could see. No noise, no cars and no people. Just open plain with cactus, brush and mountain in the distance.

Alan took a few steps out of the elevator, contemplating on what to do next. He was startled as the doors slammed behind him. He turned to see that the elevator had disappeared, as if it never existed in the first place. “Where am I?” he thought to himself. Alan stood all alone in the blazing sun, dressed in a blue suit, Gucci red tie and loafers and briefcase, looking totally out of place in the environment.

He wondered how he was going to get out of there, when he heard the faint beat of hooves in the distance. Alan turned to look in the direction the sound was coming from and it grew louder as the figure came closer. Alan made out the faint figure of a man on a white house riding in his direction. This is strange, Alan thought, this is where the dream had always ended.

Alan stared as the man on horseback rose toward him. Suddenly, he was about twenty feet from Alan. He dropped his briefcase and walked toward the man. Alan could not see his face very well. Climbing down from his horse, the cowboy walked toward Alan. His white Stetson covered part of his face, but Alan could see the rest of him. He was wearing a duster, blue jeans and cowboy boots.

Alan was amused by his slightly bow-legged walk. Now directly in front of him, Alan still could not make out his face.

“So I finally found yawl,” the cowboy said with a slight Southern drawl.

“It was not that difficult, I have been here many times before,” Alan stated. “Why has it taken you so long to appear?”

The cowboy kicked the dirt in front of him and shrugged. “I was not sure that yawl wanted to see me, but I see the time has come,” the cowboy said. “I feel that the time is right. Yawl wished for me and now I’m here.”

“I did?” Alan asked.

“Yawl always wanted to meet me and here I am,” the cowboy added.

The cowboy stepped in front of Alan and rubbed his right shoulder gently and then walked closer. Alan could see the dazzling smile appear as his thick mustache crinkled slightly. Even though the face was fuzzy, he could make out the cowboy’s green eyes. Not just any green, but a deep emerald green that sparkled in the mid-day sun.

Alan moved himself closer to the cowboy and with that, the cowboy reached over and gently hugged Alan. Alan had a warm feeling all over his body that did not come from the heat of the sun. Alan moved closer as his hand reached for the zipper of the cowboy’s jacket and slowly unzipped it. It revealed the cowboy’s leather vest, printed cowboy shirt and his gun.

Alan put his arm around the cowboy’s waist and drew him in closer, reached over and started to rub his back. The cowboy put his arms around Alan and hugged him gently.

“If yawl wants me to stop, just let me know,” the cowboy whispered into Alan’s ear, as he slowly rubbed his head on Alan’s shoulder.

“No,” Alan answered, “Come closer.” His arms encircled the cowboy’s shoulders.

Though Alan still did not have a clear view of his face, his mustached lips moved closer to Alan’s and he kissed him. Alan giggled slightly.

“What’s so funny?” the cowboy asked as he pulled away.

“Your mustache tickles,” Alan replied.

It did not just tickle; it felt wonderful, Alan thought, soft and bushy. It was thick and neatly trimmed and brushed up against Alan’s clean-shaven face. Alan moved the Stetson over slightly and they kissed again. The kissed gently at first and then harder and more passionate.

Alan hugged the cowboy tightly and could feel pressing against him the erection in the cowboy’s tight jeans. As the cowboy’s head rested on Alan’s shoulder, Alan could feel his warm breath on his neck and the faint smell of cinnamon. The cowboy’s hand then made its way to Alan’s groin and caressed his growing erection. He gave it a slight grab.

“I think you are ready,” the cowboy said. Alan looked into the cowboy’s eyes and asked (he could still not make out the face).

“What do you mean?” Alan asked.

The cowboy flashed that mustached smile as he pulled away from Alan.

“I think it’s time for yawls wish to come true,” the cowboy answered as he slowly moved away and walked back to his horse. Alan stared as the cowboy mounted his horse, slid his duster back to reveal his holster. He pulled the gun out, spun it rapidly on his index finger before returning it to his holster. He turned the horse towards Alan.

“What wish do you mean?” Alan asked as he looked up.

The cowboy smiled again and said, “The one that yawl have locked deep in yawls heart and wished to come true. The one yawl fantasizes about coming true even though yawl don’t understand the feeling. It has always been in front of yawl, Alan. Yawl are just beginning to understand it.” The cowboy tipped his Stetson, so that Alan could see the bright emerald of his green eyes again.

“Will I see you again?” Alan called to him.

“Yawl will know when it’s time,” the cowboy shouted back, as he slowly rode away.

“When will that be?” Alan asked.

“When it’s time,” the cowboy replied.

“Why can’t I see your face clearly,” Alan yelled.

The cowboy turned back and flashed his smile again and rode off shouting, “When it’s time, yawl will know.” Alan could hear the echo and fade as the cowboy rode off in the sunset, “when it’s time, when it’s time….”

Alan took a few steps backward to see the cowboy riding in the distance and then tripped over his own briefcase. He fell back into the now opened elevator door. The doors closed shut on the western scene. The elevator raced down as rapidly as it had ascended. Floor numbers lit up quickly as the elevator reached the bottom floor.

The door opened at the ground floor of a department store crowded with hundreds of holiday shoppers who were busy doing their Christmas shopping on one of the busiest days of the year in a store decorated for the holidays. Alan walked down the main aisle toward the front of the store as the words, “when it’s time…” rang in his ear. As the crowd parted for him without him asking (this must be a dream, he thought, no one does this in New York City), he walked through the glass revolving door to exit the store and the bolt of cold air woke him up. He finished the dream!

Alan jumped out of bed. ‘Holy shit’ he thought, I am going to be late. He was starting his first day at Steinman’s and wanted to make a good impression by getting there early. He showered, shaved, dressed and ate quickly. He grabbed his briefcase and his papers and ran past Gramercy Park on the way to the subway in Union Square. He took one look back to look at the trees, which were still green. ‘That will change’, he thought to himself. The holiday season was right around the corner. As he got to the subway, he said quietly to himself. “Maybe it is time.” He then added, “Nothing like being late on your first day of work!” He then disappeared down the subway stairs.

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The Former Garfinckel’s Department Store on F Street in Washington DC

 

Special Author’s note: “Firehouse 101” can be ordered on the IUniverse.com website, Amazon, Barnes & Nobel.com, Walmart.com or any other book platform. The book can be found for sale at the FDNY Museum in Lower Manhattan if still in stock.

Be on the look out for Book Three of the Trilogy “Dinner at Midnight”.