After hailing a cab one night, I asked the driver to take me to a place that was seven blocks away.
For some reason, I felt compelled to explain why I wasn’t walking. I said it was because it was drizzling and also because I wasn’t wearing walking shoes.
“No charge,” the driver said.
When we got to where I was going, I asked him how much the fare was.
“I said, no charge,” he said.
— Barbara Baum
125 Washington Place
For the first 22 years of my life, I lived with my parents and my older sister in apartments in Flushing.
When it was time to move into a place of my own, I found a very large, reasonably priced studio in Forest Hills and moved there. Then, after five years in Forest Hills, it was time to make a move to “the city.”
After a short search, I found an apartment on 125 Washington Place. It had one bedroom, one bathroom, an eat-in kitchen and a living room with a large window. The West Village location was ideal.
Finding the apartment was very exciting, and I wanted to tell my parents all about it. When I called them, my father, who was quite reserved, answered.
I told him that I had found a place and gave him the address. He began to laugh.
It was not a normal reaction for him, so I asked why he was laughing.
He told me that in 1925, he, my aunt, my grandfather and my grandmother had immigrated to New York from Russia. Their first apartment had been at 118 Washington Place.
Look straight out my living room window into the apartment house across the way, my father said, and I would be able to see into what had been his first home in the city.
— Lorraine Rosenblatt
Sword Woman (On Meeting Diane Arbus)
through sun-fired shafts
into valleys of glass
the sea rides tidal fields
clashes with squalls
climbs over people
in this self-made labyrinth — this uterine center
there’s this precise angled gyration
to every day
& every day — it unfolds
tall buildings unfold
the sky unfolds
& shoots up from its hidden bunker & leans
imperceptibly on its sculpture of stone
so what now — you prepare a meal
& a mouth snaps open
& an ancient animal latches on
a woman loosely robed
pulls a sword from her throat
a man lights a newspaper
watches it burn
people on fire run into the sea
— Iain Britton
Pie for Dessert
It must have been about 1957. I was 15 and my younger brother 7. It was Christmas vacation, and we took the subway from Brooklyn in Manhattan and enjoyed the usual holiday sights.
When it was lunchtime, we headed to the Automat to get a bite to eat. In those days kids like us were fascinated by the automatic self-serve cubicles. We both grabbed trays and together we picked out one serving of macaroni and cheese and another of franks and beans.
I wanted pie for dessert, and my brother wanted to show me how grown up he was by going get it all by himself.
“Whatever you do, get me no mince pie,” I said.
A few minutes later, he came back with a slice of mince pie.
”Didn’t you hear and understand me,” I said.
“I looked at all the pies and couldn’t find no mince pie,” he said. “So I got mince pie. Figured it was close enough.”
— Bill Goldman
I was living in Westchester County and commuting to Manhattan for work. I also belonged to the Canadian Women’s Club of New York City at the time. In addition to our regular meetings, we had lovely functions that I would attend after work.
One such dinner was at a nice restaurant that I cannot remember now. I walked there from my office on Fifth Avenue.
As many women did then, I wore sneakers for the walk and had my dress shoes in a tote bag. When I got close to the restaurant I stopped at a black iron railing. There was a light shining into the basement apartment behind the railing.
As I was pulling off my sneakers, the apartment door opened and a man came walking out in my direction.
I was a bit frightened and also somewhat embarrassed to be standing there with a shoe in my hand. I muttered something apologetic about changing my shoes.
The man walked up to me and handed me a bottle of lotion. He said it was a gift.
“Oh, wonderful,” I said.
He turned and went back inside.
— Myrtle Burton
Illustrations by Agnes Lee