It was my first day going to work after moving into a house in Midwood.
As I walked toward the bus stop, there was only one other person on the street: an older woman who was bent over slightly and walking gingerly in my direction.
As we passed, she addressed me in a raspy voice.
“Careful, young man,” she said. “The leaves are falling out of the trees.”
“Thank you,” I said somewhat patronizingly, thinking to myself, “That is what leaves do, isn’t it?”
A few steps later, my feet went out from under me and I was flat on my back on a thin layer of innocent-looking, but moist, leaves.
— Ernest Brod
Governors Island Teenager
From 1951 to 1954, from the time I was 14 until I was 17, I lived in a large yellow house on Governors Island in what is now called Nolan Park.
I returned for a visit during a recent summer and found that my former home was being used by artists. The paint was peeling and everything about the place that had once seemed so elegant now looked shabby.
But the people who were working inside welcomed me. When I explained my history with the house, they allowed me to go up to the third floor. Now roped off, it had once been my teenage domain.
One section of the house had just two stories, and from my bedroom window I used to climb, wearing a bathing suit, onto the flat roof of the adjoining wing, where I would spread out a towel and sunbathe.
I actually only did it until my father found out and issued the kind of order that a military man is accustomed to issuing.
Now over 80, I stood at that window and remembered the feel of the hot metal roof on my bare feet as I carefully arranged my beach towel and my tanning lotion.
Then, as if from out of the past, I heard the voice of the Colonel: “Do not even think about climbing out on that roof ever again.”
I chuckled and murmured, “Yes, sir.” I backed away from the window, descended the stairs and said goodbye to my adolescence.
— Lois Lowry
My best friend and I had gone to see “1917” at the Union Square theater on a Saturday afternoon.
The usher tore our tickets in half, and then turned to his co-worker.
“Did you guys see that glove that was stuck on the escalator for two days?” he said.
— Amanda Hoffman
I worked the phones at Rosedale Fish Market on Lexington Avenue in the late 1970s to help pay the bills while I auditioned for shows. As a recent college graduate new to the city, I was delighted to take orders from the Upper East Side residences of the rich and famous.
Even better was when they appeared in person. David McCallum, a.k.a. Illya Kuryakin from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” stopped by once, and I had to restrain myself from telling him I used to hang his picture on my bedroom wall.
One day I fielded a call from Edward Albee. (Of course I knew who he was; I had majored in theater.)
“I left my briefcase in the produce store next door,” he said. “Would you pick it up and hold it for me until I come get it?”
“Uh, sure,” I replied.
After grabbing the bag, I stashed it in my glassed-in cubicle, glancing at it often while I worked.
What was inside? His latest manuscript? What a thrilling find that would be for a would-be actress. Maybe just a peek?
No, I couldn’t bring myself to open it. But I did hope I’d at least get a chance to speak with him when he came in to retrieve it.
No such luck. He dashed into the store and barely looked my way as he snatched up the briefcase and then quickly departed.
— Penny Musco
Back of a Bike
When I moved out of my parents’ house in Queens and into my own apartment in Manhattan, I was living my dream.
One day about a month after I made the move, my boyfriend handed me a helmet and asked me to join him for a ride on his new motorcycle. This was a new kind of freedom, and I was an eager passenger.
We went east on 16th Street before turning and heading north on Third Avenue. As we sped up uptown, we stopped at lights in Gramercy Park, Kips Bay and Murray Hill. At each stop, I would sit up very straight and scan the sidewalks. I was hoping a friend would see me.
When we stopped at a light at 59th Street, I looked to my right and noticed a familiar car idling next to us.
Suddenly I was gazing into the eyes of my father, and I wished I could disappear.
— Susan Schatz
Illustrations by Agnes Lee