84TH STREET STATION, 3RD AVE EL

With great sadness, I regret to inform my readers of the passing on September 29, 2016 of Kit Davidson, Director and Producer of “3RD AVE EL.”  I find myself fortunate to have interviewed him for this blog a few months before his death.  Please see my post above for a review of his film; I compared it to Roshomon!  This news was sent along to me by Mr. Joseph Frank, former police officer, who found my stories about THE LOST LINE.

You see, Joe grew up by the 3rd Avenue El and recently found my web site due to his interest in elevated trains.  Specifically, he is from the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan — where I live — which is an old German and Hungarian enclave from the 20th century.

Advertisements

CHANGE AND REBOUND

Life is not easy. We all have problems-even tragedies-to deal with, and luck has nothing to do with it. Bad luck is only the superstitious excuse for those who don’t have the wit to deal with the problems of life. ”
Joan Lowery Nixon, In The Face of Danger

Problems?  Yeah, I had a few.  But let’s be real.  My weird situations are nothing compared to many suffered by others.

Consider Denne Bart Petitclerc, journalist, author, producer.  When he was 5 years old in 1934, his father took him to downtown Seattle to admire the holiday decorations.  Stopping in front of the giant Christmas tree, his dad told him to “watch the angel (on top of the tree), I’ll be right back.”  He didn’t return.  He left his child there, abandoning him to be an orphan in the December night.

At least I had a Father to love, to admire, to tell me funny stories, to join in the family business, and then to, maddeningly, watch as he withered away.  There were many good years, regardless.

I think we’ve all had pivotal moments like that, when everything changes.  Today’s story, a repeat, is about my night when the sky was darkest, and most unfamiliar.  Merry Christmas and don’t forget to count your blessings (and not boobies)!  

In the spring of 1962, I turned 4 years old. Mom and Dad were living at 1050 Fifth Avenue and Central Park was my playground. In the evening, I would play in my room and when I heard the door open and Dad enter the apartment, I would thrust myself down the stairs, yelling “Daddy, Daddy!” One time I came down the stairs so fast, I tripped and fell. I arrived at the bottom in a tumbled mess.

My Dad would have a seat on the couch, maybe after turning on the hi-fi or plopping the Four Lads on the phonograph. Mom would serve him a Rheingold. “What’s that?” I asked. “Beer,” he said. “Can I try some?” “Sure.” I did, it was not to my taste.

I was oblivious to the fact that the marriage of my Mom and Dad was finished.

IS YOUR MEXICAN DIVORCE LEGAL?

Above: A beautiful view of Cuidad Juárez from El Paso earlier this week.  Photo by DLynne Morin.By mid-1982, Dad’s marriage with Gloria had devolved into crass posturing for litigation in a divorce action.  After all, he had plenty of experience as he had been through this experience three times already.

The first had been 32 years earlier, in 1950.  His newly wed wife, Pat, returned home one evening to their Beekman Place neighborhood apartment.  As soon as she walked in, Bern hung up the phone.  “Who are you on the phone with, Dear?” she asked.  Oddly, Dad declined to say.  It took her a while to find out and it turned out to be her former best friend Connie Richards.   Pat had the marriage annulled within a few weeks via an expedited petition direct to the Vatican.

Dad never told me anything about his marriage with Pat.  Or Connie Richards, for that matter.  I had to find Pat 60 years later to ask her personally.  Remember, she was wife number one and my Mom was only the second.  Does that make Pat a stepmother?  The English language does not have a term to describe our relationship.

In any event, Pat was very annoyed with Bern (and went on to marry four more times herself).

BOOMERANG IN THE AIR FROZEN

 

This blog ostensibly concerns my Father, Bernard, who passed away in 2006.  But I take many diversions along the way.  Today’s post is mostly about his 2nd wife, my Mom.  She is a spry 83 year old woman who brags about her ability to walk around the parking lot in front of her Assisted Living Residence “23 times” every day.  She is very specific about that number.

OK, so what do you do with your aging Mother when you bring her home for the weekend?  In my case, I take her for long walks.  Makes sense, right?

This past Sunday, I brought her and my cousin, Lise (visiting from Quebec City), for an excursion to the Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.  It’s a stunning modern memorial to, in my opinion, the greatest President of our Republic.  Our very own Great Leader, the handicapped patrician who led our country through its darkest hour to supreme victory and ascendancy to superpower status, militarily, economically, and culturally.  FDR.  Now we have a Washington, DC-style monument in his honor, right here in the middle of the East River.

MR. CLEAN AND ANOTHER END

Back in 1961 and 1962, I would often be plopped down in front of the black and white television.  In between ‘Heckle and Jeckle’ and ‘Mighty Mouse‘ cartoons, there were commercials, many in great sing-along formats — sometimes both cartoons and commercials featured bouncing balls.

Heckle_and_jeckle_promo_picture[1]

But there was one that always remained far and away my favorite.  Mr. Clean:

There’s nothing you can’t do, Mr. Clean!

Oh gosh, do I remember clapping along to this jingle!  I would get my Mom and Pia, my stocky middle-aged and eastern-European (Hungarian?) nanny, to join me in song and dance.  I was a very infectious musical conductor.

My Mom loved Mr. Clean because it made the floors so antiseptic you could eat off them (wait for it to dry first, please).  My Dad loved Mr. Clean, well, because my Mom loved Mr. Clean.  And me?  I was ecstatic to be the third wheel spinning in the love-a-thon.

THE END OF THE LINE

Arnold Eagle (1909-1992), Under the Third Avenue El, North of 27th St., New York, 1939, (480.1987)

Today, it’s just about impossible to find any trace whatsoever of the Third Avenue El.  The whole structure has been removed in its entirety.  The former support columns, formerly grounded in the roadway itself, have been paved over many times over.  The neighborhood surrounding Third Avenue and 55th Street, where PJ Clarke’s still exists today, is not recognizable from the 1940s-era photographs.

Union leader (and former Communist Party member) Michael J. Quill led a losing struggle to save the El, first in public hearings, then finally by picketing.  “In the last war there was an extensive mass transportation system to handle those who needed to use such facility because of the necessary curtailment of private transportation because of fuel shortages.  Will we have such facilities next time?” he argued in vain.  Postponed a few times, the last train ran on May 12, 1955, and the dismantling of the overhead trestles began in earnest.