These vagabond shoes
They are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it,
New York, New York.
Fred Ebb, John Kander
Anyone who spends any time in New York City has New York stories. Adventures automatically occur in that remarkable, aggravating and rewarding place where anything can happen. This is one of my many stories and it's true, with no embellishments, I promise.
If you have ever been in Times Square then you know how big it is. It is actually two squares: Duffy Square on the north end and Times Square on the south, which are connected Two large boulevards, Broadway and Seventh Avenue proceed southward through it and cross each other. There are five cross streets, one of them going in two directions. It's huge.
If you've ever been in Times Square then you know how busy it is. Theatres, office buildings, hotels, bars and restaurants, shops, side walk vendors, busses, trucks, taxis, cars, bicycles, horses and everywhere there are people going here, going thee or standing around gawking, twenty four hours a day. It is truly a place that never sleeps.
I had a job as a relief announcer for WQXR, which was the New York Times radio station. That meant that I was on call, sometimes on short notice, to fill in when one of the other announcers couldn't be there.
One Sunday morning I got a phone call at 4 a.m. from the morning announcer telling me he couldn't make it in to work, he lived in New Jersey, could I take the shift for him. In those days the station did not go all night, so someone had to be there to do the sign on and the morning programs beginning at 6. So I got up, had some coffee and something to eat and left my apartment building at 5. I lived on 56th Street and 6th Avenue. As soon as I walked out the front door I could see why he couldn't get to work. There had been a major, MAJOR snow storm, one of the worst, the city was covered with snow.
I walked down 6th Avenue, crossed over to 7th and entered Times Square at the northeast corner. My destination was at the southwest corner, 43rd Street. I was amazed to see there was no traffic, and there hadn't been any for quite a while. There were no tire tracks or footprints in the snow. It was deep, over my ankles, but I trudged diagonally right across Times Square, something one could never do at any other time, brazenly walking down the avenues and the streets. In all that vast area I was the only creature moving. Even the ubiquitous pigeons were tucked in somewhere.
In the 5 to 10 minutes it took me to walk to work I was the only business man, the only proprietor, the only tourist, the only resident, the only citizen, completely alone and by myself in the center of what is the busiest place in America. And these "vagabond shoes" were straying through "the very heart of it."
It was a strange, surreal, Fellini-esque, Doctor Zhivago type adventure. I felt like an explorer. I felt like I should stick a flag in the snow and claim it for myself. I owned it. I owned Times Square.
DB - The Vagabond
Here are 12 names. Which one does not belong on the list. It's easy.
Charles de Gaulle