Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Day I Owned Times Square

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

Weekend Puzzle

Here are 12 names. Which one does not belong on the list. It's easy.

Neville Chamberlain
Winston Churchill
Charles de Gaulle
Dwight Eisenhower
Adolph Hitler
Bernard Montgomery
Benito Mussolini
Erwin Rommel
Theodore Roosevelt
Joseph Stalin
Harry Truman
Georgi Zhukhov

Good luck


pacifica62 said...

Never been to Times Square but I do understand it is extremely busy and teeming with activity. To have the place to yourself was truly a moment in time. One of those moments you would never forget.

Valerie said...

That must have been amazing! I have always wanted to visit Times Square. I hope I do someday. Thanks for the "picture" in my head. Loved this!

Big Mark 243 said...

Teddy is the only one who I would not associate with WWII.

I like those kinds of days, wheter or not I am well stocked or not. That had to be a surrealistic as it gets in NYC. Wonder if there was a moment during the recent storm that remsembled the one you described.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

That would be an awesome thing. Have only been to TS twice, but it is always bustling as you said.

Rose said...

Wow, loved the story! I've been to New York a few times.

Remember when Eastern Airlines used to have the $29. shuttles from Boston to New York? Well, my girlfriends and I used to take that shuttle to make a day of it in New York for lunch, shopping and a play.

Sure wish I could get a $29. flight today to enjoy the Big Apple!

Great Post my friend.

Hugs, Rose

Rose~* said...

My nephew and his wife visited Times Square a few years ago and I saw their photos. Of course I always watch the ball drop there on New Year's Eve and can imagine how large that place really is.