Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vagabond Shoes

These vagabond shoes
They are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it,
New York, New York.

Fred Ebb, John Kander
Hello Stuart
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 connecting two large boulevards. Broadway and Seventh Avenue proceed southward through it and cross each other. There are seven cross streets. 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 there or standing around gawking, twenty four hours a day. It is truly a place that never sleeps.

Since I have been talking and writing and thinking about a return to New York myself, I thought it appropriate to return to a story from a past journal entry and reprint it as a gift to myself, to you, to my New York friends, to my ex New Yorker friends and to anyone planning a visit. So here is


I had a job as a relief announcer for WQXR, which was the New York Times radio station. Being a relief announcer 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 possibly 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 sign on the station and do 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 I can remember. The city was covered with snow.

I walked down 6th Avenue, crossed over to 7th and entered Times Square at the northeast corner, 48th Street. 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. I trudged diagonally right across Times Square, something one can never do at any other time, brazenly walking down the avenues and crossing 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, the only human being, the only living creature, completely alone and by myself in the center of what is the busiest place in America and maybe the world. These "vagabond shoes" were straying right through "the very heart of it."

It was a strange, surreal, Fellini-esque, Doctor Zhivago, Isaac Asimov type adventure. I knew I was awake but I felt as if I was in a dream. A person simply cannot do what I was doing. I felt like an explorer on some remote frozen island. I felt like I should stick a flag in the snow, right there where Broadway crossed 44th Street and claim it for myself. I owned it. I owned Times Square.

Dana B ate- The Vagabond
Never Give Up


pacific62 said...

I love, love, love this Times Square story. The best of the best to me.

Arlene (AJ) said...

What a wonderful read, loved it. My brother loves going to NYC, does it every month to check out sites, etc.