Jim and Michael Colyer in New York City.
Tuesday, August 9 (Day 1) - Michael and Karen came to my apartment at 4:30 in the morning. I met them in the garage. Karen drove us to the airport. We left Nashville on Delta Flight 5405 at 6AM. This was Michael's first time on a plane, a good thing about the trip. We changed planes in Cincinnati and arrived at Kennedy Airport in New York at 11:31AM. We caught the airbus to lower Manhattan. Our first day was rough. I had a hostel waiting. Michael would not stay there. We spotted the Empire State Building in the distance and started walking. The Empire State Building is at 34th Street & 5th Avenue. It was built, 1930-31, and its architecture reflects the period. It is shaped like a pencil. There are 102 floors. The observatory is on the 86th. The line was long. I told Michael the story of how I came here in the Army. It was a cold, windy night. My saucer hat blew off. I caught it before it blew over the edge. We looked down on Manhattan as I had years ago. 20,000 buildings are seen. New York is a a study in buildings and architecture. We saw the Hudson and East Rivers. We hit the streets looking for a hotel. We came to the entrance of Central Park and entered it. Joggers were running. I told Michael we were getting in deep, so we retraced our steps. We found Times Square. Michael was elated. It dawned on me how much Times Square meant to him because of seeing it on television and in movies. He took pictures from every angle. Night fell. We were turned away from hotels. We went into TGI Friday's. The Yankees were playing the White Sox on the Yes Network. We watched the game and talked about staying up all night. We went looking one last time and found the Portland Square Hotel. It was a miracle. The room was small but clean and quiet. Best of all, it was right around the corner from Times Square and the Palace Theatre where we had tickets for the Broadway show. Nothing is cheap in New York. I tried to keep expenses under control while doing what we came to do. Michael brought his cell phone and stayed in touch with his mother and friends. People were everywhere. You dodge them. Horns blow. Cabs whiz. It is an effort to cross streets. Michael and I stayed close. We had a flexible plan which we adjusted as we went along. We walked for long stretches. We sat and rested. Michael said he was overweight. This was a chance for him to work off some pounds and for me to fight arthritis.
Wednesday, August 10 (Day 2) - We made our way to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx by train. Yankee Stadium is located at 161st & River Ave. I got tickets by email, $52 total. We were in the upper deck down the third base line toward left field. The game took up a large part of the day. It began at 1:05pm. I wanted a day game so we would have light when we hit the street. The New York Yankees played the Chicago White Sox. This was traditional American League baseball. The Yankees lost, but the main thing was that we experienced a game at Yankee Stadium. There were some leftovers from the great team of the 1990s: Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Pasada, Mariano Rivera, Tino Martinez and manager Joe Torre. The Stadium itself was the star. I noticed the big NY behind home plate and the facade in the outfield. I remembered how Mickey Mantle came within inches of hitting one out. I gazed at the bullpen and could just see the edge of Monument Park from where we sat. The Yankees dugout was on the first base side. We roamed through shops which sold Yankees merchandise.
Thursday, August 11 (Day 3) -
This was the day we cracked New York. We rode the subway to Lower Manhattan and Ground Zero. Ground Zero was fenced in. We walked around the perimeter. It was a solemn site, not unlike Pearl Harbor. It was not so emotional at this point, but we wondered what it was like in the city on that day. Freedom Tower is being built. America comes first since 9/11. Michael pointed to a cross. From Ground Zero, we hoofed it to Wall Street as I had in 1984. Wall Street is the country's financial center, and Michael wanted to see the New York Stock Exchange where stocks are bought and sold. NYSE lists 2800 companies. It has the largest trading volume of any stock exchange except NASDAQ. This was an education for Michael. Federal Hall across the street is where George Washington was inaugurated. Michael got pictures of Washington's statue. He got one of Trinity Church. Wall Street got its name from the wall built by the Dutch to protect themselves from Indians. The British took New Amsterdam and named it New York in honor of the Duke of York. We moved toward Battery Park. A German girl took our picture as we ferried to the Statue of Liberty. She was from Hamburg. We talked about The Beatles and the Star Club. Michael and I spent an hour on Liberty Island looking up at the green Statue. His Liberty pictures are like post cards. I was doing this for Michael. He was seeing New York City for the first time. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French. It was done by sculptor Bartholdi and commemorated French support during the American Revolution. Lady Liberty holds a tablet reading July 4, 1776, in Roman numerals. Her right arm is straight. She holds a torch. There are 7 spikes in her crown representing 7 seas or 7 continents. Her official name is "Liberty Enlightening the World." Battery Park is so named because of guns which once defended Lower Manhattan. We returned to the room to rest. It was a hot August day. I could not drink enough. Water fountains were not to be found. I secured the tickets for All Shook Up which I got from Ticketmaster by email. The show was at the Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway. I remembered the address because it was the year of Shakespeare's birth. Off we went. We were in the balcony. The theatre was ornate, and an usher told us it was about 100 years old. All Shook Up combined the music of Elvis Presley with the plot of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. It was fun. We exited the theatre at 10:30PM and went to our room for our last night in the city.
Michael had to see Trump Tower, and we found it. It is residential. Its condominiums are for the rich. Donald Trump is a real estate developer and Michael's hero. I took a picture of Michael against the backdrop of Trump and his wife, Melania. Michael bought shirts at Brooks Brothers. The clerk told him Trump's assistant came in the day before. We passed Rockefeller Center and got pictures of Prometheus and Radio City Music Hall. We slipped into the NBC studios shop. We ate at ESPN Zone and saw a bad collision between two baseball players. ESPN stands for Entertainment Sports Programming Network.
Friday, August 12 (Day 4) - On our way out of town, we stopped by New York University. Washington Square Park sits on the edge of NYU, and we saw the famous arch. We entered a book store. Michael compared the business books to MTSU's. We got to Kennedy Airport with time to spare and ate at Chili's Too. It was a straight flight to Nashville. We arrived on Delta/Comair. Karen met us and dropped me off at Vanderbilt.
I had it in mind to take Michael to the main sections of the United States: south, up east and out west. Daytona Beach was the trip south. New York was up east. Las Vegas will be west. I now see the early trips to New York as preparation for this trip with Michael.