There are some things you do that remain as memories forever. My first big trip to New York City is one of those memories. At the time, I was working at a graphics arts company in Atlanta. I had become good friends with a coworker through our mutual love of music.
My friend, Kirk, was around 19 at the time and I was an old man somewhere in my mid-20s. Kirk was about as close to a “hippy” as a guy could get and still hold down a 9 to 5 job. The old timers at work nicknamed Kirk “Moose,” a nickname which he hated. It was fairly apropos though since Kirk stood about 6’3’ tall with a mane of hair than made Art Garfunkel’s seem tame.
For one reason or another, the two of us decided we needed to make a pilgrimage to Greenwich Village and announced we would be making a trip to New York. The guys at work immediately informed us we would be two country bumpkins in the big city. Kirk responded that he had lived in Atlanta all his life and would never be a country bumpkin. As our plane circled Manhattan approaching LaGuardia Kirk looked out the window and told me, “I feel like a country bumpkin.”
Once we landed we somehow managed to take a train into Manhattan and got out at Penn Station. We then set out on foot to find our hotel on West 57th Street. No one had mentioned just how long an avenue might be, but we managed to find our way and get checked in.
Wash_Square_Park_by_David_Shankbone via wikimedia commons
After checking in we decided to head out for Greenwich Village. Of course, we could tell from the city map Greenwich Village would be a short walk from West 57th Street. Well not only was it not a short walk, but we managed to get slightly lost.
Somewhere near the village we found the original hippy dippy mailman and asked for directions to Washington Square. The gentleman stood there scratching his head and thinking before replying, “Washington Square? Wow! I know it’s somewhere down here.” He proceeded to direct us in the direction he thought we should go and two blocks later we stood in Washington Square.
We spent the afternoon roaming through many of the businesses in the area. We found the clubs we wanted to visit later that evening and decided we should head back to our hotel first. By this point, our feet were pretty tired and we decided to catch a bus. Luckily we saw a bus stopped at a bus stop just down the block from us, so we stood at our bus stop waiting on the bus. It did not move. After a wait of several long minutes we decided we would try the dangers of the New York subway system.
Greenwich_Village by Seth Werkheiser via wikimedia commons
We headed down the stairs to a platform and tried to figure out which train to catch to get us closest to our hotel. After determining the correct train, we stood patiently waiting as several trains came and went.
Finally our train approached and we stood there making sure it was the correct one while passengers departed and others loaded. Before we could step forward to board the train, the doors shut and the train took off. A short while later when the next train stopped, we rushed through the doors and took a seat. I think the train must have sat there a good five minutes before it pulled off again!
Statue of Liberty by public domain via wikimedia
Now that we were seasoned veterans of the New York transit system, we had no problem taking a train back to Greenwich Village that evening. After taking in a couple of shows, we decided it would be best to head back to our hotel before it got too late.
We boarded a train around midnight and my friend Kirk, who you will remember stood 6’ 3” tall and was nicknamed Moose, immediately decide we were going to be mugged. I looked around a bit and informed my friend, “Look man, all the other passengers have moved to the other end of the car. They are afraid of us!”
All in all, it was a great trip for two country bumpkins from Atlanta. We did a lot of the normal tourist activities. We went to the top of the Empire State Building. We went out to see the Statue of Liberty. We saw Oscar Brand at The Gaslight Café and Jackson Browne and Sandy Denny at The Other End (which later changed its name back to The Bitter End.)
When we got back to Atlanta we never did admit to our coworkers that we felt the least bit like “country bumpkins.”