On THIS Day in History

by Bob Sparrow

This week I was reminded, more than once, that it was still April not May. I’ve come to grips with that now and have decided that I owed it to you readers to let you know that I am now back from the future with some more little know facts about what happened in history this week.

Monday, April 25

I have chosen Miss Rhode Island as my April spokesperson this week, as I think she sums up this date like no one else could. Have a look . . .

Tuesday, April 26,

1933 – The Gestopo becomes the official secret police force of Nazi Germany and create a killer soup recipe that is made of raw vegetables and served cold . . . oh, that’s Gazpacho, never mind.

1934Donald Sterling, previous owner of the L.A. Clippers basketball team, is born. You’ll remember the magnanimous Mr. Sterling for telling his mistress, Stiviano: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. You can sleep with them, bring them in, you can do whatever you want, but the little I ask you is … not to bring them to my games”.  Shortly after the statement was made public the NAACP cancelled its plans for the following month to award Sterling for a second time with its lifetime achievement award. I’m not making that up!

Wednesday, April 27

1882 – As a follow up to the whereabouts of Ralph Waldo Emerson, he died on this day and was found on the remote island of Tierra del Fuego dressed in a red and white stripped nightcap and pajamas

1938 – A colored baseball was used for the first time in any baseball game. The ball was yellow and was used between Columbia and Fordham Universities in New York City.  A colored baseball player was not used until nine years later.

1983 – And speaking of baseball, strike out artist, Nolan Ryan broke a 55-year-old major league record when he was refused for a date by Cindy Stapleton; it was his 3,509th career strike out.

Thursday, April 28

1962 – In the Sahara Desert of Algeria, a team led by Red Adair used explosives to put out the well fire known as the Devil’s Cigarette Lighter. It was later determined that the fire was actually caused by Red when he was attempting to light one of his farts.

1967Muhammad Ali refused induction into the U. S. Army on religious grounds as a consciences objector who loathed violence. Ali went on to turn numerous opponent’s faces into hamburger, caused many concussions and ruptured spleens, all in the name of peace.

Friday, April 29

1997U.S. Astronaut Jerry Linenger and U.S.S.R. Cosmonaut Vasily Tsibliyev wentspace walkers on the first U.S.-Russian space walk. The couple was chosen as both of their profiles indicated that liked Barry Manilow music, rainy days and long walks in space.

Hope your weekend is less confusing now.

On This Day in History

by Bob Sparrow

I’m starting a new feature here at From A Bird’s Eye View, which will occur whenever we haven’t traveled anywhere or we temporarily run out of other things to write about. This feature will recount some historical events that actually took place on the days of this week, along with my illuminating comments of little know facts.

Monday, May 25th

1803 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American poet and philosopher was born and lived in Massachusetts, but later in life, health issues caused him to move to South Carolina, then he moved to Florida, then he moved to . . . well, they don’t exactly know where, and thus the game ‘Where’s Waldo?’ was born.

1925 – In the ‘Monkey Trial’, John T. Scopes was indicted for teaching the theory of evolution in a Tennessee classroom. Within the state the event was more commonly referred to as the ‘If-I-Divorce-My-Wife-Is-She-Still-My-Sister Trial’.

oprah1997 – At age 100, Senator Strom Thurmond retires as the oldest serving senator in U.S. history; he had actually passed away three years earlier, but the first ‘Do Nothing Congress’ thought he was just sleeping at this desk again.

2011 – After 25 years, Oprah Winfrey, weighing in at 223 pounds, aired her last TV show as she finally ran out of fad diets to promote.

Tuesday, May 26

1936 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its first session of searching for subversives in the U.S. and had to go no further than their own congressional chambers to find some.jackson

1946 – A patent was filed in the United States for the H-bomb.  Later, when ‘Hell’ was more readily accepted into the American lexicon, it was replaced by the ‘F-bomb’.

1994 – In what turned out to be a ‘Bad’ ‘Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love’, Michael Jackson weds Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie Presley.

Wednesday, May 27

1927 – After 15 million cars, the Ford Motor Company ceases manufacture of the ‘Model T’ and begins to retool plants to make way for the car that will change Ford’s history, the Edsel.

1941 – U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared an “unlimited national emergency”. Yes, in May not on Dec 7th. Conspiracy theorists say that when no one really paid attention to Roosevelt’s declaration, he staged Pearl Harbor.

jones1997 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Paula Jones can pursue her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton while he is in office. Unfortunately she had to get into a line that stretched for a half a mile down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thursday, May 28

1952 – The women of Greece are granted the right to vote. Yes, in 1952!!!  Sixty-four years later in 2016 Saudi Arabia put the ‘woman’s vote’ up for consideration, but it was voted down – BY AN ALL MALE ELECTORATE!

The ‘all male’ voting rule also exists today in Vatican City, which only allows cardinals under the age of 80 to vote and since canon law does not allow women to be ordained as priests, there are no women cardinals and thus they have been able to both age and gender discriminate with one simple law.

Quayle1972 – White house ‘plumbers’ break into the Democratic National HQ at the Watergate Hotel and while searching through George McGovern’s room, find a poster of Bernie Sanders above his bed.

1987 60th National Spelling Bee: Stephanie Petit wins spelling ‘staphylococci’ – she beat out future Vice President Dan Quayle, who just barely missed the spelling of ‘potato’.

Friday, May 29

1916 – To get a pre-season ‘patsy’ game win under its belt and warm up before entering World War I, the U.S. invades the Dominican Republic

1919Einstein’s theory of relativity (the light-bending prediction part, my personal favorite) in 1916 is confirmed by Arthur Eddington; I’m sure you’re more-than-familiar with this simple formula below.einstein

1942Bing Crosby records Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and it becomes the best-selling single in history. Today he would have to also record  Black Christmas, Brown Christmas and Rainbow Coalition Christmas.  In a separate, but related story, in an effort not to slight the Smurfs, Elvis records Blue Christmas.

1953Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay become the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest where they find the world’s first Starbucks.

I hope these events will help you feel a little more connected to this week and get you through it with a smile.



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Did this ever really exist?

From a land long ago and far away

Last week my brother was spot on with his observations about our current election process.  Sadly, it only got worse and more complicated as the week went on.  Reading his blog reminded me of the oft-used phrase, “we get the politicians we deserve”, which I thought was off-base this election cycle as who could possibly merit the current field of candidates?  Well, after traveling across country a couple of weeks ago I can tell you who deserves these people – slobs on airplanes.  You know the type; it’s people who dress like they have recently emerged from their cozy bed with nary a thought to actually changing their pajamas for street clothes.  But it’s not just sloppy clothing that make people slobby.   It’s also the people who are so self-centered and clueless that one can only assume they have been raised by feral cats.

Which, oddly enough, is how my journey from airline hell began.  My first flight was at 6:30 a.m. which of course meant I got no sleep at all the night before, what with waking up every 15 minutes to make sure I didn’t sleep through the two alarms I set.  The good news about such an early flight is the line for security is virtually next to nothing.  And yet…four people tried to break into the Pre-Check line because they thought they were too important to wait for the five people in front of them to go through regular security.  Once I had been thoroughly grilled by TSA about my dangerous Fitbit bracelet, I headed for Starbucks.  There is nothing like strong coffee in the morning to improve my mood so I was reveling in my cuppa joe at the departure gate when I heard an odd sound.  Odd because it was a familiar sound, yet strangely out of place.  The sound got louder and louder until it reached the chair across from me.  I casually glanced up and was somewhat startled to see an older woman pushing a wheelchair containing a screeching cat in a canvas crate.  Then to make matters worse, the woman unzipped the crate and tried to calm the cat down.  As a former cat owner I can assure you that there IS no calming a distressed cat.  The guy next to me leaned over and said “we can only pray she’s not next to us”.  Thankfully, she wasn’t.  I don’t know whether she smothered the cat or gave it drugs but I didn’t hear a peep from it again.


          SHUT UP!

On the leg of my trip to NYC I was happy that I had scored the aisle seat in the first row of coach.  There is nothing like extra leg room on a long flight.   As I eagerly stepped through the doorway to the plane I heard a man shouting in a panicked voice – I surmised it was an argument about a seat tilted back into someone’s upper groin.  But as luck would have it, “the voice” was seated right next to me yelling into his cell phone.  There was all manner of “I take full responsibility”, “It’s all on me” and “Tell him I’m very sorry“.  I assumed given the volume and urgency with which he was speaking that he was a surgeon who had just amputated the wrong leg.  But a few sentences further into the conversation it became clear that he was an insurance salesman.  I had visions of the hanging scene from “Airplane!”.  On and on he droned, without a thought to anyone around him.  One guy who was passing by on the way to his seat just rolled his eyes at me and said “Gosh, did you know he’s really sorry?”.   This went on until the flight attendant practically had to take a hatchet to his hand so he would turn his phone off. He alone is why the FAA should NEVER allow cell phones to be activated during flight.

Poster child for airplane slobs

Poster child for airplane slobs

My trip returning from NYC was only slightly better.  We had the ubiquitous crying children (only slightly better than a screeching cat) and the person next to me required a seat belt extender so let’s just say that I never saw one inch of the arm rest between us.  Finally, on my last leg home I thought I caught a break.  It was the first flight that wasn’t completely full and again I had the aisle seat in the first row of coach.  As I settled in a woman who looked like a refugee from the 60’s took the center seat next to me.  When the cabin door closed I realized that the window seat was vacant.  I waited for her to move over but apparently the Patchouli oil had gone to her head.  Finally I said “You know, you could move over to the window seat and then we’d both have a bit more room.”  She stared intently into my eyes and said, “You’re my kind of person!” but didn’t make any attempt to move over.  Oh boy.  Once we were at cruising altitude she finally changed seats.  I heaved a big sigh of relief until she bent down, took off her shoes and then propped her feet up on the bulkhead.  To say that the odor smelled like a dung heap would be an injustice to the dung heap.  Thankfully, she fell asleep for most of the flight and my nostrils adjusted to the smell.  But of course, she wasn’t done quite yet.  Upon awakening she took a rotting banana out of her bag and proceeded to eat it.  When I say rotting, it was WAY beyond even being considered for banana bread.  When the flight attendant came to pick up garbage “Ms. Summer of Love” handed the blackened peel off to her.  The attendant handled it like a dead rat.

So, to my earlier point, these are the people that deserve our current Presidential candidates.  On a more positive note, and speaking of Presidents, also on my flight to NYC was the author, Douglas Brinkley, who was on a book tour for Rightful Heritage: The Renewal of America.  Mr. Brinkley is clearly in need of a new agent; he was seated far back in coach.  I came into contact with him as he was waiting in the aisle undoubtedly held up by someone several rows back attempting to hoist their pet goat into the overhead .  I told him that I was a big fan of his writing.  He couldn’t have been more gracious.  Upon reflection, I now realize that I should have knocked off “Cell Phone Man” so Mr. Brinkley could take his seat and we could have had an engaging conversation about the Roosevelts and Presidential politics in general.  I know…the Patchouli oil has gone to my head.






The Election Process Explained . . . Sort Of

by Bob Sparrow

elephant & donkeyTo go from my sister’s emotion-filled description of her experience at the 9/11 Museum in New York to my discussion of today’s politics is like going from dining on filet minion to choking down some chipped beef on toast. But you can’t have steak every night and we can no longer ignore the elephant or the donkey, (or more aptly, asses) in the room. However, we do understand that the subject of politics can be polarizing, so I’m just going to try to ‘splain’ some things, because politics can also be confusing.

We’re now in the middle of presidential candidates vying for electoral votes via the state’s ‘primary’ or ‘caucus’ process. There are ‘open primaries’, as well as ‘closed primaries’; there are ‘semi-open primary’ and ‘semi-closed primary’. You would think that should just about cover it all; but it doesn’t, as there are also ‘blanket primaries’ and of course the ever-popular ‘nonpartisan blanket primaries’. If you’re already confused, that’s exactly where the politicians want you.

Some states don’t use the ‘primary’ process for delegate voting, but rather they have a ‘caucus’, where a select group of community leaders gather together in high school gymnasiums, church basements or community centers to cast their votes. The results of the caucus voting, however, do not directly determine which candidate will win the support of that state’s voters for the presidential nomination, so sometimes the caucus is just a place where locals stand around and try to figure out what a caucus is.

gummy bears


Whether the delegates vote in a primary or in a caucus, it is a very confusing process that varies state-by-state; for example, all the delegates in Louisiana can change their mind and thus their allegiance after the first vote in the state. In order to understand how delegate votes are gathered, you would need to know the importance of  the terms winnowing, calendar and front-loading.  Just know that it is possible for a candidate to ‘win’ the state in the primary, but actually end up with fewer delegates. And let’s not forget about the ‘super delegates’, a position that the Democrats created in 1968 after they felt that the regular delegates were doing a poor job of selecting presidential candidates. If you’re thinking that ‘super delegates’ would give us ‘super candidates’, think again. Regardless if it’s a ‘primary’ or a ‘caucus’, the object is to get the required number of delegate votes to win the nomination at the convention. But what happens, you ask, if no candidate gets the required number of votes?

Ahh, then we have a ‘brokered convention’, which is another contentious process whose rules read in part as follows . . .

On the first ballot at a brokered convention, delegates from all states and territories except Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and a few from Louisiana must vote for the candidate who won their support on the day of their state’s primary or caucus.

On the second ballot, “55 percent of a state’s delegates will be free to vote for whomever they want.”

I’m not making this shit up!

The confusion and convolutedness of this process is only overshadowed by the puerility and pretentious nature of this year’s line-up of self-absorbed candidates. We started with over 20 hopefuls, who thought they could solve our country’s problems that they mostly helped create; we are now down to the following five:




Trump – A snake oil salesman who has come at a time when our country is apparently in need of snake oil.




Hilary – who, if she can perfect her phony genuine smile, could win.







Sanders – If he wins, will be the only president required to sign a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ document prior to his inaugural speech.


poor black



Cruz – has realized that being the son of Cuban immigrants isn’t enough; so listen for him to vow that he was born a poor black child.




Kasich – Listening to him is like watching an episode of Ozzie & Harriet where Ozzie is trying to tell Thorny why he’s running for city counsel


Once each party selects its nominee, and after months of the requisite mud-slinging, we then go to the general election where a candidate can win the popular vote, but lose the election via that arcane institution called the ‘Electoral College’, whose mascot is the Cheetah. You don’t really know how this process works either and you don’t want to know!

electoral college 2

Go Cheetahs!

On Election Day, we in California are particularly frustrated, as by the time many of us actually get to cast a vote, the networks have already predicted a winner. We vote anyway as we like to show off the little sticker we put on our shirt that says, “I voted”. Emotionally, we feel like we were part of the process of selecting the leader of the free world, but intellectually we know that our ballot went the way of the hanging chad.

Sometimes I wonder why we all just don’t put our heads down on our desks, close our eyes and raise our hands when we hear a name we like. Hey, it worked in elementary school and after listening to this year’s debates, that’s probably fitting. It couldn’t possibly produce worse results.



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

2016-03-30 09.01.50 (Small)There is a quietness about the 9/11 Museum.  You can see the trepidation on everyone’s face as they enter – do we really want to re-live that horrible day?  And yet we all file in, bracing ourselves for what we know will be a roller coaster of emotions.  The museum allows you to wander through the various exhibitions on your own, you can also download an app that provides information as you walk by each display, or you can buy tickets for a guided tour.  We chose the tour and were glad we did.  Our guide was a young man from New Jersey who had lost neighbors in the terrorist attack, so for him, this was personal.  I reflected that we are fortunate in our generation to be guided by such people; future generations will experience it from a more distant perspective.

2016-03-30 09.41.50 (Small)

  The Last Column


Our guide first took us to the bottom of the museum, to Foundation Hall,  where the famous “slurry wall” stands.  It was a wall built to hold back the Hudson River, which lapped at the side of the Trade Center when it was built in the mid-60’s.  After the attack, when the site was being excavated, the workers were astounded to find that the slurry wall had survived.   Daniel Libeskind, the architect heading the redevelopment of the site, pushed to keep a portion of the original slurry wall in place.  He proclaimed that it was a testament to the determination and resilience of a nation; a document “as eloquent as the Constitution itself”.  Also in Foundation Hall is the “Last Column,” a 36-foot girder that was the last to be removed from the site, marking the end of the recovery effort.  During the excavation it quickly became a makeshift memorial, plastered with Mass cards, rosary beads, flags, photos of missing innocents, and patches from fire and police units.  When it was finally cut down it was laid on a flatbed truck, draped in black, with an American flag over it, and escorted by first responder honor guards to a place of safekeeping.  It now stands again in Foundation Hall as an exemplification of our resilience and hope.

The Dream Bike

   The Dream Bike

There are many displays that feature recovered portions of the buildings – bent beams, the only remaining glass window and the staircase used by many to escape the burning tower.  But I suspect that the real reason most of us come is to pay tribute to the people that we lost that day.  After seeing incredibly massive beams bent and misshapen by the impact of planes and the heat of the fires, it gives new perspective to what the people who were in those structures must have experienced.  I still recall, on the afternoon of the attack, one of the news channels interviewing a fireman who had been at the scene.  He was understandably shell-shocked and said, “How bad must it have been up there that people thought jumping out of a window on the 100th floor was the better alternative?”.  There is a room called “The Wall of Faces” filled with pictures of the victims.  It is overwhelming to be in a room, with face after face looking down on you, and realize that we lost all of them in one day.  People who set off to work on a gloriously sunny Tuesday morning, kissed a loved one good-bye, and were never seen again.  And then there are the first responders’ stories, especially the 343 fire fighters who died trying to save people.  One particularly poignant display is of the motorcycle that belonged to Gerard Baptiste, a firefighter with Ladder 9 in Lower Manhattan.  Two weeks before 9/11 he bought a broken-down 1979 Honda motorcycle off the street for $100.  He had to roll it to the firehouse and the guys gave him endless ribbing about the worthless piece of junk they said would never start.  Baptiste died at the Trade Center and shortly afterward the surviving members of his firehouse decided to restore the bike in his honor.  With the help of Honda, some motorcycle shops and private donors they were able to make it into what is now known as “The Dream Bike”.  The bike was auctioned, with proceeds going to the education funds of the children of firefighters from Ladder 9 who were lost on 9/11.  The winning raffle ticket, selected by Baptiste’s mother, went to a woman from California who donated the bike to the museum so everyone would know his story.

The Wall of Faces

The Wall of Faces

Down the hall from the “Wall of Faces” is an alcove, a small space painted black with benches on all four walls.  On its walls is a projection of video remembrances of the victims.  Each person who died is remembered with a picture and a bit of personal background information.  For most of them there is also an audio remembrance from a family member or friend.  For me, this was the hardest room to experience, hearing a young woman talk about how much her children miss their dad and a father describing how proud he was of his lost son.  There was one woman who chose to remember her husband by recounting the story of a Thanksgiving dinner where they argued about who was supposed to have brought the gravy to the table.  They argued and both stalked off to the kitchen.  She said they imagined that all of the relatives thought they were in there fighting but, in fact, they were kissing.  She said “that’s just who we were”.  Some voices were clearly emotional as they described their loved one, some sounded wistful, and others like the woman with the gravy story, chose to remember a lighter moment.  No matter the emotion, the remembrances brought all of the people back to life and thus, made the realization that they had been so tragically taken from their families all the more jarring.  Our guide told us that if we see a guide with a tan vest, that person is a family member of a victim.  Some, he said, come every day to the museum as a way to work through their grief and talk about their loved one.

I should note that there is a small portion of the museum that describes the rise of Al Qaeda and the planning of the 9/11 attacks.  There are photos of Osama bin Laden and the 19 hijackers, along with video description of how they carried out their plot.  The photos of the hijackers are placed very low on the wall, much below eye level, so that one does not have to look at them if you chose to just walk by.  After seeing all that I had thus far, my instinct was to give those pictures a swift kick.  I questioned why we had to acknowledge them at all in a place of reverence and dedication.  But upon further reflection I realized what the museum designers intended – future generations will not recall the events of 9/11 from personal experience, they will need to learn about it from history books and places like the 9/11 museum.   So the “who”, “why” and “how” need to be included to present a complete picture.

Someone's birthday

   A remembrance

We finished our tour of the building and went outside to visit the plaza and the two reflecting pools where the names of the victims are carved into the steel that surrounds them.  The pools are built on the former foundations of the two towers and are symbolic of the sadness one feels there.  One person has described the water falling on four sides into the bottomless pit as the endless tears shed over the victims.  Perhaps the most touching site I saw all day were the single white roses stuck sporadically into the carvings of names.  I had assumed that family members had been there to lay a flower on the name.  But in fact, each and every morning the staff of the museum places a white rose on the name of any victim who would have celebrated a birthday that day.  Somehow, I found that to be such an elegant gesture and thoughtful beyond words.

The Freedom Tower

The Freedom Tower

We left the museum and went for a very long walk back to our hotel, reflecting on the gamut of emotions we experienced on the tour.  I picked up a copy of USA Today in the lobby; the front page headline blared “US Military Families to Evacuate Turkey” due to possible attacks.  Sadly, the beat goes on.  But thankfully, so do we.  The new One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, is now complete and other buildings are going up where once the ground was but a scar.  Would I recommend going to the 9/11 Museum?  I guess that depends on your perspective.  One of the guest services workers at our hotel said he couldn’t go – that it is still too soon.  For me, it was well worth the visit; it is a place where we can reflect, mourn and vow to move forward.


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I’m home.  Tired, and with a banging head cold, but I survived my time in New York.  I set a relatively low bar in terms of my expectations.  I figured that if I wasn’t mugged, knifed or blown up in a terrorist attack in Times Square I’d be ahead of the game.  As it turned out…it was a lively trip but in the best possible way.

Happy HourDay One:  My alarm sounds at 3:30 a.m.  I check my phone and discover that the airline has changed my seat assignment.  What they failed to tell me is they also changed the departure gate to another wing of the terminal.  I have a whole blog worth of observations about airlines and weird people on airlines but that’s for another time.  So let’s just pretend that through the magic of space travel we made it back to NYC in time to have a glass of wine at an Irish pub.  As it turns out, we ate at three different Irish pubs over four nights – West End Bar and Grill, Alfie’s, and McHale’s.  All three places were filled with locals, had decent prices and – this is critical – awesome happy hours.  We also frequented Hurley’s, the Irish pub next to our hotel, for an Irish coffee one night.  We decided that it must be our partial Irish heritage that attracted us to such places, along with the aforementioned happy hour of course.  In any event, we checked into our hotel, the TRYP Times Square, where we discovered our room to be approximately the dimension of a good-sized bathroom in any other city.  But, as they say, we didn’t go there to sleep.  And with the blaring taxi horns and the visiting high school ski team from England next door, we didn’t.

2016-03-30 13.49.24 (Small)

Day Two:  We had tickets for the 9/11 Museum at 9:30 so we Uber’d it downtown.  There is so much to say about the memorial that I will write about it in a separate blog later this week.  It was a beautiful day so after our tour we decided to walk The High Line.  The High Line is a recent addition to the New York experience and is well worth a visit.  It is approximately 1.5 miles of unused elevated railway that has been transformed into a walking trail lined with beautiful plants and resting areas.  It is a fabulous stroll, meandering through the Meatpacking district and Chelsea, and has totally transformed what was a blighted area into a neighborhood where apartments sell for a cool $5 M.  That seems to typify New York…transforming an area where no one wanted to live into a place that is unaffordable for all but bond traders and trust fund babies.  The other nice feature about the High Line is that for a brief period of time you are relieved from having to dodge the cabs that terrorize the streets.  It would appear that most New York cab drivers take traffic lights as mere suggestions and running down pedestrians is what they do for sport.  I imagine that at the end of their shifts they gather to see who “scared off” the most tourists.  From the High Line we walked back up to our hotel, where I collapsed in a heap of total exhaustion.  But, again, we didn’t go there to sleep, so after an hour’s rest, we walked up to Central Park.  My two great-nieces, you see, had not had enough exercise for the day and wanted to get in a little run.  Note to self:  I need to be in much better shape to hang with 16 and 18 year-olds.  After dinner at Alfies, we retired for the day.  I checked my Fitbit – I’d walked 20,000 steps (9 miles) that day.  No wonder my knees ached.  The good news is that the English ski team checked out so at least it was quieter.  Except for the horns.

WaldorfDay Three:  Sometimes you’re lucky to know someone in town and this certainly proved to be the case in New York.  A good friend of mine recently moved there because her husband became the General Manager of the Waldorf Astoria.  The poor thing has to make do with a three bedroom apartment in the hotel.  Can you imagine the hardship?  Heck, I’d order room service every night.  In any event, she arranged for us to take a guided tour of the historic hotel and partake in a wonderful lunch afterwards at Peacock Alley – named such because people used to watch the “swells” parade like peacocks between the old Waldorf and Astoria hotels.  But here’s where it really came in handy to have a connection – the maître d’ gave each of us a box of FOUR of the famous Waldorf red velevet cupcakes upon our departure.  I won’t say how many I ate but I’m not sure I walked enough to account for all of the calories.

That night we skipped dinner – we were still full from lunch and cupcakes.  We had tickets to see “An American in Paris” at the Palace theater.  The play is magical – a combination of ballet, jazz, singing, and acting woven into a great story with a Gershwin score.  It won several Tony awards and after seeing it I understood why.  It made me wish that I hadn’t given up ballet at age 10.  I do have to say that the only surprise of the night was how some people dress to attend the theater.  The worst was a man wearing one of those “wife-beater” shirts – you know, the sleeveless ones that instantly deprive the wearer of at least 50 I.Q. points – and shorts.  Ironically, he was seated right next to a man in a suit and tie who clearly understood the sense of occasion.  It made me think that perhaps we are becoming a nation of slobs.  But again, that’s a blog for another time.

Day Four:  No plans or tickets to anything.  We ate a late breakfast and then took off walking.  We strolled by Rockefeller Center and over to Fifth Avenue, the universe’s vortex of high-end shopping.  It’s fun to window shop but on the theory that if you have to ask how much something is you can’t afford it, I didn’t go in any of the stores.  I speculated that the necklace in Harry Winston’s window would have eaten up my entire 401k.  We walked up the East Side of Central Park, crossed over to the West Side and then stopped for coffee.  That’s the great thing about NYC, as my niece says, you can’t swing a dead cat without finding a Starbucks.


Later, on our last evening, we hit McHale’s for dinner and then decided to “do something”, although that varied for all of us.  The girls wanted to wander Times Square and then go work out (seriously, it’s hard to believe we’re related), my niece wanted to see “School of Rock” on Broadway and I wanted to see “An American in Paris” again.  I know, with lots of choices and infrequent trips to NY, why would I see the same show again?  Well, it’s that good and I enjoyed it just as much the second time around.

The next day we woke to pouring rain – the first bad weather we had encountered.  So it really was time to leave.  Our group headed for the airport, flew to Dallas and sadly said good-bye as we boarded separate planes for the final leg home.  It was a wonderful trip – truly the adventure of a lifetime – spent with wonderful people.  But I have to say, as I crawled into my own bed last night, I don’t miss the honking horns.