Monday, March 21, 2011

"Old New York"



Well for me "Old New York" is the immediate post-war years. I was born in 1950 so remember the city from the early '50's. The town still looked much as it did in the 1930's. It didn't radically change till the 60's, and then again in the 1980's. It's doing it again now.

However I have a romantic memory of how things were then, and I miss it. Not the crap, and awfulness, but the sense of things as they were. ..or at least as I remember them.

The city was historically interesting then. We've lost so many of the late 19th, and early 20 century places, and things. Places taken for granted for generations.

For example my Mom, when we went shopping, would take me to lunch at the "Automat",..yeah that one. The for real as in 1920's/30's movies Automat. Many streets were still cobblestone. This from the era of horse drawn wagons, and carriages.

Also people dressed better. There was more of a consciousness of appearance. One that had nothing to do the the fashion dementia of today. It had to do with self respect.

Well-to-do middle or working class all dressed as best as they could when they went out. I remember my Dad taking me, and my sister to our neighborhood park. We dressed up! He wore a tie, jacket, and fedora, and we wore clean play clothes. I don't have to tell you what it's like now.

There were no glass, and steel clad skyscrapers. Everything was granite, limestone, and marble. I used to think that the buildings were made from Graham crackers, and cookies. This because in the afternoon sun that's exactly what they looked like.

A whole city made from cookies or biscuits..for you folks in the Commonwealth.

You could tell the cars apart as well. This because each manufacturer had radically different designs. ..at least as compared to today. Our rides are made of plastic, and look like melted sneakers. They give just as much mileage too.

The subways system still had rolling stock from the late 1920's , and earlier in service. Everything from the "AB Standard" 1914 model to the 1948 Red Bird was banging around our tunnels.

You could stand on the platform, and see the whole history of subway trains fly by! Also while standing there you could get a five cent Coke out of them classic neat old machines, and candy was one cent!

Aw man, and comics were a dime.

I remember on one birthday my dad got me a dollars worth,..Ten comics!

A vast fortune in kid currency!

Best of times the worst,..blah, blah you get the deal. It's just that things seemed to matter more then. As I say I think we were all more connected to our person-hoods back in that day. Stuff mattered, had value all that.

Mind you maybe them that was adults back then might think all this is a load of crap. Hey I was a kid, and this is what it looked like to me.

Anyway I was just thinking about them times is all.

(This is amateur silent 16mm film taken in New York City sometime in the mid-1930s. This is mostly the city I remember from the early to late 1950's. ...again note how folks dressed when they went "downtown" as they used to say.)

9 comments:

Zaek said...

Is this the same New York City that E.B. White wrote about in his essay on that topic? Kinda looks like it. Also it reminds me of certain Edward Hopper paintings, though not so melancholic, which is probably just as well.

I'm afraid those are the best references I've got, since I've only seen NYC in the flesh twice, in 1979 and 1983 - unless you count stopovers at Kennedy Airport, which I don't.

Zaek said...

Usually I feel quite smug and complacent when I hear about NYC's weather - anything from tit-freezing to sweltering heat waves. But now for once the tables have finally turned.

I am SO fucking sick and tired of this FUCKING RAIN. It goes on and on and on and ON until mushrooms are growing in the attic and the walls are moldy and spores are putting out mycelial networks in my brain. The roof is leaking enthusiastically in places where it was only thinking about it before. It's cold and wet and nasty outside and you can't get out of the house for fear of turning into a sponge. It's as though Winter is malevolently conspiring to perpetuate itself beyond all natural wholesome limits. Auugghhhhh! I can't stand it! When will this damp dreary doleful dismalness ever end???

Furthermore while I was posting this the water in my pan went dry on the stove and the smoke alarm went off. It does this about four times a week. The sound of it is a hideous torment that never seems to end.

I HATE Winter!

Zaek said...

No more Juno, I see. Clearly Blogger censors for the written word.

Anonymous said...

Yeah that's new policy. You can go to my picture page "Pink Hell". You can comment in the 'ask me a question' feature.

This will be my Queer space till I can get my website run, and running.

Anonymous said...

Spoke too soon. Pink is gone too. I guess this is a general 'net purge.

Zaek said...

We don't have net censorship here in the USA. You can say anything you think. It's just that certain thoughts aren't permitted to be entertained because, you know, that would be against the rules.

Uncle 2012 said...

I'll try again with the new website. I think the best thing for Queer Outlaw blogs is to buy a domain, and leave the blogshere.

In fact that's going to be the new name for the site. "Queer Outlaws"

..has a nice ring to it.

It should be up next month. No no porn, but lots of scary art, and rants. The Angels are on our side!

Lino said...

"Also people dressed better. There was more of a consciousness of appearance."

Boy, this sparked a memory. In the mid-sixties there was a show on NBC called "Hullabaloo" a neighbor worked on electrics crew and invited me over to tapings.

There was an informal dress code in that camera crew and boom operators all dressed in jackets and white shirts.

I recall sometimes standing right behind the boom operator's platform, and noticing how his pant leg had a center crease and came perfectly to the top of his shined shoes.

The only ones who looked remotely funky were the creative types -director, set designer etc and of course, cast.

My parents routinely dressed in manner that today would be reserved for "occasions".

BTW: i was born in Sept '56 so I remember a lot of the same images. In fact, some of those old streets near Canal are essentially unchanged.

Lino

Uncle 2012 said...

I like to walk down some of the old streets. The few that are intact from the middle or earlier of the last century.

My memories of that other time are in my minds eye as technicolor films. Bright rich vivid alive hopeful.