Life in New York City
In the Hotel Beacon on Broadway
My sons and I lived on Broadway on the Upper West Side, in the Hotel Beacon, on the twenty-first floor. The magnificent Ansonia Building was across the street and down a little ways. I found out Mario Lanza had lived there, and I used to study that structure with all its historic beauty and fame, wondering about the unusual residents who lived inside. Like everyone at the Beacon, we rode up and down the elevators with musicians carrying, dragging, and carting instruments. Those troupes all performed at the Beacon Theater in the middle of the week and on weekends. Our apartment had a bedroom where we all three slept, a bathroom, and a tiny area which served as a kitchen. I prepared our meals on a countertop the size of a small cutting board. No recipe was needed when you cooked on a wok, just rice, vegetables, and meat. D’Agostino’s was across the street. The Fish Market was next door to it. We shopped daily and bought everything fresh. Though New York is a city that never sleeps, late each Saturday night we woke to the slow easy melody of a baritone saxophone player, who never carried a tin for change, since few people were on the street at 2 am. He serenaded the neighborhood back into a deep sleep with his soulful music. No one ever got to thank him.
School and Work in Manhattan
Bright and early every school morning, our sons climbed onto crowded city buses that came every few minutes, one after another, three and four at a time. Once I saw they were on their way, I got on a separate bus. My ride took me past Carnegie Hall and down Fifth Avenue past the new Trump Tower, where I got off and walked alongside other New Yorkers hurrying to make an impression at their respective businesses downtown. The building where I worked was at 53rd and Third. It sat brand new in its shiny outer black skin on the corner, across the street from the exciting Citicorp Building. All of us left the apartment with brass tokens in hand, plus money for lunch in pockets. The boys went out into the streets at noon and ate pizza with their school pals and I usually ate soup and a sandwich absolutely free for the taking, in the office kitchen with colleagues, then walked up to Bloomingdales. We had two hour lunches. When he wasn’t entertaining his clients with a fancy business lunch, my boss sometimes took me to one of his favorite restaurants. I liked the French Argenteuil the best.
Fun in Central Park
Though Coleman lived at West 64th Street, just behind Lincoln Center, the boys and I lived only a few blocks from Central Park. We four would stroll over there, sometimes we’d see a movie, watch Shakespeare in the Park, or the boys might throw Frisbees or do inline skating. The first sunny day after they got shiny new sting-ray style bikes with banana seats, both sons, along with a couple of friends, rode along the park’s tree-lined winding and hilly paths, until a group of older kids wrestled those bikes away and disappeared with them. The money for those bikes had been earned singing in the Children’s Choir at City Opera and The Metropolitan Opera, and alongside their dad in Gilbert and Sullivan musicals at LOOM, the Light Opera of Manhattan, Off-Off Broadway.