prune picker

This is the blog of a prune picker. (Native born Californian) Retired oilfield. I am an old man. (91) I blog a lot about my body and getting old. As I approach death life gets more interesting. More interesting is not good. I still drive. I attend sports, music, and civic events. I am writing my memoirs. I attend swim class three times a week. Some of my blogs might be interesting. A lot of my blogs are silly and trivial. None are very long.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A boyhood trip to New York City.

As a boy growing up in Pomona, California I was an avid reader. I had lots of time to read. I had supported myself and lived alone for several early teen age years. I was fascinated by New York City. In the fall of 1942 when I was 17 I went down to the Greyhound Bus Station and bought a ticket from Pomona in Southern California to NYC. The ticket cost about $50. This post to my Prune Picker blog are about my memories of that trip. I spent about a week in NYC before I got home sick and headed home.

I rode the bus for seven days and nights. I remember going through Salt Lake City. I remember a fire with flames high in the sky from an out of control gas well somewhere east of Salt Lake City. Probably Wyoming or Montana.

I changed buses in Chicago. There were a lot of hours to wait between buses so I took in a vaudeville show. The headliner in the show was Johnny Downs.

Johnny had been in 40 "Our Gang Comedy" movies. And he had been in some movie musicals. At this time he was a song and dance man in vaudeville. I remember being impressed by his soft shoe dance routine.

After Chicago I can remember Cleveland and getting off the bus and walking around a square downtown and viewing Lake Erie. My first view of the Great Lakes.

When I arrived in NYC I rented a hotel room close to the bus station. I have several memories of my visit. I remember grocery stores with the biggest, reddest, delicious apples that I had ever seen.  I rode the subway to the Bronx. I ate in the Automat. At the Automat food was displayed behind little glass doors that you would open with a coin. I tried to join the Navy. I remember seeing a drunk sailor hanging out of the door of a taxicab while he violently vomited.

I went to Radio City Music Hall and saw a movie and a performance by the Rockets. I was impressed at how big the theatre was.

I walked down Broadway. I have a strong memory of the front of Jack Dempsey's Restaurant. It was full of well to do people eating good. It was a well publicized landmark of those times. You remember Jack? He was a prizefighter.

Jack was not standing out front.

After a week I decided to go home. I was almost out of money due to my wild living. I only had enough money for a bus ticket to Baltimore. I was impressed with the row houses in Baltimore. Blocks of doors and steps. I went to a pawn shop and sold every thing I had except for the clothes on my back. I received about ten dollars. I bought a loaf of bread and a pound of baloney and started hitch hiking. I made it home in five days. Two days faster then my bus trip to NYC. I took the southern route home. About three days was spent hitch hiking across Texas. In at Texarkana and out at El Paso.

After Baltimore I hitched a ride to the edge of Washington DC. I remember walking all the way across the city. A long walk.

One night on the trip home stands out in my memory. I sat for the night (It was cold) in the bus station in Bristol, Tennessee. It was the night of a football game and high school students were everywhere.

This trip was a strange thing to do. Even for me. It was wartime and I was too young for the military. I felt at a loss because I wanted in the service so much. The trip stands out in my memories. I really saw a lot of country. I went across the middle of the USA and returned the southern route. I thought every town in Tennessee had a college! I remember riding by the Lost Dutchman Mine in Arizona. I have always enjoyed going to see different places. Still do.

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