IT’S BEEN 49 years since I was last in New York and not much has changed. Sure, the Twin Towers are not there. But then they weren’t there in 1967. Apart from that, there’s the ever-present traffic chaos above ground while the subway works so efficiently below ground, the New Yorkers are as friendly and helpful as ever, and it is as always the city that never sleeps.
Back in 1967, my girl and I were on our way home to England from Canada when we stopped off in New York. Clutched in my hand was a little travel book called: ‘New York on $20 a day’. It didn’t work.
We arrived by taxi from the airport at a budget hotel not far from Times Square. I dropped the coin as I tipped the taxi driver and we both scrambled on the ground in search. ‘Here it is,’ I cried, holding up the precious dollar in triumph. He carried on looking. ‘I thought there were more,’ he grinned. Another tip for the man who carried the bags to the foyer, and yet more dollars for the bell boy who took the bags from the foyer to the room.
I’d spent half my day’s allocation and we’d only just arrived.
Wandering through Manhattan, we noticed the police were out in force. Patrol cars blaring through the streets, police in pairs at every corner and police marksmen with rifles on the roofs of skyscrapers. “What’s going on?’ I enquired of one of the policemen. He shifted his chewing gum from one side of the mouth to the other, put his hand on his gun, and drawled: ‘Move along bud.’
Welcome to New York. We moved along and found out later that President Johnson was in town to address the United Nations. The Vietnam War was bringing many American casualties and LBJ was not popular. Hence the heavy police presence.
Throwing away my New York on $20 a day travel guide, I decided to impress the woman who was to become my wife by suggesting a visit to Tiffany’s in search of an engagement ring. The Sixties movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s was still fresh in our memories, and we sauntered into the store with high expectation.
It didn’t take long for those romantic expectations to be dashed as the polite but snooty sales person pointed out that my budget was a bit low for a Tiffany’s engagement ring. He did, however, suggest a single gold band wedding ring as an alternative.
And so we bought what was probably the least expensive item in the store. A single gold band with Tiffany’s inscribed on the inside. And still on the finger of the woman who became my wife 48 years ago.
Photo by Trailer screenshot – Breakfast at Tiffany’s trailer, Public Domain, Commons Wikimedia.