Wednesday, July 16th 1986
I woke at 6am and sat up in bed listening to radio stations on the Walkman. The radio was amazing and in contrast to the UK, which only had 3 or 4 stations, the 80 to 106 FM band was packed with music stations. You could almost listen to the whole top 40 by tuning the dial from 83 to 106.
I found a station that sounded especially good; WPLJ “power 95”. I learned that the day, Wednesday, was “hump” day and that is was going to have a high of 85. That sounded hot so I made sure I had plenty of suntan lotion on. The big news of the morning was that a cinema had collapsed during a showing of the film Phsyco 3.
After a cup of coffee and some toast for breakfast I set off with Tanya in her car to the bus stop. To me it was a bit of a weird idea taking a car to a bus, but I guess it was like driving to the railway station back in the UK. We parked the car in a big parking lot and walked over to the bus stop. We took a rather old bus through the Lincoln tunnel to the gigantic Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.
Tanya was working at the Paul Slates advertising agency near Times Square. We walked towards Times Square together. I was still awestruck by the whole city but I tried not to show it too much. When, after a few minutes, we reached the entrance to her office Tanya said a simple goodbye and wished me a pleasant day in the city.
I started off walking. I couldn’t stop walking. I walked for almost two hours heading towards the downtown at the bottom of Manhattan. It was incredible. The sights, the sounds and the smells, I loved it all.
I reached the World Trade Center. I paid the entrance fee and boarded the elevator to the top floor observation deck. From there I got an impressive view of the whole city.
After the World Trade Center I went down to Battery Park. I had a look at the queues for the Statue of Liberty Ferry and decided not to travel on it. Instead, I walked back along Broadway to Trinity Church and to Wall Street and the famous stock exchange.
After a lunch of Pizza I walked back towards midtown along Broadway and then through Chinatown, past Greenwich Village to Washington Square and then along Fifth Avenue all the way up to 34th Street.
I went in the Empire State building and took the elevator to the top. It was a much more elegant building than the World Trade Center and the view from the top was better too.
I came down and walked along 42nd Street to Sixth Avenue up to Central Park and into the Plaza hotel for a look at the foyer. I found a pay phone and called Tanya to arrange a meeting place and time. I walked down Broadway from Columbus Circle to Times Square and had a chocolate custard donut with a coffee on the way.
I met Tanya and we caught the bus back to New Jersey. We were home by 6 o’clock. In the evening we went out again with Tanya and her mum to Teaneck and had a meal at a restaurant called “The Seafood Company”. It was a lovely fish seafood restaurant and I had some of the best sea food I had ever tasted; swordfish, clams and oysters. We all drank gin and tonic.
We drove back to Rutherford and then I went back out again with Tanya to meet her boyfriend Rick at another bar. We talked about politics until 11 PM and then returned home.
I was tired and glad to get to bed.
Thursday, July 17th 1986
I went back to New York with Tanya again. This time we were accompanied by her friend to the bus stop. I was still getting used to Americans driving somewhere to catch a bus.
I was left at Times Square again and I immediately decided to catch my first subway train. I got a subway token and took a Line 1 train heading downtown to the South Ferry terminus. I had been expecting the train to be covered in graffiti, but it was actually graffiti free.
They announced that only the first five cars would stop at South Ferry and just as I was wondering which car I was in, a young girl grabbed my hand and led me through about 3 cars so we could get off.
I got the ferry over to Liberty Island. There was quite a queue to get inside the Statue of Liberty, but the view from the top was great and the immigration museum at the bottom was moving as well as fascinating.
Back in Manhattan I headed to Federal Hall, walked up Wall Street again and got a chili hot dog from one of the street vendors.
I went inside Federal Hall and then inside Trinity Church and then get another subway train back uptown. This one was covered in graffiti and looked just like the ones I had seen on photographs and films. I got off at Grand Central Station and admired the amazing cathedral-like building.
I then walked back along 42nd Street to the Rockefeller Center and watched the “New York experience” film show they had. It was interesting but I met an American lady in there who told me that the “London experience” was much better. I told her I had never heard of it.
I walked up Fifth Avenue, got an ice cream and went into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I had my first ever “Sprite” in the cafe there and then spent time looking around the Rembrandts and Monets. I used a payphone at the museum to ring Tanya and arranged to to meet her again at 45th and Eighth. We met and traveled back to New Jersey on a crowded bus.
We dined that night at home. We had real Polish sausages with delicious mustard, spinach and coleslaw. There were blueberries and water melon slices for dessert.
I fell asleep watching the Cosby show and went off at 9pm to catch an early night.
Friday, July 18th 1986
I woke at 7 am and got ready for my third trip into the big city with Tanya.
I took the subway again from Times Square, this time to Fulton Street. I had a breakfast of bagel (my first ever) with coffee and then I looked around South Street Seaport. It was a beautiful complex of shops, restaurants, an interesting fish market and a collection of old ships.
I walked back up past City Hall to Chinatown, up Mulberry Street, Canal Street and then to Little Italy. Eventually I got to Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. I bought a copy of the Village Voice at a newsagents. I also had a look at the Guardian and learned that Labour still had the lead in the opinion polls back home.
I went got back on the subway and went to Madison Square Garden and to Penn Station, pausing to eat a hot dog and a knish (a New York Jewish delicacy) on the way.
I went into Macy’s and bought some postcards and a bag.
I walked up 5th Avenue to 83rd, and then down 53rd to the Museum of Modern Art. I met two New York students who were planning to go to the University of East Anglia to study English Art and I chatted to them for a while. The museum was fascinating and I enjoyed it even more than MOMA yesterday.
I went out again and up to 57th Street via the Russian tearooms, Carnegie Hall and the tourist bureau. I went back along Broadway and phoned Tanya and arranged to meet her again out of work again.
We got an earlier bus back.
We then went to the drive-in bank (my first time) to allow me to cash some travellers cheques.
I bought my first ever lottery (1313) ticket and then went back to the petrol station where Bill worked. I met a guy called Larry and some other people who wanted to come to London. One of them told me he could trace his heritage back to the year 1630 and had ancestors who came from Sandringham.
I went home to pack my bags and sat there watching TV on the sofa.
I called Mike in Pittsburgh and then, by coincidence, I saw an advert for tourism in Pennsylvania. “Pennsylvania, you’ve always got a friend in Pennsylvania”
I sat there wearing my New York T-shirt watching channel 2 news reflecting on three days of visiting New York city .
I spent Friday night with Rick and Tanya and we went to see a reggae band in northern New Jersey together. It was too far to make it all the way back so I slept, or tried to sleep, on a camp bed at Rick’s place in Riverville.
Saturday, July 19th 1986
Tanya drove me back to East Rutherford and then Mary and Bill took me on a day trip to Atlantic City in their car. We stopped off at Smithsville, a rebuilt village, and I had my first ever “yard of ale” there. We toured a couple of casinos (the first time I had been in a casino) in Atlantic City. I didn’t gamble but Bill did and he lost a few dollars doing it.
We stopped at the Riverside Oyster Restaurant on the way back and had yet another lovely seafood meal.
The opulence and the richness of the food in the USA was starting to impress me a lot.
I made it to bed by midnight.