Well, you can cross two of those off my bucket list. I have made the trip to Wrigley and the old Yankee Stadium. It is the latter that I will focus on today, sort of.
In the early 2000s, just a couple of short years after the terrorist attack on New York City and our country, we took a family vacation to New York City. Our family was not alone. We were traveling with our great friends Steve, Kim, Kyle and Brooke Allen. While I would never choose to live in New York City, I must admit it was one of the greatest vacation weeks ever. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
The week started out well as we flew in over the skyline of Manhattan. We hit the ground running and did nearly everything tourists can do in a week’s time. We visited China Town, Little Italy, the Soho District and Battery Park.
We went to Ground Zero. What a chilling effect that had on us. I will never forget the feelings that I was overcome with while staring down into the hole where two of the most massive structures in the world had once stood. The sadness of the loss of life swept over me like a raging tide. Conflicting with the sadness was a swelling of pride as I thought about the brave firefighters and policemen and women that risked and gave their lives in the rescue efforts. It all made for a strange melting pot of emotions.
That is just the beginning. We toured the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Wall Street. As a matter of fact, the children sat on the gold bull in the financial district. We took a carriage ride through Central Park, took in a Broadway play and made the trek to the top of the Empire State Building.
It was on up in the night that we did this. The view of New York City while standing against the rail in the evening breeze, looking down at the lights at 10 pm, is literally breath-taking. It made the kids forget that they had just seen their first transsexual person in the observatory room at the top of the structure just moments earlier.
We traveled in New York cabs, crossed busy streets and asked directions of many fine New Yorkers. We visited Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where my son Zack mistakenly washed his hands in the Holy Water.
The pace with which our families moved about town was truly amazing, but it didn’t seem like we were in a hurry. Obviously, we sampled New York’s fine cuisine many times while in the Big Apple. I would have to rate the dining experience in Little Italy as my favorite. The smell of pasta lured us close to the restaurant, and then the older silver-haired Italian gentleman handing out menus sealed the deal. He basically said in Italian and English that it would be a fine dining experience, and his word was true. We dined, we relaxed in the open-air restaurant as the city moved all around us.
As we stayed, we continued to build memories. There was the walk we took across the Brooklyn Bridge. How about the subway trip to Harlem where the boys shot ball on the most famous outdoor basketball court in the world, Rucker Park? We couldn’t decide where to get off the subway to put us closest to the park. It was there that Steve performed a feat of strength worthy of Samson. At one particular subway stop, he held the doors pried open until we made up our mind whether to get out or not. I don’t think the driver had ever seen that before. No, on second thought, he had probably seen that and everything else in his time.
Zack and I even squeezed in a trip to Columbia University where he got in a pickup basketball game with several of their players. There were a mixture of white guys, African-Americans and Chinese students playing. At one point, a couple of the African-American young men stated speaking fluent Chinese to communicate with their teammates. Wow! That was definitely enough to convince me of Ivy League intelligence.
While there we saw some celebrities such as Phylicia Rashad, Puff Daddy (or P Diddy, or Sean Combs), Judd Hirsch from the old show Taxi, and Bettle Juice from the Howard Stern Show. For the record, I do not or did not watch Howard Stern. However, we literally almost bumped into his midget sidekick on the streets of Broadway outside the David Letterman Show.
There were so many memories that I am surely just scratching the surface. Actually, I am just setting the table for the most interesting aspect of the trip. That would our trip to the Bronx and Yankee Stadium. Stay tuned next week and, as the song says, I will take you out to the ballpark.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.