It was a summer evening in 1974, and I was on my way to visit my boyfriend, who lived on Ocean Avenue near Avenue J in Brooklyn.
I had come from Queens and was reading a paperback novel, “Green Mansions” by William Henry Hudson, while waiting for the M train on an elevated platform.
At one point, I took a step, and the book fell out of my hands onto the tracks.
Suddenly, a tall young man jumped down, retrieved it, climbed back up and handed it to me with a smile on his face.
It’s been almost 50 years, and I am still hoping that he never did anything so dangerous again.
Job at Macy’s
One thing I always wanted to do was work at Macy’s in New York City. I got the opportunity when things slowed down at my current job and management asked for volunteers to take unpaid time off.
I took a month, and my husband and I went to New York City. We found a short-term apartment and I applied for a job at Macy’s during the Christmas season. I didn’t say I only planned to work there a month.
I was in my 50s at the time and I started working with a group of men and women who were much younger.
I spent my first day learning how to operate the cash register and where everything in the store was. It was so exciting.
When it was time for lunch, some of the younger women asked me to go to lunch with them at McDonald’s. Wow. Of course I went. They mostly spoke Spanish. I didn’t understand them, but I didn’t care.
I couldn’t have been any more excited when the day was over and I clocked out and headed to the door. Outside, the young women yelled out to me: Come on, Alice. It’s this way to the subway.
They wanted me to come with them, but I just said no, thank you. I lived right across the street.
On the Q
I was on the Q train standing next to a mother and her two children, a patient older brother of maybe 10 or 11 and his rambunctious younger sister, who was entertaining herself by hitting him.
“What did I just say?” Their mother repeated each time the girl landed a blow, gaining all of us a minute’s peace.
Distracted for a few seconds, the girl turned to a tall, handsome stranger a few feet away.
“You look like Spider-Man,” she said, “like the actor who plays Spider-Man.”
“I’ll take it,” he said.
A few minutes later, the girl repeated herself.
“You look like Spider-Man!” she said, as if for the first time.
When the train stopped at 72nd Street, the man got off. But just before disappearing into the crowd, he turned back.
“You look like Wonder Woman,” he called back kindly.
Perfect Autumn Night
I was visiting New York City from my native Australia years ago, staying with my cousin in the Village.
On a perfect autumn night, I went out walking. Passing a cafe, I saw a guitarist on a small stage through a window.
I went inside and sat down at a table with a man who was clearly enjoying the music. Unfortunately, the lights came up after just one song. The place was closing for the night.
Disappointed to be heading home, I said yes when my table mate invited me to join him on a walk to the post office. I needed to get something postmarked by midnight.
Because post offices closed at 5 pm in Australia, this felt like a decadent adventure.
“Australia,” he said. “I once lived in a building with an Australian artist living upstairs. We became friends. He gave me a painting. “I still have it.”
Who was the artist? I asked.
Brett Whiteley, he said.
We parted ways at the post office, and I continued on through the perfect autumn night.
To the Rescue
I was sitting at the desk in my third-floor apartment one afternoon. The desk is by a window that overlooks the building’s small inner courtyard.
“Hello,” I heard a man’s voice yelling. “Hellooooo — is anybody there?”
This continued for a while. At first, I wasn’t sure where it was coming from. But the yelling continued: “Hellooooo? “Anybody?”
I looked out the window, but I couldn’t see much. I was thinking about answering the man when I heard a woman’s voice coming from above.
“Hello,” the woman yelled. “Do you need help?”
“Yes” the man hollered back. “I’m locked in the bathroom of apartment 1B. “The doorknob fell off.”
“Oh no,” she yelled. “I’ll call the super.”
The man answered, but not loudly enough for her to hear.
“Que?” she yelled.
“I said,” he screamed, “I’m putting you in my will.”
There was a pause.
“Thank you,” the woman replied. “I’m in 9E.”
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Illustrations by Agnes Lee