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    East Side West Side and All About the Town

    I recently received an Email from an old dear friend who I hadn’t heard or talked to since 1980. Raj and I were in a theater company in Cleveland, Ohio called the Phoenix Theater Company. Having exchanged several Emails with him during the course of which he gave me his New York City address, I got to reminiscing about all the various neighborhoods I lived in during the years I lived down there.

    When I first moved there I lived in an area called Hell’s Kitchen. It was 9th Avenue and 36th Street to be exact. It was a pretty sordid area with a lot of colorful street people and some unusual businesses. I think I’ll just let you use your imagination on what they were.

    It was very close to the Port Authority bus terminal, which was at 34th Street and 8th Avenue. I used to work at a bar called Amy’s Pub that was not far from the apartment where I lived. This was one of my first bartending jobs in the city.

    I remember when I applied for the job the owner/manager asked me if I had any bartending experience, to which I promptly lied and said “yes.”

    I was only about 23 at the time, so how much experience could I have had?

    From that area I moved to the Upper West Side, 57th Street to be exact.  The cross street was 6th Avenue and I was living with my friend Cindy at the time. I was still working at Amy’s Pub and so I had to commute by subway to get to work. It was only a couple of stops on the train and very often I would simply zip down in a taxi.

    I never minded taking the subways. They’re efficient, fast and at that time a subway token was only 90 cents. That means with a transfer you could travel as far as you needed to for under a dollar.

    I lived in Queens for a brief stint, Park Slope to be exact. People who live in Brooklyn or Queens are commonly known as “bridge and tunnel people” and it’s meant sardonically. I specifically remember chasing after some “bridge and tunnel people” who left me a lousy tip and threw the few coins they left at them with some choice comments. The reason I knew this was because in the course of waiting on them they told me where they lived.

    There are also people known as “Jersey People.” These are generally even worse than bridge and tunnel people. They tend to be snobs without any cause to be such.

    I then moved to the Upper East Side, 90th and 1st Avenue to be exact, known commonly as Yorktown. I didn’t love the Upper East Side. First of all, I was waiteressing in the West Village at the time. So It was a good 80 blocks to get to work. I took the subway and I had to allow extra time to get that far down. I was working at Chumley’s, a former speakeasy that still exists today.

    My absolute favorite place that I lived was in the West Village of Manhattan at 72 Barrow Street to be exact. I had been waiting on the owners of the building, Mike and Joanne Grabow, when they asked if I was interested in living in the West Village as they owned a building down there. Now, if you know anything about New York, you know it’s priceless to find a great apartment. The great thing about this particular building was that it had a courtyard and ivy growing on the bricks on building. It was also a block from the restaurant I worked at at the time, Chumleys, on the corner of Barrow and Bedford, one short block away.

    Herman and I have gone down to New York to visit friends of mine. Even though the streets are handicapped accessible, I couldn’t imagine living there. 

    I’ve described via Email where I live and he said he can’t imagine it and do I know how lucky I am. Well, I certainly do.


    Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com