It's 1988 and I'm down to my last two years in Manhattan. Time for some personal memories of places and people before I move back north.
Here's what started this memory: I went to a party in a brownstone apartment last night, along the only private park in New York State outside of Manhattan's Gramercy Park – Washington Park, in Troy.
The hostess has access to the building's roof, and is planning a party there this summer. And that triggered a memory of my 5th & 6th floor, penthouse duplex apartment on Manhattan's east side, in a rehabbed brownstone, complete with tiny elevator, slightly bigger than a phone booth. The apartment was slightly bigger, but it was well placed. A block or so from the East River on 28th Street, it had the tiniest kitchen and bathroom, but a living room with a working fireplace, and a second floor bedroom with walk-in closet and sliding glass door out to the rooftop patio, which I shared with the beautiful blond occupant of the mirror-imaged apartment next door.
My futon bed pretty much filled the space of that bedroom, but there was a beautiful view from that bed – the glowing top of the Chrysler building was my nightlight!
Every July 4th, Macy's would sponsor a spectacular fireworks display launched from barges – alternating between the Hudson River and the East River. On those east side years, my neighbor and I would host a gathering on our roof, from where we could see the major portion of the pyrotechnic display.
Despite the convenience and ideal location of the apartment (I could walk to work, and did, when my agency's offices were first in the Pan Am Building, then in the Flatiron District, then on 5th Avenue in the Bank of New York Building, and finally on Park Avenue South.), I gave it up when I found my “weekend house,” which I found while house-sitting (on Albany's Madison Avenue!) for my most recent ex-wife during a month's vacation in June of 1988.
Being a Vice President of the agency, I was entitled to four weeks of vacation, and I managed to take them all in a row. My plan was to spend the time writing my first novel in what was normally a very quiet house. But the day I moved in, the street repairs began, and continued all month.
I had an old bicycle stored in my mother's house in Troy, so I retrieved it, had it reconditioned, and started riding, and thinking maybe I could use the time to find a small cottage to buy near the bike path that used to be the old Troy-Schenectady Railroad, which runs in large part along the Mohawk River.
I found it, and managed to buy it a few months later. But it meant giving up the expensive apartment, and maybe even not living in Manhattan altogether. Until I found a rare, low-rent-stabilized place in the nineties. More about that next time.