Happy Fourth of July weekend! Loren and I began our week still at a friend of mine’s home in Pennsylvania, which in some ways seems to be ages ago. We had quite humid weather there which to me feels very unusual – more like the “dog days” of my childhood August’s than June’s. The sweltering was relieved by an entire day of on and off torrential rains. So, we spent that day indoors, enjoying our friend’s outstanding Italian cooking of eggplant parmigiana, tortellini salad, and pasta fagioli. In between we played cards – specifically a version of Rummy called May I. We finished off our last day together of this visit with my childhood friend and I watching True Lies with her cats, while Loren coached her daughter on speaking Italian, a good review for him.
From Pennsylvania, Loren and I drove to New Jersey where we visited President Grover Cleveland’s birthplace. This is the second of two Presidential museums we visited of distant relatives of mine, so it was quite special to find a hand made cross-stitch there by his first cousin, Anna, and, the cradle in which he was rocked to sleep. I had no idea that there is a United States $1000 bill, and that Cleveland’s image is on it. Did you know that?
While in Jersey overnight I had to laugh at an old taunt from my New York childhood: “Whut ahr ya, ah Joisey Drivah?” when someone operating a motor vehicle made a faux pas. While actually driving in New Jersey this time, and within the span of less than 24 hours, we encountered exactly 3 Jersey drivers making ridiculous or dangerous choices with their vehicles… It is a good thing that I make it a point to drive defensively. Loren and I then arrived into New York City to attend a Sunday service at the historic Unitarian Church of All Souls on Lexington Avenue, for our first time there.
Afterwards Loren and I drove upstate – I always smile at that word, remembering my first experience of a friend who had moved far enough south of my childhood home to say that she was coming “upstate” to see me when I was in High School. It taught me a little bit more about world perspective. But I digress. We drove to Westchester County for a most memorable evening in joining my sister-in-law and her daughters in celebrating my brother’s 50th birthday for his wish of a sunset dinner cruise on the Hudson River.
Our evening featured fireworks near the Statue of Liberty and over the New York City skyline, which was all decorated for the current Gay Pride parade. We felt so fortunate that the weather was perfect for a night out.
The next day, we enjoyed a lunch date with my brother and sister-in-law who came to their house on the lake where we are staying. Another highlight this week was when Loren and I watched the first annual NBA Awards night. Our own Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green was presented with two awards, Klay Thompson won one, and our newest star on the team, Kevin Durant received one as well.
Loren and I then spent a full day in New York City, starting off with visiting President Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace. In addition to some of the history of the United States during his presidency, I came away with two interesting tidbits related to his name – the Teddy Bear was named for him, and, his last name was originally Van Rosenvelt, Dutch for of the rose field. I had learned at President McKinley’s museum that as Roosevelt was VP he took over the office of President when McKinley died. At Roosevelt’s birth home, I learned that President Taft – the third of my Presidential relatives, had served in Roosevelt’s War Department. And, I learned that Roosevelt was beginning his political career just before Grover Cleveland served his first Presidency. In other words, Roosevelt worked closely with the three Presidents who are my distant relatives. Interesting!
Still in New York City, we visited the site of an Eleanor Roosevelt tribute at Riverside Park, then had a beer in the newly reopened Tavern on the Green in Central Park.
Our evening that day was another memorable one, spent with good friends. We started with a Midsummer-Night-Swing Salsa lesson at Lincoln Center, and finished at Bricco’s Italian restaurant, where, along with numerous other women before us – our friend and I left our lip marks on their ceiling! Loren and I then dashed off to catch our last return train from Grand Central, and made it with just 4 minutes to spare.
On my brother’s actual birthday, we enjoyed another celebratory dinner with he and his family, for another wonderful evening together.
Loren and I finished our week visiting a little around the city where I grew up. As we walked around downtown, I pointed out the old Armory. Taking the time to read the plaque there, I discovered that White Plains, where I was born and lived for the first half of my life, was also where the State of New York was born – well, ok, proclaimed!