The walls were as thin as the saltines on which I spread Potted Meat Food Product for dinner. I was privy to every sound of one neighbor’s bed squeaking and creaking in response to his nocturnal movements. His incoherent mumblings almost made sense to me some nights. Another neighbor was an opera singer. He was a horrible opera singer.
The mice, oh, those mice. They were true New Yorkers with a dry sense of humor, showing up at the most inopportune times. I lost more girlfriends that way.
A man came running up to us screaming, “Did you see the person who just drove off in that station wagon? My car was just stolen!” This was an eye-opening experience, and as I started to pay more attention to my new neighborhood, I realized that ten blocks made a big difference in 1976, and I was not in “Kansas” anymore.
At Greenwich Village’s Café Wha?, an endless list of young ’60s singers and comedians got early chances to hone their talents. Check out the interesting story of Manny Roth, the “Duke of Macdougal Street“ and impresario behind the club.
My first NYC apartment was on Steinway Street—party central of Astoria, Queens. I have very fond memories of my bachelor days there, but there are a lot of strange memories, too.
Christopher Gray, the “Streetscapes” columnist for the New York Times, takes a funny look back at how he got his first apartment in 1970 (a $45-a-month railroad flat!) and what life was like in NYC then.