The 11 year old and I headed to the Washington Heights Armory late this afternoon to watch a high school track meet in which the 14 year old did her thing.
It’s a quick ride north to 168th Street on the No. 1 train during which the 11 year old noted that everyone in the subway spoke Spanish. Everyone but the two of us, of course, which is only fodder for the school kid to continue his language studies. He proceeded to conjugate ir/to go for me and told me how to say 168th Street in Spanish. In less than 20 minutes, we arrived at the designated subway station, with it’s high ceilings, globe lanterns , wall mounted lighting, AND an overpass (rather than the underpass to traverse the tracks, all of which looked quite different from midtown and downtown stations. One of the highlights as we headed toward the station exit was an obligatory elevator ride up to ground level. An “operator” sat on a stool nestled behind a yellow barricade of sorts while he pushed buttons. He played a recording of latin music for our listening enjoyment. No head phones, the real deal.
Once above ground, it’s hard not to notice NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center as it covers most of the surrounding blocks. Historically, Washington Heights was a refuge for eastern European Jews and for all I know, my paternal grandparents lived there before they “made it” in the garment industry and moved to Lawrence, NY. I’ll never know since there’s no one around to ask… Today, it’s said to have a heavy concentration of Dominicans but a Starbucks on a corner overshadowed any obvious ethnicity. Of course, our mission was to find The Armory, an indoor track and field situation for high schoolers. Who knew? The 100 year old building charged $5 for spectator admission but it was well worth the price to see the interior and cheer for the home team. When I asked the 11 year old, if he was enjoying our adventure north, he replied “every minute of it,” and smiled sincerely. It helped that his school had athletes racing in the boys’ heats.
Legwork complete, we headed homeward. Again, though in reverse, it was easy to ride the No. 1 train south from 168th street. We hopped off at Columbus Circle to catch the No. 5 bus across town. During the transfer, a series of police cars lined the circle, in formation, red lights flashing. The officers informed us that “occasionally they are stationed at random points for surveillance.” Sure. Whatever. The bus came, we rode across town in time to see Bergdorf Goodman’s creepy holiday window decorations being dismantled. The snowflake twinkling above the intersection of 57th Street on Fifth Avenue, however, still shines bright, as a reminder of UNICEF’s efforts to help save, protect and improve the lives of children around the world through immunization, education, health care, nutrition, clean water and sanitation. There’s so much to be done…