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Death Chased Away By An Angel







My two aunts: one visiting from Canada with her two eldest daughters; and the other who lived nearby, accompanied by her only child—a tall, lanky, girl for her age, sporting long, curly, flaming-red hair and was a year older than me—along with my mother and I, all hopped onto the Public Service coach at Kinderkamack Road and Reservoir Avenue in River Edge, bound for Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. It was quite an exciting affair; after all, my being a young child of seven or eight, and aside from riding on one to school, I had never ridden an omnibus for such a seemingly long journey before this: roughly 17 miles or 27 kilometers one-way, with all the stopping and going in between.

My father's sister-in-law, the one who lived a town over from my family, was an extremely frugal woman; as was Dad's sister-in-law from the Great White North—a farmer's wife with a boatload of children. They packed away a tremendous assortment of loose candy, loaded in a large, brown-paper sack, intended for everyone to munch on while traveling and sitting throughout the movie and musical performance at Radio City Music Hall: our planned destination in the Big Apple. The women didn't want to pay the exorbitant prices charged by the venue for anything extraneous to eat. We sat in the rear of the bus: the kids were planted on the bench seat, while the adults were seated directly in front of them.

Our entourage marveled at the sensational sights revealed to us along the way, especially when scaling the towering Palisades that offered a birds-eye view of the scintillating Hudson River filled with motorboats, ships, barges and tugs, ferrying below; passing by the spot where Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was mortally wounded by a pistol shot during a duel between himself and his political rival, then-sitting Vice President Aaron Burr, on July 11, 1804; the glorious 18th- and 19th-century townhouses, lining the thoroughfare at the top of the cliffs; the magnificent, glistening skyscrapers, gracing Manhattan Island directly across the large waterway; and descending a huge, spiraling roadway to what seemed like the bowels of Weehawken, NJ, and the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, into which we proceeded wide-eyed for 1.5 miles (2.4 km) while underneath the river bed, wondering what would happen if the tubular structure sprung a leak; and finally ending our hair-raising excursion by ascending a concrete ramp into the massive bus terminal at 8th Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City.

Rockefeller Center, the locale of Radio City Music Hall, was less than a mile away. The general consensus was to hoof it. Most likely the women were looking to save the cab fare. We kids wanted to see what was going on in the big city and would have insisted on walking had our parents decided otherwise. The gorgeous spring afternoon was exceptionally bright and warm. Not a cloud was in view. The sun's shimmering rays reflected off the expansive plains of pavement everywhere. The clear, crystal-blue sky weaved radiantly above and between the sparkling multitude of monstrous buildings surrounding us, as if the altitudinous mega-structures were holding up the heavens like sculptured iconic columns of ancient Grecian temples. Little did I know the ultimate conclusion for that extraordinary day would prove to be extremely spiritual as well.

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To be continued...

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