Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B Is for Brooklyn, 1963

Theme ~ My 50 Years in America

My dad is the young child in this picture from around 1906, featuring my grandmother, grandfather, her parents and a few of her siblings. One of my grandmother's brothers emigrated to America in 1911 and was living in Brooklyn when I arrived in New Jersey in 1962. In the early spring of 1963, I went to visit great-uncle Nils and aunt Lilly in Brooklyn. 

 Port Authority Bus Terminal, 1963

Getting around without a car in these United States has never been easy, but it can be done. That day, so long ago, I took a bus from Princeton to Port Authority, the large bus terminal in midtown Manhattan, and caught a subway to Brooklyn from there. 

The borough of Brooklyn consists of many ethnic neighborhoods. Back then, there was still a Scandinavian section where my great-uncle lived. Their street was lovely, lined with old brick rowhouses with stoops separated by wrought iron railings, street lamps from a bygone era, and trees still bare in early spring. 

Federal style row houses in Brooklyn

My great-uncle's apartment did not disappoint, it was decorated in an old-fashioned style with antimacassars on velvet wing-chairs, a large sideboard upon which sat cut crystal bowls and bottles, and a silver coffee service. My great-uncle, who looked exactly like my grandmother, something that I found a bit disconcerting, why I don't know, served me a glass of sherry. 

After we got acquainted, they took me to a neighborhood restaurant for dinner. And that's where it happened! 

Manhattan cocktail ingredients. ~ No wonder!

For younger readers: 1963 was a time of cigarettes and cocktails, Mad Men style. So when they ordered Manhattans, I said I wanted one too. I had never tasted this drink of rye or Canadian whiskey, mixed with sweet red Vermouth, and, as it turned out, it was way too potent for me. Of course, the sherry I had earlier didn't help any. I soon realized that my elderly relatives were far more experienced than I; that they were, in fact, serious tipplers. While I was quite the novice and should have been more careful.

No matter how much food or how many cups of coffee I consumed, by the time the visit was over I was still really tipsy. The way back was long, through a New York City that, at the time, was anything but safe. Somehow I made it back to Port Authority, somehow I caught the correct bus, and somehow I managed to make it home to Princeton. 

My dad and I at the Washington Memorial, 1964

A year later, my dad came to visit and, after being properly warned about the Manhattan cocktail, went off on buses and subways to see his uncle in Brooklyn. On his way back to Princeton, he got lost in the New York City subway system. My roommate, Christina, and I were terribly worried before he finally showed up, full of tales to tell about his evening under that great city. 

While I have such clear memories of the first part of my visit with my great-uncle and aunt, the latter part, after the Manhattan cocktail, is completely gone in a fog of whiskey and Vermouth. 

Source: Wikipedia ~ For photos other than mine.


  1. new york is still not safe and you were blessed or lucky to get back home safely. and i wonder if USA will ever get to the point we can travel without cars. i know most do in NYC and some other big cities, but here where we live, everything is spread to far to walk and the buses don't run where we need to go and no trains at all... we have a car for every person, some homes have 5 and 6 parked there... and i wonder how we will ever overcome that.

  2. I love this series already. The New York subway system is indeed daunting. I've never had a Manhattan -- looks very potent!

  3. Wow, being young and not a drinker a Manhattan is a strong drink to start out with! Glad you were able to get home safely.

  4. What a delightful post. You are so fortunate to have a loving and welcoming extended family.

    You look so chic in your Washington monument outfit!

  5. I left New York in 1960 when my family moved to Pennsylvania. I lived in a nice neighborhood at the end of the Bronx by Yonkers and my parents never worried about my safety. We got around by either walking or taking a bus. By the time I was an early teen, I would take the El (subway) with friends or a sibling to downtown Manhattan. I would transfer trains without even giving it a thought. I went to a concert at the Paramont Theater in Brooklyn with my best friend, Peggy, when I was 13 or 14. We had to take 3 different trains to do that, and saw a big Rock and Roll Show. My parents never worried. Drugs and guns were not part of the scene in those days.

    Life surly has changed. I now live in a rural but populated town in PA that one might consider safe. I never let my grandchilden out of my sight and my doors are always locked tight.

    You come from a beautiful looking family.

  6. What a great A-Z theme! Love hearing stories of people who have lived to experience more than I. Especially love the old pics.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Terri @ Scribbler's Sojourn

  7. What a fascinating theme, Inger. I hope I don't miss any of your posts. I want to read more!

  8. oh my! thank goodness you were safe! as was your father!

  9. I only had a Manhatten once, made to me by my mother-in-law. They all found it very amusing because one drink was enough to make my knees wobble.

  10. lol The alcohol induced visions of New York is not what you signed up for - good warning for your Dad! I laughed at the decription of your great uncle - "My great-uncle, who looked exactly like my grandmother, something that I found a bit disconcerting " lol

    but i am glad that you lived to tell the tale! Please do tell MORE !!!

    (and I love that 3/4 sleeve jacket suit! you are tall, like a superModel!)

  11. What great photos! You and your dad in 1964--I love those styles.

    Good warning about the alcohol, you poor thing.

  12. That effect would depend on the type of Sherry you were given. (Funny, Inger)I love the Jackie Kennedy style you're showing in that photo with your dad.

    I'm not much for cocktails, hard liquor doesn't sit well. I stick with wine, but I do like Harvey's Sherry.

  13. This is such a great theme. I'm enjoying it. I love the photo of you and your Father. I think I had a Channel type suit just like that. Ya, drinking was really the vogue back then. I never was a good drinker, either.

  14. "My great-uncle, who looked exactly like my grandmother, something that I found a bit disconcerting, why I don't know..." I hope they didn't have matching facial hair--that could have done it!!

  15. I really like your theme.


  16. Fascinating! I first went to the Port Authority Terminal in 1976 and I swear it was just the same.
    Happy AtoZing!

    Jemima at Jemima's blog

  17. So interesting...thanks for sharing!!

  18. Oh what a Joy and Special Treat! You are going to share you personal story with us. i MUST NOT miss even one.

    I have visited Brooklyn many times in the last few years - I ride the bus and subway - i have friends here who told me in advance about the homes they lived in and how beautiful the neighborhoods were with tree lined streets and brownstone buildings . . I agree it's still a very lovely place to be.

    Thank you, Thank you!

  19. I love that picture of you and your dad!

    I'm also doing the A-Z and am really enjoying it so far.


  20. Superintressant att läsa .....
    Det är Tyra som ska ha valpar. Kolla hemsidan www.jaktvallens.se
    Ska nog göra en valpblogg med. Det blir nog för mycket valpbilder annars på min ordinarie blogg.
    Kram på dig!

  21. I didn't realize you had family here which I find comforting. Interesting about your first attempt at tippling.
    Really great picture of you and your Dad. You pulled off quite the fashionable look.

  22. I love these stories about your early days in America. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Mary Montague Sikes

  23. Oh wow, what a wonderful photo of you and your father. And the family photo is also so fabulous. I just love old photos like this, it's so interesting to imagine the people in them.

    I had to laugh about the Manhattan, I'm sure I would have been in the same situation. Fun story to read, especially since you made it home safe and sound. :)

  24. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. sandie

  25. Now I gotta try a manhattan!! My best friend grew up in Brooklyn. I love visiting her family there. It's such an amazing place.


    Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi

  26. Great memories Inger! I love the picture of you and your dad. I really like looking at old pictures and I especially liked the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Gary's son lives in Brooklyn now.. Great post!
    Samson, Gracie says thank you for the sweet comments on our blog. She says she loves you too and she will try to be good. Thank you for offering our book on your sidebar. You are the sweetest!!

  27. Oh, my, you were the wild woman! What a fun story!

  28. Inger, Great post. Loved hearing this Brooklyn and Manhattan story and seeing you and your dad years ago. Love the gloves too! You looked fabulous in that outfit.

  29. I loved this story, Inger. You were young and inexperienced, but you figured it all out! Good for you for not turning your back on new experiences. You really were quite the adventurer. I'll bet you still are! :-)

  30. Now, isn't that strange that you can't remember the second half of that visit! Loved this reminisce. It reminded me that although my grandparents were very poor they had a front room with cut glass in cabinets and posh furniture but no one was ever allowed in there!

  31. Look at you, Inger, very stylish with the gloves and the pencil tight skirt. My Mom wore the same outfit and partook in the Manhattans too. I used to watch her and her friends have a REALLY good time. OH the '60's what a happy/smiling/laughing good time. Thanks Madman for bringing it back.

    More stories please!!


  32. Great theme. Great post. Interesting story about your NY subway/transport/alcohol adventures! That old pic reminds me so much of my families' photos. I have relatives from both Norway and Sweden.

    Play off the Page

  33. I so enjoyed this post! In 1964 I was living in Washington, DC not far from where your picture was taken -- George Washington University. My father loved a Manhattan and had a particular way of making it -- he poured a little bit of the cherry juice into his drink. And I had a boyfriend once whose speciality was a Dubonnet Manhattan! I love your theme and am looking forward to your future posts!

  34. That must have been one potent drink! Your poor Dad....lost in NYC!
    Inger, I like how you write....easy, literate and and just enough info to keep us reading!!
    You could be a 'consultant' for Madmen because you have the 'feel' of that time-period perfectly.

  35. Dear Inger, that was one potent drink! Once again, I see how fearless you were at 22. The bus, the walk, the going back home a little besotted. I was in the convent in those years, and I can't imagine myself doing all you did.

    Thanks so much for including the photograph of yourself and your dad. You look quite stylish. Sort of like Jacqueline Kennedy. Peace.


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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