It was about 50 years ago, and three friends and I were returning from a 10-day canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness. We drove nine hours straight to get home, and by the time we arrived in New York we were exhausted and hungry.
Then Larry said the magic words: “Wo Hop!”
We all nodded in agreement and went straight to the Chinese restaurant we were going to. It was three in the morning when we arrived at 17 Mott Street, tired, miserable and hungry.
We forced our way into the restaurant, grabbed a table, and started eating shrimp soup, sweet and sour pork, and shrimp curry noodles.
Food has never been this delicious.
I was born and raised in New York. I attended my first Broadway show when I was still in the womb (“Fiddler on the Roof”, starring Zero Mostel). I watched my first movie at Radio City Music Hall (“Bed Handles and Brooms”).
There are 8-millimeter footage of me staggering through the Central Park children’s zoo, and photos of my youth atop the Twin Towers. I knew which deli had the best corned rye and where to find the best dim sum in Chinatown.
I loved everything about growing up in New York: the clatter of wooden escalators at Macy’s; The jingle of a coin falling on the subway turnstile.
I got my working papers from the State Department of Labor when I was 15; At the age of 23, I got a marriage license from the municipality.
I moved in my mid-20s but visited as often as I could. Once, while waiting to cross 42nd Street on Fifth Avenue, I found myself gazing at and admiring the Fine Art architecture of the main branch of the New York Public Library.
Unaware that the light had changed, I felt someone hurry past me.
“Tourist,” he said.
— Stacy Reich
I was on my way to a physical therapy appointment. When I got there, I encountered a woman standing by the elevator bench in the lobby.
The elevator door opened and I got in. The woman got on after me. I pressed the button for the 14th floor and it asked me to press the button for the 16th floor.
He then asked me if I would go with him to the 16th floor and then go down to the 14th floor.
Thinking he was in a hurry, I said of course, but since I had already pressed 14, the elevator would have stopped there anyway.
He explained that he was extremely claustrophobic and would not ride the elevators alone.
Of course I said I would come with him.
The door closed and there we were.
“So how’s your day going?” he asked.
“Pretty good,” I replied.
He started laughing and kept telling me the origins of elevator claustrophobia – something about getting an MRI – until I was 14.
I didn’t get off, the door closed and we went until 16, he got off and thanked me for coming with him.
I thanked him for asking.
One Saturday last summer, three friends and I decided to make our first pilgrimage to Barney Greengrass.
We were excitedly discussing our ordering strategy when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
It was the woman sitting at the table next to us, and she was visibly angry.
“Girls, will you please calm down a bit?” he grumbled. “Your voices are so loud I can barely hear what I’m thinking.”
She turned around and started poking her tuna salad furiously.
My friends and I looked at each other and continued our conversation at a stage whisper level.
Towards the end of our meal, one of us remembered that the restaurant did not take credit cards. I volunteered to go to the ATM across the street, but before I could get up, I felt another tap on my shoulder.
He was silent again. He reached into his purse, pulled out a $100 bill, and pressed it into my hands.
“To calm down,” he said.
— Sarah Gruen
Back in the 1990s, I drove to Grand Central and then took the Times Square shuttle to take the 1, 2, or 3 train to Penn Station for work.
I would usually get off near the 34th Street entrance of the Long Island Railroad Trail, where a Maya Lin statue was fixed to the ceiling. I’ve always admired him, and I’m sorry that my commuters are so busy in a hurry that they rarely look up to see him.
One day, when I approached the place where the statue was hanging, I was happy to see two young mothers in their strollers looking at the statue nearby. As I passed by, I overheard one of them talking to the other.
“Yes,” she said, “and by Maya Angelou.”
— Rhonda Magid
To read all recent entries and our shipping guidelines . Contact us by e-mail [email protected] or follow @NYTMetro from Twitter.
Agnes Lee’s drawings