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Independence Day Weekend Trip Report -- With Photos of Forest Hills!

What does it say that I post my July 4th trip report after Readercon? :-)

Earlier this year, I had been bemoaning our inability to take a trip to New York City this year. What with a new job and a limited number of vacation days, it looked like a summer trip to see my Mom just wasn't in the cards.

Until Nomi pointed out to me that because Independence Day (US) was falling on a Tuesday this year, both our companies were giving us Monday off as well. Furthermore, with my company's summer hours program I could also take the Friday before the weekend off, and by adding a personal day to the other end of the vacation, we could take the following Wednesday off as well. That meant a seven-day vacation surrounding a four day weekend, plenty of time to visit my Mom.



Thursday June 29:
After work, Nomi and I rushed through the rest of our packing and took a cab to South Station. The driver was a very gregarious man who loves train travel, and he engaged us in conversation all about family train trips. Unfortunately, he ended up driving on autopilot, which meant that he skipped the proper exit for South Station and took us to Logan Airport. We had to drive all the way around the airport to get back on the road to South Station. To his credit, he turned off the meter when I pointed out his mistake, and I did give him a fair fare for a standard trip to South Station.

While sitting in South Station, Nomi and I saw two of the CowParade statues, The Mooflower and Trojan Cow.

Because another train was delayed, our train was late pulling into South Station to pick us up. We pulled out about forty minutes late, which turned into an hour late when we arrived at Penn Station. We used the train ride to watch Stargate SG-1.

We arrived in New York City at midnight, and due to the drizzle it took us a few minutes to snag a cab. But we managed to do so, and we were at my Mom's place in Forest Hills within half an hour. Before going to sleep, we wanted to check email, but we discovered that the wireless connection that had existed near my Mom's house previously was no longer around. So, for the long weekend, we were back to dial-up.


Friday, June 30:
We relaxed for a while in the morning, and then headed to Manhattan. We had lunch at one of the kosher Indian restaurants, and then met a friend for an hour at a midtown Starbucks. Afterwards, we took advantage of our location by going to The Compleat Strategist and Jim Hanely's Universe. When I was a kid, my friends and I used to go to The Compleat Strategist all the time for Dungeons & Dragons books and other games. This time, I picked up a copy of Tom Wham's Snits! so if I'm in the mood to play Snit's Revenge again there will be nothing to stop me.

We went back to my Mom's house so we could spend a few hours with her after she got home from work.

A little before 6 PM, we met up with batyatoon and took the bus home with her, so we could spend shabbat with her and sdelmonte. As a nice surprise, we were joined for dinner by sdelmote's mom and by stakebait. We haven't seen stakebait in far too long.


Saturday, July 1:
For the first time, I got to share a batyatoon and sdelmonte shabbat with Nomi. Generally, these involve a lot of conversation about science fiction, comic books, and other related topics. They also involve a lot of laughing. Best of all, though, Nomi got to meet their families.


Sunday, July 2:
Sunday was the day that Nomi and I had chosen to have an open house at my Mom's, so we'd have a chance to see friends (since this trip was really to see my Mom). A few of my high school friends showed up, but it was mostly people we've met in later years. We did get to meet one new person, justcomeinalone, whom I'd only met before online.

In the evening, Nomi and I went to see Superman Returns for a second time. Originally, this was going to be the first time, as sdelmonte had asked us if we wanted to go see it with him and batyatoon when we were in town, and he had already picked up the advance tickets when Nomi and I discovered that we were invited to the preview performance. But we weren't going to back out, and I'm glad that we went, as the movie was even better a second time. (justcomeinalone can attest to that as well.)


Monday, July 3:

In the afternoon, my half-brother Danny showed up with his Dannyvan and took us on a driving tour of parts of Queens that I wanted to see and to show to Nomi. This was the part of the trip that was business-related.

I've been working on an essay about Spider-Man, and what life would have been like for Peter Parker had he grown up in the real Forest Hills in the 1960s. So we essentially did a sort of "Spider-Man" tour of the neighborhood.

The first place I wanted to see was the area near the Kew Gardens LIRR train station, because I wanted to trace the path that Kitty Genovese took the night she was murdered, in the early morning hours of March 13, 1964. In the essay, I speculated that Peter would have been deeply affected by the events of that night. Here are a few pictures showing the area where Genovese was killed. First, a photo of Genovese's own front door:


Genovese Home



And here's a photo of the door in front of which she died:


Genovese Site



There's a lot of controversy regarding Genovese's death, which I am not going to rehash here. But the entrances you just saw are in an alley behind the block, and at three in the morning, the area would be extremely isolated:


Genovese Alley



The next place we went was 20 Ingram Street in Forest Hills Gardens, the address given for Peter Parker in the comic books. Nomi got this shot of the house, which is mostly blocked by the trees in the front yard:


Parker House



Finally, we drove over to Eddie's Sweet Shop on Metropolitan Avenue:


Eddie's Sweet Shop Photo 1 Eddie's Sweet Shop Photo 2



In the second picture, you can see the Cinemart movie theatre down the street. Eddie's is an old-fashioned soda shop that has stood in the same location, under various different names and owned by various different families, since the 1920s.

Danny also took us to K-Mart to buy Mom some new chairs.


Tuesday, July 4:
For the past few years, Nomi and I have had an Independence Day tradition to hear the Declaration read at the Old State House in Boston at 10 AM. We couldn't find a similar reading in New York, so instead we went on the Big Onion walking tour "Revolutionary New York". (Well, even if we had found a reading we would have gone on the tour anyway.) We've enjoyed a lot of the Big Onion tours in the past, as the tour guides are very knowledgeable about the city's history.

In the evening, we visited a friend, and then had dinner at My Most Favorite Dessert Company, a restaurant we always try to get to when we're in New York.


Wednesday, July 5:
I woke up early in the morning to see my dentist for a cleaning. Yes, that's right. I live in Boston, and my dentist practices in New York. And my teeth are fine, thanks for asking.

I returned to my Mom's house, where Nomi and I finished packing and then took a taxi to Penn Station. There was a voluminous amount of rain in the morning, and there was no way to avoid getting wet. We dropped off our luggage, then stopped by a diner where a few friends from the SF world were having lunch. Afterwards, we returned to Penn Station, and then got a train home in the evening.



Copyright © Michael Burstein; photos copyright © Nomi Burstein

Comments

I think there's a branch of The Compleat Strategist near Harvard Square. At least, there used to be.
There's one a short walk down Mass Ave from the Hynes T stop, which I know has been there a long time. Don't know of any that were in Harvard Square, but you've been in the area longer than I have.

The one on 33rd Street has been there at least since I was in elementary school. It was where my friends and I went for our D&D books and dice back in the old days...
I don't know whether or not there's still one in Cambridge, I haven't been there for a while... but I actually hadn't realized there were more outside of Massachusetts. It makes sense that you'd want to go back to your old "base," though.
I think -- I'm not sure, but I think -- that the one on 33rd Street was actually the very first one to exist. They also have stores in Falls Church, Virginia, and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
Interesting distribution.
Interesting snappies. Wish I could have seen you this time around...
Next time...
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