Hitchhike: New York City

Broadway, New York, 1972New York City is sensory overload. Neither H. nor I really want to be there. But the hippies just drop us off in the Village. Why the Village? Because that’s the only place name we know in NYC. Greenwich Village. It’s famous, right?

It turns out that H. knows someone who lives in Manhattan. She’s an international stewardess for Pan Am. H. has known her since high school. We find a pay phone (quaint) and H. gives her a call. We’re in luck. She’s in town. And she agrees to let us stay with her, though only for a couple of days.

It turns out that she shares an apartment with three other stews and they rotate through on a schedule that ensures no more than two of them are there at the same time. Which is good, because there are only two bedrooms. Her rotation ends in three days, when she flies to another exotic destination. We can only imagine…

The term “stewardess” evokes another era, when air travel was more glamorous. We quickly learn that it’s not as glamorous as it seems; H.’s friend gets international routes because she lacks seniority. She says she’s always exhausted by the end. And Pan Am? Gone to the great airline graveyard in the sky.

The deep irony is that we love New York so much we end up staying until we can stay no longer. We check out Broadway (seedy, very seedy in those days). We spend hour after hour in the Village. There’s free music on the streets. Cheap hotdogs everywhere. And we find that people are… friendly. You talk to them, they talk back. Not like Seattle, where you can talk to strangers but they might ignore you, because they think you’re crazy.

My strongest memory, though, is a used clothing shop in the Village, where the proprietor tries to talk H. into modeling a very transparent blouse. There’s no one else in the store and… It looks really good on her…

Get The Book

This hitchhiking adventure, and others like it, informed “Huck Finn is Dead,” the fictional account of the life and times of Carney James. You should read it, “Huck Finn is Dead,” I mean. You’ll like it.

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