Thursday, 20 September 2012

5th Feb. 1972, a very cold sunny Saturday

a sunny early February morning in New York's Central Park Skating-Rink


I have accidentally erased this page while moving it from one place to another. This is my 2nd attempt to tell a simple story. It is all about one particular Saturday morning in the winter of 1972, when myself and my friend Damazio Nazareth - who worked with me in the same vynil-records factory in Newark, N.J. - went to New York City.

Damazio used to convey the hot vynil paste from which we, machine operators, then cut up in smaller pieces to insert between the waiting heated metal-plates that would soon be pressed into two 45 rpm 7" single vynil discs. Damazio was among the Brazilians I'd met since I arrived in Newark in October 1971. He was the fellow who spoke the best English among us. Brazilians spoke next to nothing but Damazio had taken the whole Fisk course in Guarulhos-SP before he migrated to the US. That meant Damazio knew how to use the Present Perfect correctly plus the use of defective verbs like may, can, could, must & should. 

Damazio and I decided to enroll at an English-as-a-second-language course at the American Language Institute at New York University in Washington Square in Manhattan. So we would take the PATH train every Saturday morning at Penn Station in Newark and get off at the 9th Street PATH Station in the Greenwich Village and walk 6ht Avenue up to Washington Square to spend the morning and afternoon studying English. 

On Saturday, 5th of February 1972 we went to enroll at the New York University campus on Washington Square. We took a test to qualify to whatever stage we’d get in.  

Damazio, then, suggested we take the subway train to visit the skating-rink in Central Park. We must have got off at a far-away station so we ended up walking quite a bit before reaching the ice-skating-rink which was packed with people going ‘round and ‘round. It was sunny but a bitterly cold day. I vaguely remember we rented two pairs of ice-skates but as neither Damazio or I knew how to even stand up on those contraptions we must have soon left off and gone back to walking till we reached 42nd Street where we usually hung around.

That's when I felt my feet hurt too much. I was wearing a pair of thin leather boots I had brought along from Brazil. They were not insulated for New York winter and my feet began to freeze. At first my feet were numb and I’d limp. Instead of stopping and entering a heated place we were fooled by the brighteness of the day and kept on walking towards Washington Square where we would take the PATH train back to Newark.

At some point I broke down and could not go on anymore because the pain was excruciating. We must have gone into some heated store until I could walk again. This is no big deal, but I resented Damazio did not take my plight seriously. As he wore American-made boots he could not conceive that I was in such a pain.

Looking backwards at this petty incident I realize I was on the verge of a nervous breaking down. Too much stuff had happened to me too quickly and I wasn’t able to deal with. Time was running out fast. 

under the wings of an rock eagle and feeling the pain of winter
under the Washington Square arch where 5th Avenue starts its way North... 
Damazio took this shot and showed the whole Washington Arch in the back.
now looking southward from Washington Square, this is the only photo I've got where the WTC twin towers appear.


Washington Square Park in 1956.
Thompson Street towards Washington Square South circa early 1960s; see the 5th Avenue busses turning in the square. 
Washington Square in the late 1940s.
Washington Arch in 1899.


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