Five days in New York City


Contributing Editor

In early June, I spent five days in New York with my daughter Katie and grand- daughters Anna and Haley. My spur-of-the-moment trip began with an invitation to attend a 50th reunion from my grade school!

I was not sure I could take the time to attend, but ultimately decided I had to go. How many opportunities do we have to go back in time and visit with childhood friends? So at the last moment, I was able to get a direct flight on Jet Blue and hotel reservations at one of my favorite hotels on Central Park, the Essex House Hotel.

Our flight left Jacksonville at 6 a.m. and we arrived at 8:30. While I attended the reunion at 1 p.m. that day on Long Island, Katie, Anna and Haley explored the museum of Natural History and enjoyed a carriage ride through Central Park.

Reunion reflections

Can you imagine seeing friends you have not seen in 50 years? With a combined grade of 100 students that graduated from the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary grade school in Queens in 1966, our reunion was pretty well attended thanks to the organizers Kevin, Jimmy, Steve, Beth, Mary and Debra.

An interesting note was that the boys in our class, now in their early 60s, brought their wives while the girls all came without their husbands. In my case, my husband Dale said, “You want to go to a grade school reunion? Why?” I knew then I would not talk him into going!

How do you explain what great memories you had of a school, friends, teachers, the time we lived in and yes the place? The place …Queens on Long Island was ordinary and yet extraordinary. Looking back, this predominantly Italian neighborhood provided a strong, secure and close-knit family community to grow up in.

Attending Catholic School in the 50s and 60s was not just an education, but more of an expectation that included respect for authority, hard work and Sunday attendance at Mass. On the back of our report cards was a paragraph of what the parents had to do that began with, “The school needs your cooperation in aiding the growth of your child in religious habits, scholarship, health and character.” And they received it!

The guys commented that day on some of the pranks and scolding they received from the good sisters of the Ursuline. Sister Marguerite Torre, whose brother Joe guided the Yankees, was there to celebrate what she and the other sisters accomplished! From accountants and an astronaut to the world of finance and entrepreneurs, all who attended marveled at that great moment in time we spent at The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin School from kindergarten through 8th grade.

I am glad I was there to share it!

Exploring New York

New York City is always a great city to explore. No matter how often you visit, you can always experience something new. That evening, we had dinner at a favorite restaurant of Pat Day of Ponte Vedra called Sparks Steakhouse, which is now added to my list of favorites. The next day, we reserved a clipper ship tour of the Statue of Liberty, followed by a tour of the Freedom Tower at 6 p.m. We discovered quite by accident that this is the very best time to go, as there were no lines. In fact, we were able to arrange dinner at the Top of the Tower – again, not by design. The Freedom Tower is a must see in New York. The tribute to the city, the people and all who died was so tastefully executed, including the ride up and down the elevator.

Not to be missed if you travel with your granddaughters is the play “Matilda” and a visit to the American Girl store. Both were wonderful! Other New York favorites are Angelo’s in Little Italy, Sarabeths on the Park for lunch (where we celebrated Haley’s 9th birthday), Serendipity for ice cream and Dylan’s Candy Bar.

Our last night in New York was organized before we left Florida. In anticipation of the California primary win on Tuesday June 7, we applied for press credentials to attend Donald Trump’s remarks, usually held at Trump Tower. The venue turned out to be at Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, and we boarded the train at Grand Central Station for a first New York train ride to hear Mr. Trump!