This pic was taken before Dad started taking us to NYC, where we attended big Broadway shows; Camelot and Hello Dolly as well as the 1964 Worlds Fair in Queens. Recently, I returned with our daughter Anna and her son, Harry. On our approach into LaGuardia, we flew right over the metal globe now made famous by MEN IN BLACK. And that was the start of a very poignant trip. For as many memories as I have of Pat and me in NYC, it was and always will be, my Dad’s town.
Paavo Vilho Hanninen lived in Harlem where his father was a Lutheran Minister tending to newly arrived Finnish Immigrants. Dad was the tour guide for the great Finnish Olympian, Paavo Nurmi (and for whom he was named). He worked in a deli (true) and told us he was the shuffle board champion of Wall Street. (iffy).
Everywhere we went I had a memory of Dad; hailing a cab on the steps of St. Patricks in the pouring rain, rushing us into the subway with his trench coat open, and always, everywhere, a cigarette dangling from his fingertips. Like my husband, he had that grace that made so many commonplace movements elegant.
We ate hotdogs everyday on those trips. For a teacher, he wasn’t big on lectures; just wanted us to experience the important things in life. Even now, I prefer Nedicks to any other hotdog in the world and for years, I thought Coney Island was a place people went to eat hotdogs. I had no idea it was an amusement park until I saw a picture of the rollercoaster in the book in Mrs. L___’s class at Perry High School. I was so stunned by this new knowledge, I temporarily forgot about the cute boy sitting in front of me.
Even the museum made me think of Dad and our sighting of a moose swimming on our lake one moonlit night in Canada. We begged him to get closer. After seeing these guys, I know now that he knew then our 16 ft. Lyman wouldn’t stand a chance against those antlers.
We had a great time, staying in a little well run hotel with tiny, tiny rooms and a small parlor. I highly recommend it if you go. (https://www.franklinhotel.com/ )
I sat in the parlor each morning to read THE ALICE NETWORK and felt right at home. And even tho, I look like a lonely ghost in that reflection image, there was an unseen presence impatiently pacing, flicking his cigarette ashes onto the floor.