Grandma and I rink-side at Rockefeller Center, 1957
I finally made it to the “Big Apple” in 1957. I had a job as a writer of promotional material for the ABC Radio network and I was enjoying every minute of my new life.
My Grandmother lived in Plainfield, New Jersey, and I couldn’t wait to share some of my good fortune with her. It wasn’t easy to get her into the city but one day she did come in and I’d talked her into letting me take her to lunch. It was winter-time and we decided it would be fun to “dine” in the café that overlooked the skating rink at Rockefeller Center.
Let me take a minute to describe Grandma to you. She was of Scottish descent and had lived most of her life as a wife and mother with limited means. Her husband, my beloved “Papa”, was a writer and a dreamer. He provided the necessities but not much more and I don’t ever remember Grandma doing anything that could be construed as frivolous. She was a very warm and loving person who spent her life giving and doing for others. I couldn’t wait to do something special for her.
The day that Grandma came into the city it was bright and clear. It was the perfect day to watch the skaters and, after a stroll around Rockefeller Plaza, we went to the restaurant. It was above the rink and on two tiers with huge windows, making it easy for all the patrons to watch the skaters. I seem to remember that it was called "The American Festival Café" but that may not be accurate.
I do remember the menu, however. It was quite varied and much more expensive than I’d realized. I was trying very hard not to let Grandma know of my dismay. Did I have enough money? Would they take a check? Etc., etc. (Remember, this was almost 50 years ago and it would be a long time before we relied on plastic to handle these situations!)
Then Grandma did a wonderful thing. She explained that her stomach “was a bit iffy” and that she didn’t think she could hold down anything more than a cup of soup. I expressed concern, of course, but I knew deep down that her stomach was fine... she just didn’t want to embarrass me. I told her I’d join her and when the waitress arrived we ordered two cups of soup and water. She was very understanding and I realized that this must happen more often than not.
Grandma and I took our time, thoroughly enjoying the skaters as they glided across the ice. Rolls were provided with the soup so our lunch proved to be very adequate and I even had enough money left to leave a good tip for the nice waitress.