NYC World's Fair in 1964
Since I turned 60 a year ago, I've been hoping to visit some kind of fair. I figured that would be the ultimate way to celebrate one of my best 6-year-old memories. My family only lived in New York one year, but it happened to be the year when the World's Fair opened.
We lived in Staten Island, but we still felt a part of the excitement in Manhattan. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was being built that year, so my father had to take the ferry to work. I loved it when our family of 6 took the ferry to Manhattan. I remember viewing the construction of the fair's iconic Unisphere, eager for the fair to open. My memories of the World's Fair are wonderful and dream-like!
Spheres to Dinosaurs
I found old scrapbook photos, taken by my sister. Even though these photos were blurry, they brought back giddy memories and made me crave a little fair time. Even if I'd found a fair to enjoy, there would have been no Unisphere, or dinosaurs... no General Motors Futurama, or Pieta.
However, I knew there had seen a big carousel at the World's Fair. If I couldn't make a trip to a fair for my final celebration, maybe a fancy carousel ride would do the trick!
The Houston Zoo Carousel!
When I realized our Houston zoo had a carousel, I decided that could be my fair celebration!
I enjoyed my carousel adventure on my birthday yesterday.
My 60th (6-year-old) celebration was actually on the day I turned 61. I hope that's not cheating. But, I still acted like 60-year-old. Actually, I acted more like a 6-year-old, but I'm afraid they still charged me the adult ticket price.
Early at the Zoo
Don and I headed for the zoo in the misty, chilly morning. We beat the crowds and had the carousel to ourselves.
Staff members Steven and Jill were playful and patient with us, taking photos and putting up with my giddy chatter.
How to Decide?
How does one possibly make a choice when there are 64 completely different beasts? I could ride a caterpillar or an armadillo, a koala or manatee!
I headed for the giraffe, but was reminded by Jill, that the giraffe does not go up and down. Steven told us the cheetah was popular, because it goes so fast. That made me laugh, so I went for it.
Round and Round
Before we got on, I promised Steven and Jill that I would NOT do tricks. I told them my memory of standing on my carousel horse at age 4, hoping to impress my mother who watched from the ground. I was crushed when the carousel attendant reprimanded!
Don and I enjoyed having the whole merry-go-round to ourselves. We waved to Steven and Jill, as if they were adoring parents. Well, not really. But we waved for the camera.
Riding the carousel, was like stepping back in time! What a wonderful 60th celebration! I finished my goal!
I am 61 now and all done. It was fun removing that zero from my 60-year-old age, for an entire year. I liked being 6, but I guess I'm ready to grow up. Being 6 is exhausting.
Staten Island Zoo in 1963
One of my first memories of our move to Staten Island, was when we visited the zoo. As my family studied the alligators, I watched a daring, young boy straddle the railing like a cowboy.
I was impressed. I copied his stunt, then I promptly fell in. Luckily, I fell onto a platform, not into the pit. I slammed my face horribly on the railing. I remember feeling very embarrassed that an older woman I didn't know, was suddenly pulling me back to safety.
Sad Looking Face
This blurry photo was taken days after my fall. It hardly shows my swollen face or black eye.
I remember being very embarrassed to start first grade in a new city, with my distorted face. But for years, I loved bragging about how I'd fallen into the alligator pit... sort of.
So today we went to the Houston Zoo and I was ready to see the gators and remember my 6-year-old encounter.
But all I found was a tiny crocodile of some sort, in the reptile house.
No Gators at the Zoo
Well, we evidently have no alligators in the Houston Zoo right now! Maybe that's because they aren't interesting enough?
I've seen them in my own neighborhood, after all. So I posed with the sign that tells me alligators are coming next year, to a new Wetlands Exhibit.
I did misbehave for a brief moment, for old time's sake.
Then I had a chance to get up close and personal with a gator in a giant photo. I suffered no injuries on my zoo adventure!
Dutch Dance in First Grade
I'm pretty sure this is the only school performance that my mom ever captured in a photo... and my face is covered!
I was a brave little dancer in first grade, when my flowered headband fell over my eyes. I was a rule follower and did as I'd been told. I did not let go of my partner's hands when we performed our Dutch Dance for parents. I continued dancing with no vision.
Dancing with 6-Year-Olds
So today I celebrated my youthful dance days, by dancing with other children.
My celebration with children today, was actually not planned. I thought I was signing up for an adult experience with classical Indian dance. Oops. It was me and about 20 little girls... average age of 6.
Showing Off Like a 6 -Year-Old
The kind teacher encouraged me, so I hung in there and took class. The little girls probably wondered who that old lady was, in the back row. Their mothers sat on the floor, wearing colorful clothing and jotting notes to help instruct their daughters, later.
I'm sure they were also perplexed by my presence. But, I did my best. Then I went home and made Don watch what I'd learned. "Look Don, Look!"
He is so patient with me.
Decorating my Bike
Back when I was 6 I used to have streamers on my little, blue Schwinn.
My childhood friend Diane, sent me these fine streamers over a year ago and I've been pretty slow putting them on my bike. I see on the package, the streamers are suitable for motorcycles. That's good to know.
My Bike Buddies
I don't have a photo of myself, when I rode my first bike on the bumpy sidewalks of Grinnell. But I do have photos of my favorite bike buddies a little later.
If I could have had my way this morning, I would have gotten on my bike with Diane, (first photo) and Debbie and Joanna and Annette and pedaled to the Little Store, at the end of Summer Street.
To the Grocery Store
Today, it was misty at 8 am and I didn't try to find a bike riding buddy. I skipped my helmet and rode on the sidewalk, like I would have done at age 6.
I parked my bike outside of Randalls Grocery Store, without locking. I searched the candy rack for my favorite Payday candy bar and handed the cashier a dollar. Oops! I had no idea candy bars cost almost 2 dollars these days.
So I rode my bike on the walking path by the creek. My streamers fluttered and I grinned into the wind, as I zoomed downhill. Going up the hill, I stood up on my pedals, pretending I was on my old Schwinn with no gears to switch.
My 6-year-old-self felt giddy and brave and hungry for a bite of my pre-breakfast Payday. My 60-year-old-self had just one bite before heading home for coffee. I hoped I would land in the grass if I crashed... since I wore no helmet.
Central Park 1964
In my autobiography, (written at age 11) I described this very day in Central Park with my family. We attempted to sail a toy boat, but watched it capsize in the center of the pond.
Mom snapped a couple blurry photos of that event, but didn't take a picture of the sweet boy, who rescued our sailboat. Here are just a few sentences from "the book" I wrote in 1969 "We watched nervously... and finally a small Negro boy appeared. 'Need some help?' he asked. The little boy tore off his shirt and shoes and jumped in. He brought the boat back safely."
Another Park, Another Boat Launch
Last week, I had my own fun with 4 tiny boats, at our own neighborhood park. It was quiet on Easter morning, at least for a while.
I left our picnic table and walked to the edge of the pond, thinking about the day 54 years ago, when we 4 kids watched a gust of wind knock our toy boat. I figured there was a good chance my 4 cheap boats would take on water and sink right away.
Boats and Turtles
My 2-dollar package of boats, turned out to be money well spent. I gently put all 4 in the pond and then found myself mesmerized by the simple entertainment.
With little wind, the tiny boats drifted in different directions. And then the turtles became interested! I just watched and grinned and waited.
Suddenly I spotted kayaks across the pond.
I wondered if the small boats and big boats would meet up. Then I worried that the plastic boats would sink and become trash.
But I went back and enjoyed the picnic, with a good view of the launching site. As the park became busier, I got to spend a good hour observing adults and children making boat discoveries!
A few adults with a selfie-stick, posed with the boats. Then some children had fun retrieving and launching the boats. After we packed up our picnic, I spotted the boats resting on a rock... waiting.
I wonder where the boats are now? What a happy time!
Neighborhood Park in Staten Island
This was taken the summer after first grade, before we moved back to Iowa. In the photo, I had just finished romping in the sprinkler with Anita and "Little Elizabeth".
I loved the crazy park sprinkler. It was so much more fun, than playing in the yard hose back in Grinnell.
Don and I saw this colorful fountain in Cozumel, Mexico last spring.
I had just turned 60 and I thought about having a quick run through the shooting waters. It seemed like the perfect 6-year-old celebration! But I acted like a boring adult and just watched and smiled.
Time is Ticking!
I kept an eye out for the next 11 months, thinking maybe I'd have another sprinkler or fountain possibility. But, now it's April 5th and I have 4 more days until I turn 61! I must meet my goal of 60, 6-year-old celebrations!
So this morning after my run, I watered a few plants in the backyard. Then I looked at the nozzle and set it on soft sprinkle. I had all of about 2 minutes of silliness... and that included putting my camera on the table and setting the self-timer.
Okay maybe this wasn't the biggest of my celebrations, but I got nice and wet.
A Fan for 50 Years
I can remember watching the Ed Sullivan Show, as a 6 year old. Mostly I watched in the summer, when I was allowed to stay up later on Sunday nights.
When I was about 11, I sent a fan letter and seemed pretty pleased when an autographed 8X10 photo arrived. I tested to see if the signature was real, by licking my thumb and smudging the Ed. It didn't seem to concern me that I sort of ruined that treasured autograph.
But my best memories of the show are from when I was 6. We were living in Staten Island, the year the Beatles came to New York. Everyone was excited about seeing the wild, new group on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was exciting to think they would be performing just a ferry ride away.
I was sent to bed at my usual time that Sunday night, but Mom and Dad woke me up as promised. I sat in my pajamas and watched with my parents and older siblings. I had my first crush, on Paul.
Before the Beatles
But before seeing the Beatles on the show, I fell in love with Topo Gigio, the adorable Italian puppet.
Topo, debuted on the show about the time I turned 6. We lived in Iowa then, so the show came on earlier. Dog acts, jugglers and even Jerry Lewis couldn't compete with this adorable little guy, when he asked "Eddie" to tuck him into bed. "Eddie, keesss me good-night?" I loved him.
My Own Topo
I recently unearthed my own hideous version of Topo Gigio. I bought him for very little $, when I was 11 in Italy. Topo Gigio was very popular with Italian fans in 1969.
So for my 6-year-old-celebration today, I found my own Topo and I watched some YouTube videos of the Beatles and Topo Gigio, on Ed Sullivan.
My 60-year-old-self critiqued. I was surprised to watch the Beetle's performance. The music quality seemed pretty poor. I was surprised to see how skilled the puppetry was with the little puppet! Cheers for Topo and Ed!
No New York Times?
We don't get a paper anymore, but I thought I'd indulge in the New York Times, on Easter Sunday. There were none left by the time I got to the store, at 8 am.
I bought the Houston Chronicle, but I didn't get motivated to open it up for 2 days. I made myself a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich and tried to get excited about reading the funnies, like I did when I was a kid.
My old favorites were there, but I couldn't conjure up the fun...
I wanted that New York Times and I actually wanted something better than comics.
Al Hirschfeld's Caricatures, in the Times
Oh how I used to love searching through the New York Times to find Hirschfeld's, black and white drawings of Broadway stars!
Not because I was a 6-year-old in love with the theatre...
I was mostly delighted by the knowledge that Hirschfeld hid the name of his daughter, Nina in his line drawings! Oh how fun to search every striped pair of pants or pleated skirt in search off the 4 letters!
So for a little 6-year-old fun today, I pulled up the photos I took of my dad's framed Hirschfeld drawings. Sadly, the photo quality is bad and it was hard to zoom in. I tried to find the artist's signature which would usually include a number, indicating how many times he'd hidden his daughter's name. I'm afraid these 3 prints don't have hidden Ninas. Instead I had fun acting my real age and appreciating the messages written to my dad, by some very special people.
My Second Easter!
Last year Easter landed after my 60th birthday. We were in Mexico and I had no jellybeans. But Easter came earlier this year so I'm having my second chance for jellybeans on Easter... when I'm 60! Two Easters for my 60-year-old self!
With no kids visiting this year, Don and I were the kids. We took a picnic to the park at 8 am. I made sure to bring a bunny and some jellybeans. I ate jellybeans at breakfast in honor of my 6-year-old self! It was very yummy.
Dressing Up in my Youth
I know I'm wearing a veil, (bottom left) but I remember feeling a little underdressed for my First Communion.
All the girls had poofy sleeves and lace and petticoats. My cotton number had ric rac trim.
At my friend Debbie's birthday party, I tried to distract from my Plain Jane look, by covering my eyes with hair and showing the world my 4 missing teeth.
Actually I have no idea why I looked like that in that photo. The other kids look mighty swell, though.
I was always a little jealous of my sister in this photo. She had the real party dress thing going on, with petticoat, sash and white gloves.
There are no photos of me in such style.
So when my daughter's wedding approached, I decided to pick a dress that would fit my 60-year-old-age, while satisfying my 6-year-old self.
I didn't have ruffles, but I had a sash and a skirt that swirled... when I danced like a 6-year-old!
Thanks Jamie and Heidi for letting "Mom" be a kid for a moment, at your wonderful wedding! What a fun time!