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New York - Summer of 1962

A business-relation of my father's was a man named S. Toom. He was from the Dutch town Apeldoorn and was acquainted with members of the royal family and he had relations with other important people. Mr. Toom put in a good word for me so I would have a temporary job on a passenger ship of the Holland America Line.

Our family doctor gave me shots against odd and rare diseases, and I travelled to Rotterdam to have a physical by the medical service of the Holland America Line.

When I had passed my school exam early in July 1962, I was signed on. My ship was steam ship "Groote Beer". I finally got on board on July 12th. You can see some pictures on the previous page.


Bus ticket of line 126 from Hoboken to Manhattan.

Below: Overviewing Port Authority Bus Terminal of New York, Hudson River and Hoboken harbor. Picture taken from the 83d floor of the Empire State Building.

New York bus ticket




The evening before entering Sandy Hook Bay, the luggage of the passengers was stacked on the upper deck so it could be lifted by a crane the next morning and put ashore immediately.
I volunteered to guard the luggage during the night, before passing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay and finally entering Hoboken harbour. It was an easy task. I was supplied with food and drinks during the night, and I was entertained by a group of students from various countries. They were sitting in a wide circle in the middle of the deck and playing all sorts of games. Despite language barriers they understood each other perfectly well and were having a great time.

As I did not have to work the following day I was free to explore New York and Manhattan. I took bus 126 which brought me to the busiest bus terminal I had ever seen: New York Port Authority. There I had a coke served with crushed ice for 10 cents and bought a pack of cigarettes - 30 cts.


At left the Empire State Building after a postcard from 1962. Shocking kisses at the 86th floor, the brochure said. Well if you were lucky... I only found out later that "sparks may fly when lips meet. Such shocking kisses are due to the static electricity produced by atmospheric conditions at these levels. (The building was designed as a lightning rod for the surrounding area. Lightning strikes it about 100 times per year.)"

See this page.

As soon as I was out in the street I had this odd feeling that I was coming home. Some people do sense this when coming to a place, a city or a region. Well, New York felt as if I had been there before.
I thought that this was because of the cultural diversity, of the fact that New York has a great European influence, but at the same time it is also a conglomorate of African American, Latin, Jewish and European cultures. New York is the center of art, of music and of business.
My sense of awareness was probably also brought about by the knowledge that we, the Dutch, had owned this place centuries ago. The influences and names witness this fact: Brooklyn, Flushing, Yonkers, Stuyvesant, Wall Street, Broadway. I definitely had the feeling that I had been here before, the famous "déjà vu" experience.

Now don't you laugh! It was many years later that I got the confirmation for this perception when in Amsterdam, in 1980, I met astrologer Jim Lewis, a man who ran a small astrological enterprise. He had devised a method of establishing a relation between a birthday chart and the map of the world. He talked about it with excitement. He named it Astro*Carto*Graphy.

Although I am a pragmatician, I found out that I had four strong lines going over the region New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit, Toronto, Ottawa, etc. When reading the explanation in the accompanying book, it all became clear: Here I could rise to fame by hard working and exploiting my artistic talents. But New York is also a milieu that tells me to fight and to maintain oneself. The survival of the fittest is one of the important rules.

Three days in New York. Discovering a city all by oneself is exciting, especially in the case of NY. I bought records at Sam Goody's and more specifically in a simple store room where thousands of records were stocked. If the man did not have the ones you wanted, they would be ordered and an hour or so later you could pick them up.
I was lifted up to the 83d floor of the Empire State building and met a family from Hamilton Ontario, Canada. We had a meal together and viewed the city from the 84th floor. In the barbershop located in the basement of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel I had a hair cut. The barber explained that American English was quite different from the King's English. Americans had enriched the language with various words and expressions. As an example he used the adjective "lousy". That was typical American language he said!

 Drinking a coffee in a cafetaria, people were talking to me and asked: Where are you from? I said: From Holland. Holland Michigan? That was their next question
Already as a teenager I had been reading American literature: Erskine Caldwell, John O'Hara, Tennessee Williams. So there were other shops to visit. Doubleday Book Shops for example.
One could say that St. Patrick's Cathedral at 460 Madison Avenue is something of an anomaly placed in between the tall mathematically designed buildings. But it is a beautiful church, a haven for contemplation - whether you are a christian or not - and it reminds us of the Irish immigrants.


One evening a young man took this picture of me at West 42nd Street. He was wearing jeans, t-shirt and sneakers and could have been a Jet or a Shark, as this was the era of West Side Story. No flash was used so I had to manipulate the picture in Photoshop to retrieve at least something of a memory.

The pictures from Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes parading for Macy's annual parade were taken from a Radio City Music Hall brochure.

At Radio City Music Hall they showed That Touch of Mink, a romantic comedy, starring Doris Day and Cary Grant. Later it appeared to be "the Music Hall's all-time box office champ".
Radio City Music Hall has a large orchestra playing on the large stage. The hall was quite impressive. So was the heavy, sonorous, Wurlitzer pipe organ. It can be played from two consoles.
The famous Rockettes, the girls dancing and parading in a military like choreography.
The pictures are from the special brochure. The above photo was taken at Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
New York Trinity Church
Federal Memorial Museum

From an old postcard.
Wall Street in 1962 with the Federal Memorial Museum, and the New York Stock Exchange, and looking down Wall Street is Trinity Church.

A few months later I saw an advertisement in our local newspaper in which the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited applicants to be sent abroad. I applied and asked to be sent to New York to work at the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands to the United Nations. It appeared that this post was not available in the end. I accepted to be sent to Paris instead for work at the Joint Delegation of the Netherlands to NATO. But first I had to pass my exams.
Below: a panoramic view of Manhattan. Also a postcard from 1962.


NEXT PAGE: Astro-Carto-Graphy New York


Page first published on the internet on April 9, 2008.

Copyright 2004-2009 Rudolf A. Bruil