Overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness (and a little glee)

for having been born and brought up in New York City and having the father that I had.  New York City is the entire universe in 300.46 square miles. Thanks to my father I got to experience just about every square foot of it.

How do I keep this short and sweet? It all started this morning, with me being grumpy about some inconsequential shit on the internet that pissed me off and that I couldn’t let go of – ignorant yahoos.

But then I received a New York Times ‘newsletter’ in my email that featured a story about Marvin Gaye singing the national anthem. When I shared it with my husband his reaction was “meh” whereas I was blown away. This led to a discussion about music and the realization that because of where I grew up and with whom I grew up my views and tastes were more far ranging than my husband’s.

And that is due to my father.

I know of people who have lived for several generations in New York City and know jack-all about what’s there. So sad.

As soon as we were toilet trained and had acquired manners my father took us to every single museum in NYC.  Not just the art museums but the numismatic museum down on Wall Street, all sorts of museums covering every topic imaginable.  He took us to white-tablecloth restaurants; to the theater.

And yes to the zoo, the botanical gardens, the planetarium, the circus,the rodeo, the horse races, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden – no type of sport was left out – we were introduced to it, if only as spectators.

At home we were surrounded by music of every form and format. And books – my father came from a family of readers – anything with print on it was perused.

Music? Oh my word – there was ALWAYS music. And NYC, being NYC, you could twirl your way around the radio dial and there was no music unrepresented. There was no culture unrepresented. There were radio stations that broadcast in languages other than English.

So much popular music originated in NYC – doo-wop, rap, beatbox, hip-hop – we heard it all first. Nothing was banned, nothing was off-limits. You only had to be curious enough to stop and listen.

Food? Oh hell do not tell me anything about food, just don’t. From the mundanity of mashed potatoes to haute cuisine – I ate it. And not the Americanized versions. The real deal.

It wasn’t just that you lived in a city with people of other cultures, you experienced their culture, and they yours because you were in and out of their homes. They were your friends and when we were young we took our differences for granted.

My parent’s friends – all my “Aunts” and “Uncles” – a veritable United Nations.

That’s how I grew up. As an adult my native curiosity took me farther and wider. I’m thinking I got my curiosity from my father –  it’s something people have commented on my whole life – my shrink said “You are the most curious person I have ever met”

How do you not wonder about the world that surrounds you especially when the world you live in is so diverse and strange and magical.

So, yes, right now feeling happy and bouncy and lucky and grateful that I had the father I had, growing up in the city I did and being blessed with a sense of curiosity that leads me down rabbit holes even Alice never dreamed of.

Mention chewing gum and it reminds of my father

and I smile. Rivergirl had a post about chewing gum  and while I’ve never been much of a gum chewer my mind immediately went back, happily, to my childhood and my father.

Back in time the New York City subway was chock-a-block with subway platform vending machines. You could buy most anything from a subway platform vending machine, from essentials like a comb to candy, tissues, plastic rain hats, juice, your weight and horoscope and even toys and…gum.

My father delivered beer for the Jacob Ruppert Knickerbocker Beer Company, as did his father before him. The facility was located on the upper East Side in an area called Yorkville. I don’t know how he commuted there when we lived in the Bronx but when we moved to Queens he took mass transit – a 5 block walk to the bus stop, a bus to the subway and probably at least one train change. It was a hike and he left home at 4 in the morning.

Ah, but when he came home. He had the newspapers with him – The Daily News, The Mirror and the Journal American. And best of all, hidden in his pockets somewhere was California Fruit Gum. Little squares of chewing gum, 1¢ from  a vending machine. It was a game we played. He handed over the papers (oooh, all the comics to read!) and then we waited.  Would there be gum? We waited expectantly, he patted his pockets, looking puzzled and then, and then – YES! California Fruit Gum!

The gum looked like this –

The vending machine looked like this –

Photo was taken from an auction site and shows it in someone’s home on display.

You put your penny in the slot under the kind of gum you wanted – we always and ever wanted California Fruit.

I’m telling you that was the highlight of our day – Daddy’s home! And California Fruit gum!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  

Interesting Links – (All links will open in a new tab/window. No need to use back buttons or go off-site)

History of Chewing Gum

Vintage Gum Brands

A Tour of the Jacob Ruppert Brewery – 1939

Remnants of Old Brewery

Jacob Ruppert