Twenty Dollars and Taverns Tall

Directions to Greenwich Village
Directions to Greenwich Village

“To Greenwich Village

6 Train to Astor Place

Walk south to Houston St.

below Houston is SOHO”

– Edward Dougherty

NYC 98′

I believe New Yorkers are kind people. My mom is a New Yorker, born and raised. She always said, “You ask any New Yorker for directions and they will stop and give them to you.” I tested her statement when I was in New York for the first time in 1998.

New York City Sidewalk
New York City Sidewalk

My last stop on my three-day adventure had to be The Village.

I asked for directions in a camera store after visiting my mom’s childhood stomping grounds. It was a beautiful fall day. I went to her school, Dalton and where she grew up — Park Avenue and 89th.

Dalton School. It should be noted that this photo is from 1998 and was my first camera, which I borrowed from the friend I was staying with. I love film -- it makes you choose your photos carefully.
Dalton School. It should be noted that this photo is from 1998 and was my first camera, which I borrowed from the friend I was staying with. I love film — it makes you choose your photos carefully.

I stopped in to get film at a camera store near Lexington and 86th (at least that is what I the journal says). I think this camera store is a Best Buy now. Three very friendly and helpful New Yorkers gave me directions to the Village. This was pre-cell phone and Google map days. I don’t even think digital film was invented yet.

Ed even wrote the directions down for me in the NYC Journal; Ella, Eddie, and Ed wrote their own journal signings too.

Eddie, Ella, and Ed -- NYC Journal
Eddie, Ella, and Ed — NYC Journal

When I got off the 6 Train, I asked a man for directions to the White Horse Tavern.  He was on his way to pick up his daughter at day-care and kindly said he did not have time to sign the journal, but he gave me directions verbally. I had just walked up the subway stairs and it was literally just around the corner. He pointed and smiled.

I wanted to go to the White Horse Tavern because I was going to be discovered. I was wearing a scarlet begonia in my hair (I know — how cliché).

carriage ride wm

I didn’t take a carriage ride, as it was too expensive. I just hung out with the horses for awhile.

As I walked through the empty bar, I was disappointed not to see a room full of editors and writers. I did walk past an older man sitting by himself at a table near the window. My scarlet begonia fell to the floor. I was not aware it fell and went to the bar to order a beer. The older gentleman said, “Excuse me miss, your flower fell on the floor.”  I picked it up and asked the man if I could join him. I was not discovered, but I met a very interesting man who fought in the Korean War (Inchon) and was a Marine like my father.

He didn’t sign the journal, but he told me what to write. I wrote his name and 3rd BN H-Co. 1st Marines and his Marine ID number. When I shared with him that my father was in Inchon, he didn’t say much, he just acknowledged how brave my dad was for being there — for surviving.

Front Door Cover of NYC Journal
Front Door Cover of NYC Journal

In red pen on the same page, next to a faded taped on begonia is Vivamus Mea Lesbia Catullus — 3rd c. poet Roman. Bill and I shared a wonderful conversation about love, war, honor, and beauty. I will never forget the sparkle in his azure blue eyes; he was so alive. He told me, “Make sure you order the steak while you still have the teeth to chew it.”

Another NYC Journal signature

Another NYC Journal signature

I wrote a longer essay about my adventure in New York that October (which was my first time visiting New York). Long story short: I didn’t have enough money to take a cab back to the flat I was staying at. I had to go get my bags and my friend I was staying with arranged for a car to take me to the airport. I really didn’t want to leave the White Horse or New York for that matter. The bar was slowly filling up with energy and people were coming in after work. I thought of all the great writers, ideas and conversations the tavern had seen and heard. But it was time for me to go.

Bill and I sat at second table to the left. White Horse TavernPhoto Source:
Bill and I sat at second table to the left. 
Photo Source: Wikipedia White Horse  Tavern

I only had subway tokens and enough cash to buy another beer. I didn’t have time to take the subway; I needed to take a taxi. I was prepared to miss my plane on purpose. I went to the pay phone to call my friend, but he did not answer. I went back to the table and told Bill my predicament  He said I had responsibilities I needed to attend to and reminded me that NYC would still be here for plenty more visits. Bill gave me a twenty-dollar bill on one stipulation — I had to pay it forward one day.

I did, but that is another story.

I stepped out the tavern doors into the late afternoon light after saying goodbye to Bill. Gorgeous shadows cast themselves on the sidewalk — the very same sidewalk Dylan Thomas stumbled on. The same sidewalk Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson walked on.

The White Horse TavernSource: The New York Times© Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Time
The White Horse Tavern
Source: The New York Times
© Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Time

I left in a taxi filled with story and wonder.

New York Yellow Cab on Park Avenue
New York Yellow Cab on Park Avenue

After I got my bags at my friend’s brownstone, the car was there to take me to the airport — the driver in his black suit and hat, waiting on the sidewalk. The sun was setting on New York as the black shiny car entered the tunnel to go to Newark Airport. It was beautiful; purple, orange, and red streaks echoed in the New York skyline.

I will never forget that beautiful afternoon I ended up in Greenwich Village and I never will forget the kindness of that stranger.

Full Journal Page in NYC Journal. The three people in the photo are from a camera store in NYC I stopped in to get film. I asked for directions to the Village at this store. Ed was the person who wrote down the directions.
Full Journal Page in NYC Journal. The three people in the photo are from a camera store in NYC I stopped in to get film. I asked for directions to the Village at this store. Ed was the person who wrote down the directions.

Find The Original Journal on Facebook and Twitter.

 Links to article on The White Horse Tavern:


Chicago Is My Kind of Town

Fast Eddie signed the journal in 2000 at Ed Debevic’s in Chicago

Ed Debevic’s is just about the coolest diner ever.  It is located at 640 North Wells Street in Chicago.  It is a diner, but not just any diner.  The waiters and waitresses are of the thespian nature, and will stand on the counter and dance, insult and shout at you, and just plain ignore you.  It’s their job to be rude to you and to entertain you.  It’s a lot of fun, and the food is delicious.

Photo Credit: So Very Vicki

Here is a review from Center Stage Chicago if you’d like to read more about this sassy diner.

Here is another review, from American Project.

So Fast Eddie was about to break from the stress of his new job, he slid into the pink plastic shiny booth and we started chatting.  Turns out standing on tables and dancing and shouting at customers is quite stressful.  Fast Eddie was one cool cat in my book.  Of course, I took out the journal (which is called The Chicago Journal), and what do you know — that is what he wrote.

This is the cover of The Leap Journal, also referred to as The Chicago Journal

The Leap Journal (The Chicago Journal) traveled from California where I was living at the time.  I call it the Leap Journal because I had no idea what my next move was going to be.  I was twenty-six, and had to make a decision.  I had been accepted into the Art Institute of Chicago’s writing program.  I was in Chicago to see if that is where I was supposed to go. I also was born and raised in Chicago, so the trip was a blast because I was able to see my childhood home.

I knocked on the door of my suburban home and asked the homeowners if I could go inside.  It was a strange feeling to see the home I grew up in, completely remodeled.  The flowers and gardens I remember so vividly were gone.

That’s me as a little one with my foot sticky out — always the observer — a writer in trainer, or perhaps always an outlier. Look at that garden — my parents were garden magicians.

The most delightful experience was seeing a red tulip that bloomed, still fragrant with the deep soil of memory.  I asked the owner permission if I could pick and place the petals in my journal.  They obliged. The hallway of my childhood home was much shorter than I imagined in my mind.  For some reason, the hallway in my mind was much longer.

I am gearing up to get my journal self-published, so stay tuned to the blog.  I am going to try Kickstarter.  Any tips for this process are welcome.  I am also going to use the funds raised from Kickstarter to build a website where people can sign the journal virtually.

Some of my favorite stops in Chicago were:

Lincoln Park Zoo (my mom always took us there — it was her favorite Chicago landmark)

Lincoln Park Zoo holds magical memories; my sister and I used to hold our faces smack right up to the glass and the polar bear would do flips for us. He (or she) was magic.

Riding the L

Sears Tower

Northern Trust Bank (my father was a security guard there and he always brought me home extra NTB newsletter blank paper to write on)

Navy Pier

Oak Street Beach

Buckingham Fountain

Photo Credit:

The Art Institute of Chicago Museum (oh I love the lions)

Click on the fountain photo to read about more great Chicago attractions, including Lincoln Park Zoo.

Chicago is a great city and I love the people.  You have to know a Chicagoan to truly understand what I am talking about.  Just enough honest to not be rude, but no sweet syrupy phoniness. How I love that city.  It’s my kind of town!

If you are interested in following my other blog, it is where I write about cowboys, motherhood, creativity, writing, photography, gardening, and earthy-thinky stuff.  You can also follow me on Twitter: @memomuse1.

I have also just started a Twitter account (@600DavisSt) for my food memoir of my great grandmother’s iconic bakery — The Community Kitchen, which was located at 600 Davis Street in Evanston, Illinois.  My great grandmother, along with women from the Evanston Woman’s Club started it in 1918 during WWI as a food conservation project.   The women of the Evanston Woman’s Club canned 7,000 jars of fruits and vegetables from wartime gardens, donating half to charities and selling the other half — netting a profit of $250 for the Wartime Emergency Fund.   In 1918, these same women made homemade soups during the Spanish Influenza outbreak, delivering hot soups to families.  I come from a long line of Chicago women. And damn proud of it!

Thank you for stopping by.  Journal Your Journey

~ memomuse