Thursday, November 10, 2016

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part LXXXV

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

New York, 1967.
So it was true. My friend Chris had killed himself.

Coming back from the memorial in Brooklyn, I met my cousin Adrienne and her husband John McClure for dinner, after which we went for dessert at Blum's, the ice cream parlor from California that had recently opened in Manhattan.
Finally there was a place to have a California-style milkshake — thick with ice cream! Up until that time milkshakes in New York were thin and watery and when I'd question or criticize them, born New Yorkers didn't know why I was complaining!

Like when I'd first arrived in Manhattan and ordered a hamburger at P.J. Clarke's and it arrived as a meatball on an English Muffin, with only ketchup as a condiment. When I asked the server if I could have slices of onion and tomato I was asked if I was ordering a salad! And when I asked for mayonnaise, I got a skeptical look to go with it.
Now, New York had "California Burgers" and, finally, thick milkshakes at Blum's. This was years before New York was invaded by LA's own gift to the world, McDonald's!
After, I was invited to Adrienne and John's apartment on Central Park West to hear a tape recording of Peter Ustinov doing a hilarious monologue of an international road race. John was a Columbia Records producer and this was being readied as a Columbia comedy LP.

Ustinov was amazing — doing accents and car sound effects. Even the roar of the spectators!
Paul Bartel's family had invited me for a winter holiday in Bermuda and since it was still cold winter weather in New York, I looked forward to a warmer climate.

Adrienne and John had recently been to Bermuda and told me idyllic tales of pink sandy beaches and palm trees. They'd rented motorbikes and Adrienne told me she'd almost driven off a cliff during one of their excursions. She said she'd been warned that there were hundreds of tourist bike accidents as it was the most popular means of visitors' sightseeing.

The Bartels had taken a large house in Tuckers Town at the Mid-Ocean Club complex with the thought of leaving Montclair, New Jersey and retiring to Bermuda and buying someplace on a golf course or with one nearby.

We left from Newark and it was freezing!
Paul, bundled up against the cold.
So there we were in beautiful balmy Bermuda.
The house was large and right on the water and came complete with Olivia, the housekeeper.
The day after we arrived there was a rainstorm. It rained for days and we amused ourselves sitting in the living room by a fire with Olivia's hot chocolate. The Bartel family all loved word games and we played and played. Scrabble, Hangman, even charades.

Since it was raining, Mr. Bartel couldn't play golf.
Paul's sister Wendy had invited a friend.
And (aunt) Connie Bartel had come to Bermuda, too.
So there we were — bundled up by the fire with nothing much to do but play games.

While it rained.

And rained.
One evening as the rain had let up a little, Paul, Connie and I went for a walk along the cliff in back of the house. As we looked out at the ocean, Paul started one of his classic teases, saying:

"And even as the three stood admiring the dark sea, they were blissfully unaware of the menace lurking in the verdant area behind them; an event that would ..." and Connie laughed and said, "Paul! Stop! You're freaking me out!" It started raining again and we went back inside!
Finally, a few days before we left, it stopped raining and Paul and I decided to get motorbikes and investigate Hamilton. Before leaving, Olivia told us to be careful with the motorbikes; they could be tricky.

I laughed and told her not to worry and that I'd heard about the motorbike menace!

Off we went!
Everything seemed very British! Up until that day, even the weather!
I was following Paul on my motorbike as we climbed up a hill. As we got to the top, it suddenly sloped downward and I wasn't able to decelerate quickly enough and crashed cheek first into a coral wall!

I wasn't hurt except for a laceration on that cheek and a small hole in my shirt — and shoulder! I was taken to an emergency room where I got stitches in my shoulder. The doctor told me there'd be a small scar on my cheek that, if I wanted, could be made invisible with plastic surgery.

I still have the almost invisible scar!

As we returned to the house later, I arrived with bandages and a slightly bloodied shirt! I went into the kitchen and told Olivia she was right.

Back in New York we went.
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