Almost ‘and back again’ – last day in New York

Day 6 – last of the ‘Little Adventure’ – Thursday, March 19th 2015

One last burst of exploring the city – left to my own devices and full of confidence, I returned to Grand Central station, and this time headed North.

So what was on my agenda?

Thursday was about research and…. a bit of a ‘business meeting’……..

Throughout my posts about my New York visit, I have commented very little about my writing/novel.  This day was being driven with both in mind.  Whether it is an idea for plot or character for the next book or if it is a whole new book for another time, I felt New York would give me inspiration.  But, again, I wasn’t choosing the usual tourist path.

images (1)

I LOVE history now- not the big stories per say, but more the stories behind the big stories.  I also find, that  from a writer’s view, when I hear a date,  I find my mind relating it back to Kylemore.   What was going on there at the same time?

So for example, when construction was underway at Kylemore Castle in 1867:  the International Exhibition was opened in Paris – Jesse James was busy robbing a bank in Missouri – Karl Marx had just published ‘Das Kapital’ – The widow Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone for the Albert Hall – the Medicine Lodge Treaty was signed between US/Native American Indians – the Fenian’s were organising a Rising in Ireland…….  Needless to say the list could go on.

Did you know that 1867  was also the year Charles Dickens gave his first public reading in New York at Steinway Hall?

Anyway, for research there was a few places I wanted to visit,  to ‘put my eye’ on the locations that I had read about and filed away.

New York is a pulsing  city today – what was it like during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s?

Here is what I did NOT get to see.

I had missed an opportunity to get to the Tenement Museum – note:  you can only visit here while escorted by a tour guide and that has to be pre-booked.  AND I also messed up on  getting to the Merchant House (it is open Thursday – Sundays)  AND with the week that was in it, Ellis Island was totally booked out! 😦 All/any of these,  would have been a fantastic opportunity to see how people lived (and died)  during the late 1800’s etc in New York.   I was very disappointed not to have been able to visit them.

I have promised myself to get to them on my  NEXT trip to New York!

We do have comparable tourist experiences  here in Ireland:  Living The Lockout, for the tenement side of things in Dublin, and our own Cobh Heritage Experience for the Famine Ships, Titanic and Lusitania stories, and of course we have our own fine examples of the Big Houses, Kylemore and Muckross House being two of them.

But would they be a similar experience?

I think not. ( I will endeavour to get to the Irish ones before the year is out)

I did get to seek out some places on my list for New York.  One was the Dakota building (built between 1880 and 1884) – I had recently finished a great time travel book (recommended by Stephen King) – Time and Again by Jack Finney,   where the Dakota was used in the book as the base for time travel – the building reportedly got its name from being built so far on the Upper West Side, that it might as well have been in Dakota.

 

The Dakota in winter c. 1890 - (image as appears chp 17 of Time and Again)

The Dakota in winter c. 1890 – (image as appears chp 17 of Time and Again)

 

Of course the building now sits nice and snug, blending in very comfortably with its’ towering neighbours….. I had great fun finding it, and then wondered what stories IT could tell.

Dakota Now,  2015

Dakota Now, 2015

 

On a side note, did you know that prior to establishing the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, that her torch bearing arm was first exhibited at Madison Square Park?  The story, as I understand it, is that the state couldn’t afford to build a base and erect the statue and so the arm was on display instead, tourists paying to climb up into the torch, while fund raising continued.

lending a hand of Liberty

lending a hand of Liberty

 

Lunch time soon snuck up on me and I had to attend my ‘Business Meeting’

For lunch I meet with a ‘Certain Someone’.  Now this person shall remain nameless as I do not want to identify them in this blog, until such time that they advise otherwise.  And as casual as it may have been arranged, it was actually a PR exercise for me to push the idea of my book and for ‘He who shall not be named’ to put a face and character to my name. In case you get too excited, they are not an agent/publisher or an author even, but they are in the industry and lets just say they were doing me the favour by giving me some of their very precious time.

On the surface it was all very relaxed and easy going, but I have to admit I was nervous and very conscious of not coming across as too cocky, or too wishy-washy either.  I had about 30 minutes to talk up my book and me, without appearing pushy and needy.

As a result the first 20 minutes we talked about everything BUT the books and my writing – and the last few I had my ‘window’ to try and capture the very essence of what I was all about and where I wanted to bring my book series ‘K-Girls’.  It was my first real ‘pitch’ without trying to make it sound too obvious that that is exactly what it was!

I think it went very well – not to any degree of signing any book deals but I certainly got some interesting feed back, picked up a professional tip or two.  I think they went away reasonably impressed, not just with my book series idea,  but with me too!  If they go away thinking this girl has some good ideas that go beyond the traditional, and they drop my name in their professional circles, then I would be very happy with that.

We shall have to wait and see what outcome, if any, comes out of that.

Meeting over, I sauntered for a bit near by and I have to say I was in my total element when I found this little Gem – not a building – but a book of buildings!

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Fab imagery of New York back in its early days, with comparison shots from modern day – (hats off to author Marcia Reiss and photographer Evan Joseph)  I had great fun finding some of the buildings within and making my own comparisons.

As a result,  I walked miles around the city and felt I even did my own bit of  ‘time travel’  …….the weather was glorious and I got to walk across Central Park (where the pond was still frozen) and ‘popped’ in (how naive was I) to the Met Museum.   I would need a whole new trip to New York to get to see everything there.

Oh how weary was I by the end of it all – how wonderfully wonderfully weary.

At the end of the afternoon,  I made it ‘home’ to Mamaroneck with blistered feet and a very happy soul.

The next day was ‘Going Home’ day and so I spent it with my hosts, dear friends – and I will always appreciate those last few cuddles on the couch, from my beautiful and pixie-like god daughter ‘Berry-Boo‘.

It was a quick and sad good bye. (save having to go back to collect a forgotten purse!!!! – thank you AGAIN Rozzy)

I arrived home to Ireland in one piece – and I have to admit I was very happy to see the familiar patchwork green fields from Aer Lingus just before we set down in Dublin.

My trip was  – oh there is no denying it – AMAZING – as cliched as it sounds.

I would like to think that my one was one with a difference – I hope my  last few posts have caught some of that.

Looking back on the last year, it goes to show that you have to Put It Out There – whatever IT is that you want in life –

it might just come true –

After all

I got to New York didn’t I?

Little Erin stroll

New York – Mamaroneck

So Base Camp for my trip to New York was the town of Mamaroneck -home to Matt Dillon for any fans.  In Irish how-to-get-there terms, this ‘village’ is a ways out of New York’s Manhatton, on the North West side of New York state, on the way towards Greenwich CT (Connecticut).  It actually lies in Westchester County of New York but lets not go too much into that.

According to wikipedia pages, is one of the top 10 places to live in NY.

I can vouch for that.

For a country bumpkin and an Irish one at that, I had no idea where I was to be staying, only that it was the address of my friend, Roz and family.  As far as I was concerned I was going to New York and linking up with one of my bestest pals.  I wouldn’t have cared if I was stuck in a shed with a sleeping bag.

 

Mamaroneck

Fortunately, that was not my penance and instead, I was gifted the lap of comfort at its best.

First impressions in daylight on day one left me in awe of the size of everything in the area- the houses, the cars, the supermarkets…..I am such a tourist…..but then I started to look beyond that, and I was touched by the lay of the land.

Mamaroneck by unknown artist (c)

Mamaroneck by unknown artist (c)

Houses built sensitively around giant boulders and rocks that form the natural terrain.  My eyes were forever drawn beyond the houses to the grove of trees, hillocks and streams that flowed freely to the sea and as a result, I found I could easily imagine what the lay of the land was like originally.

Back yard barn in Mamaroneck

Back yard barn in Mamaroneck

 

For the time of year, the trees were bare and the ground scantly clad in pockets of snow.  Picture postcard.  But what was it like originally?

Snow time in Mamaroneck

Snow time in Mamaroneck

 

Well the area that is now the town in Mamaroneck, was purchased from Native American Chief Wappaquewam and his brother Manhatahan ( of the Siwanoy tribe)  by an Englishman named John Richbell in 1661.  The rest as they say is history ( and not necessarily a pleasant one for the Native Americans)  and yet I could clearly imagine some scouts or braves, weaving in and out of the glades where the big houses now stood.

I have a hunger for background, or the story behind a place/person, and so I found myself always asking questions, that not necessarily people had the answer to.

So where does the name Mamaroneck come from? – In Ireland traditional place names mean something e.g. my own home town, Ballydehob – Beal Atha Da Chab (place of the two rivers fords) or Dublin  – Dubh Linn – the black pool. I wondered the story behind Mamaroneck……

I am saddened to say that the Siwanoy Indians do not exist any more (another discussion for another day) and so the actual Indian meaning of the name behind the town has been lost – but there have been some educated guesses handed down over time.  Here are a few of them that I found online –  For the full article please see here:

Mamaroneck is named after the Indian chief, Mamaronock – but he was a  chief of the Wiquaeskeck Indians who were located in a different area so this doesn’t ring true.

Mamaroneck means “the place of rolling stones” but  there doesn’t seem to be any documentary evidence supporting the idea that the Indian word ‘mamaroneck’ translates as ‘the place of rolling stones”.

Mamaroneck means “the Gathering Place.”  ‘mama’ means ‘to bring (or gather, or join, or meet) together with the ‘eck’ meaning ‘place or land’ – maybe maybe not……

In any case, all the above moved me as I could picture all of these explanations in the friendly picturesque town and I related all the more with the historic place.  I am please to report the town plague at least acknowledges the Indian connection.

Mamaroneck town plague

Oh, and by the way, for the golfers out there – the famous Winged Foot golf club can also be found in the area…..

Entrance to Wing Foot golf club

Entrance to Wing Foot golf club