»  Family Album — Manhattan, 1986-1990

Manhattan

 

Our first address was 148 East 46th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues, in the heart of Manhattan. This was one of the surviving older buildings in central Manhattan. I suppose it had been someone's house a hundred years before. When we lived there it was divided into rented apartments. Ours was on the second floor at the back, with a window (and small metal balcony) looking out over the roofs of the restaurants and stores that mainly occupied 46th and 45th Streets. When the restaurants had their extractor fans going, the noise was terrific. Nice smells, though.

This was a ready-furnished studio apartment, with a Murphy bed that folded down from one wall, and tiny kitchen and bathroom. Rosie quipped that if she wanted to put something down in that apartment, she had to pick something else up first. Still, we were very happy there for nearly four years: November 1986 to July 1990. (I lived there alone for a year — October 1985 to November 1986 — before Rosie came to join me.)

Certainly the place was central. Our nearest post office was the one at Grand Central Station. In winter we used to walk the five blocks to Rockefeller Center to go skating on the rink there. Rosie would take the subway down to Chinatown and come back with a live fish still flapping feebly in a plastic shopping bag.

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Here are some photographs from our Manhattan days. Clicking on a picture brings up a bigger version.

Sofa The west wall of the apartment featured a big old brown fake-leather couch. This is one of our earliest photographs together in Manhattan, probably from November or December 1986.
Rosie This is the south wall of the apartment, with a window looking out over the restaurant rooftops to the back of 45th street. There was a little round table for writing on and eating from. Cue Massenet.
NY Times That's the north wall of the apartment living space, a walk-in closet behind it. Where north wall meets west wall there was a bookcase and a small square table bearing lamp and fruit bowl. Next to that table, an armchair, in which I am reading the New York Times.
Kitchen Rosie at work in the apartment's nanoscale kitchen. Tiny it may have been, but she performed culinary miracles in there …
Dinner  … which I consumed with gusto. The Murphy bed is behind those louvered panels on the apartment's east wall.
Skiing That first winter in New York, 1986-87, I took Rosie skiing. She picked it up immediately, and after a couple of trips was better than me. Here we are on the slopes with my dear old friend Avrom Pearson.
Stoop Rosie at the front gate of our building. The ground floor (slightly below ground, actually) was occupied by a Korean restaurant. The restaurant also ran some kind of establishment on the first floor of the building, from which music could be heard late at night from behind a featureless door as we passed by on the landing. We thought it best not to inquire.
All Saints In July 1987 we took a trip to England, to introduce Rosie to the Derbyshires. Here she is in front of All Saints Church, at Northampton town center. You can just make out the alcoves under the church portico. They have little stone seats, on one of which …
John Clare  … the poet John Clare used to sit, as in this drawing from 1848 or 1849, which I have taken from Jonathan Bate's 2003 biography of Clare. The poet was at this point an inmate of Northampton General Lunatic Asylum (now St. Andrew's Hospital). From Bate's book:

"Fifth class" or "harmless" patients were given considerable freedom. Clare was allowed to walk the mile into Northampton alone. He quickly became a well-known figure in the town, sitting for hours at a time in the portico of All Saints' Church, always with his tobacco, sometimes with his notebook. In a number of sketches and paintings by a local artist named George Maine he is seen comfortably ensconced in a niche of smooth stone.
Temple Bar We did some sight-seeing in London. Here is Rosie at Temple Bar.
Cycling During the summer in New York we liked to go cycling in Central Park. You could rent bicycles for a few dollars an hour.
Hans Christian Andersen Mr. & Mrs. D. with Hans Christian Andersen, Central Park. The head of the Ugly Duckling is visible at bottom right.
Ball game Other summer activities included an outing to Yankee stadium …
Pool  … swimming in Avrom's pool …
Picnic  … picnicking in Central Park …
Sailing  … and sailing.
Rock Center Rosie at Rockefeller Center, 1987 or 1988.