Starting in the summer of 1969, I often spent Saturday afternoons exploring Central Park. In those days walking through The Park was a little like visiting Woodstock every week.
There were people wherever you went, no social distancing required. We didn’t use the term diversity to apply to people back then, but New York City diversity was on full display wherever my walk took me.
One of my favorite spots to linger was the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace.
It was typical for what seemed like hundreds of frisbees to be flying from one side of the terrace to the other with an equal number of very capable frisbee enthusiasts winging their discs to and fro. My son Bryan, an avid Ultimate Frisbee participant, would have felt quite at home.
But back in the late 60s early 70s, it was one of many sites to visit at least for a little while on your journey through the park.
My favorite spot, however, was Literary Way. Not only was it a beautiful walk adorned with statues of many of history’s greatest authors, but it was sheltered by a canopy of branches from stately trees offering a well-appreciated relief from the summer sun.
It was also a gathering of several folk artists who were only too happy to sing and play our songs for free. They didn’t even seem to mind when you sang along.
Further down the road, I always stopped by the Band Shell on the off chance that a performer might be playing there as well. I was spoiled one Saturday afternoon by coming upon a free concert given by Pete Seeger, so from then on, I always made sure to check. Usually, I just sat down on a bench to read for a few minutes.
Of course, I went to the Park on other occasions to attend concerts at the Wollman Skating Rink. Tickets were ridiculously cheap even for those days. I was able to see The Byrds, Melanie, and Harry Chapin, among others, for one dollar or, if I splurged for the best seats, I was set back for two bucks.
There were times, however, when tickets were sold out, so you merely sat on the rock hill outside the entrance, and I heard great music for free.
Living in Florida now, I am missing these days in New York City and perhaps my youth along with it. This heinous virus has to be eliminated so that New Yorkers cand return to Central Par and all the places that make New York what it is.
Central Park and Yankee Stadium are my favorites right now, aside from the living rooms of my children.
Be well, stay safe, be tough, New York.