The seventies in New York City were trying times. Chaotic, disturbing, and overwhelming to get by. Crime, inflation, unemployment, such a creepy sight just to walk the streets. Homelessness, dirty drug addicts, prostitutes, and panhandling were common along 8th Avenue in NYC.
Gang wars, race wars, ethnic wars were the norm. One day, early in May, I took the number 7 train with my friends from Flushing, Tom McNamee, Barbara Prillo, Jamie, Inger, and other friends. Tom was a bongo player, and often carried his bongo with him.
As the train stopped at the Corona station, a group of Puerto Ricans boarded the train. Each group stared the other group down. When Tom started to play his bongo, the Puerto Ricans played theirs. People on the train started clapping and singing. The whole train was swinging, and we rode all the way to 42nd Street in perfect harmony.
Yes, it is amazing how music can charm everyone. What a magical experience this was, and all these years later it still gives me joy to reflect on that wonderful, serendipitous day.
AS I LOOK BACK ON THE SEVENTIES, I THINK OF CHOCK-FULL-‘O- NUTS COFFEE SERVED WITH DATE NUT BREAD AND CREAM CHEESE IN A LOCAL DINER, A SMILE COMES TO MY FACE, AND A MAGICAL TRAIN RIDE’S MUSIC FILLS THE AIR.