Monday, August 4, 2008

my first American purchases

I think I left you at Fifth Ave and 34th Street. When I came out of the dark and noisy subway, I drew a deep breath and marveled that I had managed all that traveling. It was actually more difficult than traveling from Sweden to America. And scarier.

I headed west on 34th and lo and behold! I spotted a Woolworth's. I had heard about those stores also, and my sister and I used to sing a song about the Five and Ten Cent Store while washinng dishes at home. I had to check it out and wandered in and walked around expecting to buy nothing. And then I saw what must be a big mistake in their pricing. Palm Olive bars of soap that we in Sweden had to pay dollars for, were here for cents each. I think they were 13cents each. I had to take advantage of their mistake. So I picked up siix bars and headed for the cash register. Remembering my mother's admonishions, when the young woman handed me the coins and bills I picked up each one and tried to quickly do the addition in my head.

The checker looked at me with a quissical eye and said: Are you new here? I said, Yes, I arrived yesterday. From where did you come. I said Sweden. She raised her voice and said:Were you on the same ship with Greta Garbo. I told her of my meeting with her. It was a small, short interlude but it made me feel so happyy to be here and after this day, I never again used the little gloves with the zipper.

And then I walked into Macy's. I looked for the elevator and rode to the top floor. I made a circle and was awed by all the merchindize under one roof. Rode the escalator down and got off on each floor and continued to circle and then after what seemed hours I found myself in the basement. I had to buy something and found a table of slashed price items and there was an apron for sixtynine cents and at that moment I felt I needed it.

I knew I had to try to get back to my upper East side rooming house before rush hour and I walked back east on 34th and hoped I knew enough to reverse the mornings scary adventure on the subway. I managed to make it to 42nd Street and there my luck left me and I took an express train instead of a local and ended up way far away. Instead of staying underground I got up and out and it cost me another nickel to take a local back down Manhattan, Found Lexicon Ave and strolled the few blocks towrd my address. Walked by an Art Gallery and saw a small statue of Queen Nephertiti in the window. My sister loved this lovely long necked Queen and I went in and offered them the rest of the money in my glove. They accepted.

The next day I found a job.

18 comments:

alison said...

Every grandma should have a blog! :) Do you think you can teach mine?

I hopped over from your granddaughter's blog...I can't get enough of that coyote!

Jenny said...

This is fantastic!

hello haha narf said...

i'm incredibly curious...do you still have that statue of queen nephertiti or what happened to her?

stories like this make me smile. thank you for sharing!

becky

Light Language said...

I'm going to claim you as my Grandma too. I check your blog every day. Thanks for the stories. Keep them coming.

Ms. Karen said...

This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Martha Alderson said...

Wonderful story. Amazing writing.....

bothu said...

Hej !

Jag hamnade pa din blog via Shreves blog om Sharlie.

Jag skriver inte " å, ä, ö " for att du skall lattare kunna lasa min svenska text. "But you can surely fill them in with your mind."

Vilka fantastiska kvinnor ni ar "ower there". Kreativa modiga och estetiskt begavade.

Jag har nu semester och sitter i min sommarstuga som ligger ca 20 US-miles soder om Nykoping.

Jag kommer nu att lasa din och Shreves blog i fortsattningen.

If you can´t understand my swedish text let me know. Then I will change to english.

You can mail me on : bothu@ifm.liu.se

Lots of love to You, from me and "old" Sweden.

/ Bo Thuner

Bonnie's blog said...

Again someone diverted from Shreeve's blog. I'm from England and I'm reading your blog and loving it! Beginning to understand more about Shreeve with a grandma like you to show her the way!

Emiana said...

Love this blog as I love your granddaughter's, Daily Coyote. You're both amazing women and part of my daily reading (and inspiration).

Shayla Myst said...

Thank you so much for sharing your stories with all of us. What an amazing life you must have had.

WillowSwitch said...

I luv stories like yours. I dropped over from Shreve's. I'll visit often.

Ann from Montana said...

Magic!

Another "Daily Coyote": Shreve, Charlie, Eli and Chloe fan and now yours!

I'm hooked.

And reminds me how grateful I am that I wrote done some of MY grandmother's stories...

scargosun said...

This is wonderful! I am so glad Shreve sent me this way.

V B said...

Hi there,
18 and navigating NY streets and subways on your own! & from a different country at that. hats off to you..
Now I see how your grand daughter decided to ride across the country in a vespa :-).
It's wonderful to read of places and people from so long ago.
Here's to your good health and spirit. Keep the blogs coming..
Love,
Vidya.
(ps: dropped in here from the DailyCoyote - visit that site almost every/ every other day)

Melissa said...

Thank you for sharing your stories! I can't wait to hear more about your life. :)

BumbleVee said...

...there I was at the end of this entry.... wondering what you got for a job....guess I'll have to keep coming back now...

How great to find a brand new blog and actually begin at the beginning. Sometimes I find interesting blogs, new to me...but, then.....must also make my way backwards to see what came before... it can take hours of reading just to figure out the rest of the story..... hahahah ..not this time. I'm here at the "arrival".... looking forward to the rest of the story...

kisrumpf said...

Greetings from Ireland, Grandma! I am Hungarian but living here - just another immigrant, looking for a better life, I guess. Will be another of your regular readers. My granny had never told me stories about her girlhood, so I will follow yours. Keep blogging!

Also thanks for Shreve sharing her Grandma with us.

MoJo Alumni said...

The NY subways are still confusing. I used to get lost trying to get to Macy's and Bloomingdale's when I lived there a few years ago. I can't imagine trying to do it in a foreign language, and before the internet.