‘The High Point Was Sitting on Our Grandmother’s Deck’

World’s Fair

Dear Diary:

In 1964 my parents allowed my cousins and me to go to the New York World’s Fair and spend the night at our grandmother’s apartment. She was not there.

We were three girls: 16, 14 and 12. We dangled our feet in the Solar Fountain, discovered how we would look with different-colored hair at the Clairol pavilion and ate Belgian waffles.

The high point was sitting on our grandmother’s deck and gazing at the lights of the city while trying to smoke some cigars we found in the apartment. We were all wearing baseball caps turned backward.

— Caroline Heald

The Aloe Plant

Dear Diary:

I was waiting for the bus in Park Slope, my hands in fists in the bottom of my torn red gloves. When I was 15, someone told me that your hands don’t get as cold if your fingers are together, connected, and I’ve always remembered that.

There were two aloe plants on the silver bus stop seats, one at each end with the middle seat empty. A middle-age man in a large blue coat wandered by and took a picture of the plants.

I started to get sad about my relationship having ended before the holidays. The wind bit my cheeks.

A woman came out of the realty office behind me. She smiled.

“Would you like aloe plant?” she said.

“I thought those were there for decoration,” I said.

“Please take,” she said. “I have plant inside that has grown too big for pot. I can’t keep all.”

She went inside and showed me the plant through the window. It looked like a giant green octopus. She came back out with some cuttings.

“Take one, take two,” she said. “Just put in soil.”

“OK, sure,” I replied. “Thanks!”

I held the bumpy creatures in my hands as the bus pulled up. After getting off, I walked toward my house, a cutting in each hand.

A man passed me.

“That looks good!” he said.

I whirled around.

“Do you want one?” I asked.

“Oh no, I couldn’t,” he said.

“No, please, someone was just giving these away on the street.”

“Wow, yes,” he said. “I’d love one. My mother-in-law just gave me a pot and I wanted to get a succulent.”

I walked to my house, one hand holding my remaining cutting and the fingers of my free hand wrapped around each other into a ball. That hand was much warmer.

— Mare Berger

Pickup Picnic

Dear Diary:

When we first moved to New York, my husband was assigned to Coast Guard Station New York on Staten Island. Young and broke, we moved in with my grandparents, who graciously squeezed us into their Manhattan apartment, and he commuted from there.

We parked the truck on the street, and my husband would often start his days off in the truck waiting for the street sweeper during alternate-side hours.

One blissfully sunny morning, my grandmother made pancakes and an all-out brunch with the enthusiasm that retirement affords.

Feeling bad that my husband hadn’t had a chance to even have breakfast, I took brunch to him picnic style, and we set it up in the back of the pickup, checkered blanket and all.

While we ate and waited for the street sweeper, people walked by, wishing us “bon appétit!” and asking if they could have some. One person paused.

“I have seen a lot in this city,” he said. “But this one’s new.”

— Laura Daniels

A Sidewalk Suggestion

Dear Diary:

A friend and I were walking along East 86th Street on a lovely spring afternoon. She was describing two outfits and asking my opinion about which one to wear to a fancy corporate dinner that evening.

I was considering her choices when we heard a voice: “Wear the velvet jacket and silk pants.”

Looking to our right, we saw a young woman pushing a baby carriage. Since we couldn’t decide which option was best, my friend took her advice.

— Marilyn Hillman

Phones Off

Dear Diary:

As an original subscriber to City Center’s Encores! series, I was thrilled to attend the eagerly anticipated reopening after a two-year hiatus.

Subscribers generally know all the audience members who sit near them, so there’s a bit of a buzz when someone new appears. And at a February performance of “The Tap Dance Kid,” everyone in my row noticed a new face in the row in front of us.

As the standard announcement was made about the rules against taking photographs and videos and using phones, this woman took out her phone and appeared to start texting.

The orchestra began to play, and the audience applauded. The light from the phone was still visible. I was about to tap her on her shoulder and ask her to turn off the phone, when the person beside her turned to her.

“Please turn that phone off,” he said.

“And by the way,” he added. “You’re way off track. The Wordle is ‘pleat.’”

— Dennis Buonagura

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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