A Single Yesterday

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Chapter 21

It was September 25, more than five weeks had passed when Zach and Charlie finally got their passports—which were expedited for them at a very hefty fee. They also had bank accounts and all their investments in order.

They were standing on the Columbus Union Station platform, waiting for their train to New York. They had a little more than a week before the New York Yankees would be playing against the New York Giants in the 1936 World Series. Zach wanted to get tickets for Game 3 because it was the first game of the series that was being held at Yankee Stadium. The first two games were being held at the Polo Grounds. Zach had just eight days to get tickets and hoped they wouldn’t be too difficult to get.

Zach was a little disappointed because it would be the first Worlds Series the Yankees would play without his hero Babe Ruth. However, it would be their first with Joe DiMaggio. Zach was eager to see what all the hype was with this DiMaggio kid from California and what he could do.

Before handing their suitcases to the train conductor, Zach made sure that he didn’t forget anything. He checked that he had his camera, toothbrush, toothpaste, magazines, and other reading material neatly packed in his overnight bag. When he was satisfied everything was in order, he handed the conductor two dollars.

Charlie had packed an overnight bag too. It also contained a toothbrush and toothpaste, but most important, he made sure it contained a large bag of Hanover Sourdough Pretzels. It was his favorite snack. He discovered them at the expo and had been snacking on them ever since.

Suddenly the locomotive slowed as it chugged into the train station. They had boarded the train and were shuffled off to Philadelphia. They traveled all night and in the morning they had to switch trains in Trenton, New Jersey. They arrived in Jersey City, New Jersey by mid-morning and stood directly across from New York City. They took a ferry service across the Hudson River and within minutes they were in Manhattan.

Zach and Charlie thought Cleveland had tall buildings, but New York had monstrous buildings. They appeared as though they jutted from the ground like mountains made of concrete, glass, and steel. When they arrived at the ferry docks on the west side of Lower Manhattan, they found a taxi parked at the curb and asked the driver to take them to the Palace Hotel.

Reminiscent of the Gilded Age, the New York Palace Hotel sat atop what was once the Villard Mansion located in the Midtown area on Madison Avenue. It was created from connected mansions built in the 1880s owned by railroad baron Henry Villard. With 55 stories, 805 guest rooms, and 88 suites, the best views from the New York Palace were of the adjacent St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The taxi managed to squeeze in a spot near the entrance to the Palace Hotel. Charlie opened the door and climbed out. Then he opened the front passenger door and removed their luggage stacked on the front seat while Zach paid the driver. When the cab had driven off, they stood on the sidewalk and gazed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral that was across the street. They were captivated by it. They had never seen anything like it before. It was decorated Neo-Gothic-style. The architecture was incredible. The Romanesque church had round arches (borrowed from Greco-Roman times) that appeared in their portals, windows, arcades, and the massive stone vaulting of their roofs. It was surely a spectacular feat of engineering, and it was something they wanted to see from the inside after they got settled in.

Zach and Charlie entered the one-time carriage entrance on Madison Avenue, now called the New York Palace’s famed Courtyard. Then they came across a grand staircase that took them down to the lower level lobby. They approached a pair of staircases on both sides of the foyer that led to the second floor and a red Verona fireplace. It was massive, yet elegant, like everything else in the lobby. It was comparable to palaces one would see in Italy, Portugal, or Paris.

After they had checked in, they were eager to see their room. Their suite was spacious and even more luxurious than the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. Zach looked out the window and looked down on the busy street below. “Charlie, come here. There’s so much goin on down there.” Masses of people and vehicles were hustling back and forth on the streets below. “Look, it looks like ... organized chaos.”

Charlie crossed the room and joined Zach at the window. “Yeah, you’re right. Organized chaos, it fits. By the way, ya think there’s a place to eat somewhere down there?”

#

A few minutes later, they ventured out and ate lunch at a small cafe near the hotel. When they returned, they went up to their suite to rest. Zach turned on the radio and Alone by Tommy Dorsey began to play. Zach liked Tommy Dorsey. He sprawled out on the couch and began humming to the music while Charlie took his suitcase into his room and began unpacking.

“Hey, Charlie, where do ya suppose I can get tickets for Game 3?”

“I don’t know,” Charlie replied. “Maybe ask the fella downstairs.”

“What fella ... the concierge?”

“Yeah, that guy, maybe he knows.”

“Good thinking,” Zach said. He looked pensive calculating the days until Game 3. It was being held on Saturday, the 3rd of October. That only gave him seven days to get tickets. “When we go downstairs, I’ll stop and ask the concierge about tickets.”

Zach was finally able to relax now that he had a plan. He nestled his head in the couch’s pillow and closed his eyes. The long day took its toll on him, and he was exhausted. When Charlie finished unpacking, he entered the living room and found Zach already snoring. He found the local newspaper resting on the coffee table, and wanted to read about the local news and events. There was so much to see and do in Manhattan. Some of the things he and Zach had discussed were to see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History, and of course, the Yankees.

The newspaper built up the World Series. There was a long article in the paper about the Yankees and Babe Ruth. Charlie knew that Zach idolized Babe Ruth. He talked about him all the time. One thing Charlie learned about Zach was, when he got stuck on a subject that meant a lot to him, he talked about it for hours. Charlie got the lowdown on “the Bambino” all the way from Ohio. He knew Zach would be heartbroken if he came all this way and wasn’t able to see them play in the World Series. He hoped the concierge would be able to help them find tickets.

After browsing through the newspaper Charlie began feeling drowsy. Like Zach, he was exhausted from their long journey from Ohio. He made himself comfortable in the deep cushioned chair and soon joined Zach in a snoring serenade.

#

Later, after their nap, Zach and Charlie felt refreshed and headed to the restaurant in their hotel lobby for a late lunch. On their way to the restaurant, they got to the concierge’s desk. They asked him if he knew where they could buy tickets to Game 3 of the World Series. The concierge looked at Zach as though he was crazy.

“Are you kidding?” the concierge said. “Tickets are impossible to get this close to the games.” Then he saw how disappointed Zach was, and felt sorry for him. “Look, I know you just arrived from outta town. If I hear anything I’ll let you know, but I can’t make any promises. Okay?”

A little sparkle shined in Zach’s eyes. He still had hope that he’d get tickets. He thanked the concierge and slipped him ten dollars as an incentive.

#

The following morning Zach and Charlie made plans to go to the American Museum of Natural History. Afterward, they wanted to walk through Central Park.

When they arrived at the American Museum of Natural History, it was crowded. The construction on the Roosevelt Memorial part of the museum was finally completed. The construction cost over $2,000,000 and was the Central Park West main entrance. It led to African Hall, where the walls on all sides were mural paintings of animal life. In the center, a statue of Theodore Roosevelt stood.

At the four corners of the hall were four groups of animals representing the wildlife of America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. They faced the figure in the center of the room, the figure of Bwana Tumbo as the natives of Africa dubbed Theodore Roosevelt, the hunter.

Zach and Charlie kept walking until they wound up at the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites. It contained some of the finest specimens in the world, including Ahnighito, a section of the 200 ton Cape York meteorite, which was found at the location of the same name in Greenland.

They also passed through the Hall of the Age of Man, which Zach found fascinating. Then they walked through the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Gems and Minerals, Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, and Fossil Halls. They spent hours exploring the museum, and when they finally left the museum, they crossed the street and entered Central Park. The fresh air and sunshine was refreshing after being inside most of the day.

They enjoyed the park. It was a nice getaway from the busy and noisy city. They passed a few boathouses at the Lake, and realized the sun was starting to set a little earlier as the weeks progressed. Everything also had a golden tint as they gazed at the sky thinking it looked as though God had hand-painted it with colors of gold, pink, and blue.

Across the sky to the east, a crescent moon hung high in the sky. It was getting late and by the time they exited the park, the soft glowing light from the sky began to fade to black.

When Zach and Charlie returned to their hotel it was nine o’clock. Zach checked the front desk for messages, but unfortunately, there weren’t any.
The early excursion and all the walking they did that day had exhausted them. They decided to head to their room and turn in early. They had yet another long day of sightseeing ahead of them.

#

The following morning was sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky. After Zach and Charlie had eaten an early breakfast, they stopped at the concierge’s desk to see if there were any news on the tickets. The concierge informed them that he hadn’t heard anything about tickets yet, and that he would keep trying.

Zach was beginning to become withdrawn and quiet. They had five days left to get tickets. He started to think that maybe they would never find tickets. He tried not to let it bother him. He decided to focus on their trip to the Empire State Building, so he inspected his camera and noticed that he only had five exposures left. He would need more film if he were going to take pictures of the building and view. When he asked the concierge where he could buy film, he directed him to the gift shop.

“Zach, you go ahead to the gift shop,” Charlie said. “I gotta go upstairs to use the ... ya know.”

“Why don’t ya just use the bathroom here in the lobby?” Zach asked.

Charlie lowered his voice. “I need a little privacy.”

“Oh, okay, gotcha,” Zach said. “I’ll catch up with ya when you’re done.” He thought it was a little strange that all of a sudden Charlie didn’t like using public bathrooms, but it quickly exited his mind when he entered the gift shop.

When Charlie got to their suite, he immediately made a phone call. He tried to make it quick, so Zach didn’t know what he was up to. He thought it would be gratifying to surprise Zach with World Series tickets, so he removed a telephone number from his wallet and placed a call. When the call connected, Smitty answered the phone. Charlie explained the situation of not being able to find World Series tickets. Smitty said he’d talk to Mr. Graziano and see what they could do. He told Charlie to give them a few days, and that he’d contact him as soon as he heard something.

#

When Charlie returned to the lobby, he found Zach sitting in a chair inspecting his camera.

“Okay, I’m ready,” Charlie said. “I see ya got your film.”

“Yep,” Zach said. “Did ya talk to the man?”

Charlie was stunned. He wondered how Zach knew about his phone call. “What man?” He tried to keep his cool, and not give away what he had done.

“The man ya talked to about a horse?”

“Horse? What horse?” Charlie wondered what on earth Zach was talking about.

“It’s an expression ... a joke. Ya had to talk to a man about a horse.”

Charlie was bewildered, he didn’t get it.

“C’mon, let’s go. I’ll explain on the way,” Zach said.

When they exited the hotel, the doorman whistled for a taxi. When a taxi pulled up they climbed in.

“Hey Charlie, ya mind if we take a ride to Yankee Stadium first, then see the Empire State Building on the way back? I wanna see if they have any tickets left.”

“Sure, no problem,” Charlie said. Doggone, this is gonna ruin everything.

#

Yankee Stadium looked desolate. When Zach exited the car, he quickly walked over to the box office to inquire about purchasing tickets. He became distressed when he discovered that they were closed. Then he noticed a man near the entrance, sweeping up trash with a broom. He briskly walked over to him and asked if they were still selling World Series tickets. The man looked at Zach as though he was crazy. He told Zach that they were sold out months ago, and the only way to get them was on the street.

Charlie watched as Zach walked back to the taxi with his head down, looking at the ground the entire time. Charlie felt sorry for Zach. He could tell that there weren’t any tickets. Zach didn’t say much when he got in the car, he just sat quietly and stared out the window.

“Zach, maybe the concierge will come through and find us tickets,” Charlie said.

“Fat chance,” Zach said, “I got the worst luck.”

#

Zach seemed a bit more spirited when he saw how massive the Empire State Building was. He knew brooding wouldn’t get him tickets any faster, so he decided to make the best of his time in New York. When he and Charlie exited the taxi, they stared up the 1,454-foot skyscraper. They were amazed with the size of the building. The 102-story landmark was designed in a distinctive Art Deco style and had two observatory decks. The 86th-floor had an indoor and outdoor observation deck that offered an impressive 360-degree view of the city. The remaining 16 stories presented the Art Deco tower, which was capped by a 102nd-floor observatory. Atop the tower was the 203-foot pinnacle, much of which was covered with broadcast antennas, with a lightning rod at the very top.

Zach and Charlie quickly discovered there were multiple lines to enter the observation decks. There was a sidewalk line, a lobby elevator line, a ticket purchase line, a second elevator line, and a line to get off the elevator and onto the observation deck, and they were all filled with people. “All these people can’t be tourists,” Zach said. “Don’t these people have jobs they’re supposed to be at?”

“I think they are tourists,” Charlie said.

“Well, let’s just hope this don’t take all day.”

Forty-five minutes later, Zach and Charlie reached the 102nd-floor observatory. Charlie could tell that Zach was getting cranky. He was probably thinking about the tickets again, but once they saw the view from the observatory they both became awestruck. Neither of them had been in a building that tall.

When Charlie saw the view, he laughed to himself. He remembered standing on the roof of Huck’s house thinking he was on the top of the world. Now, he was standing on the top of the world ... the tallest building in the world. It made him realize how fortunate he was. He thought of all the people in the world that would never get the same opportunity and see this sight. But he had, and what a sight it was. There was a 360-degree view of Manhattan, and it’s four other boroughs, including the East River, Hudson River, and New Jersey. Then he heard Zach snapping pictures with his camera. He realized that Zach was right about buying a camera. Words could never describe the view. It was simply breathtaking, and now they had photographs of it.

#

At five that evening, the concierge’s shift had ended. He was preparing to go home when Zach and Charlie approached him. He sadly informed them that he hadn’t heard anything new regarding the tickets, but said that he would keep trying.

Charlie saw the sadness loom over Zach’s face. He watched how Zach bowed his head, thanked the concierge, and then walked away.

When they got to their suite, Zach immediately poured himself a glass of whiskey. He sat in the chair near the window and quietly opened the newspaper that was folded on the table. Charlie wanted to tell him about his phone call with Smitty, but he couldn’t. He didn’t want to get Zach’s hopes up only to disappoint him if he couldn’t produce any tickets. He wanted to wait until things were definite. Even with all of his connections Smitty didn’t know if Mr. Graziano could get tickets.

“Don’t worry,” Charlie said. “Maybe something will come up.”

“Don’t count on it.” Zach said. He sounded as though he had given up. He sat hiding his emotions behind his newspaper.

Charlie didn’t forget their conversation back in Tennessee about staying positive and using words “when” instead of “if.” He wanted to remind Zach that he needed to remain positive. “I got a good feelin’ we’ll get the tickets.” Charlie said, but there was no response from Zach, only a deep sigh. He wished that he could do more for Zach. He remembered when they first met on the train and their conversation about seeing the New York Yankees. It was a dream for Zach, and now he was sad because he thought that he wouldn’t be able to see his Yankees play in the World Series. Poor Zach.

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