Saturday, October 29, 2005

New York City - 121 E. 60th Street - Dr. Allister M. McLellan

I took my son on his second trip to New York City in November of 2004. The purpose was to have a fun weekend and to catch the Indiana Pacers vs. New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 15, 2004 @ 7:30 pm. I asked my mother-in-law, who was born and raised in Manhatten for the address of her late father's medical practice in the city. I wanted to take my son to see where his great-grandfather's office was in the city. My wife was also born in NYC, so as we talked about this trip, I asked my mother-in-law to write as much as she could remember that might be of interest to my son for our visit. This writing was directed to my son, and her comments were written very quickly, and are unedited.

Life in New York City 1927 - 1950 - I've tried to think of my life in New York in an organized fashion, but things keep popping into my head! Here goes! EMJ November, 2004.

"My parents had been living in New York City before I was born. It was on Third Avenue in a 4th floor walk-up. Mother washed her clothes and linens in the sink and hung them on the lines provided on the roof of the building. There was no air conditioning anywhere. Later we moved to Jackson Heights on Long Island until I went to Junior High. My grandfather lived with us after awhile and he would take me to the orthodonist in the City - a bus trip over the Queensboro Bridge. The office was on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. After seeing the doctor we went downstairs to the Schraft's Resturant and every week I had a club sandwich and vanillia ice cream with butterscoth sauce and almonds!

Lillias and I took piano lessons. Our teacher took us to several concerts in NYC. I remember hearing Myra Hess play somewhere. We always had to wear white gloves with our dressy clothes to go! Also we rode our two wheeler bikes and we played with our dolls. Shopping for clothes was usually at Bloomingdale's very near Father's office, which was at 121 East 60th Street, between Lexington and Park avenues. Macy's Paraade at Thanksgiving went down Fifth Avenue. Usually we went, sometimes with Father's secretary. All I remember is large balloons and lots of floats and bands.

When I was in Junior High we moved to Pelham. Our regular dentist was on Park Ave. in the City. (Believe it or not, I had 12 gold inlay fillings before I was through high school!). So we made lots of trips, since there were so many of us. From Pelham we had to take the New York-New Haven-and-Hartford local train into Grand Central Station to get to NYC. It was about a 40 minute ride, but then we were in the middle of the City. In summer all the summer camps going to New England met about the same days to load on the trains. It was bedlam in the station! We were headed for Vermont and it was an all-day long trip.

Mother enjoyed the theater and father was not too keen on it, so she and I would attend afternoon theater plays and then meet father for dinner. We always went to a fancy resturant, but I can't recall any names. In my senior year 3 couples of us went to NYC for New Year's Eve. We ate somewhere and then at 11 pm headed for Times Square to see the ball drop. The crowd was horrrendous and it wasn't long before my feet were not touching the gound. I was just being carried along. I could see my friends but I could not get to them for, what seemed like a long time. We missed the last train to Pelham, so had to wait for the mild train at ??30 am. I assured everyone that my parents were not concerned, that they would know we were OK, and would reassure their parents. Well, when we pulled into Pelham station at 4:00 am, who was there, but my father. He was very calm and asked what had happened, but he must have been the most relieved person around! Some of the other parents punished their children, but in my home we just talked about it and what it meant to them, not to hear from us. I kept saying, "I just didn't want to wake you up!".

I wnet to nursing school at Cornell University School of Medicine at New York Hospital on 68th and York Ave. Although the nursing school is gone, the hospital is there and growing. One of my classmates was from Iowa and on our day off we went to the top of the Empire State Building, where I had never been. On another trip we went to the Statue of Liberty and climbe to the head. You could not go up the ar to the flame any longer. Ellis Island was not a place for tourists at that time. While I was in school there, I was assigned to the Neuro-surgery floor, where a Dr. Jeck was the resident. My father came to visit me (which he often did, just to say hello, when he cam to see his patients). ON this occasion he saw Sheff's name stamped on his whites and recognized him as the son of a former colleague. He wnet home later and invited Sheff for the weekend. Then called me arranging for me to meet Dr. Jeck in the parking garage on a certain Saturday morning. I was to bring him home - but, I was to let him drive, not me! and entertain him for the weekend.

Several months later Sheff asked me to go ice skating in Rockefeller Plaza one evening. He knew I could skate a little at least, but he was really good. We skated to music for several hours. How romantic!!!!! it was!!!! Meanwhile I was assigned to public health for three months. My district was 125th Street, not a very respectable neighborhood, but certainly one that needed all the help they could get. One day, I visited a woman with cancer who lived in a 6th floor walk-up in a "bad area". Armed with nothing but my bag and determination I walked up the stairs, which wer dark because the lights had been shot out. When I arrived I found she had four little children with her, whom she was afraid to let out of her one room apartment. I did what I could for her and promised to get her some help for the children. It was an education for me and perhaps that is why I have always done public health work.

I am sure there is more, but I can't think of it. If you get this, this evening and have questions, give me a call I will be here".

EMJ/November 2004

On Sunday, my son and I walked to Central Park to see Christo and Jeanne-Claude "The Gates" which was the largest public display of art in the history of NYC. The 7,500 free hanging saffron colored fabric panels placed throughout Central Park were on display for only 16 days. We were fortunate to see them. After walking through the park we visited the 121 East 60th Street office of my son's great-grandfather, Dr, Allister M. McLellan. As we walked east on 60th Street from Central Park, I encouraged my son to try to think about what life must have been like for his great-grandfather in New York during the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's. As we peered through the glass doors we saw an older woman who was the Sunday receptionist. She approached the locked doors, and I talked to her through a voice-box about what we were up to, and she let us in; we discoved this was still a building occupied by physicians, and she actually remembered Dr. McLellan. She told us she had worked in this building as a young pharmaceutical sales representative and now was retired, but enjoyed the people she had come to know so much she decided to work part-time as the receiptionist. She appeared to be about 70 or so. We know she did in fact remember Dr. McLellan, as she said, "ah yes, Dr. McLellan, he was a urologist", which in fact he was. After our brief visit we went to Serendipty 3 at 225 E. 60th for lunch, and then a brief walk through of Bloomingdale's on the corner of 59th & Lexington. We returned home Sunday evening after a wonderful weekend.