I left 222 three times. The last time, I moved to Long Island after getting married in 1978. But before that
I moved first to 78th Street. I was having a really tough time at home and needed to go. I was taken in by a social worker friend who had a one bedroom apartment on the first floor of a lovely walk up. I got to sleep in the front room.
The arrangement lasted about six months. It was good for a while but when we started arguing about who was going to clean the bathroom (spoiled bachelors, ugh) it was time for me to go.
Moving back to 222 wasn’t easy, but necessary. I stayed there through my father’s sickness and then some. His cancer was brutal and unforgiving. For a while he ate through a straw. The last visit at Mt. Sinai, where diagnosis had taken months, was in a private room with tubes everywhere. I was not quite 21. That last afternoon in August he waved goodbye and I know that he knew it was the last time we would see each other. I felt it then and still feel the sadness when I think about it.
When I moved again, when I had an income, it was just up the block to 215 West 83rd Street. I didn’t have the heart to leave the block association. I lived on the third floor at 215 facing West 83rd and the parochial school of Holy Trinity. I recall being relatively happy, close to my mother but living on my own.
There was one very interesting evening.
I was upstairs, probably watching TV, and heard crowd noise in the street below. I went to the window and saw two police officers backing down the street, yelling at a woman with a knife in her hand, pursued by a crowd. I heard sirens in the distance so I new help was on the way but as I watched, the crowd was screaming and the cops were yelling “drop the knife”. One officer drew his revolver and the other lashed out at the knife arm with his night stick.
I heard the woman’s arm snap and the clattering of the knife to the middle of West 83rd Street. Reinforcements arrived just a minute or so later and dispersed the crowd.
Those sticks are hard. I carried one as an Auxiliary for years. It was solid mahogany, smooth and shiny with grooves for a grip and a leather loop through a drilled hole. (I could not find a photo that looked like mine. There were plenty of night stick/baton photos but nothing like the one I carried.)
I called the precinct and reported that I had witnessed the incident. They sent a squad car for me. I made my statement at the station house and never heard another word about any of it.
Calling it like I saw it was part of my professional life for my entire career. That night, although I was nervous, was probably not the beginning and certainly not the end. More than once, there were negative ramifications, but I would still call it like I did on West 83rd, straight up.