I left West 83rd Street many times before I was married, but always briefly. Summer Camp, short stay on West 78th Street. Never far, never long.
College was one of those times too. I am a NYC educated boy: PS9, JHS44, Stuyvesant HS, CCNY, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. From kindergarten through graduate school I never really left. In fact I lived on West 83rd Street through all those years except for that time on 78th Street.
The City College years created many memories. Some memories are unpleasant, some very New York of the time (1966-1971), others very pleasant.
The scary moments I remember most clearly were not during anti-war demonstrations, not the burning of the Aronow auditorium on CCNY’s south campus, not the resignation of Buell G. Gallagher, CCNY president and one of my personal heroes. One of the scariest moments was the mugging.
I don’t know why we were walking east on 125th Street to turn north and go to school. I do know that there were two us, although I do not remember who he was. (Maybe he’s a reader who will identify himself, maybe not.) What I do remember is that there were six of them and two of us, that we were separated and I was shoved to the floor in a tenement hallway and that there was a small child watching.
I remember that they demanded my wallet and that I gave it up. They took the money out and when I asked for the wallet back, it was actually returned to me. And then they were gone.
A frightening event; I can’t see their faces. I know there were six. And that small child quietly watching, like he had seen it before, with a blank look in that dirty stinking hallway.
We recovered and went to school. I’m pretty sure to tell our war story. Not proudly, mind you, just another event in city life.