Showing posts with label Orchard Beach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Orchard Beach. Show all posts

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Got a Token for the IRT?

Top row: 1953, 1970, 1980 tokens; bottom row: 1979, 1986, 1995 tokens
Growing up in the Bronx, the IRT subway was the fastest way to get from the northern end of the city to anywhere else in the Big Apple. (IRT is short for Interborough Rapid Transit.) My sisters and I rode the subway to high school. And of course we dropped a subway token into the turnstile to get to "the city"--Manhattan--for any reason. We thought nothing of being a straphanger for an hour to get to a museum or work or Radio City Music Hall. My penny loafers had tokens instead of pennies, just in case I was ever stranded somewhere and needed carfare.

Today's New York Times discusses and pictures 15 additional objects that readers chose to represent New York City, supplementing a list of 50 objects printed by the Times a few weeks ago. Alas, the iconic subway token pictured in the article (with the cutout Y) has now been consigned to the scrapheap of history by undistinguished MetroCards (introduced in 2003).

But as shown above, I have a sentimental collection of tokens, and I identified the intro year of each with the help of a NYC Subway website (unaffiliated with the actual subway).

One treasured keepsake in my collection is a token issued at only one place, the bus terminal at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, to get on a bus and connect with a subway or another bus elsewhere in the borough. The bus terminal was operated by the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MABSTOA)--shortened to M.A.B. in the center of the token, shown below.

Orchard Beach token issued by Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority
On a summer's day, Sis and I would take a bus up Pelham Parkway to connect with a second bus going to the Riviera of the Bronx. On the return trip, we'd line up at the beach bus terminal, buy a token, drop it into the turnstile slot, and board the bus that would take us back to Pelham Parkway for the connection with our bus home. Total travel time was about 40 minutes, if memory serves, and the return trip was sandier, of course.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

52 Weeks - WINS, WMCA, WABC & Orchard Beach in the 1960s

Nostalgia today: New York City was (and probably is) a cut-throat radio town, and in the 1960s, rock 'n roll loving teens had their pick of some great stations and DJs. With our pocket-sized transistor radios, we could "spin the dial" and listen to:
  • WMCA 570 AM, the home of the Good Guys. If I had a penny for every time my sister and I dialed in to answer a rock trivia question for a shot at winning a bright yellow Good Guy sweatshirt or 45 rpm record, I'd be a gazillionaire right now. Believe it or not, we did win a few times and until it fell apart, we had one of the sweatshirts (alas, long gone in the pre-eBay era). Of course our parents weren't thrilled about our monopolizing the phone with our dialing antics for an hour or too, but it was pretty tame fun. DJs I remember vividly include Harry Harrison and Jack Spector.

  • WABC 770 AM, producer of the Silver Dollar Survey (countdown of top 40 songs) and the radio home of some of the most legendary rock 'n' roll DJs ever: Cousin Brucie; Dan Ingram; Scott Muni; Ron Lundy; the list goes on and on, too long to include here. The wattage of this AM station was so high that it could be heard quite a distance from New York, and was always clear and static-free when we tuned in at Orchard Beach. More below on the beach scene. No matter what top 40 song you wanted to hear, chances are you'd hear it more often on WABC, especially during "teen time" on weekends.

  • WINS 1010 AM, which featured, among other DJs, Murray the K (and his famous submarine race-watching music--that's "make out" music for the uninitiated). Murray the K appointed himself "the Fifth Beatle" and rode the Fab Four's coattails during the early-to-mid 1960s. WINS, like its competitors, vied to be first to air the new single from some hot group like Dion & the Belmonts (from the Bronx, natch) or the Tokens (The Lion Sleeps Tonight, remember?).
Orchard Beach, in the Bronx, is a man-made beach only 30 minutes or so away from where my family lived at the time. (The beautiful and expansive Jones Beach on Long Island was a lot further away from our apartment and required the use of a car, which we didn't own. My aunt would drive us there once or twice every summer as a treat.)

On a hot summer day, my sister and I would hop two buses and walk down the hot sand of Orchard Beach until we got to THE section where teens hung out, Section 10. Nearly every transistor radio in the place was tuned to WABC by design: As you walked the length and breadth of Section 10, you'd never miss a note of your favorite Paul Revere & the Raiders song or the Rolling Stones ordering people off their cloud. The aroma of Coppertone was everywhere and summer seemed to fly by too quickly.