Showing posts with label Savoy Plaza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Savoy Plaza. Show all posts

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Sports: Leaping Rooftops, Bronx Bombers, and Skating

Leaping across rooftops, no safety net in sight. That was my big-city-born-and-bred father's childhood "sport."

Harold Burk (1909-1978), my Dad, grew up in New York City's Jewish Harlem, on 109th Street near Fifth Avenue. As a teen, he and his friends would dare each other to leap across the rooftops of the 6 story tenements built close together in the neighborhood. When he told me this story, he seemed a bit amazed that he had survived--me too! No net, and no cape (it was before the invention of Superman).

Dad became a travel agent (at right, in his lobby office at the Savoy Plaza Hotel in New York City) and soon after marrying Mom, Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981), they moved to the Bronx. Only a short subway ride away from Yankee Stadium! No wonder Dad loved the Yankees as his spectator sport of choice. Every summer, he'd take his daughters to a few ball games. We were lucky enough to see many of the Yankee greats of the 1960s, stars like Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. When not at the stadium, he would listen on those tinny 1960s transistor radios.

Of course, I still root for the Yankees (in vain, recently). But my personal spectator sport of choice is figure skating. Note I said "spectator sport" (meaning I don't actually skate, just attend skating events or watch on TV). Now you know why Winter Olympics, not Summer Olympics, are my favorite. 

#52Ancestors - Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's prompt.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Searching the NYPL Digital Gallery

Hotel McAlpin, where Mom & Dad were married.
Today I'm having fun searching through the New York Public Library's Digital Gallery in search of old photos of places where my relatives and ancestors stayed and played in New York City.

Here are a few blasts from the past from the Schwartz and Burk branches of my family tree.

Steel Pier at Atlantic City, where Mom & Dad honeymooned
Castle Garden, where many of my ancestors entered New York City
Ellis Island, where other ancestors entered New York City

Savoy Plaza Hotel (right), where Dad had his business  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dad Says Aloha to Hawaii--for 2 days

My father, Harold Burk (older son of Isaac Burk and Henrietta Mahler Burk) was a self-employed travel agent in New York City. He was often offered "fam trips" (familiarization trips) to various destinations, so he could see first-hand what the travel and accommodations were like and make recommendations to clients.

Since 1946, Dad's travel agency had been located inside the swanky Savoy Plaza Hotel (it became the Savoy Hilton in the late 1950s), and his clients had money to travel wherever. But with 3 young kids, he rarely took advantage of these trips.

One of Dad's dreams was to go to Hawaii and in 1959, he was offered a fam trip there. My mother simply couldn't find anyone to take care of the youngsters for a week or more. Finally, she suggested he go alone, which he reluctantly did.

Here's what he looked like getting off the plane in May, 1959, probably in Honolulu. This was in the days when leis were made of stunningly beautiful orchids!

Dad was in Hawaii for perhaps 2 or 3 days when he got an urgent call from my mother: We three kids had fallen sick with something like German measles. She needed his help. He had to turn around and fly home. He brought back a small figure, like a netsuke, and my memory was it looked like a Buddhist god of contentment. It sat on his dresser for many years as a reminder of his brief trip to Hawaii.

The following year, Dad had his first heart attack. Within a couple of years, the Savoy Hilton had been torn down to make way for the General Motors building. While the hotel was in its heyday, Dad would very likely have rubbed shoulders with the likes of "Don Draper" and his ilk, especially if they enjoyed the tiki menu at the stylish Trader Vic's restaurant.

Friday, January 7, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Winter

Week #2's challenge is to write about winter. Growing up in the Bronx, NY, nearly every December our parents took me, my twin, and our younger sister on the subway downtown to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and walk along Fifth Avenue gawking at the holiday displays.

Many years we went to Radio City Music Hall to see whatever blockbuster movie was opening and the main attraction, the Rockettes' Christmas show. (I think I recall seeing "The Sundowners" there.) It was thrilling to see the organ slide into view as the deep chords started the show. At intermission, the luxe bathrooms were a big attraction.

A real treat was going to the elegant Savoy Plaza (later the Savoy Hilton) Hotel, above, where my father Harold BURK and his brother Sidney Burk maintained their travel agency (see my father at his desk, below). The hotel had a Trader Vic's restaurant and we loved tiki meals! But once the GM building was built, it was goodbye to the hotel and the restaurant . . . and my father's travel agency. That's a story for another day.

In those days, we kids would drag our sleds over to Bronx Park after a big snowfall, spend an entire day going down the gentle hills, and return home positively encrusted with snow. I don't remember many times when snow forced schools to close, but this must have happened more than a few times.

The elementary school was 10 blocks away, no school bus, so yes, we really did walk 1/2 mile each way in all kinds of weather (and often we walked home for lunch and back again!). No wonder fitness wasn't an issue. No school cafeteria*, so anyone who brought a lunch (which we usually did during heavy rains or very cold weather) ate in the school basement, sitting on benches. *My sister says there was a cafeteria in the basement, and the food was (stereotypically) terrible and she preferred the bag lunches!

And who could forget my mother's beloved Persian Lamb coat? She's wearing in the above photo from her wedding day in November, 1946. For years, she'd wear that when the temperature dropped. We kids loved to run our hands through it, another winter memory.