By Mary Boalt
“I lead a small life” is a quote from my favorite movie, “You’ve Got Mail”, based in New York City. Kathleen Kelly, played by Meg Ryan, goes on to ask, “Do I do it because I like it or because I haven’t been brave?” I know I lead a small life because I haven’t been brave. However, when I travel with my big sister I have the best adventures. My life becomes a little larger with exposure to experiences beyond my backyard.
We met in New York. Travel plans with my husband overlapped with her travel plans with her husband. So we had two days to play together. After sending the boys off to a Yankees game, we hit the subway to arrive in the garment district. That is a place where one does not take two bored husbands. Patty had signed us up for a tour with Mike, 74, the ultimate, stereotypical New Yawker who is the offspring of generations of workers in the garment trades or schmatta. Yes, we got a colorful education in Yiddish. A walking encyclopedia of New York history, his gruff bossy manner was belied by the twinkle in his eye. He reminded me of Alan Arkin.
Mike’s free tour included a fascinating history of the immigrants (his “mamale” or grandmother) who came through Ellis Island to work in the garment factories as well as the history of the buildings themselves. More interesting than you’d think. He had a binder full of pictures that he would turn to in order to emphasize his points. Mamale was one angry looking woman whose cruise over from the old country must not have been aboard Carnival cruise lines.
Being the underexposed person that I am, it was quite confusing to see Mike pull aside what appeared to be a homeless person. After an animated discussion in low whispers, as if planning some nefarious deed, Mike announces to our group where the most popular sample sales are being held that day. It seemed the apparently homeless man was the possessor of important information. New York! Who knew the characters that roam the streets there?!?
But the best place to end our two hour tour was MOOD! For those familiar with Project Runway, you know this as the Mecca of all fabric shops.
We each came away with some treasures and got to see Swatch, the store mascot.
Over at the Met, the Costume Institutes Spring exhibition was being held. Manus x Machina. A beautiful show displaying both couture and machine made garments, some demonstrating the latest in technology including 3D printing. Feast your eyes on these. The first two are made from drinking straws.
Now that I’m home back in my small world, I’m grateful for the New York experience, meeting Mike, exposure to what makes the world of fashion evolve and for a very long Yankees game!