Tuesday, August 09, 2011
The Envoy Motel
My first big family trip was to Washington, D.C. at the time of the Cherry Blossom Festival. This was also the first large city I was to explore and a major event that greatly influenced my desire to move to New York. Though only 12 years old, I had planned the trip, itinerary, and accommodations and even navigated the driving. I had mailed for brochures and maps and had searched our local library. I was so excited.
The choice was the Envoy Motel on New York Avenue - how predictive. I recall arriving at the motel and my sisters jumping up and down on the bed with glee. It was the first time we had stayed in a motel or hotel, and this luxury called for indulgence and jubilation. We had no idea as to whether this was the Waldorf Astoria Hotel or a dump, and as children, it mattered not. One of the joys of being a child or being around them is the enjoyment of simple pleasures and immersion in the world without pretense.
Back at home, for a short time, we had a small plastic pool, much like that in the photo. But it was not inflatable and setting up was a bit of a project, so when our parents agreed to do so, it was a big event. To us, this cheap vinyl pool, barely deep enough to submerge ourselves, was a great source of summer joy. I would watch my young sisters splashing and frolicking about like it was an event in a full-size Olympic pool.
Recently, while exploring Queens, I stopped to visit a small community park on a hill in Woodside. This was strictly a local park - nothing of note to a visitor, just neighboring residents on a hot summer day. This was not the world of the very affluent with country homes or summers in the Hamptons. This is the real New York of the working class and how the vast majority live their lives and spend their summers. Many city dwellers have no air-conditioning, and there is little respite from from the oppressive summer heat.
But make no mistake. For the children playing, the joys appeared to be the same as swimming in an Olympic-sized pool or summering in the Hamptons. And I know they would love a room at the Envoy Motel :)