Growing Up on 42nd Street – A Serial Story – Part 3

We, the new group, were never without things to do.

We would often have races up the stairway in the McGraw Hill building; all 33 stories. The 6 to 8 foot walls at the Lincoln Tunnel exit where better than monkey bars in the playground. This included large cable reels to climb and roll around. Of course, there was also Central Park and the Museum of Natural History.

We often went swimming in the outdoor pool on 56th street or the indoor pool in Queens by the subway.

Everyone needed some money for the movies or candy.

Luckily 42nd street was loaded with small shops. My first job was with a printer. Most of my work was delivering stationary. You cannot imagine how heavy paper is. Next I worked for Roger’s Clothiers packing suits and delivering them. I began to really know my way around the city. After that I worked for Empire Coffees. I helped with the roasting of the raw coffee beans, then bagging the ground coffee into bags by weight and then delivering them to the local restaurants and hotels. All of these jobs were on my own. The only group job I had was with a florist. We all helped making floral arrangements mainly the large funeral type. They were not fun to deliver especially if it involved the subway or a bus.

My biggest solo job was non-paying. I was always big for my age. My pastor noticed that and asked me to volunteer for a Catholic Spectacular at the Polo Grounds, home of the Giants Baseball Team. I was the only grammar school guy involved. Everyone else was from Cardinal Hayes High School. The spectacle was a living Rosary in which I played Jesus found in the temple. There was no dialog or movement; we just stood there. The presider was Cardinal Spellman and the Producer was Leon Leonidoff, who produced all of the shows at Radio City Music Hall. I had to stand at the top of a flight of stairs with my arms outstretched. The night of the show, we all showed up in the dressing rooms for our costumes and wigs. The costumes were biblical. The wigs came in various colors with one red one which belonged to me. Who knew Jesus was a red head! The high school guys were ecstatic to find the beards would last for a week. Imagine going to school with a beard.

We were dressed and went out to our set and waited in the dark for our turn.

We were the fifth station so we stood for a long time. Finally it was our turn. Our set was lit and the Cardinal prayed the decade of the Rosary. Then the lights went out. This was the end of my professional acting career. It was fun.