There is something magical about someone or something being 100-years old. On Friday a grand old lady became a Centenarian and she is as beautiful today as she ever was. Born in 1913, this absolute wonder has all of the sparkle and personality she ever had and will steal your heart if you just spend the smallest amount of time with her. I admit, she has a special place in my heart.
I met her for the first time in 1951 when I was just six years old. We had traveled into New York City on the train from Darien, CT to go see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall do their Christmas Special. And there she was. Elegant, glittering even, in her holiday attire. I was quite smitten. My father introduced her to us like she was an old friend and I remember thinking, even at that young age, how there might be something going on between the two of them. Later on, of course, I found out that he would visit her almost every week day in the early evening and would spend time together. I didn't know exactly what the attraction was at that time. All I knew was that my father seemed very satisfied after those visits.
Who is she? Well, pardon the female reference but I was always taught that things of beauty, grace and speed are usually referred to in the feminine gender. She...is New York's Grand Central Station. A monument to railroading history, Grand Central is still the largest train station (actually a terminal, not a station) in the world and was a stellar engineering accomplishment when finished in 1913. With her soaring ceilings, sparkling chandeliers, gigantic cathedral windows, sweeping staircases, Greek and Roman sculptures and hundreds of thousands of square feet of ceramic tile and marble, this structure is surely a feast for the eyes. In the main hall the huge free span ceiling is painted like the night sky with the complete Zodiac. Interestingly, the Zodiac is backwards, the reason given by the artist who painted it was that it was created with God's view in mind, looking down from Heaven.
The grand old lady got a bit long in the tooth and looked a bit shabby and abandoned before Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis went all the way to the Supreme Court in the 1970's to keep her from the wrecking ball and the lady was painstakingly restored to her original glory. Trains still stream through her 67 subterranean tracks carrying 275,000 passengers a day. The main terminal and its many halls, shops, nooks and crannies are visited by over 750,000 people every day and it is a tourist must-see.
Like I said, my dad was an ardent admirer and faithful visitor every work day for nearly eight years from the mid-1940's to early 1950's. He caught his train out to Noroton Station from Grand Central but not before he stopped at the Oyster Bar for a beer and a dozen oysters to hold him over until he got home for dinner. For him, it was a love affair without equal. After being destroyed by fire and left abandoned for several years, the Oyster Bar was restored and operates today as it once did, serving 50 different varieties of oysters, whole Maine lobsters and local crab cakes....the best you will ever eat.
Last year Vicki and I took our grandchildren, Gehrig and Eliana, to Grand Central and introduced them to the Oyster Bar where Eliana, who was only five, ate a whole lobster tail all by herself. The grand old lady was really Grand that day.
I don't know if I will make it to be one hundred. Most of us won't and even the likes of Jackie O., may she rest in peace, could help us attain Centenarian status. But if I do make it that long, I hope I can do it in the style and grace of New York's old Grand Central Station. All Aboard!