I didn't know the youth center was named after a verse in the new testament. When, in 1972, I called their hot-line off a card someone had handed me, all I knew was I had a bottle of aspirin in my hand and was thinking that if I took all of them, something would give.
Once there, all I knew was that from 4 or 5 in the afternoon until 10 at night it was the best hangout in the world - cute guys from every neighborhood in the city, plus runaways from like other states none of us New Yorkers knew anything about, but who cared because did I mention those boys were cute? For a thirteen year old girl from the Lower East Side, it was heaven. Only in hindsight, years later, did I understand how this youth center kept me out of serious trouble, both from myself and from others.
The youth center got bigger and moved from 12th Street and Fifth Avenue (now Gotham Bar and Grill) to 18th Street and Sixth Avenue (now Bed, Bath & Beyond) and from there to Broome Street. By that time I had aged out.
Still, before I turned 22, it was this place that made sure I stayed healthy with free medical, got fed dinner four nights a week after I was on my own but didn't know how to cook and more important than anything, made sure that when my landlady tried to illegally evict me, I got legal help and was able to keep my lease and my home.
Thirty-nine years later, I get to walk through my door now because there was a Door to walk through then.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.