Star Struck c. 1993

More “fascinating” tidbits from my recently-excavated journals. This one from 1993.

*     *     *

star struck

I rode the elevator up with Hedy
the Old Lady from the 6th floor
who has never spoken a word
to me
or anyone else
in the 3+ years I’ve lived here.

She’s a typical NYC octogenarian:
sloppily applied bright, red lipstick
bowed back
The city beat the stuffing out of her.
It’ll get me, too.

I was showing Hedy my mail:
an appeal for a contribution
from an association that saves trees.
Robert Redford loaned his name to the cause.
It appeared in the return address.
I said to Hedy, “Look at this!
I got mail from Robert Redford!”

The small, frail mother
suddenly straightened her back.
Her eyes lighted.
She said in a loud voice:
“I MET Robert Redford when I WORKED at the HOTEL.”
I asked, “Was he nice to you?”
“Oh my, YES! VERY nice. And very HANDSOME, too.”
She was screaming.
OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN took me to his apartment
and showed me his GUN COLLECTION.”

The elevator stopped on the 5th floor.
Hedy and I got off.

Nobody reading this has ever had
a personal tour of Oscar Hammerstein’s arsenal.
And you never will.

It’s encouraging to see that
even at our nadir
we remember our apex.
Our moment of glory.

35 thoughts on “Star Struck c. 1993

  1. A most engaging anecdote. I’m glad Redford was nice to her, because my opinion of him went down when he said the character he most identified with was the Sundance Kid. The Sundance Kid? How the hell can he identify with a gunfighter?

  2. I hope and pray you hold on to these journals—they are a Treasure Trove. I’d love to know what Hotel she worked at….And what it was she did at the Hotel? It is fascinating to know that Oscar Hammerstein had a Gun Collection—it seems so very unlikely, on the surface….I hope you will share more with us!

  3. Every time we visit NYC we see 1 or 2 of those ladies walking. On the UES it’s usually with a helper (maid). They probably have some interesting stories from their life in the city.

  4. I also can’t put Oscar Hammerstein and guns together.I hope you won’t mind me saying that there’s something amusingly naive about the last verse 🙂

  5. She was a beautiful, daring actress. She was also a mathematician, known for co-creating code that is still the foundation for frequency hopping (a key to effective electronic communications). And yet her most remarkable memories are NOT of the contribution she made to the advancement of science, but of meeting Robert Redfort and looking at Oscar’s weapons. (sigh) This is why nerds shall never truly have groupies…oh, and “It’s ‘HEDLEY’ damn it…”

  6. “The city beat the stuffing out of her.It’ll get me, too.” Nice, very nice.Such an odd thing to tell about the gun collection, but hey, everyone defines their own shining moments

  7. This reminds me of Anna, the woman who lived above me in Soho. She was 85 years old and had been born in the building. She told me all kinds of stories about the neighborhood back in the 20s and 30s when it was all Italian and “you didn’t ask these guys what sort of work they did.” And she liked her whiskey. I want to be Anna when I get to be 85.

    • My heart’s desire was to be the cranky old guy who had the huge apartment and cheap rent. Everyone would wonder when I was going to finally croak so they could have my apartment. There’s one in every New York building and I wanted it to be me.

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