My most memorable holiday movie memory was December 1964, when we were living in New York. My mother and her sister, Kitty, decided it would be great fun to see “Mary Poppins,” which happened to be playing at Radio City Music Hall.
I was so excited. We were going to THE Radio City Music Hall, and we would actually see the world famous Rockettes. I had heard all about Radio City and the beautiful Rockettes, with their long legs and coordinated kick routines. My cousin, Jeannine, and I practiced lifting our boney, scabby knees and kicking our skinny legs in dreams of becoming future Rockettes. Going to Radio City was a dream come true!
Mom and Aunt decided we’d go to the matinee. Tickets would be cheaper, and we might be able to get good seats if we got there long before the show started. Of course, no one thought about purchasing tickets ahead of time.
It was cold, and we knew the City would be colder still, with the winter wind whipping through those tall buildings. We bundled up with layers and layers of clothing. I topped everything off with my red wool coat and black mittens and cap. I was so warm that I could feel the beads of sweat slipping down my neck. I didn’t complain. “Mary Poppins” and the Rockettes were beckoning, and I was ready to go. So, we set off on our journey to Sixth Avenue.
We lived in the Bronx, and made our way to Manhattan via the subway. I was six years old, although I probably would have said I was six and a half – always wanting to be older as quickly as possible. Jeannine was six as well. My sister, Jackie, and my brother, Christian, were 3 and 4 respectively. We all walked because Mom didn’t know if strollers would be allowed. Mom and Aunt Kitty took turns carrying Jackie when she wouldn’t walk. Mom and Aunt pushed and pulled us up and down the subway steps and into the passenger trains. I clung to their hands, afraid of being swallowed up in the sea of shoes and coats.
It seemed like traveling took forever, but we finally arrived at Radio City. We soon realized that we were far from the first ones there. So, we queued up in a very, very long line. And we waited. And waited. And waited. Walt Disney must have come up with the idea of zig-zagging long lines and adding entertainment along the way after standing in a Radio City Music Hall queue.
Of course, no New York City line would ever be the same without people trying to cut in. Someone tried to cut right in front of us, and my mother lashed out and kept screaming until they left. Now, you have to understand that my mother is, and has always been, five feet tall and 95 lbs. Her sister, Kitty, has a few more pounds on her, but they stand eyeball to eyeball. People who know them know better than to mess with them. My father has aptly named my mother “Mighty Might.” I felt both proud and embarrassed. No one cut in front of Mom.
Finally the line started moving and we entered Radio City. I was awed by its grandeur. We sat in the crowded theater waiting for the show to begin, and I was happy that we found seats right in the middle. I was thrilled by the Rockettes and “Mary Poppins,” and have a wonderful holiday memory that I’ve never forgotten.