I was taking a path through Prospect Park on my way home from the farmers’ market at Grand Army Plaza on a Saturday. I noticed a man and a woman staring up at the trees quietly.
“What’s up there?” I asked.
The woman said she thought the bird that she and the man, her father, were observing was a hawk. She pointed to a branch on one of the trees and tried to help me find the bird.
Moving from one spot to another, I tried to see what they were seeing, but it was difficult with the sunlight streaming through the dense cluster of maples and oaks.
A few minutes later, a woman pushing a shopping cart appeared and asked what we were looking at.
I told her I was looking for a hawk — probably red-shouldered, perhaps a juvenile — and was going to try to point my cellphone at it, take a picture and then enlarge it. But I was having as much trouble composing the photo as finding the bird.
The woman suggested trying to get a better view from a different spot, and we finally both got a look at the hawk.
As we prepared to go our separate ways, I told her I had enjoyed our chat. She asked my name.
When I told her, she looked surprised.
Wait, she said. Did you go to Performing Arts High School?
Suddenly, I recognized her from 60 years ago.
— Riva Rosenfield
Brooklyn Navy Yard
It was the early 1960s. My older brother was a newly minted ensign in the U.S. Navy stationed aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He invited my parents and me to take a tour of his ship and the shipyard.
We got a full tour of the Saratoga. We saw his quarters, the officers’ mess, the flight deck and more.
When we were done, my brother offered to take us to the officers’ club for dinner. He called for one of the taxis that drove people around the base, and we waited for it to arrive.
A van finally pulled up, and we all climbed in.
“Where to, sir?” the driver asked my brother.
“The officers’ club,” my brother replied.
The driver started the engine and executed an especially skillful U-turn.
“Here we are, sir!” he said.
— Janet Barr
I was running to see the annual orchid show at Rockefeller Center some years ago. It was late in the day, and the show was going to be closing soon.
As I walked quickly along Fifth Avenue, I saw a vendor selling Statue of Liberty masks. He had them hanging off his bike.
They caught my eye, so I stopped briefly to take a look. I asked whether he would be there later on because I was in a hurry to get to the show.
I’ll come with you, he said, and then asked a nearby hot dog vendor to watch the masks until he got back.
I couldn’t believe what was happening. All of a sudden, I was walking with this stranger who looked like Picasso and was trailing me around the orchid show.
It’s been more than 22 years now, and we are still friends.
— Cristina Klein
My friend Tom runs a popular whale watch cruise out of Sheepshead Bay. Recently, an avid whale watcher and good friend, Buddy, died. One of Buddy’s wishes was that Tom spread his ashes on the ocean he loved so much.
So, on a beautiful summer evening, Tom canceled his usual nightly cruise and organized a private memorial service. More than 80 of Buddy’s friends and family members came to say a last goodbye.
A serious-looking young woman who sat quietly by herself was among the passengers. None of the other people, including the crew members, knew who she was.
The boat set out and the service went off very well, with lots of laughter, a few tears and people telling their favorite stories about Buddy.
When the boat returned to the dock in Brooklyn, Captain Tom spoke with everyone as they departed. When the young woman approached him, Tom thanked her for attending and said how happy he was that they had shared such a beautiful evening.
“Honestly,” she said, “this was the worst whale watch cruise I have ever been on.”
— Phil Nicosia
Vale of Cashmere
I was in Prospect Park’s Vale of Cashmere one morning when a young man with binoculars rushed up to a gaggle of bird-watchers.
Apologizing for his late arrival, he said he had gotten home late the previous night after going to the movies.
“What did you see?” one of the birders asked.
“The new ‘Little Mermaid,’” he replied.
“How was it?” someone else asked.
“Well,” the young man said in a mock serious tone, “I can tell you that they got the feather patterning of the northern gannet all wrong.”
— Bruce E. Cory
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Illustrations by Agnes Lee