New York City

I took three trips to New York City with kids.The first time I was 28 and I honestly didn’t have a CLUE what I was doing. My Mom came with me. I remember we left on 26th December, Boxing Day.Olivia was 1 years old. It was 1988. I had oversalted the turkey so I had ruined Christmas Dinner. My Mom was in our townhouse as was my Dad. Anyway, Mom and I left Dave and Dad with Kirsten and Livi. Off I went with 14 teenagers. I ight have been insane to do it, but I did it!

New  York City in 1988 was a freakin’ war zone.I burst into tears. I said to the “Break a-way Tours”  guide “Why would you let me take teenagers from little ‘ole Victoria to this war zone?” I was horrified.

I remember there were two very irresponsible teachers from Squamish. They just left their kids up to their own devices. One night a girl came running down the hall :”Miss, Miss, aren’t you one of the teachers from Canada? Please can you help my friend? I ran into the hotel room and saw a girl doubled over in agony.She was screaming in pain. I asked “Where are your teachers?” Not a single kid knew.

Ok. So I said to my Mom, “Can you make sure all our kids are ok?” She went to our four rooms and made sure all the Victoria kids were ok. It was around 10pm at night.

I called the ambulance.The ambulance came and asked her “Are you pregnant?”

She said no and kind of giggled through her pain. Then I went in the ambulance with the kid to St Vincent’s Hospital in NYC.There I saw a black hooker who was punched in the eye. The Doctors were giving her the gears, saying “Oh, your friend did this , huh?

I saw an Orthodox Jewish family with their older daughter who was rushed into Emergency for another attempted suicide by pills.The family was stressed beyond belief.

Eventually the Emergency doctors got to us.Their diagnosis was this girl had been living on coke and candies for 5 days.She had spent all her money on clothes and had nothing for food. That’s why she was so sick. Ok. Now its 2am. I finally get home to the hotel and tell my Mom all about it.

The next night: Drew Kemp also had a group from Spectrum and they were way out of control. He had no control over them either. I remember there was one red headed kid named “Flamer”. It was strange because “flamer” meant gay in those days.

Anyway, Drew had put this MOM in charge of three other girls. She was supposed to stay in the room with these three very wild, out of control girls.  No way.These girls were basically running a knocking shop in their room.Booze, drugs, sex, the works. The Mom was horrified. So Drew forced me to take this lady into my room.That meant Mom and I had to sleep in one bed and the lady in another. Yikes. But we managed. Pretty bad of Drew though.Drew was, in so many ways, an irresponsible teacher, completely out of his depth.

Anyway the next night, Drew comes pounding on my door at midnight. “You gotta help me Charlotte”.The so called “chaperone” that was sent to babysit Drew, some guy named Brian ,was pacing around the room. He was a boozer. I guess either he didn’t have enough alcohol or he was having some sort of panic attack.So off to the hospital we went.This time it was Roosevelt hospital. They tranquilized this guy Brian with Valium and sent us home. I had never heard of a “shot” of valium. I knew so little. I think the Brian guy came home on his own the next day. What a nightmare!

The good part was Drew came with me January 1st evening to a Club called “Fat Tuesdays”.There we saw BETTY CARTER live in NYC. Unreal! There was an Italian man there with a tape recorder hidden under a serviette. Betty picked it up and said “Sir are you trying to tape-record me?”
He answered “Bella, we cannot get your music in Italia.Please let me record you”. I thought she was going to kill him! But she relented.

I watched her like a hawk.She had a black piano player, a guy about 21 who watched her every move.Those guys didn’t miss a beat.She was a master of vocal jazz.

Sitting beside us was Whitney Houston’s cousin. Her birthday was the same day as mine.

She was beautiful. She told me all about Sissy Houston, her Aunt.There was so much of the world I didn’t know and this was long before the internet.

Also, that was Christmas time and New Years Eve was rough. We were in our hotel and there was a total weirdo “flashing” the kids with his full frontal. We ran to the other side of the hotel and he followed us. We ran out, desperate to get away from this man! The hotel clerk told me “all the weirdos come out on New Years Eve.His warning to us: “Watch your wallets, ladies!”

Then we all went for a special dinner at some hotel:maybe The Metropolitan. I ate some sort of rabbit dish.Anyway it made me super sick. I had acid reflux like I had never experienced.  Later, the kids were scattered around. Some were up in Central Park, others were down in the thick of it by the RED APPLE that fell at midnight. At precisely midnight we all got out of there and ducked into a pub.There was an Irish cop sitting with us.

I felt that, although the trip was fun, I was way too young to be handling these kids. I remember we saw Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. I can’t really remember any other shows. I know the kids fell asleep though because they were so tired.We might have seen Into the Woods-yes we did. That was the first show.The kids fell asleep!


On the 2nd trip we had the Rob-Vu incident! Rob bought a watch from a bad guy near Macey’s.It was supposedly a ROLEX. It had a Macey’s tab on it and it looked like it was stolen. It was not! Such a scam! Rob said to me,Gordie and Brad:”Miss Harvey, run for it! Get in a cab!” I can’t believe we did this! Anyway it was a huge scam. Rob paid $40 for it and it was maybe worth $5. Again, we knew nothing about fake goods.

Anyway, we all went to the Statue of Liberty. Rob didn’t tell us he was afraid of heights. Up we go and when we got to the cork-screw stairs, there was no turning back, one way only. Rob started to panic.He didn’t tell me he was afraid of heights.We got to the top and Gordie shook Rob.Rob retaliated by throwing a punch at Gordie.Well, Gordie was too fast.He ducked and Rob landed a punch to the head of a Japanese tourist. Oh God.

Rob ran down the stairs as quick as lightning and I didn’t find him for two hours. Gordie apologized and we kept going. Oh my…..what a mess.

That trip I remember we went to “The Fever”. This starred Wallace Shawn. It was a one man show and I loved it. I also arranged for a hockey game at Madison  Square Gardens. We saw NYC Rangers and Edmonton Oilers-pretty cool!

I remember it was St Patrick’s Day and we went to a live taping of Donahue. It was on body doubles.

I think we saw Will Rogers Follies with a very young Marla Maples.I can’t really remember any other shows but I’m sure it will come to me. There were a couple of plays. I remember going to”Circle in the Square” and there was a woman covered in big bumps:it was that fibro-metosis disease. It freaked the daylights out of me. She was in a wheel chair.

Going to NYC was an entirely new universe. I remember a great student named Erin who introduced me to Enigma.That was the year we all went to Sol’s leather shop, crossing Delancy, onto Orchard Street. We all bought leather jackets. At first I said “No, there isn’t one for me, but Sol said “Here’s the teacher jacket. $300 US. Oh no I said, I couldn’t possibly….. $150, $ 100. Ok, $100. I bought it and wore it for years.

I remember trips to FAO Schwartz, trips through the Bronx during the crack-house days.We went to Sardis and had some sort of strawberry cheesecake.Sardis was called the “biggest gag on Broadway” because all the food was pre-cooked.It was run down.”

I remember taking the kids to The Cloisters. We had guides.The first one was gay as you like, but very responsible towards us.

The 2nd one was rude as could be and kept talking to Brad saying “I’d like to take your cherry”. Brad was drinking Shirley Temples.It was super embarrassing. But what could I do, fire the guide?Break- away  Tours had assigned him to us. I remember the boys were thrilled to purchase the book “American Psycho” as it was banned in Canada.

THIRD TRIP:Spring time 1993

Well it started off terribly.We got stuck in the snowstorm of the century, maybe it was 1993? We were stuck in Seattle for three days-couldn’t fly out. We watched the movie Ground-hog Day.There wasn’t much I could do with the kids. It was awful.We got in the middle of a knife fight near Pike Street Market.I was terrified. I thought these two guys had guns but one parent said “Oh its ok, they just have knives!”-Ahh!!   I said “kids, run for it!!”

I remember going with Jaimie to see the actual basketball court of West-side Story, just three days before the wrecking ball destroyed it. It was close to Lincoln Centre.

We saw something at Lincoln Centre. I remember going to the Vivian Beaumont theatre but I think that was for Wallace Shawn.

The Edison Hotel was a dump. We stayed in the other one for the last two trips.

I can’t really remember any shows we saw.

But one thing I definitely remember:NYC had gotten so much cleaner. I loved it in Springtime too. The first trip was a Christmas and the other two were at Spring break.

I really have to thank Dave for looking after our three kids. I must have been crazy but I was young and so inexperienced.

I remember, I think on the 2nd trip  Zoe got out of hand, running out to some club in Greenwich Village, watching men dancing around in lime green bathing suits. Good lord.

What is something had happened to those kids?

I remember seeing the Orthodox Jews with their wives all decked out for Passover.

We went to the Nikon camera shop and we saw the Hassedic Jews working on all the cameras. What an amazing site it was.

I know we were on the Statton Island ferry and the Liberty Island ferry. We went, I think, to the Ellis Island museum. We saw Eddie Murphy’s wedding at the Plaza Hotel.

New York was a funny place because it looked all glittery, but just around the corner, could be major trouble. I know I took the kids to Bloomingdales and . Macey’s and Saks 5th Avenue. We went to Central Park and saw John Lennon’s Strawberry Fields.

In 1993 I stood outside the World Trade Centre with the kids. “C’mon up Miss Harvey!, they said”

No way I said.  I’m not going up there.There’s something about this place….it had been recently bombed in the basement but then opened up for business. But looking up to it I said “No way”. So the kids went up and I waited.

We also went up the Empire State Building. But for some reason, I just got the “heebies” looking up at the World Trade Centre.I had a premonition I guess.

So that’s my New York stories so far. I remember planning a UK trip for Spring 1994.I was going to write to Princess Diana and ask her to meet us. I was so naive!!




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