At about 5:45pm my dispatcher tells me he's got a charter for me. That could mean anything, but he gives me the detail sheet. Jump in a van on 8th ave in Midtown, meet the driver, head over to the Essex House on Central Park South, and pick up six passengers for a four hour tour (actually took 3 hours).
Well the six passengers were a couple in their 70's, their two kids and a spouse (in their 40's), and a couple of grand-kids (maybe 5 and 8). This is all wide open... I got the van, a driver, and my clients... so I ask, "So what do you folks have in mind?"
"Well, we just want to drive around New York, head downtown, maybe see the Statue of Liberty. I don't know, you tell us."
"OK, we can do that. So where are you from?"
After a bit of conversation, and the ice breaks, I hear from the older folks "If possible, could we maybe take a detour into Brooklyn? You see, my wife an I were both stationed here in New York City 51 years ago... over in the Brooklyn Navy Yards. I was in the Marines, she was in the Navy. We lived here in New York for two years, and we got married here... 51 years ago. We'd like to go past the place and see what's still there."
Kept my composure, and just smiled and said "Yes sir, I think we can do that for you."
Gave them the grand tour down 5th Avenue, the New York Public Library, Lord and Taylor w/ the window displays up, Cartier wrapped up like a Christmas Package... THANK YOU CHRISTMAS for coming so early !!! Pull out all my best stories, answer questions, then over the Manhattan Bridge, see the Brooklyn Bridge, The Statue of Liberty, etc.
Then off to find the Navy Yards... not hard, it's just off Navy Street. (go figure)
"Look honey, remember... that was my post, right there. Look, that's where I stayed... where was your place. Oh yeah, right down the street, over there...WOW. OMG, such memories!!!"
Next he starts schooling me on the receiving station, the different functions going on in the different buildings... "carpentry over there, welding over there..."
He's telling me about how he and his seven buddies would go into Chinatown in Manhattan and order enough food for 20 people. How they never had to pay for a drink when they were in uniform... and how they took advantage of that fact. How they knew the bar which didn't exactly "close" but would just lock their door for an hour or so at 4am. (I said "come up to Inwood some time.")
Back through Brooklyn Heights... "Hey, that's where I had to go to get my marriage license."
Finally back to Manhattan and daughter asks for Nolita... well luckily I had done my walking tours and taken all those photos... I took them by the old Police Station (that AMAZING one), and then down some streets where we could peek into the windows and catch a glimpse the LOFT apartments done up with chandeliers and bookcases.
OK, I knew we had to go past The Intrepid (lots of oohs and ahhs), and as I'm about to take them back home, I get "My daughter wants to see the New Years Ball."
Sooo down 7th Avenue... they were amazed with the flashing lights... how it was like daylight in Times Square. The old guy tells me that he was IN Times Square on New Years Eve in the early 60's... how he (standing at 6'2") was held up by the crowds, his feet not touching the floor... just one hand on his wallet the whole time.
End of the trip, "Thanks Kevin, that was PERFECT. Thanks for bringing back some great memories."
"The pleasure was all mine. I'm glad I could be part of this experience."
Oh, and the commemorative picture of Benjamin Franklin they gave me was a nice touch. :)