And more, much more than this, she rode the subway

My mother traveled more than 2,000 miles to celebrate her grandson’s birthday, but the real indication of how much she wanted to be a part of Charlie’s 30th celebration happened after she got to Manhattan.

That’s when Grandma Peggy, lifelong germaphobe and avoider of big crowds and closed spaces, rode the New York Subway.

Start spreadin’ the news.

This is a woman who has been packing hand sanitizer in her giant but stylish purse long before it became de rigueur. I once saw her pull a full-sized canister of Clorox wipes from her purse to wipe down her hands (and the pew in front of her) after shaking hands during the peace greeting at a Catholic mass.

She tripped into a Venice canal back in 1989 and found the experience so revolting she has vowed she will never return to that beautiful country.

“So,” she said brightly when we had all gathered on a Friday night for dinner and a Pure & Weary performance. “What are the plans for tomorrow?”

I broke it to her gently (but in public where we all had to conduct ourselves with dignity).

“We’re all invited to Charlie’s for bagels, and then we’re going to his party at the Strand,” I said, and waited for the obvious next question.

“How are we getting there?”

“Well,” I said carefully. “It’s best to take the subway.”

Grandma Peggy gulped a little, smiled bravely and then talked through her teeth.

“Sounds great,” she said.

Then she turned and whispered to my sister Kathy.

“Laura says we’re taking the subway to Charlie’s party.”

They showed up bright and early Saturday morning and we all trooped off. It took us several tries to get our large party through the turnstiles as the NY metro transit system tricked us. Turns out only four people can pass through the turnstile under one card.

Eventually, we figured it out and made our way to the F train…which wasn’t running that morning.

So, we waited in a nice, comfy steam room on the platform for the R train to Queens.

I’m not sure she’ll ever take the subway again. Grandma Peggy definitely prefers yellow cabs or stylish drivers who stand in lobbies with her name on placards they hold, but for one pretty cool weekend in New York, she rolled like a champ.


Four of these five people had never ridden a New York subway before, but we all made it to Queens in no time at all.
It just took us a little while to figure out the turnstile.
No AC on the platform, but plenty of time for a sweaty selfie. What troopers these good people are!
My mom and my sister Kathy, who’ve been to New York on many occasions, enjoying their first subway ride. Will wonders never cease? (Note my Mom’s posture and the fact that she is not touching a thing.


4 thoughts on “And more, much more than this, she rode the subway

  1. I am with Peggy in this. I took it twice and never again. The “comfy steam room” (your words, funny) is really hard to take. Great story.

  2. Oh Laura,
    You make me laugh! Thanks for the refreshing look on life!

    Anne Wiegman
    Marketing Director
    Appleton Downtown Inc.
    116 N. Appleton St.
    Appleton, WI 54911
    Follow us on facebook or twitter @DwtnAppleton

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