On my first trip to New York City, I stole a spoon from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
It was not only the first time for me to the biggest of cities, it was the first and only time I committed petty theft; something for the confessional.
On a girl scout field trip sponsored by my Catholic elementary school, we were 11 years old, 6th graders, well past the “age of reason”.
Ours was a small town of farmers who settled in the 1700’s in suburban Philadelphia, later industrialized by the steel industry.
So for us, this was truly a cultural excursion, a taste of a different world. We were awe-struck. Here, we were to witness the meaning of the word skyscraper.
The strangest part for me was that I felt really at home, in a way that did not make sense to me at the time. It was crowded, dirty, loud and a bit scary.
I loved every thing about it.
I can remember thinking that in some way, I was destined to be here.
My fantasy of living in NYC began right there.
The day-long agenda was lost on me. The luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria grand ballroom was the highlight.
The meal was elegant, and no doubt, delicious; the dessert of Baked Alaska was a spectacle.
Instead of diving into it, I looked at the silver-plated spoon with the engraved “W”, and carefully slipped it into the pocket of my girl scout uniform.
It became a symbol to me; a symbol of elegance, a symbol of wealth, a symbol of urban life, a symbol of my future.
It was one of the 5 or 6 items that I kept in a small cedar box and carried with me my entire life.
I should have felt guilty. I did not. Every time I had the chance to open that cedar box, I would smile.
A few short decades later, my daughter called to say her job was being transferred to NYC.
She was to live out my dream. Prophecy fulfilled.
I was happier for her, and for myself, than she will ever know.
This morning I learned that the Waldorf is being gutted, turned into condos. I resurrected this post, one of my earliest.