Archive for the ‘CHRISTMAS’ Tag

CHRISTMAS IN FLORIDA   Leave a comment

December 25, 1982, was the worse Christmas I ever had and it has basically affected every Christmas I have had since then with just seeing houses, apartments, malls, streets, parks and Santa in his multitude of settings that got the feeling of the holiday back to me. My beloved Flo died that day and I still feel the pain I felt that day. Flo was my aunt by definition but more of a mother than my own. She showed me what unconditional love was, she made me feel like the most precious human being. Oh she could give me a scathing lecture when she thought I was doing something wrong and call me all sorts of names but don’t you dare to try the same or she would turn on you so quick you wouldn’t know what happened. Bill and I would soon be separating but I will always be grateful for his being there.

As I look over my diaries the past 35 years it seems until I retired I worked on Christmas Day and since I retired I spend the day at the movies.

December 25, 1992 Worked from 10 AM to 10 PM December 25, 2002 Retired Went to see “Catch Me If You Can” with Ray (a doctor friend of mine who died the following year) December 25, 2012 Went to see “Les Miz” by myself.

Here and there Christmas Day varied like in 2011 spent the afternoon on the Breezeway with John B., Poochie (now deceased), Larry, Linda (now deceased) Roosevelt, Jim, Dot (now deceased) having pizza and sodas. There was the year (1999) I spent in the hospital with congestive heart failure but for 23 years it was working long hours–I would usually take an extra shift so someone could spend the day with their family–and the last 12 years going to the movies.

Either Christmas Eve or Day I would make a turkey with all the trimmings and fix plates for the security guard on duty and a few people I knew who didn’t have anyone and so they stayed locked in their apartment waiting for the holidays to pass.

Something I don’t talk about is that we celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah the third Tuesday of December. Who are ‘we’? We are the ‘Buddy’ volunteers who work all year round with teenagers who are HIV+ and/or have AIDS and have been kicked out of their home. There are about a dozen volunteers and a dozen kids and the kids decide what kind of food they want (pizza usually wins) and we will go to an Italian restaurant and have a day filled with fun and laughter but NO food fights! LOL

One thing I do know is that every Christmas Santa will visit me and that’s the bottom line!

Posted December 24, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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CHRISTMAS IN COVINGTON, TENNESSEE   Leave a comment


(ONE OF MY 2 CHRISTMAS TREES)

The only family events I remember as a child was the Sundays we spent going to my mother’s parents who lived on the lower east side of Manhattan. They were poor and worked hard to support and feed their 7 children. I don’t remember if it was a certain Sunday of the month but all sisters and brothers would bring their spouses and children to my grandparents who lived in a 6 flight walkup in what was referred to as ‘railroad’ apartment with each room laid out one after the other all leading to the large living room where we all sat around a large table and ate. After we were finished grandma took all the kids down to what was referred to as the ‘lower’ east side, Orchid street, where we would get a chance to pick out a huge sour pickle from barrel. I don’t remember celebrating holidays except Passover. I do remember the 5 sisters, who were very competitive, always would have shouting matches ending with everyone leaving mad.

The only time I had a traditional Christmas dinner was when I lived in Memphis and my lover, at that time, took me up to Covington where his folks, grandparents, cousins, nephews, etc. would gather with all the adults pitching in to make the humongous meal. My job became ‘the Yankee who picked the greens’ from the garden in back for the soups. For some reason everyone got a big laugh out of that happening. It was great–I loved the dressing his grandmother made and every year, after she found out that I liked it, made a separate pan just for me.

Though I would give many Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners over the years, usually having open house, I finally stopped when I made the decision to live alone but I never forgot those Covington, Tennessee, Thanksgivings. There was such a feeling of family that the warmth just wrapped around you. Even when we broke up I was always invited and I remember those days over 38 years ago as if they were yesterday.

Posted December 23, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK PART 2   Leave a comment


Herb and I did all the New York things
that tourists do. We walked down 5th Avenue stopping to look at Tiffany’s windows and then went to see the Saks-5th Avenue, Lord and Taylor’s windows eventually walking down to Macy’s just looking in the windows. (57th Street to 34th Street? OMG! 23 blocks there and 23 blocks back. No way could I do that today!)

Over the next few days we walked to Times Square where I showed him the Lyric movie theatre I had worked as a teenager and then to Greenwich Village my showing him where I use to spend my time in the baths, the bars of which many were not that anymore, the restaurants I worked in and the ones I loved to eat in. We stopped at The Stage Deli and he couldn’t believe the size of the ‘Hymie’s Special’ sandwich. One night we ate in my favorite restaurant in the world Marchi’s. We took a Circle boat tour around Manhattan that I had never done before and it was magic.

Christmas Eve we went to St. Patrick’s cathedral for midnight mass and I told him about doing the same as a teenager and how taken I was by the pageantry and choir and the ‘theatrics’ of the mass. I told him about Cardinal Spellman who had been a powerful political figure and was known to cruise Rockefeller Center downstairs bathroom. I think it was the next day that we went to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show with the Rockettes. I know we went to see a Broadway show but for the life of me I don’t remember which one.

And then the magic started–the snow came. It wasn’t a blizzard but enough to make the city romantic. We took a carriage ride in Central Park and we walked up Central Park West and I showed him where I had lived on 75th Street. We even walked arm in arm and though the ‘gay revolution’ had taken place that still wasn’t a smart, safe thing to do but we both felt invisible.

Of all we did the most magical part is something you have seen in movie after movie but we did it. We ice skated in the Rockefeller rink, my falling on my butt a few times and we had a hot chocolate and walked around looking at the lights and decorations.

I can see us walking up the path between the rink and 5th Avenue enjoying the snow and each other. I can see him dressed in his Christmas sweater that he bought at Macy’s and his black trousers and jacket–I can see it all this 40 years later but I don’t remember his name. I wasn’t taking pictures back then but I have a feeling I do have a picture from that time and I am going to search for it. I might be lucky and see that I had put his name on the back of the photo.

Did he leave New York first or did I? Was that when I had to get back to Memphis because Bernie was up to something? I don’t remember nor do I remember when we left and went on our own way never to see each other or talk to each other again.
I hope he has/had a good life.

If you haven’t done it put ‘visit New York City the last two weeks of the year’ on your bucket list. With or without snow it is a must see/must do beautiful and, yes, a magical time felt no where else.

Posted December 22, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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SANTA, CHRISTMAS, A JEW PART 1   Leave a comment

Last year I posted a 3 part series A Jew Looks At Christmas which, immodestly, I think was one of my better posts. I LOVE this time of the year and I really believe in Santa.

There is a magic in the air and even Scrooge, once he gets away from the mobs shopping and relaxes, gets a smile on his face. It doesn’t make a difference whether you are a Christian, a Jew, an Atheist, the last two weeks of the year is different from the rest of the year. Yes there definitely is a religious aspect to the season but I am talking about the season people have taken and made a separate part of the holiday. Christmas trees with ‘icicles’, ribbons, bells, lights, Santa and his helpers ringing bells, telling good kids they will get gifts knowing even ‘bad kids’ will and adults acting like kids.

Wrapping paper, ribbons, boxes, cards, home baked cookies, running around like crazy, lines at the post office, not knowing what to get Grandma, declaring ‘no gifts this year’ and cards being sent on the Internet along with the smells of the season from pine cones and those cookies, streets having special décor, houses, apartments, gardens, roofs, steps all decorated with lights and music coming from unseen places are just a few of the things that bring smiles to faces.

It is a time lost loves, the homeless, the poor, kids, people are thought of and more kindness fills every day chores. It is the one time of the year that people living in hot climates wouldn’t mind one cold day and people living in cold climates wouldn’t complain if there was a slight dusting of snow.

It is a time when we start thinking of what changes we want to make in our life and we even think we will.

Following this will be a new three part series from me about how I, a Jew, celebrate Christmas. Going back in time I want to share the most perfect two weeks in my life, another time when I experienced what a true family Christmas was like and how I celebrate my Christmas now.

Posted December 20, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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ODDS AND ENDS 2013 PART 4   Leave a comment

 

 

I have written a couple of posts about this amazing Christmas cactus that I have and it continues to blow my mind! I got it as a small plant at The Home Depot a number of years ago and for 2 years it bloomed pink flowers right around Christmas time. It was Christmas 2011 that not a single bloom appeared BUT in February, 2012, just in time for my 19th Leap Year birthday it bloomed with white and pink flowers. This year, once again, it fully bloomed right on schedule! How does it know the time? It is indoors, the temperature is always the same and I don’t do the ‘no lights’ thing.

It had really grown massive last year so when I was doing some repotting, and getting new plants, I decided to clip off a few branches (if that is what they are called) from the mother plant (First picture) and, without rhyme or reason, sticking a leaf here and a leaf there. When I woke up Christmas day I was surrounded with Christmas cactus blooms all over the living room. Some were white, some were pink, some consisted of one stem with one bud at the end while another had a few mixed blooms, and buds, in one pot.

It’s all absolutely amazing and makes me admire Mother Nature even more. How anyone can ever say they are bored and have nothing to do when she has laid out everyone’s world with such startling, irrational, happenings can be seen 24/7, is beyond my understanding. Heck even if you don’t have a green thumb she does–just look out your window.

My apartment is filled with plants ranging from Siam tulips–have you ever heard or seen them?–a begonia that has bloomed every month for 3 years now I think– Cuban flowers which I took twigs off a big bush and like the Christmas cactus I just stuck them into dirt in various pots and now every morning when I walk into the living room, bathroom or kitchen it looks like butterflies all over the place.

I have taken a corner of the walkway and planted various herbs to make a great tomato gravy plus a tall plant that someday I’ll learn the name of–my neighbor added a few plants and our walkway stands out.

I have always kept plants but since I had to give up my birds it has almost become an addiction. I can’t go into the Home Depot without walking out with a plant–or two. If I pass a hibiscus bush I take off a twig and stick it into a pot and due to Ana I started to grow Romaine lettuce!!

Need any Aloe??? I have about 16 pots of them. :O)

Right now I am mesmerized by the Christmas cactus and wondering when the last bloom will appear!

 

GreatMartin2003@yahoo.com

Posted January 5, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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A JEW LOOKS AT CHRISTMAS PART 3   Leave a comment

 

To me the Nativity scene, Santa Claus, the Rockettes, St. Patrick’s cathedral, Carols, Jingle Bells, snow, cold weather, horse and carriage rides in Central Park, the skating rinks in Rockefeller Center and Central Park, decorated store windows, hot chestnuts, etc., just to name a few things–ALL make up Christmas.

It’s 79 degrees outside but I can walk into a South Florida mall and see a Christmas tree, a kid sitting on Santa’s lap, watch another kid throw a fake snowball, hear “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” on the loudspeaker and it is Christmas for me!!!

Now my Christmas may not acknowledge Christ or any religious aspect that a Christian may but I feel as warm, as moved, surrounded by cheers of “Merry Christmas” or seeing pins on women’s clothes of lit up Santa Clauses as anyone can. I look around and I think of “Peace on earth, good will to men” whether it is looking at a Christmas wreath or a Hanuka bush.

I was 16 and saw myself as a sophisticated man of the world with my cashmere leather trimmed, falling just below the knee, overcoat, leather gloves, brown fur earmuffs and a cashmere scarf thrown around my neck in cavalier fashion about to take my first horse and carriage ride through Central Park with someone I had just met in the Oak Room of the Plaza hotel. I can tell you every inch of that ride and the beauty of being in the park in the middle of Manhattan surrounded by towering buildings sparkling like many colored jewels on a dark, snowy night three days before Christmas but I couldn’t tell you a thing about the person I was with.

I started this series off by saying I probably will never experience another Christmas season in New York but my memories of such magical times in my life will be with me forever. Whether I hear a choir singing carols or “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” heard on the speakers in a mall or see and/or smell holly, mistletoe, a pine tree or a nativity scene or a menorah or Santa Claus or watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” an unforgettable time will come rushing to me.

It is never too early for

“Peace on earth and good will towards men”

I hope that each of you who have never experienced the magic, the wonder, the awe, the excitement, the meaning of the holiday, get at least one chance to have Christmas in New York City.

Posted December 24, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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A JEW LOOKS AT CHRISTMAS PART 2   Leave a comment

 

     

The last time I was in New York City was in September 1985 and the last time I lived in New York City was 1969. I don’t see myself ever going back but there are certain times, certain memories I have of life in the city that will never go away and they all revolve around Christmas time, the week before, the day of and the week after. No where in any city of the world is there the combination of magic in New York City especially if there are snow flurries or, maybe, an inch of snow blanketing the city and turning the lights into diamonds in the evening.

  

I still feel the cold nipping at my ears, my nose being red and my being on my butt more than on my feet, not to mention my mittens NOT keeping my hands warm but the wonder of ice skating in the Rockefeller Center, in the middle of Manhattan, under the glow and warmth of one of the tallest decorated Christmas (not holiday!!) trees standing in the shadow of one of New York’s most impressive buildings not to forget on the opposite side rows and rows of uncountable poinsettia plants. You are surrounded by people looking down at you from atop the perimeter of the rink plus all the people eating and drinking inside the restaurant that the rink is in the middle of and which you can’t wait to get a table, have a hot chocolate and look at the skaters falling on their butts and/or those gracefully doing spin after spin and all enjoying themselves as much as you did.

      

There is the afternoon you wait on line with thousands of other people to get into the cavernous and awe inspiring Radio City Music Hall where you not only saw a movie like Doris Day in “I’ll See You In My Dreams” but an even more awe inspiring stage show where there is the Christmas pageant featuring live camels, the Wise Men, a live reenactment of the Nativity that doesn’t fail to affect people of all religions or none at all. That is then followed by the amazing Rockettes who go from being wooden play soldiers to rocking to Jingle Bells and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus.

      

 

There is so much to do so what do you do next? Maybe buy a bag of roasted chestnuts and walk along Fifth Avenue looking in the store windows all decorated with to die for fashions and jewels? Oh, I know, I remember, walk down to Herald Square (I was able to walk in those days) where Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s try to outdo each other with season decorations and you relive “The Miracle on 34th Street” or wait, wouldn’t it be better to walk along Lexington and Madison avenues where you can buy flowers from outside stalls and look at the Christmas trees for sale while the cold goes through you and you stop for another hot chocolate? Hey we can go to the New Hampshire bar on 57th Street and watch a ‘Northeasterner’ recreated behind the bar and stop by Carnegie Hall and see what/who is playing.

     

It’s early evening and it is still light enough to walk in Central Park where the snow covers the din of the city and makes everything feel pure, soft and, yes, Christmas like. It’s magic time in a city that at times can be cruel, unfeeling and devoid of magic but for two weeks in late December it is as if Tinkerbell cast her spell and fairy dust over the city and its people. It is two weeks that EVERYONE should experience at least once in their lifetime and I was lucky to experience it many times as I reached adult hood.

Don’t even get me started about experiencing falling in love for the first time during Christmas in New York—oh, get me started–let’s talk about going to the Plaza for a drink, having dinner in the middle of Central Park, taking a carriage ride–let’s talk about it in Part 3.

Posted December 23, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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A JEW LOOKS AT CHRISTMAS PART 1   Leave a comment

 

ME IN 1988

I very seldom repeat past posts but I get so tired at this time of the year regarding “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, “Happy Hanukkah” and “Happy Kwanzaa”–I personally don’t care what you say as long as this time of the year means something to you for whatever reason. This is a 3 part series that I wrote for a paper years ago–hope you enjoy reading it again or reading it for the first time!

********************************************************************

I LOVE Christmas and have since the days stores didn’t decorate for the holiday until Thanksgiving weekend when Santa appeared magically all over town and the Salvation Army went out in force and didn’t take credit cards and the men stood by their big, black kettles ringing bells. It was back in the days when there were Christmas, not holiday, trees and people gleefully yelled “Merry Christmas”, not “Happy Holidays”.

I remember 63 years ago sneaking out to my front yard where we had a tall, huge fir tree and decorating it with balls and silver strips and my mother lamenting, & quote; “What will the neighbors think?” and I didn’t care. We lived on Bogart Avenue, between Lydig and Pelham Parkway, the dividing line between the Sharks and the Jets–for those who don’t get the reference it separated the Jews from the Italians and our block was made up of both.

I didn’t think of it as a religious holiday but as a time for peace towards all men. Way back then–in the ice age–you didn’t hear songs like “Jingle Bells”  until Thanksgiving weekend, certainly not in October as a theme song for a cruise line. The celebration of the Christmas feeling started when you heard Nat King Cole sing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” from The Christmas Song or Judy Garland’s sweet, sad voice sang “Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas” and, of course, wherever you went you heard Der Bingle (Bing Crosby) sing “White Christmas”.

Christmas wasn’t a religious time for a Jewish boy in New York but a time of cold weather, snow flurries, people running here to there with a smile on their face and everyone carrying wrapped packages with bows and ribbons. Of course I had an unfair advantage over my Italian friends because I, also, got to celebrate Hanukkah where children were given geldt (money) and went to the houses (apartments) of their grandparents who had immigrated from Russia and England and were surrounded by very large families and ate and ate and ate, because that is what Jews did on holidays, though I was to learn so did Greeks, Italians, Filipinos, Germans, etc.

Again, it wasn’t the religion of the holiday that attracted me to attend Christmas midnight mass at St. Patrick’s cathedral but the pageantry, the voices of the choir ringing out and the sound of the Latin language, again this was many years ago, echoing through the cathedral. I must confess–hey, it’s a Catholic church–that years later, in the 60s, Ronnie, Joe and I use to go for ‘camp’ reasons–to see Cardinal Spellman all dressed up in his finery, his red robes looking like a gown and, we thought, in all probability, hiding his red, ruby slippers.

None of this is meant, or said, in disrespect of the Christmas holiday and its true meaning but looking at an aspect of it that was open to all children who had imagination and loved to see their world almost become magical for 4 weeks–not like now where by the time the holiday comes around you are ready to scream if you hear one more Christmas song because you have been hearing them since August when you started getting the catalogs and the stores were decorated with wreaths and holly even before Halloween.

NEXT, PART 2, A MAGICAL TIME/PLACE NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN AND SHOULD BE EXPERIENCED BY EVERYONE AT LEAST ONCE–A MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Posted December 23, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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To me the Nativity scene, Santa Claus, the Rockettes, St. Patrick’s cathedral, Carols, Jingle Bells, snow, cold weather, horse and carriage rides in Central Park, the skating rinks in Rockefeller Center and Central Park, decorated store windows, hot chestnuts, etc., just to name a few things–ALL make up Christmas.

        

It’s 79 degrees outside but I can walk into a South Florida mall and see a Christmas tree, a kid sitting on Santa’s lap, watch another kid throw a fake snowball, hear “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” on the loudspeaker and it is Christmas for me!!!

       

Now my Christmas may not acknowledge Christ or any religious aspect that a Christian may but I feel as warm, as moved, surrounded by cheers of “Merry Christmas” or seeing pins on women’s clothes of lit up Santa Clauses as anyone can. I look around and I think of “Peace on earth, good will to men” whether it is looking at a Christmas wreath or a Hanuka bush.

       

   

I was 16 and saw myself as a sophisticated man of the world with my cashmere leather trimmed, falling just below the knee, overcoat, leather gloves, brown fur earmuffs and a cashmere scarf thrown around my neck in cavalier fashion about to take my first horse and carriage ride through Central Park with someone I had just met in the Oak Room of the Plaza hotel. I can tell you every inch of that ride and the beauty of being in the park in the middle of Manhattan surrounded by towering buildings sparkling like many colored jewels on  a dark, snowy night three days before Christmas but I couldn’t tell you a thing about the person I was with.

        

      

       

I started this series off by saying I probably will never experience another Christmas season in New York but my memories of such magical times in my life will be with me forever. Whether I hear a choir singing carols or “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” heard on the speakers in a mall or see and/or smell holly, mistletoe, a pine tree or a nativity scene or a menorah or Santa Claus or watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” an unforgettable time will come rushing to me.

     

 It is never too early for

“Peace on earth and good will towards men”

I hope that each of you who have never experienced the magic, the wonder, the awe, the excitement, the meaning of the holiday, get at least one chance to have Christmas in New York City.

Posted December 24, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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A JEW LOOKS AT CHRISTMAS PART 2   Leave a comment

 

     

The last time I was in New York City was in September 1985 and the last time I lived in New York City was 1969. I don’t see myself ever going back but there are certain times, certain memories I have of life in the city that will never go away and they all revolve around Christmas time, the week before, the day of and the week after. No where in any city of the world is there the combination of magic in New York City especially if there are snow flurries or, maybe, an inch of snow blanketing the city and turning the lights into diamonds in the evening.

  

I still feel the cold nipping at my ears, my nose being red and my being on my butt more than on my feet, not to mention my mittens NOT keeping my hands warm but the wonder of ice skating in the Rockefeller Center, in the middle of Manhattan, under the glow and warmth of one of the tallest decorated Christmas (not holiday!!) trees standing in the shadow of one of New York’s most impressive buildings not to forget on the opposite side rows and rows of uncountable poinsettia plants. You are surrounded by people looking down at you from atop the perimeter of the rink plus all the people eating and drinking inside the restaurant that the rink is in the middle of and which you can’t wait to get a table, have a hot chocolate and look at the skaters falling on their butts and/or those gracefully doing spin after spin and all enjoying themselves as much as you did.

      

There is the afternoon you wait on line with thousands of other people to get into the cavernous and awe inspiring Radio City Music Hall where you not only saw a movie like Doris Day in “I’ll See You In My Dreams” but an even more awe inspiring stage show where there is the Christmas pageant featuring live camels, the Wise Men, a live reenactment of the Nativity that doesn’t fail to affect people of all religions or none at all. That is then followed by the amazing Rockettes who go from being wooden play soldiers to rocking to Jingle Bells and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus.

      

 

There is so much to do so what do you do next? Maybe buy a bag of roasted chestnuts and walk along Fifth Avenue looking in the store windows all decorated with to die for fashions and jewels? Oh, I know, I remember, walk down to Herald Square (I was able to walk in those days) where Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s try to outdo each other with season decorations and you relive “The Miracle on 34th Street” or wait, wouldn’t it be better to walk along Lexington and Madison avenues where you can buy flowers from outside stalls and look at the Christmas trees for sale while the cold goes through you and you stop for another hot chocolate? Hey we can go to the New Hampshire bar on 57th Street and watch a ‘Northeasterner’ recreated behind the bar and stop by Carnegie Hall and see what/who is playing.

     

It’s early evening and it is still light enough to walk in Central Park where the snow covers the din of the city and makes everything feel pure, soft and, yes, Christmas like. It’s magic time in a city that at times can be cruel, unfeeling and devoid of magic but for two weeks in late December it is as if Tinkerbell cast her spell and fairy dust over the city and its people. It is two weeks that EVERYONE should experience at least once in their lifetime and I was lucky to experience it many times as I reached adult hood.

Don’t even get me started about experiencing falling in love for the first time during Christmas in New York—oh, get me started–let’s talk about going to the Plaza for a drink, having dinner in the middle of Central Park, taking a carriage ride–let’s talk about it in Part 3.

Posted December 23, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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