Time: Fall of 1961, Sunday afternoon. A kinder gentler time. When kids were allowed all the freedom in the world to wander their neighborhoods at all times of the day and night but weren't allowed to go into Manhattan (the city) alone. As part of a large group, yes, but only if there were older kids or an adult.
Players: My church youth group. Perhaps 16 of us, ranging in age from 13 to 18.
Occasion: Going to see 'West Side Story' at the Rivoli Theater in mid-town Manhattan.
We must have gotten out of the theatre in late afternoon. Late afternoon, in the Fall, in NYC - a magical time on any occasion.
We piled out of the theatre, hopped up, excited, totally jazzed. As we made our way down the street, without forethought or planning, we began to dance, snapping our fingers and singing - "When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way, From your first cigarette to your last dying day"
We jostled around and reformed to sing - "Gee Officer Krupke, what are we to do? Gee, Officer Krupke, Krup You!"
We settled, and walked and then someone started to sing - "Could be, Who knows? There's something due any day I will know right away Soon as it shows..." 15 sweet, beautiful teenage voices joined in. One of the boys ran ahead, leapt onto a light pole, ala Gene Kelly in 'Singing in the Rain", one arm wrapped around the pole, the other flung up and out ...and we sang - "It may come cannon-ballin' down from the sky, Gleam in its eye, Bright as a rose. Who knows?"
We didn't know it was magical then, we were just young and happy.
But today? Writing this? I feel the magic. I see it all in my mind's eye. I live it again. And these tears in my eyes? Just a little joy, remembered.