Sunday, November 21, 2010

Outdated Simile

Last night I was thinking how fast I ate dinner -- it was too fast, but it was shrimp, baked potato and peas and I was really hungry and it was really good. My mind was sort of wandering, glad I didn't have a camera on me while I ate and I said to myself, "You were eating as if..." and what popped into my mind was something I hadn't thought of in years, decades maybe.

And that was what a friend's father said to her when I was at her house one day way back when -- "back in the day" as the saying goes. Her father, commenting on her too rapid eating chided, "You're eating as if the Russians are on the Triborough Bridge."

Meaning the Russians were invading Long Island so you better eat now and you better eat fast.

Funny how we grew up fearing the Russians. As an aside, a few months back, I caught a movie from the 60s called "The Russians are coming; the Russians are coming" and it really had not lost its charm. It's about a Russian submarine that runs aground off the New England coast, and at first the townspeople are up in arms, but they find out they actually like the Russians and eventually help them escape. Try it on Netflix for something different. Plus Jonathan Winters is in it!

But back to my story. The Russian threat is not the only thing that has changed though. The Triborough Bridge was renamed a couple years back to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, but I have never heard anyone ever call it that. We're sticking with Triborough.

Same thing with Sixth Avenue. I didn't know why that name was changed to Avenue of the Americas, but no one uses that name either. It's still Sixth Avenue.

Here's the history from Wikipedia (in case you ever go on Jeopardy and the category is "Street Names.")

The avenue's official name was changed to Avenue of the Americas in September 1945 by the City Council, at the behest of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. It was felt at the time that the name would provide greater grandeur to a shabby street,and to promote trade with the Western Hemisphere.

After the name change, round street signs were attached to streetlights on the avenue, showing the national seals of all the nations in the Western Hemisphere.

Demolition of the el resulted in accelerated commercial development of the avenue in Midtown. Beginning in the 1960s, the avenue was entirely rebuilt above 42nd Street as an all-but-uninterrupted avenue of corporate headquarters housed in glass slab towers of International Modernist style. Among the buildings constructed was the CBS Building at 52nd Street, by Eero Saarinen (1965), dubbed "Black Rock" from its dark granite piers that run from base to crown with a break; this designated landmark is Saarinen's only skyscraper.

In the mid-1970s, the city "spruced up" the street, including the addition of patterned brick crosswalks, repainting of streetlamps, and new pedestrian plazas. Special lighting, which is rare through most of the city, was also installed.

New Yorkers seldom used the avenue's new name, and the street was signed as both "Avenue of the Americas" and "Sixth Avenue" in recent years. Most of the old round signs with country emblems were gone by the late 1990s, and the ones remaining were showing signs of age.

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