I recently stumbled across my earliest photograph: a black
& white snapshot I took with my Brownie box camera at the Macy’s Thanksgiving
Day Parade in 1960. I was 9 years old, going on 10, and I thought it turned out
pretty well. (Actually, I still think so. It’s sharp and clear, which is more
than I can say for some of the shots I get with my modern, high-tech camera.)
My grandmother lived on West 71st Street in Manhattan, so I slept in
her apartment the night before, so we could get up in time to walk to Central
Park West and watch the parade go by.
Here’s where it gets tricky: in the haze of my memory, I seem to recall shaking hands with Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd, that is) as he rode by on his horse Topper. Did that actually happen or did I just imagine it? Boyd rode in a number of Macy’s parades over the years.
Decades later, my wife and I moved to the Upper West Side of Manhattan but we were too lazy to stroll to Central Park West and fight the crowds; preferring to watch the event on television.
The last year we lived there, however, we finally did what friends of ours had encouraged us to do all along: the night before Thanksgiving we went to 77th Street, alongside the Museum of Natural History, to take in the spectacle of the giant balloons being inflated. This process takes many hours, so they have to be lined up in exact order, and seeing them s-l-o-w-l-y come to life is an eye-filling experience. I was especially pleased to see Bullwinkle on display. That was 32 years ago.
Popeye, I’m sorry to say, is long gone from the Macy’s lineup, but I cherish my old black & white snapshot. And if I didn’t really get to meet Hoppy, I’m content to dream about it as if it really did occur.