An Autobiography: Chapter 37, Operation Sail 1976


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Ten days after Ten Little Indians closed, the Roosevelt Island Tramway began operation and the first passengers were taken to Manhattan. That was an important day for the Island residents. Now they didn’t have to take the long trip across two bridges, but could be in Bloomingdale’s Department Store in just a few minutes.

Before the tram, when there was only a drugstore and small grocery on the Island, residents had to do their main shopping in Queens. Every Saturday morning, the little red Island buses took residents to Queens, and Georgianna enjoyed that experience. She loved the specialized shops. There was one for meats and poultry; another for fruits and vegetables; another for main goods. And there were other interesting shops where you could buy just about anything you desired.

We received a letter from a dear friend, Midge Ball, a blind woman who lived in Nashville, telling us her seeing-eye dog, Dolly, had died, and that she was coming to New York to get a new dog. A well-known school for seeing-eye dogs was not far from New York City, and we invited her to stay with us.

Midge, a Kentuckian like us, was a folk singer and played the autoharp. She came to Nashville in the hopes of finding a career in country music. I remember the first time we met, back in the 1960s when I attended the annual Grand Ole Opry birthday celebrations in Nashville. Hundreds of disc jockeys and would-be artists descended on Nashville for three days every October, and one lunch everyone enjoyed was on the Plaza downtown near the Capitol Park Inn.

I always looked forward each year to spending time with my friend, Norman Hall, who owned two radio stations in Boonville, Indiana. Everyone sat at long tables for the luncheon, and Norman and I were talking about the new artists and someone mentioned my “Country Music Scrapbooks.” An excited female voice from across the table piped up, questioning, “Is Thurston Moore, the publisher of the Scrapbooks here?” Although she couldn’t see the pictures, Midge bought my books anyway and had friends read the biographies of the stars to her. That is how we met, and when we lived in Nashville, she often attended get-togethers at our house where she played the autoharp and sang to everyone’s delight.

Norm-Thurston 037 

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