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Vacations, Day Trips and Getaways

Vacations, Day Trips and Getaways

Anne Craig Shoemaker, Bronxville Graduate, and Robert Paul Kirkham Married August 13, 2016 PDF Print Email

By the Family

Aug. 24, 2016:  Anne Craig Shoemaker, a daughter of Susanne L. Shoemaker and Paul T. Shoemaker of New Rochelle, was married on August 13 to Robert Paul Kirkham, a son of Ann L. Kirkham and D. Collier Kirkham of Larchmont.

The Rev. Cari Pattison, a Presbyterian minister, performed the ceremony at The Reformed Church of Bronxville.

The couple met at Harvard, from which they graduated cum laude, and at which the groom is currently studying for an MBA.

The bride, 28, taught sixth-grade literacy for the past year at the Dorchester campus of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Boston. In September, she is to begin work in New York as a manager at TechnoServe, a nonprofit that helps people in developing countries build farms and businesses.

Her father is a partner in Greenfield Stein & Senior, a New York law firm. Her mother is the chief executive of Undercare, a company she founded in New Rochelle that produces undergarments for people with limited mobility.

Until July of last year, the groom, 29, was an associate in the New York office of the Carlyle Group, an investment firm.

His mother retired as a teacher at St. John's Nursery School in Larchmont. His father retired as a partner in the New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

Pictured here:  The bride and groom after the wedding.

Photo courtesy the family

Top Five Rides for 11-Year-Olds at Disneyland and Universal PDF Print Email

By Brooks, Charlie, and Eleanor Clifford, students (all 11-year-olds) at The Bronxville School

Jul. 27, 2016:  It was an awesome feeling. We were finally going into sixth grade, but more important, we were going to California!

This was going to be our first time going there and we were so ready to get on the plane. After our moving-up ceremony, we said our goodbyes to friends and got into bed. It felt like we were asleep for two minutes and then we were up at 4:00 in the morning to head to the airport. The car ride seemed to take forever but we finally got there. My mom was looking forward to seeing our relatives but my brothers and I could not stop thinking about the days ahead, which would include a wedding, hiking, and trips to the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Disneyland, Universal, and San Francisco. These were all "firsts" for us.

We had an amazing ten days, and after going to all these places, we thought it would be fun to rank our top five rides and share this information with you just in case you are planning a trip to California's theme parks. This is what we came up with.

The number-1 ride we went on was Jurassic Park at Universal.  Basically, what happens is you get into a big raft and you ride in a stream, which takes you through a world of dinosaurs--big and small. At the end, you go into a tunnel and a huge T. Rex walks out of a small waterfall and you plunge down an 80-foot thrilling drop to a platform that squirts water that you go rushing through. We loved this ride for two main reasons:  First, the special effects were great. Second, the drop is very fun and thrilling. You will love this ride as long as you don't mind getting wet! This is the only ride we went on twice.  

The number-2 ride we went on was Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal.  This ride is technically a simulated ride but it is very, very realistic! If you do not like sharp twists and turns, scary insects and dragons, death eaters, and more scary things, this ride isn't for you! The ride takes you on an adventure through Harry's world. This includes the Quidditch Field, Hogwarts, and all around the school. It has amazing special effects and is very cool, especially if you are a Harry Potter fan!

The number-3 ride we went on was Splash Mountain at Disneyland.  We liked this ride because there is a really fun 50-foot drop at the end. The couple of seconds that you are going down that drop are the reason you wait in line for this ride. Another reason we liked it was because of all the water! When you are walking around for hours, you can get in this ride and you are cooled right down! Also, it was humpy and had a few hills that keep you entertained as you get ready for the big drop ahead! And for all the moms who don't like the big drops, we suggest this one because it is much smaller than others like Jurassic Park.

The number-4 ride we went on was Space Mountain at Disneyland.  For all the Star Wars fans, we suggest this ride for you. We loved this ride because it takes you on an adventure through space with many twists, turns, and drops, along with battles between good and evil. Throughout the ride, lights were flashing and spacecraft were shooting. This was an adventure through the world of Star Wars.

The number-5 ride we went on was Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland.  This ride takes you through a mountain full of sharp turns and drops. Up and up the mountain you go, and back down you come through with a bit of water splashed on to you. 

Other fun rides were Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal, Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland, and The Simpsons Ride at Universal, which was a simulator but very realistic.

Finally, if you have time to visit only one park, we would suggest Universal. It had our favorite rides and ranks number one! 

Pictured here:  Jurassic Park ride at Universal.  

Photo provided by Sarah Clifford

Adrienne Smith, the Constant Traveler: Bridging the Border PDF Print Email

By Adrienne Smith

Jul. 13, 2016:  I happened to be in El Paso on the day that the Supreme Court, in a tie vote, essentially blocked President Obama's immigration plan.

Feeling the urge for a road trip, I had driven the 325 miles from Tucson to El Paso, past beautifully barren, mesa-fringed desert, past the sad sight of the milking cows crammed together in their own waste in Las Cruces that I wrote about a few years ago, until arriving at my destination.

First stop, my favorite eatery at H & H Car Wash, a beyond-unassuming little luncheonette attached to said automobile launderette, where I scarfed down the most wonderful cheese enchiladas smothered in spicy red sauce.

But I was here for more important stuff, i.e., a look at the bifurcated world of El Paso/Ciudad Juárez.

El Paso itself is a small city of roughly 680,000 people, which, however, makes it bigger than city-proper Boston or Atlanta. It is the 20th largest city in the U.S. But it is, quite simply, in the wrong place, at the far southwest corner of Texas, placing it far closer to Phoenix and Santa Fe than to the capital of its own state, Austin.

An immense 80.7% of its residents identify as Hispanic in one way or another.

It is the home of a large military base, Fort Bliss, and several federal border control agencies, as well as a thriving private industrial sector.

Add to this that the local branch of the University of Texas, constructed in a striking Dzong, or Bhutanese, style, was rated the seventh-best national university in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine in 2013.

The city also contains the country's largest urban park, the Franklin Mountains State Park, from which can be seen the sparkling hugeness of Ciudad Juárez at night.

El Paso has also been the home, at one time or another, of Wernher von Braun, Sandra Day O'Connor, General John Pershing, Anthony Quinn, Debbie Reynolds, Willie Shoemaker, and Stevie Nicks.

And, to top it off, El Paso is one of the safest large cities in the country.

But, past the electric and brown metal fences and the Rio Grande River, Ciudad Juárez is a totally different smoke.

Juárez, with a population of more than 1.3 million residents, is the largest metropolitan area sharing a border with the U.S. A staggering 40% of its citizens live below the poverty line. 

At one point in recent years, Juárez was considered the most violent city in the world. In 2011, 3,000 people were murdered there, most deaths relating to drug wars. Happily, through government initiatives, only 414 people were murdered in 2014.

Despite this, the U.S. State Department has issued stern warnings about travel to Juárez.

Finding, surprisingly, that I could cross the border without a passport by taking the Santa Fe Bridge walkway, I determined to explore the other side. I chose 8:00 am as a reasonable time to go when, presumably, the bad guys would be asleep. The walk was incredibly easy. I paid $.50 at a makeshift tollbooth, trotted along a covered walkway over the Rio Grande and down into Juárez, passing a long, long line of cars waiting to be admitted to El Paso, which were being surveyed by U.S. border agents walking around with leashed German shepherds.

I arrived at the main street of the city to be greeted by multiple pharmacias, whose goods were priced way lower than in the U.S. I walked for several blocks, felt I'd done my part, and returned to the border crossing.

In this homeward direction, I only had to pay $.25 and push a button that, if it turned red, would make me subject to a Mexican customs exam, and I walked onward with a huge crowd of locals. At the other side, I was scrutinized far more carefully, first by a U.S. Customs agent and then by sending my purse through an X-ray machine.

I wondered why there had been so much one-way traffic into El Paso and discovered that many Mexican residents are allowed into the U.S. on a daily basis, including U.S. citizen children who go to school in the city and daily workers who have a Trusted Traveler card. The cards are sold to Mexicans who pay $122 annually and can demonstrate that, because of residence and family in Mexico, they are sure to return each night. Others, who cannot afford to buy the card, must stand in a far longer line and hope for the best.

Some pregnant Juárez women have even staggered over the border while in labor to give birth to U.S. citizens. But the clinic that would help these women, the Casa de Nacimiento, recently closed after delivering an estimated 13,400 babies.

The yearly traffic into El Paso from Juárez is astronomic: 7.1 million pedestrians and 13.1 million cars in 2014.

Somehow, all this seeming chaos works, making the Trumpian Mexican-paid wall seem foolish in the extreme.

Pictured here: Ciudad Juárez border walkway.

Photo by Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith, the Constant Traveler: Motel Madness PDF Print Email

By Adrienne Smith

Jun. 22, 2016:  As we all gear up for those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, I thought it prudent to publish a cautionary tale about vacation choices.

You may remember that, a few years ago, I wrote about the trauma of finding a suitable hotel in Fort Lee, NJ, when I was hot on the trail of A Bridge too Far and New Jersey’s beloved Governor/Trump house boy. 

So, when attempting to find an appropriate resting place in the gateway to Cape Cod, whence I was planning to take my 10-year-old granddaughter to camp, and checking with my American travel bibles, and, I came upon an inn whose references were so bad that it took the breath away.

Let me explain. solicits ratings from those who use its site. A score of 10 is the ultimate and, to my knowledge, never achieved. I usually pick a range of 8.0 and up, which normally separates the wheat from the chaff. Ok, 7.5 in a remote area or a pinch. But anything below that is usually pretty nasty and, honestly, not all that common.

You can imagine my amazement when one motel in the area came in at an almost unbelievable 4.8, on the basis of no less than 160 reviews!!! What could possibly account for such a dismal score?

Well, I’ll tell you, both in summary and in the language, sometimes equally troubling, of the inn’s stayees.

“Don’t waist [sic] your money,” implored one. “Place is downright inhabitable [sic],” said another. And a third stated, “I can’t even believe I even sleeped [sic] there.” And, wrote a fourth, “Wallpaper louse in hallway,” which I have to assume didn’t refer to a rare kind of paper-eating insect.

More specifically, lodgers reported the lack of toilet paper, soap, shampoo, and towels in the rooms. A number reported hairs on the beds, including one boarder who, bringing Zagat-like precision to his review, stated that he “pulled down the bedspread and found twelve hairs from multiple people--head hair and lots of body hair,” concluding, “one hair fine…two yuck…twelve disgusting!”

People’s rooms smelled of urine, or, more particularly, cat urine; there were crumbs in the beds; unwashed sheets; cigarette butts in the air conditioner; remotes without batteries; non-functioning dryers in the laundry room (obviating the use of the washing machines); no hot water; and, yes, more.

Perhaps the most graphic were comments about the motel’s stylish indoor pool in which, said one visitor, “Mildew growth is rampant…more like a septic pit, half full of green water with empty Dunkin donuts coffee cups floating on the surface.”

Apparently, word had traveled about the desirability of passing the night at the motel, as reviewers reported “only 3 cars in parking lot,” “looked abandoned,” and the slightly ominous “no one bothered me.” One writer said he thought he might “bump into Jack Nichelson [sic] from the Shining.”

Of course, my favorite comments were those of foreigners, whose language, even using words unfamiliar to me, conveyed the inexpressible. Said one, the place was “[a]lt und schmuddelig,” the last word meaning, less impressively in English, “dirty” or “sloppy.” Another described the motel as “das schlechteste Hotel auf unserer Reise.” You’ve got to admit that “schlechteste,” spoken with full spittoon-projecting force, sounds far harsher than “worst.”

So caveat emptor. Do your homework. And, as Nat King Cole sang, “You’ll wish that summer could always be here.”

Photo by Pinkerton

Jack and Roonie Kennedy’s 1930 Model A Ford Wins Third Prize in Antique Car Parade PDF Print Email

Editor’s note:  Two weeks ago, a number of Bronxville residents attended the 2016 Daffodil Festival on Nantucket Island. George Unis and several others sent MyhometownBronxville pictures of the antique car owned by Jack and Roonie Kennedy that won an award. We asked Jack to tell us about the award and also give us some history about his car. Here is his reply.

By Jack Kennedy, Owner of a 1930 Model A Ford Roadster

May 25, 2016:  Our 1930 Model A Ford Roadster won third prize this year for Most Authentic Car in the Antique Car Parade for Classic Cars during Daffodil Week on Nantucket Island. It had been in the parade 10 or 12 times since 1999, and this was its best showing. The Roadster with a rumble seat is the third in a series of Model As produced by the Ford Motor Company. It has been in our family since 1945.

My father-in-law, a naval officer in the Pacific, needed a second car to drive to his law practice in Winchester, Virginia, after the War and bought it for $50. He restored it in the 1950s. It was his toy and he changed the color to today’s robin's egg blue from the original navy blue. After his death, it came to Bronxville in the early 1990s and was in several Bronxville Memorial Day parades.

In 1998, Roonie (wife) and I shipped it to Hyannis, Massachusetts, for a five-figure total restoration that took six months; then I sent it to our Nantucket home. Of interest to Bronxville people--the automatic windshield wiper on the car was invented by the grandfather of Bronxville resident Biff Folberth.

Our car has a 1930 Massachusetts license plate starting with 228, the first three of seven numbers in most Nantucket phone numbers. The car is garaged at my home and never leaves Nantucket. In the terms of the trade, it is a driver and not a show car.

In my family, it is referred to as The Old-Fashioned Car, first by my children with their grandfather and now by my grandchildren. My youngest grandchild (age 1) will get her first ride in the rumble seat this summer. The car never goes out in wet weather because of the potential rust problem.

Pictured here (at top):  Jack and Roonie Kennedy driving their 1930 Model A Ford Roadster.

Photos courtesy George Unis and Nancy Vittorini

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