A Single Nickel

by Dennis

What is the most fun you ever had a just a nickel?

When I was just a child in New York such a sum seemed a fortune. Glass of coke was a nickel, as was just about any candy bar, a small bag of chips (we only had one kind then – potato), any 5 piece pack of gum, even a small balsam wood airplane. But my fondest memory is a riding on the Staten Island ferry. At that time there were two, the Brooklyn to Staten Island route and the Manhattan to Staten Island route. The latter were large red and orange colored boats that held many cars and trucks and a great deal of people. The former were green, smaller, perhaps 1/3 the size, only 20 cars, and fewer passengers. We’d walk in, put our nickel in the turnstile, board the ferry, and sail to Staten Island, a voyage that took about twenty minutes.

Once we arrived at the terminal we did not get off, just stayed in the passenger cabin while the other folks left, or disembarked as they say in nautical terms. The new people going to Brooklyn would get on, the cars were loaded, and we would sail back across New York harbor to our starting point. This we did all day, never getting off, just riding back and forth for hours, and for just a nickel. We’d go on deck and hear the waves slapping against the flat or pancake bottom boat, sometimes getting a face full of spray. I guess our imaginations went wild there – pilgrims coming to new land, troops returning home from overseas, pirates ready to plunder a sleepy village. I don’t recall anything specific but you know how a thirteen year old boy’s mind works.

In the mid-sixties they built a bridge connecting Staten Island with Brooklyn and retired the small, green, flat bottomed dream machine. I have never been across it nor do I ever plan on going. It would be like finding the end of rainbow is just an optical illusion.

October, 2012

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