Considering picking up today’s newspaper from the driveway makes me wonder; Do I really want to start a perfectly good sunshiny day with more tales of horror, war and trauma around the world? Why bother, when I have traumas of my own on which to ponder if I’m in a horror story state of mind.
Like the time, at age six, I was stranded on a New York subway train, alone with my four year old brother.
The three of us, Jerry, our mother and I were going off on an outing together. Riding the subway was an exciting activity when I was a child, and we set upon our adventure with great expectations for the afternoon. Mom amused us by pointing out the colorful advertisements papering the areas above the subway doors just under the ceilings. “Vote for Miss Ballentine,” accompanied by six photographs of lovely young women all hoping for the spectacular opportunity to be Miss Ballentine for the coming year. That ad was the most enduring in my memory, even before I had any idea that Ballentine was a brand of beer. The Miss Ballentine contest was a subject of serious consideration and discussion.
We rode along on the bumpy, swerving subway car stop after stop, enjoying the sights of the new passengers arriving at each stop carrying all manner of cargo: shopping bags from now-gone stores like Alexanders, Macys and B. Altman, cargo carriers with small kittens hiding inside the little barred windows, or fragrant shopping bags filled with freshly made hunger inducing raviolis and meatballs.
As we became lost in our own reveries and day dreams the ride took on a dreamy quality. Maybe that’s why, when Mom get up to exit the train we were oblivious. While she assumed her two little chickadees were following behind, we were lost in our own thoughts and didn’t notice her leaving. Until the banging on the windows and screeching at the door brought us to the reality that we were inside the train and she was out on the platform, crying and screaming for us. But it was too late; the doors had closed, and Jerry and I were alone in the foreign country of a moving subway car.
Then a kind older woman approached us (the older woman was probably about 25!) and told us not to be frightened; she would help us. She herded us off the train at the next stop, we went up the stairs and over to the other side, caught the next train coming in the opposite direction and got on. When we arrived at the previous station there was Mom, talking, crying, gesturing to a transit policeman. What a look of relief and joy came over her as we were reunited.
And the kind gentle woman disappeared back on the subway train and rode off to her intended destination.
Comments on: "TRAUMA" (38)
Frightening story, beautifully told.
Thank you; I still get goose bumps when I think about it and all the things that could have happened.
Wow! Nowadays, of course, your mother would have drilled into you how you must never, ever go anywhere with a stranger. Not that most would try to help you anyway. Great story.
That is so true. Better that it happened so long ago when people had some humanity.
Every mother’s worst nightmare !
I nearly died when a mother came home after taking my three year old out with her son, and said she’d lost her in the market in Hongkong – twenty minutes away.
I finally found her standing by a stall, looking absolutely frozen with horror and none of the Chinese traders taking the slightest bit of notice of her !
Traumas indeed !!!!
We seem to all have them; and yet the living through such a trauma isn’t any easier knowing that so many others have suffered similar experiences. I’m happy that your story had a happy ending.
Sounds like you met up with an Earth Angel. Touching story!
Yes, a woman who came forward without anyone asking for her help or ever learning who she was…
I think that is a hear warming story. The kindness of strangers is always special.
If it happened today would we trust a stranger?
I like to think that there are many good people in this world. I am sure you, for one, would step up to the plate. 🙂
Was never lost as a child, but had that experience as an adult (not in any city though) but in the jungle, and that’s scary!
That sounds like a good subject for a post.
That is stuff of every parent’s nightmare nowadays. Where have all the nice little old ladies gone?
‘Don’t know, but don’t look at me when you ask that question!
That is a true nightmare. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.
Thanks you, thanks to the kindness of strangers, and thanks to Tennessee Williams.
Oh dear at that age it must have been traumatic… not only for you but Mom as well… when we visited our kids in NY we got separated by a closing subway door… my daughter on the outside went into panic mode… Linda and I laughed about it .. next station we alighted and waited for them to catch up… they did and seemed more worried about us that we were… as I said to them if I can’t get lost in the bush how would I get lost in the city…
That leaves very few places for you to get lost: how are you with ocean navigation?
I can’t imagine laughing about the mix-up; I still can’t do that when I remember that time.
As a Land Surveyor… ocean navigation is no problem.. did many star observations in my time…
You’d be just the person to get lost with!
Oh goodness me! Thank Heavens for that kind woman who took it upon herself to get you guys on the next available train back to the previous stop. Mum’s sadness at the time is beyond is words–this I’m very sure of.
Since it was before cell phones or any modern conveniences of communication we had no way to interact. I tremble at the thought of her taking the next train toward us as we were traveling toward her. It would have been so easy to miss each other.
I remember losing my son in the supermarket when he was about 4. It was horrible. This is a good story and an object lesson for all.
Yes, hand holding among the nursery school set is absolutely the rule.
Oh you are right…. what a horror story! I’m glad it had a happy ending. 🙂
Yes, and I sometimes wonder if children today would go willingly with a stranger, and what if the stranger was not a kind helper, after all??? But I’d rather not think about that.
I remember that vividly, although I thought I was 3. Lucky for us a troop of entertainers and pan handlers didn’t enter our car distracting that old 25 year woman.
We might have been like poor old Charlie riding on the MTA forever.
If you were 3, I was five, which makes the story even scarier.
Charlie – your sandwiches – as the train came thundering through!!!
She may have been an angel. 🙂 No doubt.
Good thing this angel was in human form, or we may have REALLY been freaked out!
I can relate more to the mom’s anguish than the kids’ fear. I would have considered it an adventure! But it certainly must have been a harrowing experience for all. Good you had your brother with you 😉
I don’t remember feeling that horrible fear, but certainly can imagine my mother’s anguish.
Wow! That was scary, and you were so lucky to have met that nice woman who knew just what to do. I lost my youngest in J. C. Penney’s when she was quite little – that was for about 5 minutes. I heard, over the store’s paging system, that they were looking for the mother of a little blonde girl. What relief. The same relief your Mom must have felt when she saw you.
Now, about the scary news in the paper. As a former reporter, I’ll tell you that there is all kinds of news in the paper. Avoid the traumatizing headlines and head for the funnies or the Life section. There’s always plenty of great stories there. 🙂
I thought you were going to tell me about the UNhappy endings of stories that begin with a kindly person taking a young child under his/her wings. I shudder to think of some of the horrible things that could have happened.
Wonder how that would play out today! In any case, I worked with one of the ladies on the posters.
Really? I tried to get pictures of that advertisement but Google acted as if it never heard of it. Then I began to question my own memory: was it Miss Ballentine? Thanks for validating the reality of the contest.