AboutAlex Levy was born in Berlin, Germany in 1936. He escaped in his mother's arms on Kristallnacht and spent the War years in hiding under an assumed identity in a Catholic orphanage. This blog chronicles that experience and what happened next.
Wedding Day and First Homes
[When we got to our apartment were both starved, as we had been too excited to eat at the reception and decided to go to a little Chinese restaurant on Broadway, just around the corner from our first apartment. We got home, ditched our wedding clothes, got into some more comfortable things, and began our married life together eating in a Chinese restaurant.
We loved our first apartment. It was located on the corner of Riverside Drive and West 144th Street. The building is still there (it was called the Norland for some unknown reason) and still has the twin cement lions protecting its front door and marbled lobby. I believe that by leaning way out of our third floor window we even had a view of the Hudson. In the bathroom there was a hidden scale that flipped into the wall when not in use, and the bathtub was one of the longest and most comfortable I’ve used. It was possible to post a letter by just dropping it into the brass mail chute in the hall. It was a really great apartment for a couple of newlyweds. However, lovely as it was, our stay there was destined to be brief.
New York, at the time, was undergoing “changes.” Harlem and its social problems, particularly its heroin problem, had metastasized, and were now impinging on what were formerly safe, white, middle class areas. The need of addicts to feed their craving for heroin was causing a crime wave such as had never before been experienced in the city. Nothing was safe. In Harlem, buildings were being abandoned because they had been stripped of their copper plumbing systems. In our building, people were leaving as fast as they could. Being good liberals, Linda and I resisted the trend. We tried to stay put, but even we decided to move when in the course of a single month there were seven muggings in our front lobby.
So, we fled North to the border of the Washington Heights—Inwood area, to 4-10 Bogardus Place, and another lovely apartment. Not only was the apartment lovely, we had some great neighbors, including an elderly chess player with a green parrot that was kidnapped and returned after a ransom was paid, but also Ruth Westheimer and her family before she became Dr. Ruth. This apartment had the additional advantage of being within walking distance of work, and the walk was through Fort Tryon Park, one of the loveliest parks in New York. What could be better? It was also to be impermanent.