Our Trip to the 2007 Toy Fair in New York City

I have been hard at work remodeling the upstairs of a building that I bought in Harbor Beach. My wife has a toy store in the downstairs there called Toy Crossing. When we bought the building, we were not at all sure what we were going to do with it. It was built in 1887 a lovely little building. Before it had even gone up for sale, we had both mentioned that we thought it was the most beautiful building in town - of course, there are not all that many buildings in town. We finally decided on a toy store, largely because the previous owner had put a row of marbles in the ceramic tile work on the front steps.

We recently went to the Toy Fair in NYC. I took notes on during our stay in New York and thought it would be fun to share them with the world at large. This section covers our trip out there:

Robin decided that she wanted to take the train to New York for the Toy Fair. We were to meet the train in Cleveland. The drive down on the evening of the 10th went smoothly. We only had one misunderstanding with the road signs, but caught it just before the mistake was made. (It was obviously Robin's fault that we almost went astray as she was driving).

Unfortunately, the train was very late. It was supposed to arrive at 4:00 am from Chicago to take us on to NYC. But it did not show until 8:20. The waiting area at the station was very uncomfortable, so we got very little sleep while waiting for the train. The Amtrack 48 to NYC was a mixture of luxury and decay, luxury in that we had a fairly large comfortable space to ourselves, but the facilities have undergone the usual fate of any public facility in spite of the best intentions of the workers. A bathroom had to be closed down because a vandal had taken liberties with it the night before.

For me there was a strange warping of time and distance, probably because of the relative lack of sleep the evening before and also because I forgot to bring a watch to keep track of the time. Even so, I did a pretty good job figuring out where we were by watching the scenery fly past. I was especially attracted to the great fields of grape vines that hugged the shores of lake Erie. As they flitted by they looked like disembodied legs crossing the fields.

We got two seats facing each other - Robin and I. She stretched out between two window seats and slept comfortably. I was comfortable as well, especially after the awkward seats at the Cleveland Station. At about 3:30 we were forced to move by the steward. I can't tell you how much this irritated me. I was finally getting over the fact that the train was going to be 5 hours late pulling into NYC and then were uprooted, baggage and all and told we would have to go to another car. Admittedly, it seems like a small thing now, but to a man with only a few hours sleep who was already crabby it not a wise thing to do. The sole purpose of the move, was obviously to give the steward a chance to clean up, so he would not have to do it when he pulled into the final destination.  After considerable grumbling on my part and the part of a couple of other people in the same position, we were allowed to move back to our car.

We finally got in to NYC's Penn Station at about 8:00 pm. We ended up missing a meeting with other ASTRA members that we would have liked to have attended, but we were just glad to be in the big city. It turns out that our Hotel was on 5th Avenue and was called the 373 5th Avenue Hotel and Bathroom. Our room was on the 6th floor. It was fairly small. With the Queen sized be and a small writing desk crammed into a space no larger than 10X10. Even so, it was immaculately clean and pleasantly comfortable especially after the long train ride and the 5 block trek from Penn Station. Robin, however, did not like the fact that you had to call to have ice brought up to the room. While the staff brought up the ice, we debated whether it was appropriate to tip the staff for bringing ice. It was a situation neither of us had ever encountered. I solved the problem by pretending to be asleep on the bed and let Robin get the door. She did not tip the fellow who brought the ice, but immediately regretted it afterward as she felt pangs of guilt for the rest of the evening. I went into our little but clean bathroom and washed my hands of the entire episode, after enjoying a drink of cold water.

We took advantage of what was left of the evening and walked down to Times Square. I called it Multiplication Square several times just for fun. I am sure it is an old joke, but it was new to us, and my daughter enjoyed it immensely when I told her about it upon our return. Times Square was not quite what I expected in that there was no real open square.  There were however, plenty of lights and mucho ads. So many ads, in fact, that it was rather like a fireworks display - a lot of dazzle in each shot, but pretty soon every rocket blends in together.

I bought a shish-kabob for $4.00 which was quite excellent. On the way back, we stopped in a restaurant called the W Cafe. I had lasagna. It was excellent and I liked the Midwestern size portion. I had not realized how hungry I was until I had finished off these two meals in succession (not a usual habit with me). We had barely eaten all day long. Finally, we went to bed about mid-night and slept like a pair of rocks for the rest of the night.

Next Day

Copyright 2007 by W.J. Rayment - all rights are reserved.

W.J. Rayment is the author of How Not to Build an Addition. A humorous book about the foibles of a do-it-yourselfer.