Riding on the West Side Highway

Riding on the West Side Highway

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This outrageous statement was designed to make my brother flip, since he regarded himself as a first-rate Cunard expert. His devotion to Sir Samuel’s storied shipping line reached to the extent that he had recently renamed his bedroom “The Verandah Grill.”

Little Jimmy is, for once, at a loss for words. So he begins bellowing—and bouncing. “Bwaaaaaaaaa! “Bwaaaaaaaaa! “Bwaaaaaaaaa!” His momentum quickly morphs from a vertical to a horizontal motion. He begins kicking the back of the seat in front of him—the driver’s seat.

In the weeks and months following D-Day, my Portsmouth-born father drove Army vehicles from France into Germany But even that experience didn’t prepare him for the West Side Highway, a baroquely antiquated elevated highway; a ruin, like the Via Appia. The old man loses it.


My dad’s 1960 Chevy.

“Shut the hell up back there!” he hollers. “If you kids don’t shut up, I’m going to stop the car and kick you both out!”

There was a brief moment—perhaps best measured in nanoseconds—of silence.

I then relaunch the discussion. “I bet you think that the France is the same as the Ile de France,” I tell my brother.

I don’t remember very much after that.
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