Mel Birnkrant's
Mel Birnkrant's
THE FINAL DAYS IN NYC, Part II
 
All Original Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
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          And so, the tale continues, part narrative, part family album.  I don’t know who I’m posting this for.  At this point, no one in my family would be interested.  On the other hand, these photographs could languish in an album, or scattered boxes, to never see the light of day, and, ultimately, be thrown away.  So, I am casting them adrift on the ocean of the internet, like messages in a bottle, not knowing where the quickly rising tide of time and the current of events will carry them.

         
1968 was a great year.  It was the year of creating The Outer Space Men.  I was obsessed with them, and had little time left for anyone, but my family, and anything else, except collecting.  In the apartment on 28th Street, Alexandra, was growing up quickly, and flourishing.  She came into our lives, and brought with her a ray of sunshine.  Her cheerful personality made life a lot more fun.
          Samantha was in elementary school, and as unlikely as that might seem in later years, at this age, she was studying ballet at Carnegie Hall.
          Eunice was busy, every minute, living a lovely life in New York City.  And as for me; early each morning I crawled on hands and knees, across the rickety rainbow bridge to my own private Valhalla,  where, from beyond the farthest reaches of our galaxy, The Outer Space Men lived.
         This photograph of Alexandra, all dolled up, in her little fur coat, was taken late in 1968, with “Aunt Len,” a lovely lady, who, at the time, had a tiny doll museum, located in a modest store front on upper Lexington Avenue.  It was packed with hundreds of toys and dolls.  Nothing was for sale there, but she generously let me photograph her Mickey Mouse chair. 
Looking up Aunt Len on Google, today, I discovered that her name was Lenon Hoyte.  She was a school teacher for forty-one years, and she officially opened “Aunt Len’s Toy and Doll Museum” in her home in Harlem, in 1974.  It remained a Harlem institution, until she passed away, in 1994.  At that time, many of her finest dolls were sold by Sotheby.  I researched Aunt Len all day, and there is no mention of the tiny crowded space in upper Manhattan that preceded her Harlem museum by several years.  If not for the discovery of the small photograph, above, I would wonder if the “Aunt Len I had met in a Manhattan store, six years before, was really her.
In 1973, five years later, both Alexandra and the Mickey Mouse chair had grown bigger.  Here they are, together, at the “Mickey Mouseum Christmas Show" at Newark’s Bambergers Department Store.  The chair is an adult sized recreation, faithfully based upon the photographs that I captured of Alexandra with Aunt Len, in person, on that delightful day, five years before.
          The photo, below, tells a story: Eunice in her daily travels, pushing Alexandra’s baby carriage, came upon a terracotta angel.  It was lying among the rubble of a building that was being demolished.  She offered the workmen a few dollars, and they gladly gave it to her.  Somehow, she managed to drag it home, herself, in the “greyhound” wagon that is leaning against the patio wall.  This was quite an accomplishment, considering that it weighed several hundred pounds.  Eunice is seen here admiring her treasure, which is barely visible in the lower right hand corner of this Polaroid.   Beside it, is a much later photo that shows the selfsame angel, newly installed in the brick wall of the schoolhouse that we live in now.
          Eunice loved her life in New York City.  She was out, bright and early every day, walking Samantha to school at PS 116, just a few blocks away, and picking her up there when class was over every afternoon.  In between, she had adventures.  She often took Alexandra to the park where she could chat with other mothers, or on days when I would watch the baby, she could go with a friend to visit a museum. 
Every Thursday night, Bloomingdales was open late, and Eunice loved to go there on the bus.  One time, she even had a close brush with celebrity.  On that memorable occasion, Eunice inadvertently stepped on Marlena Dietrich’s toe.  What did Marlena Dietrich say, in her seductive German accent?  “OW!”  Naturally, Eunice noted that Marlena was wearing a membrane mask, a device that lifted her face dramatically.  Covered with makeup, it was was well disguised, but not enough to fool my wife. 

On one of these weekly outings, Eunice also had a brush with danger.  That night, she was waiting for the bus, in front of Bloomingdales, when she felt something strange behind her.  She turned to see a man slashing the back of her leather coat with a straight razor.  He quickly folded the blade and put it in his pocket, exclaiming, “I didn’t do nuttin,” and calmly walked away.  This event didn’t faze Eunice.  Whatever happened in Manhattan never frightened her.  For some unaccountable reason, she felt invulnerable and safe there.  I found this utterly illogical.  Even more so, in light of the ironic fact that, once we moved to the country, just the opposite was true.  She became afraid of everything!  And in the forty-five years we have lived in the schoolhouse, she has never, once, stayed here on her own.  Whenever I went to Brimfield or Atlantic City, or overnight on business, she had to have a baby sitter.  This was usually a friend or neighbor, but even a child would do.

        
On another occasion in Manhattan, she opened the front door of our apartment, to catch a fearsome would-be felon, with burglary tools in hand, in the very act of breaking into our back door.  Thank God, he quickly ran!  This too, did not throw Eunice, but it upset and worried me.  One by one, the small perils and inconveniences of living in the city were adding up, and when, later in the following year, the thought of moving to the country became a possibility, I was ready to leave.

       
On Sunday mornings, we went to the 26th Street Flea Market, and later in the day, we would often visit the Madison Square Park, where Samantha could ride her bicycle, mostly around in circles.  Here are Eunice, Samantha, and Alexandra, in the park with Al and Sue Thaler.  Sue had a baby on the way.
          I remember the very day that Samantha learned to ride her two wheel bike.  It was a Sunday and the local streets were almost empty, as this photo reminds me.  This is another Polaroid, technically terrible, and deteriorating quickly, but radiant with memories. This was “our corner,” the innersection of  Lexington and 28th street.  Samantha is standing in front of the doorway to the loft at 116 Lexington.  Once Samantha got the hang of it, she was riding along the 28th Street sidewalk, from Park to Lexington, and back again, with ease.  There was not a soul in sight for her to bump into on that Sunday morning. 
I thought about going upstairs and watching her from the veranda, but my sixth sense told me not to leave.  Suddenly, at the corner of Park Avenue and 28th Street, she disappeared from view.  I ran down the street and turned the corner to see a man trying to carry Samantha’s bike away, with her on it!  He ran when I appeared.  I won’t say that this was the final straw, but the load on this camel’s back was getting heavier by the day.

       
  At the same time, life was getting more interesting.  One reason was Life Magazine.  When they did a story in late October that included yours truly, I began to think of myself as a Mickey Mouse collector, officially!  This had been a long journey for me, one that included periods of thinking of my early obsession with Disney as one of the side effects of a lonely childhood, seeped in the Midwestern mediocrity of the Motor City.  Now, at the age of thirty, after some lame attempts to fight it, I realized that I genuinely loved Disney, and I segued from first to second childhood, seamlessly.

          
With the October 1968 article in Life magazine, came new friends.  A few days after it appeared, I received a fascinating postcard from John Fawcett, wildly decorated with drawings and rubber stamps of Mickey.  John was an art instructor at the University of Connecticut.  Our histories were uncannily similar.  We were both only children who had grown up during the Second World War, and were nurtured on the popular culture of the day.  We began an extensive correspondence, and with each revelation, we came to feel more and more like we might be twins, separated at birth, and reunited through our mutual love of Disney.  John did a limited edition of woodcuts, commemorating Ernie Trova’s statement in the Life magazine article that ”Along with the swastika and the Coca Cola bottle, Mickey Mouse is the most powerful graphic image of the 20th Century.”  He gave us one of the prints for Christmas.
         One evening, during that same week, the telephone rang.  I will never forget that call.  The somewhat shy and tentative caller turned out to be Maurice Sendak.  He immediately felt at ease, and before the call was over, we had become good friends.  A few days later, Maurice appeared at the apartment on 28th Street for the first of many visits.  On one of these occasions, I earned a place in posterity for the Birnkrant name.  At the time, Maurice was working on his book, “In the Night Kitchen.”  As he did with all the books he authored, he had created an amazing miniature volume, complete with meticulously tiny illustrations that previewed what the final full-sized version of the book would be.

On a series of pages, the hero, a young boy named, Mickey, in homage to Mickey Mouse, builds an airplane out of pastry dough.  I suggested that in each successive drawing the plane, which did not take flight, until the final panel, should, instead, raise a little higher in every view, until, not unlike the frames in an animated cartoon, it flies above the city of the Night Kitchen.  Maurice loved the suggestion.
And as a way of saying “Thank you,” He included the name Birnkrant on one of the buildings in the city.  Can you find it by the funnel?  The entire cityscape was, in fact, a means of thanking the doctors and nurses who had recently cared for him when he suffered a heart attack in England.  Birnkrant was the last name to be included.  Maurice speaks of that event in this excerpt from an interview with the author Philip Weiss. 

“So I shared my creative life with him. (Mel) We got to be good friends quickly, and he became very much part of the creation of In the Night Kitchen. And his name is in the book. That only means, because there are very precious names in that book, very dear people in my life and Mel was a new person. The fact that he got in meant a lot--

Your way of acknowledging your debts?

Oh sure. There are debts galore in that book, and I think I acknowledged all of them. I ripped off Windsor McKay, and just before that book was done I had a very serious heart attack in England. So that book is sort of a miracle, that I lived to do it. So there are the doctors' names and the nurses' names and the hospital in England and the nursing home in London, and my mother had just died, and just as I finished the book my father died, a tremendous potpourri of living and dying. And it was the book that last book I did in New York, then I had to leave for my health. I've been up here ever since. So that's always extremely important to me, the personal message, and it was also the beginning of the Mickey collecting, and Mel and Eunice Birnkrant, that-- for fear of language and ... it had to be something of a kind of spiritual nature.”
          Meanwhile, the loft next door on Lexington Avenue had become a place of fantasy.  From a lofty perch, atop the regal barber chair, which rotated conveniently, I could survey my entire domain.  The last vestige of Boutique Fantastique had, by then, faded away.  And in its place, I was surrounded by a multitude of miniature scenes, each representing life on one of seven planets.  These other worldly landscapes grew slowly, like strange blooms in an exotic garden.  And I fussed with them, and nurtured them with TLC, as if I were a cosmic gardener, growing alien worlds, amid the commonplace environment of a bleak loft in Mid-Manhattan. 
At the farthest reaches of this tiny galaxy, two impressive speakers stood, like twin monoliths in the popular film, that year, “2001.”  They filled the atmosphere with music, as comforting as air conditioning on a hot summer day, or oxygen in outer space, nonstop, and essential to survival.  Along the dark cork covered wall, adjacent to the left speaker, stood my humble workbench, the same old wooden door on two saw horses that I had used for many years.  And here, the Outer Space Men were created, series one, and later, series two.

         And Oh, how I was loving it!  For once in my life, I felt secure that the project I was willingly dedicating two years of my waning youth to working on was headed for success.  The process was both exhilarating  and intimidating.  My mood varied, from day to day.  Most of the time, it soared beyond the pull of gravity, and floated effortlessly in Outer Space.  But there were dark times too, days when my enthusiasm crashed down to Earth again, and inspiration turned to desperation.  When the first fragile Outer Space Men sculptures arrived from Hong Kong, broken into a hundred pieces, even before I reassembled this cosmic jigsaw puzzle, I could tell just from the fragments that they were both comical and ugly.  The impact of this disappointment was devastating.  Clearly, it was up to me to save the Outer Space Men.  And I knew that I could do it!  So, with adrenaline flowing, night and day, for the next three weeks, I did far better than the best I could.  From someplace deep inside, I found an inner strength, and I also felt that something else was guiding me, an unknown force, outside of me, perhaps from some distant point of light in Outer Space.  The inborn sculptor that had been hibernating for the past ten years was suddenly compelled to awake, and step up to the plate.  In the exhilarating process of re-sculpting the OSM, I knew that I was hitting a home run.  No, make that a grand slam!  I knew in my heart that the Outer Space Men would succeed.

When the re-sculpting was over, Harry sent a driver, the Colorforms messenger, to carry me across the river to new Jersey, with the fragile clay figures carefully cradled in the packing case that I had made for them.  He took me to the home and basement workshop of an old time model maker.  This was a man who had worked all his life in the toy industry, fabricating and creating prototypes for toy companies.  He spoke with a heavy German accent.  There was a kind of sadness about him, and a touch of bitterness.  He had dedicated his life to the toy industry, and never quite realized his dream of seeing a toy of his own succeed.  Nonetheless, he opened his heart and his scrap boxes to me.  I think he saw himself in me, the kind of young man that he used to be, still harboring dreams, and hoping eagerly that the toys that he had worked so hard to create would become reality. 

His mission was to cast three perfect copies of the seven Outer Space Men in Epoxy.  These would be for coloring, one for working out the color, one perfectly painted set to send to Hong Kong, and one master reference set for me to keep.  He showed me several open bins, full of all the scraps and leftovers of his years of casting toy parts, and invited me to help myself.  My God!  I did!  The scraps that I harvested form his bins became the props and accessories from which the scenes of the OSM on their home planets were created.  There was a kind of crazy Frisbee that became Alpha Seven’s flying saucer, practically ready made.  And there among the bits and pieces of this kindly craftsman’s history, was all the stuff that would be later seen in Electron’s Laboratory.  Orbitron’s rocket ship was cobbled together from cast off parts this most generous man gave me.
 
          When the casting job was finished, Colorforms delivered the original clay models back to me in perfect shape.  And I promptly sent them to Hong Kong.  I retained the three perfect castings of each figure, which I then proceeded to color.  The model maker also sent me the original Silastic rubber molds, and some odds and ends of fragments that had not come out perfectly.   Below is a selection of these odd fragments from both series. There is a certain ivory like beauty to them.  The perfect versions had that same precious quality; it was a shame to paint them.
There was a strange irony to my chauffeured journey to New Jersey.  The model maker lived only a short distance from Harry.  But, even though, I had spoken to my friend, mentor, and co conspirator for hours on the phone, nearly every day for the previous four years, I still had never met him.

       
  And so, I worked on the OSM for two years, Series One and Series Two, stories, photos, trade ads, commercials, and Vehicles.  Throughout that time, I took a break two nights a week to revel in my favorite pastime, figure drawing.  And thus, the front half of the loft, which was dominated by an enormous picture window, overlooking Lexington avenue, had become a forest of chairs, drawing boards, and easels that sat idle throughout the week, waiting for those special nights when the curtains were pulled closed to the street, and the loft became an artist’s studio.

My best friend Harley, a faithful life drawing class attendee, who was also working in the toy industry, would often, during the breaks between the poses, go back and sit in the barber chair to survey the Outer Space Men work in progress.  He never shared with me what he was thinking.  In later years, I have sometimes wondered if he realized, or could see, more clearly than me, that this was history in the making.
         And all too soon this lovely year, 1968, was over.  Here is Samantha, now eight years old, basking in the rosy glow, beside the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  Judging from that pile of gifts beneath the tree, we, as usual, had gone a little crazy.
          Two days later, was Alexandra’s first birthday.  My mother was there for the occasion.  This would be the last Christmas we would spend together.  A whole new life, in the person of a new husband was just about to begin for her.  Once he entered Leila’s life, we were gently shown the exit.
I can’t help smiling when I see this picture. It reminds me of the countless times that I have seen a bow adorning baby Alexandra’s hair, held there by the magic of Scotch tape.
Toots and Tom became the best of friends.
Here, he is teaching her how to string beads.
In the months that followed, Alexandra would cease to be a baby, and become a ballerina.
With a winning sense of humor.
         In the spring of of 1969 The Outer Space Men Made their appearance in the stores.  Their introduction was heralded by a very simple TV commercial.  I was there for the filming.  It was actually shot on video tape.  This was the very beginning of toy commercials on TV, and it was effective.
           Colorforms had no showroom in the Toy Building in 1969, but Harry insisted that the sales manager, who, like everyone at Colorforms, hated the OSM, because they meant extras work for them, rented a space in a small showroom in the Toy Building.  The major companies all had spectacular showrooms that no one could get into, without an appointment and credentials.  But this was just a third rate jobber’s space, hidden on one of the many side aisles, where modest companies could rent a table, and anyone could wander in.  The afternoon, before Toy Fair was scheduled to begin, Colorforms messenger and I went to the toy building, and worked there, all night. 

When the New York Times covered the Toy Fair, that year, it was our humble little display that they featured, as the one and only photograph that accompanied the article.  They saw it as representative of a new wave of toys that were up and coming.  And so, the OSM were off and running.  And with every passing day, three years of past advances, which added up to $35.000, that I owed to Colorforms, were getting paid.

      
   And at this point in time, Eunice and I, for reasons that I could never figure out, since our thinking had often been so unconventional, suddenly took a turn in the direction of the traditional, and we started  to think about looking for a house.  The Outer Space men were selling great, and It was clear that we would soon have some money in the bank.  The first step in this plan would be to buy a car.  So, the Cadillac Kid wracked his brain to come up with a vehicle as far away from those that dominated his childhood in Detroit as one could get.  The answer was a Volkswagen.  A beetle was impractical, so we chose a small VW station wagon.  Then we had to acquire garage space that turned out to be nearly as expensive as our rent, and several blocks away.  Owning a car in New York City was a pain. 

The first trip that I took was a solo journey to Storrs Connecticut to meet my new penpal, John Fawcett, and the legendary Disney animator, Ward Kimball.  John had convinced the administration of the University of Connecticut to hire Ward to give a lecture.  I stayed with John and his wife, Jackie, who, years later, changed her name to Jacqui, when her career in nursing brought her fame.  Meeting Ward Kimball was terrific.  He gave an incredible lecture about the old days at Disney to a packed auditorium of students, and showed 1930s Mickey Mouse Cartoons.  They brought down the house.  One simply couldn’t see these old cartoons in those days, and the presentation was absolutely thrilling.

Ward also spoke to John’s art class.  I sat in the back of the room.  And I could hear the students whispering.  Half the class were speculating that I must be John’s brother.  The other half was convinced, as absurd as the chances of that were, that I was Elvis Priestly.  This was during Elvis’s chubby days.  And there was a certain resemblance.

The highlight of this trip was a simple lunch in a fast food restaurant that I will never forget.  The group consisted of Ward and his wife Betty, John, myself, and an old acquaintance of mine, Roger Grossgrove.  Ironically, Roger had been my former water color teacher at Pratt.  His course was awful.  Now he had become the head of the art department at UCONN!  For some reason, he seemed to be uneasy and intimidated by me.  Maybe, because I "knew him when."  Oh, and there was another friend, Gerald Haber.  Jerry was the movie director of a Hartford TV station, at the time, and had a fabulous collection of 16 mm films, all of which, alas, are of little value, today, as it's now all on DVD.

Anyway, Jerry was a huge Ward Kimball fan, and talk about Chutzpah, with a capital C, and Audacity!  In the middle of the lunch he reached into his briefcase, and pulled out an expensive piece of illustration board and a pen, and asked Ward to draw Jiminy Cricket for him.  In case you don’t know this, Ward created  and animated Jiminy!  And Ward did it!  He drew the most incredible image of Jiminy I'd ever seen!  I was nonplussed at this, and at the same time, envious.  I would never be so pushy!  Yet, I wished that I had thought of it!  The drawing was Fantastic!  I glanced around and spied a paper napkin.  Dare I ask?  That would be just too tacky.  I did not!

These few amazing moments with this incredible man were laden with irony.  We got into a conversation about Audio Animatronics, and I asked why Disney seemed to limit them to subtle motion only.  I speculated about what could happen if, for instance, the mechanics painted black and seen against a black background, then lit, accordingly.  Couldn’t the process be used to create the illusion of leaping, flying, dancing?  Oh, and why was it limited to human beings?  I believed that Disney should apply it to all the classic animated characters as well.  Ward looked at me in amazement, could it be true, as he implied, that Disney had never considered that?  Then he said to me, ironically:  “The studio could use a young man like you!”  Little did he know how close they'd come to getting me, twelve years before.

Then something utterly amazing took place, the kind of circumstance that defies credulity.  The chances of this happening might be one in ten million.  With the creator of Jiminy Cricket, sitting right there, the canned music that was being pumped in over the PA system played… I still can’t believe it… a song rarely heard, since 1940… ”Give a Little Whistle,” Jiminy Cricket's solo number from Pinocchio.  What are the odds of that occurring?  “When You Wish Upon a Star,” perhaps, but “Give a Little Whistle?” How incredible is that?  You can’t make this stuff up!

         
When the fabulous Brimfield Flea Market began, it took place only a few miles from John’s house.  John alerted me that Brimfield was about to happen, and he shared it with me.  From then on, I went to stay with John and Jackie, three times a year, and until they moved to Maine, we went to Brimfield together.  Sometimes, the whole family came with me.  Here Is Eunice, Alexandra, Jackie, and Samantha with John, behind the car, kidding around.
And here is Eunice, sitting on a log, outside their house.
         Meanwhile, in Miami Beach, my mother was getting married.  She met a man named Devitt Law, who was her intellectual match and soulmate.  Devitt was a catsup salesman by trade, and every bit as clothes conscious as Leila.  He had as many super-duper dapper duds as she did.  He was a divorcee who migrated to Florida, seeking the love of an independant widow, and found my mother.  She was just what he was looking for.  So, it was love at first sight, and a meeting of like minds, and, to all appearances, true love.

Here are just two of the hundreds of photographs that fill a dozen albums.  The first is the biggest and clearest.  And it is unique, because its rectangular, and also in focus.
All of the rest are square and blurry, shot on cutesy clever angles, often on the diagonal.  In every one, the two lovebirds are embracing, and often gazing, not at the camera, but into each other’s eyes.  In all the years, during which I was growing up, I can’t remember seeing my parents touch, let alone hug.  It really was a happy marriage.
Leila and Devit traveled the world together, visiting, and staying with, all my father’s sisters and brothers, and wearing a different snazzy outfit, every day.  They took one cruise after another, on which they cuddled, from Florida to California, and around the World to Hawaii and the Far East.  The marriage lasted nearly twenty years, until Devitt passed away.  And, in all that time, we saw them only once.  Devitt did not approve of us.  Toy design, in his eyes, was not as commendable as condiments.

       
  Back in NYC the OSM were selling, and the modest collection that would, one day, become Mouse Heaven was growing.  Alexandra Toots was growing up as well.  Here she is on the veranda, sitting on the bench that I once used to boost myself over the wall, meeting Mickey Mouse.
          On July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldren set foot on the Moon, and took “one step for a man, and a giant leap for all mankind.”  This turned out to be one foot in the grave for the Outer Space Men.  Here we see Mickey Mouse, four days later, on July 24th, watching the space capsule safely splash down in the sea, on our modest black and white TV.  It would not be long, thereafter, that all space related toys would crash to earth as well.  Even Mattel’s Major Matt Mason was headed for the toilet basin!  Nonetheless, for a while, the OSM continued to sell, and we continued to dream.  Christmas was coming, and so was Halloween.  
          On weekends, we often traveled to the wild exotic country, just across the river in New Jersey, house hunting.  For once, I had a camera with me, as we came upon a field of pumpkins.  It proved to be a picturesque occasion to get some photos of the family.
         That summer, Richard Merkin, Kenney Kneitel and Michael Malce rented a house in Deal New Jersey.  We went out, one Sunday, to spend the day, and fell in love with Deal.  There was an ancient amusement park there, still surviving, although, just barely.  And thus, our somewhat lame attempts to find a house, focused, momentarily, on the Jersey Shore.  And we found one massive house that we adored.  It was a mansion, really, and more like a resort, an enormous stucco building with red awnings, right on the ocean.  It was too large to be a home, but we would have bought it in a heartbeat if we had the money. At eighty-nine thousand dollars, it was way beyond our means.  On another weekend, we visited my friend, Betty Lipton.  She was one of the first antique dealers that I met when I was just beginning to collect.  We had become good friends.  She and her husband, Sammy, had just bought a home in Montclair, New Jersey. It was a perfect slice of middle class mediocrity, modest, old, and much in need of repair.  I grabbed a hammer and helped them tear down an ugly stucco wall.  They had paid thirty thousand dollars, just about what we felt that we could spend.

The whole idea of owning a home was quickly becoming less appealing.  By this time Colorforms had sold a lot of Outer Space Men.  And we were well on the way to paying back the money they had advanced me, over the previous several years.  There was no reason to believe that sales would slow down as dramatically as they did.  But, once man had landed on the moon, and found that there was nothing there, it soon became an often repeated catch phrase, throughout the toy industry that “Space was a dirty word!” 

         
Meanwhile, the Second Series models were complete, and had been sent to Hong Kong to be made into the real thing.  But it was not too late to change the name, as the packages had not been created yet.  So, rather than calling them, the Outer Space Men Series II, we came up with the name, “World of the Future” So lame!  But God forbid, we should use that expression of profanity: “Outer Space.”  Thus, with Christmas on the way, life still seemed pretty much OK.  The Outer Space Men had sold so well that, throughout New York and New Jersey, all the racks were empty.  Thank God, a new shipment was on the way!  Meanwhile, the ad continued on TV, along with a second one, that was far more elaborate.   And then, a dock strike struck!

         
This unpredictable twist of Fate put a halt to everything!  The boat, carrying the Outer Space Men languished on the ocean, for the next four months.  All through the Christmas season, while the TV ads continued, and children by the thousands asked Santa Claus for Outer Space Men, they were nowhere to be seen.

Up till then, there had been a million dollars’ worth of Outer Space Men sold.  This meant that once the thirty-five thousand that I owed was deducted from the five percent royalty, there would be fifteen thousand dollars left to use as a down payment on a home.  And not realizing the full impact that the dock strike was to inflict upon the future of the Outer Space Men and the World of the Future, as well, we continued to consider the possibility of a house.  Admittedly, we did this with less enthusiasm than before.  Our unrewarded efforts, up till then, had acquainted us with just enough reality to cool our quest considerably.

        
Autumn in the City was particularly nice that year.  Therefore, on many weekends, we didn’t bother to get the car from the garage.  Instead, we enjoyed visiting some of our favorite places in the city, once again.  High on the list of locations that we loved was the Central Park Children’s Zoo.  Now, Eunice and Samantha would introduce Alexandra to it too.  Here they are on Noah’s Ark, little realizing that, any day, their future was about to change.  And they were, perhaps, waving farewell to the past.
          And so, a lovely autumn day was ending.  The late November sun was setting.  Another Christmas in New York was on its way.  We had no idea, then, that this one would be our last.  Nor did we expect that before the coming holiday arrived, we would discover the single unique place on Earth where we would spend the remainder of our lives.  The Ship of Destiny would soon set sail upon uncharted seas, and although, we didn’t know it yet, these were our final days in NYC.
          The toys were flying off the shelves.  Well, flying off the special rotating racks that Colorforms supplied with large enough orders.  Each rack had a two-sided die cut topper based on the window poster, which also came with every order.