Our first stop was Santiago de Cuba. Is the regarded as the root of the Cuban Revolution. It streets were teaming with people, motorbikes, and cars, lined by colorful building and shops.

Santiago de Cuba March 2017

We walked the neighborhoods, and to my regret, we do not speak Spanish, but we were able to communicate. There is much see in Cuba, and not doing some ot the tourist attractions would be a mistake.

Castillo de San Pedro del Morro March 2017

Castillo de San Pedro del Morro is one of the best-preserved Spanish fortresses of the 17th century. It is situated at the entrance to the Bay of Santiago, and the fortress lies about 10 kilometers southwest of Santiago de Cuba.

The Habor Santiago de Cuba March 2017

Everywhere we traveled we were greeted warmly by the Cuban people.

Our first game back without COVID-19 restrictions started out the way we have traveled to the games for over thirty years on Metro North. Mask are still required on Metro North, and we are okay with that. The station platform was full of fans waiting for the train. It was good hearing the conductor say next stop 153rd St Yankee Stadium.

We treated as opening day with a few opening day ritualized,leaving Metro North; one is we walk over to River Ave to see what has or has not changed. Stan;s Sports Bar history goes back to 1976 under its old name, the Scoreboard. Always loud but not out of control. It’s been a few years since being inside, but I remember the days when the patrons would stand on the bar leading crowd in Yankee cheers.

Stan’s Sports Bar

For the past forty-two years, we have had a New York Yankees ticket plan. However, it’s our first game back in our seats since October 18, 2019.

Section 217

After our first and only hotdogs, we eat at the stadium during the regular season. If the Yankees make the playoffs, we eat another hotdog first game. Yesterday, some of our other favorite foods were not available. Maybe the next game. After all, the teams are also adjusting to getting back to normal.

The most significant adjustment for us was the noise level. Life has been quiet for the past 15 months. This video is from first inning of the game. In the last three innings, I was thinking baseball not my iPhone.

Yankee Stadium

For us getting back to normal started this past week.

Tomorrow June 19th, we will be taking the Metro-North Train to Yankee Stadium to see a ballgame. A first since March of 2019. The State of New York has lifted restrictions on the capacity for events. At Yankee Stadium tomorrow, we anticipate a large crowd in attendance. Though it will seem like old times, I think it will take time to get back to how life was before COVID-19.

3Rd Ave, Grandpa, My Sister, A Big Green Cadillac, and Red Cowboy Boots

Grandpa started as a chauffeur around 1905; it was the early days of automobiles. I recall seeing a few pictures of him wearing a fur coat and boots. The car was large, and the driver sat in the open.
In the 1920s, grandpa was now driving a taxicab for a living. By 1930 had become an owner of a small taxi company. He worked long days inside the garage and still drove a taxi. Then after World War II, he sold the company.
But grandpa was a car guy. 1952-54, his car was a Green Cadillac with whitewall tires. He washed that car all the time, and the white walls on the tires were painted white for that bright, clean look. After cleaning the car, I would ride in the front seat to the Mobile Gas Station; they had the flying red horse
He would pull into the gas station, and three or four guys in blue uniforms would start working on the car. Each one would have a task, pumping the gas, checking the oil and water in the radiator, checking the tire pressure, and cleaning the car windows. All that for about 25-cents a gallon. Between 1951-54, mom would ask her father, grandpa, to babysit my sister and me. We loved it, and off into the back seat of the Cadillac, we would go. It always seemed enormous. It was.

Next, we would head down to Manhattan. From his taxicab days, grandpa had his favorite places. All over New York City, we would stop in businesses where he knew people. Many would give us candy. He especially liked 3rd Ave. Back then, the 3rd Ave still had elevated subway tracks, commonly referred to as the 3rd Ave El. Real estate under the elevated subway lines was not considered a prime location. On 3rd Ave, south of 42nd street, there were many bars, and grandpa took my sister and me to them. We would sit in the big (we were little) booths drinking sodas and eat bar food. Mostly what I remember of those places is they all smelled terrible. I don’t know what prompted this but, once grandpa bought us red cowboy boots. My sister and I still remember wearing them and often bring them up. When we arrive home wearing our red cowboy boots, I can still see mom staring at them and saying, “dad, why are they wearing red cowboy boots” and grandpa leaving as fast as he could. I think he just wanted to buy them for us.
Through my work, I had daily meetings with clients on 3rd Ave. As I walked up and down 3rd Ave, often eating at some well-known places on 3rd Ave, I would think of grandpa, my sister, his big green Cadillac, and those red cowboy boots.

Photo: © by Andreas Feininger for Life magazine-

 In March, on my Twitter account, with the help of The New York Times Time Machine, I started recreating the New York Yankees 1961 baseball season.

 It was Major League Baseball’s first season of expansion to ten teams in a league. 1961, the American League is the first to expand to ten teams, with the National League expanding in 1962. This expansion also created an unbalanced number of the game each league would play in 1961. Ten teams had to alter the traditional 154 game schedule and extended it by eight games to 162. The addition of those eight games would haunt the 1961 season and Roger Maris for years.

Screen Grab One: Yankees Season

On Memorial Day 1961, the Cincinnati Reds sweep a doubleheader from the San Francisco Giants, leaving both teams tied for first place, with Los Angeles Dodgers just 0.10% behind. Until late September, the Dodgers teams would be chasing the Reds. In the American League, the Detroit Tigers, with a 4.5 game lead over the Yankees, continue to play well with their heavy-hitting lineup carrying them. The Yankees have started to improve. On May 30, 1961, Mantle and Maris each connected for two home runs apiece. From this point, forward Mantle and Maris would continue to hit home runs at a record pace, ultimately with Maris hitting 61 and Mantle 54 home run.

Screen Grab Two: SF Giants, Dodgers Reds

May 5, 1961—I’m a freshman in high school. It’s 10:34 AM. We were all standing huddled around a small TV in the classroom. Many of the teachers brought in TVs’ that day to witness and historical moment. We watched in silence as Navy Commander Alan Shepard lifted off. Next, you could hear the excitement of that moment in the school building.

The New York Times May 6, 1961 America’s First Manned Space flight
New York Time May 6, 1961—Pictures From May 5, 1961

October 4, 1957, is when the Space age began with Sputnik 1 by the USSR. This event led to the Space Race.

I was already an avid reader of science fiction; I started reading all the articles in the newspapers on Space.

Then in 1959, America and the world were introduced to seven astronauts. There was soon a flood of books to choose from about them, and I read as many as possible.

The New York Times—Time Machine news clips and timely placed advertising reflected what we woke up to on May 6, 1961.

The New York Times May 6, 1961 Ads

I never lost my affection for science fiction or interest in Space.

A night game at San Francisco AT&T Park in Black & White. When I started in photography, all I could afford to shot was Black & White. A few years ago, I dusted off my Nikon F5 and started reshooting film. At first, I shot 35mm color slides, then next, color negative film, and finally Black & White negative film. Of course, slide and film processing was an issue that ironically was solved next door to the building where I worked from 1971 – 1993. Now, this particular picture was originally in color. I discard it for one reason the color balance was not appealing, the shot had no drama.
Shooting film and digital have reenergized my thinking of looking at shots and rethinking how I want them to look. My approach to pigment-ink printing has always been to recreate the color of Kodachrome. Now, I will again think of Silver Highlight Black & White prints.

Night Game AT&T Park San Francisco California

P.S. For Sale https://fineartamerica.com/featured/att-park-b-w-night-game-paul-plaine.html

As I did last year and followed Babe Ruth’s first year with the Yankees 1920 season, through The New York Times—Time Machine this year 2021, I picked the 1961 Yankees. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris home run chase to break Ruth’s record of 60 home runs. I was a freshman in high school, and for a class, we had to read The New York Times. It was also one of the many newspapers that were part of my daily reading at home. 1961 is my favorite baseball season. Baseball fans and none fans became involved in the daily news of did Mantle or Maris hit a home run. Lost in the home run chase was the battle for first place with the Detroit Tigers. It was in doubt until early September. But more on those storylines to follow this baseball season.

Reading the 1961 times stirs up memories. April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin becomes the first spaceman to orbit the earth. May 2 Alan Shepard space flight delayed until May 5. In the article, John Glenn was his backup and for breakfast, at 2 am they had, filet mignon wrapped in bacon, eggs, and tea. Besides tracking the Yankees, Mantle, Maris, and other base games, I read all sorts of articles and advertising ads. Today a few ads:

When a Yankee homered, Mel Allen called it a Ballantine Blast. He also would pour a glass of beer, and always with a perfect head to the top of the glass.

One of the original New York City sporting goods stores. Closed in the 1990s. I shopped there for sneakers, sweatshirts, etc.

Through The New York Times, Time Machine archives on Twitter, I’m recreating the Yankees 1961 season. Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs, and Roger Maris hit 61, breaking Babe Ruth’s record 60. Also lost to time, the Detroit Tigers (101-61) incredible run and pressure they put on the Yankees (109-53) into early September.

But on this day, April 22, 1961, New York State approved the building of Shea Stadium in Flushing Queens, NY. Reading the articles reminded me of grandma.

Shea Stadium 2008

My grandmother loved the Dodgers, as did dad. In 1962 grandma pours her heart and soul into the Mets. She went to church every day, but when the Mets lost, and they lost a lot back then. I would talk baseball with her all the time, and when the subject hit the Mets, and they lost that day or evening, with a cigarette in hand or lip, “those dirty bastards lost again” would pierce through the smoke. Grandma went to church every day until she couldn’t; baseball can really grip one’s soul.

Shea Stadium November 2008