I have fond memories of New York.  It was a special time spent with my sister, just us after an adventurous  3 months in Canada and Europe with my entourage (my brother and brother-in-law).  It was my first international trip post accident and a research trip too just before we started in our own fashion business.  I had made sure I had my sister for support in toilet situations and my brother and brother-in-law for stair situations…. and I can tell you there were plenty of both, especially in Europe!

By the time we did the New York leg in September 1998, I was a bit travel weary and so looking forward to some consistent wheelchair access I could count on.   We stayed uptown near Fifth Avenue and shopping was one of the items on our agenda.  Before that though, we took a not-so-accessible bus ride to the suburbs (to our surprise) to visit with my good friend Thomas and his family.

Horse and carriage ride NY

(Photo: Horse and carriage ride, Central Park NY, September 1998)

We also maximised our tourist time in New York by feeding our artistic soul with the Guggenheim Museum, we checked out the fashion stores on Fifth Avenue, took a ferry ride to Statton Island and in the process had gorgeous views of the Statue of Liberty.  We took a horse and carriage ride around Central Park, took a peek at Soho and visited the now famous ‘Twin Towers’ along with buying cheap tickets at Time Square for a couple of Broadway shows…. Scarlet Pimpernel and Smokey Joe’s Cafe.  It was a truly unforgettable week!


Two girls on Statton Island ferry with Staue of Liberty in the background

(Photo: With my sister on Statton Island ferry, NY, September 1998)


There were a couple of moments on this particular day that will remain etched in my memory forever.  When I think of New York these moments play out in my mind every time. We were heading downtown to Macy’s for some end of season bargains on sale. The plan was to stop for lunch first and then shop.  I was pushing along, with my sister helping me…we were minding our own business.

All of a sudden I noticed a tall slender African-American man.  He was wearing a white and red track suit with headphones on listening to music and bopping along walking towards me.  He came close and touched my cheek, it was so unexpected I jumped and was spooked. It happened all so fast, the guy kept walking and I gathered myself and we kept pushing.

We went around the corner to the deli and were looking at the menu board when I saw the guy come running around the corner and come straight for me.  He bent down with a gold toothed grin apologising profusely for scaring me.  He had only meant to point to my smile and say that it was beautiful but ended up touching my face and making me jump.  He was so apologetic…of course I told him it was all fine.  We said our goodbyes and we ordered our lunch.  Laughing at the unexpectedness of it all.

New York city skyline model(Photo: NY city skyline model inside Twin Towers, NY, September 1998)

As we were sitting at our table, I was facing the street and again I see the same guy come round the corner with a bunch of red roses.  I couldn’t believe he was heading for our table to give me the roses.  No one had ever done anything like that before, it was very sweet.  He was so sorry that he had scared me he was trying to make it up to me. I think my face was as red as the roses by the time he left but it did warm my heart to be treated so beautifully.


The day didn’t end there… we shopped and shopped and then we did drop…well at least I did quite literally!  We were pushing back up the street from Macy’s heading to our hotel.  I was loaded up like a donkey with bags and bags of shopping hanging off the back of my chair.  I don’t know exactly how many pairs of shoes we bought that day but my sister was having an interesting time trying to keep the chair going straight and the bags on the handles.

Computer in Twin Towers with tourst info displaying(Photo: Computer for tourists in Twin Towers, NY, September 1998)

Then suddenly….. the chair stopped… and I went propelling forward onto my knees!  We burst out laughing like a pair of galas. The local pedestrian traffic stopped, stunned, not knowing what to make of the scene before them.

What had happened was hilarious.  My solid tyres were the exact same width as the space between the bars in the floor grates that let the air out from the subway below.  As we had pushed along, the wheel got stuck and I went flying.  It was so farcical! Now… it’s really hard to get back in the chair from the floor let alone trying to do it when you are laughing so hard you lose your strength!  We got a stunned onlooker to help us get me back in the chair and we continued on to the hotel laughing along the way.  What a day this had been!

New York Skyline by day

(Photo: New York skyline with Twin Towers, NY, September 1998)

New York was incredible with so many layers of the American culture evident in the treasured memories I took home with me.  

My only regret now is that this trip happened before digital cameras were popular and the photos I was left with are limited.  It’s definitely time to go again!  It wasn’t until we got home and developed the photos that we knew how many good ones we were left with.  In writing this story it did make me realise how life has changed in the last 18 years, not only do we look older now but we take so many more photos to capture every moment of our holidays these days.  For now I have to rely on the clear images in my mind of my moments in New York because the photos sadly don’t do them justice.

lizzy hodgins