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Burger Heaven

Frank Language | | Aug 9, 1997 11:45 AM

I've been working on the Upper East Side, a
neighborhood that makes me feel like Rip Van Winkle
because when I was 11 or so in the mid-70s, my mom and
I would come down to Manhattan pretty regularly for me
to go to a doctor on East 64th street. We would always
walk—sometimes take a cab, which was usually a Checker—
the 20-odd blocks from Grand Central up Lexington
Avenue to the doctor's. There were stores I'd see and
go into every time—The Different Drummer, T-Shirt
Gallery, Stitching Horse Bootery. And I still have my
original Gap T-shirt that says, "Fall Into The Gap"
with a pair of feet sticking out of the waistband of a
pair of jeans. Does anyone remember that slogan?

Since I've been going up there regularly for almost a
year now, I've been aware there are still things
standing that haven't changed much since then. One of
them was the Burger Heaven restaurant on—I think—62nd
and Lexington. I've always been impressed when I went
in, because the decor and layout were exactly the same
as they'd been in 1975: long, narrow diner with
hexagonal red brick tiles on the floors and climbing up
the walls. Lunch counter. Tables for four. I remember
one time my mom and I were on the way to 64th street
and I felt ill; we asked at Burger Heaven if I could
use their restroom and I went in there and threw up.

It's a 2-story building that until a few months ago
still bore the sign of the hair salon that was there in
the 70s: called "Black Hair Is". That salon has been
closed for months now; the sign has been taken down and
replaced with a "For Rent" sign.

My question is, what are other people's personal
histories of New York like? I know I'm not the only one
who's ridden the "New York, New Haven, and Hartford"
trains (with the blue plush seats that flipped over so
you could seat a party of four if you wanted), or eaten
pancakes at Child's. What neighborhoods are you all
from and what are your memories like?

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