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Walking to the diner, a Saturday morning tradition

My Saturday routine started years ago for a combination of reasons -- mostly because I love to walk, always get up early and because breakfast is my favorite meal.

My husband likes to sleep later, so I plan my weekly walk to get to the diner early enough to read Newsday for a half-hour while I drink decaf coffee. My husband drives there to join me later and after breakfast we do our food shopping at Whole Foods.

Over the years the diners and the distances from our house to the diner have changed. I started only walking about 2 miles to a diner in Garden City Park. Later, we switched diners, and I walked about 2 miles to a diner in Elmont. Still later, I wanted to increase my walking distance, so I started walking to a diner 3 miles away on Jericho Turnpike, but that diner eventually closed and a CVS drugstore took its place.

That brings me to the current diner in Williston Park, which is 4.2 miles from home. We've been going there for years and see the same people there on most Saturdays. The waitress knows us -- we sit in the same booth by the window every week.

In my younger days, I would walk no matter the temperature as long as it wasn't raining heavily, icy or snowing. I've walked on days when the windchill factor was in the single digits. However, my parameters for walking conditions changed dramatically in 2013 when, on my way to the diner one Saturday morning in November, I fell and broke my left wrist. Evidently, I tripped over an uneven sidewalk, but because I walk at such a quick pace and had a lot of momentum, I came down hard. I knew it was more than a sprain, yet I got up and finished my walk to the diner. When I got there I started to go into shock, so I called my husband to come get me.

After wrist surgery, I became very apprehensive about walking fast and falling. I work as an exercise instructor so I need to be in top shape. Now, I still walk to the diner when the weather permits, but I will not walk if it's freezing cold out. Instead I do the treadmill before I leave the house.

I still love to walk, and my Saturday routine is the best part of my week. I just have to be more sensible about my pace and very careful about where I walk. I don't want this one setback to stop me from doing the things that I love to do.

Cathy P. Tuthill,
Garden City South



In 1936, when I was 13 years old, my brother-in-law Peter Modifica bought a fruit and vegetable store called the Neighborhood Market on 118th Street in Richmond Hill. He asked if I wanted to work on Saturdays and help him. Of course, I said yes. At that time, we both lived in Astoria. He opened the store at 7 a.m. and closed around 11 p.m. -- a very long day, but I enjoyed it.

For a day's work, I was paid one dollar. In those days, a dollar went a long way. An ice cream cone was 5 cents, a soda was 5 cents, a hot dog was 10 cents and a movie was 10 cents. I was very happy with the arrangement.

In the summer, I would work six days a week and was paid $11 a week plus whatever tips I made delivering orders. After a while, he also started selling groceries and had a very good business. I worked for him until I turned 18 and graduated from high school. At that time I thought I should get a "real job."

One of our customers was an executive at Colgate-Palmolive-Peet in Jersey City and was able to get me work as a stock and file clerk. The job paid $15 a week, but I had to travel to Jersey City (20 cents round-trip). Working for my brother-in-law, I was paid $11 a week plus $10 in tips, a total of $21 a week with no expenses. When I left the grocery business, I took a pay cut from $21 to $15 a week. I made more money delivering orders than working at Colgate. So much for having a "real job."

Albert F. Gallo,
Garden City South

LET US HEAR FROM YOU Letters and essays for MY TURN are original works by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life, or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email, or write to Act 2 Editor, Newsday Newsroom, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747. Include name, address and phone numbers. Edited stories may be republished in any format.


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