It was the spring of 1959 and leaving St. Paul Union Deport the senior class of Harding High school was heading east to Washington D.C. and New York City by train. I was on board playing poker in the Dome throughout the night. Perhaps I was a youthful version of Sgt. Bilko as the cards kept falling my way. My only other memory was seeing the forges light up the hillsides as we passed thru Pittsburg. In Washington we saw all the famous sights. Unfortunately, we missed seeing “Ike” in the White House as he was busy warning the nation against endless wars and the military industrial complex taking over. That hasn’t gone so well….:(
More famous places to see in New York followed. There was a real sense of vibrancy and excitement there. Staying at the Roosevelt Hotel an evening out to world famous “Coney Island” was planned. Everyone was excited except me. My mom had advised me that this night might provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a Rogers and Hammerstein musical. Its name was “Flower Drum Song.”. That morning before our tour bus left, I asked the man behind the counter if two tickets were available. “Not a chance,” he replied. “It’s booked up months ahead, of course there might be a cancelation. Check back about 5 o’clock.” I did but no luck. Then Plan B appeared. “If you want to see a Broadway play one recently opened right across the street from your first choice and within walking distance. It’s called The World of Suzy Wong. To this day I can still claim I’ve been to a play on Broadway…..
Actor William Shatner has a unique place in the history of the romantic novel The World of Suzie Wong. Shatner, known for starring as Captain James T. Kirk in the Star Trek T.V. series, was the first man in the world to “woo” Suzie Wong in the original stage version. Shatner, 27 won the heart of a decent Hong Kong prostitute played by Vietnamese-French actress France Nuyen on Broadway between Oct. 14 1958 and January 2 1960.
I have no real memories of the play itself except between the acts I bought a couple of very small classes of orange juice for the outrageous price of two dollars a glass. Of course my date was impressed with my largesse. Apparently the play was roundly panned by the big city critics so it didn’t last very long. Later yet, a movie version was produced starring handsome William Holden. I advised my mom against seeing that movie having giving her a somewhat sanitized version of the plays plot along the lines of “love conquers all”. Fond memories from long ago...:)