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A Scary Experience

A story by Elsie Johnson



Do you believe in guardian angels? I do! My eldest daughter had to go to Columbia U. for a special examination. It was in December and the weather was clear so I decided I could drive her into the City. Luckily I found a parking space next to the college gates. She thought she would be through about 4p.m. So, I decided to take the subway downtown to do a little window shopping and to kill about six hours. Needless to say, about 3p.m., I was carrying several large packages. So, I decided to take the subway back to Columbia U. I must explain at that time when you went into the City, you always wore high heels, hat and gloves. Not having any experience with subway travel, it wasn’t surprising that I took the wrong subway on my return and came out of the subway entrance at 125th St. and Lexington Ave. I was in the middle of Harlem! I immediately realized I was in trouble! I didn’t see a white face in sight or a cab to hail. I glanced at my watch. It was almost 3:30 and I was supposed to meet my daughter at 4p.m. I didn’t think I had time to retrace my subway ride or even knew how to find it anyway. Trying to get my bearings, I started walking west thinking Columbia U. must be west. I do know my directions pretty well even though I didn’t know the subway system. It was getting dark – remember it was December. I continued to walk briskly in my high heels and packages when I spied two white policemen coming from a tenement house. I hurried over and said, I think I’m a little lost. Lady, you certainly are lost, said one of the uniformed policemen. I explained my problem to get to the Columbia U. entrance. He gave me directions to walk west until I reached Morningside Park. You’d better go around the park, he said, you’ll never get through the park with all those packages. I started walking again when the Police Prisoner car drove up beside me. Lady, you’d better get into the car. You’ll just save us a call – you’ll never get through the park with all those packages the policeman said. Needless to say, I accepted their offer to ride in the prisoner car and in a few minutes, they left me off where my car was parked. It was 4p.m. and my daughter was there to meet me! I felt a joyful relief! I offered to pay them (the policemen) for my ride and offered to write a letter for their kindness. They were very gracious and said, Please don’t tell anyone we took you in the Prisoner car. Apparently there had been some bribery and investigations on police activity with the Public as I was informed later. Looking back, I’m sure my guardian angel was on my shoulder but I have often wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t met those two policemen. I hate to think about it. I was so happy to be on my way to Pleasantville with my daughter that scary December evening!

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 Harlem,Morningside Park,police,prisoner car,racial fear
  Harlem, New York, NY
May 20 2024


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