Mother. Only one word cut through the noise of a New York afternoon. The rest of my neighbor Carrie’s monologue was lost to me as a Packard ambulance raced past us along Fifth Avenue, siren screaming and bright red gumball light flashing. On its oversize tires, the Packard looked like a white scarab beetle, slicing a path through Manhattan’s congested Upper East Side. Our view of wide and pulsating Fifth Avenue was flanked by a parade of elms now in full leaf.
When the shriek of the sirens had faded, we turned our attention back to each other, two women seated on a wooden bench at the playground near the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Egyptian wing. Carrie, a red- headed, doe- eyed girl with a pin- up body and an al-abaster face, scrunched up her pretty features.
“Those ambulances are awfully loud, aren’t they?” she noted. “Indeed.” She glanced uptown, as if they might suddenly start rolling down Fifth Avenue by the dozen, like the tanks during the Victory Parade in ’45, nine years back.
“Is it just me or did they get louder after the war?”