New York City: Just a lot of Little Neighborhoods  
By Dian Thomas

My first experience in New York was some 47 years ago when I came here as a sixteen year old shy teenager. I was on a two week trip to the east coast to visit Church History sites. This included a two-day stop in the “Big Apple” before going on the Hill Cumorah Pageant in upstate New York .

My main memories of New York were lots of people in such a small area, Times Square and the food automates where you could put a quarter in and get out a cherry pie. For a sixteen-year- old, it was just another huge city.

My next visit was in the late 70's when I returned to do “To Tell the Truth”, a national TV show. By 1980 I had myself a regular job on the NBC “Today Show” where I returned to New York every other week to be on the show for the next eight years. It was a huge leap for a young girl out of the woods in Utah . It was hard for me to believe I had such an opportunity. I knew that it would probably be the hardest job I had ever had, but I was willing to do whatever it took to succeed at this incredible opportunity.

It was not long before I was walking the streets of New York to find some of the props that I was not able to bring from Utah . What I learned was New York was not a big city; it was a lot of little neighborhoods.

When I come to New York now, I stay in an apartment near the LDS Church on 65 th and Columbus . The church in the eighties consisted of just 2 wards and a Spanish branch. We all met where the temple is now. When I went back to visit on Saturday, I learned that the church has grown to over 5,000 people just on Manhattan Island . There are now 13 wards and branches.

What I would like to share with you this week is the journey around my block, just one of the many neighborhoods you will find in New York . Almost everything one needs to survive in the city can be found in the small neighborhood. It is almost like a lot of little towns where people know each other and watch out for one another. So when you get fed up with gas prices, you may want to move to New York where a car just is not needed.

My journey today will be around my block but before I leave the apartment, I must tell you that I have a great view of Angel Moroni on the corner of the temple from my living room window.

As I leave the building, which had a 24 hour doorman, I hurried toward the Hudson River which is north. My first stop is a small restaurant called Little Johns. I stopped in to have breakfast. What was amazing to me was the waitress calls most of the people coming and going by name. I ask her if she knew all of the customers. She said that she knew most of them by name or by face.

On one side of the restaurant is a shoe repair and on the other side is a tailor and dry cleaner. Then on the corner is a deli. The deli's in New York are amazing. In such a small area they have about 30 trays of hot foods and salad items.

They also have a counter with fresh-cut meats and cheeses. It is about twice the size of a 7/11 with twice the choice.

The stores that catch my eye on the north side of the block are the pet's store where I am greeted by the store cat. Then on to the hardware store where I think they had 5000 items in 500 feet space. On that side of the block is also a Chinese restaurant and a card store with another neighborhood cleaner and tailor.

In my opinion the crown jewel in the block is a Italian food deli call Balducci. As you walk into the story you are greeted by beautiful fresh sunflowers.

This is the ultimate in a New York deli with beautiful fruit and vegetable displays and glass counters filled with everything from pistachio-coated salmon to Italian pastas.

At the check-out counter Oprah smiles from the cover of her magazine next to a stand of fresh flowers.

From this block is a nice view of the temple, which is not far from a bus stop and subway stop. Here, too, is the Pottery Barn which is a real favorite in the neighborhood.

Yes this is all in one small block just across the street from the Temple . Next week I will update you on the new renovation of the ward house that is connected to the Church and you will learn about all the growth which has taken place in the past few years.


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