First of a series of New York reports

NEW YORK – Truth be told, you have to be physically fit and heathy to enjoy the joys of Broadway and all the thrills New York offers.

The pandemic four years ago was my last trek to the Big Apple —  in the summer of 2019, before COVID 19 shut down the city and all of his attractions – and it took some guts to decide to finally catch up on what I’ve been missing.

A late June return was a challenge, because I’ve become weaker and wobblier than the last visit. I lost confidence and was concerned about the recurring manic crimes and unacceptable unrest. Yet I needed to return to New York, which always has been My Kind of Town, so a 10-day visit restored my faith in the destination.


And happily, I saw the city through new eyes, since I rented an electric wheelchair to augment the walking cane that accompanied my treks because of lower back pain and a stubborn sciatic right leg.

Yes, I am not just elderly, but I’m now part of the handicapped community, too.

Clearly, The Big Apple still is best enjoyed by foot.

But a bum back prevents long walks, without aggravating additional aches. So a battery-operated wheelchair seemed like logical band-aid. The chair made me realize that it was possible at least to get a bit more mileage in the outings. Not a helluva as lot more, but a reasonable daily dose of  a daily show (two on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when matinees are irresistible). Oh, what bliss! Live theater galore!

But you shouldn’t and can’t do this alone, without a support wheel in the form of a trouble-shooter and advance team member who monitors your behavior.  So lucky am I, to have my wife Vi (show here at the Museum of Broadway) running interference; she checked out where and which theater has handicapped priority entrances, where lobby-level restrooms are located in performing halls, and which restaurants are wheelchair-friendly.

I would not to be able to survive all that I did, without her guidance and trust, so thanks, honey.

Especially since my mobility has deteriorated considerably since the pandemic.

So the first time ever, I didn’t “do”  the subways any more (Vi objected, knowing subway stations have zero or very few elevators, but plenty of stairs to descend and climb). So despite the purchase of a Metro Card, which allow limitless subway and bus rides, we only had two bus trips after heated discussions. She always advocated taxis or Uber service.

So while the underground trains were taboo, I wanted to experience the street-friendly MTA buses on two occasions. Once, to visit a Trader Joe’s store on W. 14th Street near Union Square, and an immediate pause at a nearby Post Office to send home omiyage treats in Priority Boxes to avoid overweight airline suitcase fees.

The post office, however, had a few steps up from the sidewalks, so I waited patiently while Vi handled and processed the boxes for sending the treats. Two of three mailings were awaiting our return home.

As a novice wheelchair driver, I was like a kid trying to earn a driver’s license. Steering is via a toggle knob, for all forward, backward, or left and right moves. With one lone dry run in the lobby of Hotel Edison on W. 47th St., in the heart of the Theater District, I had no mentor, nor a how-to manual,  nor a trial run on the immensely crowded sidewalks of New York, night and day. But folks are hugely helpful, offering to lift or nudge the chair onto the pavement, or help jimmy it up or down, when necessary.

Similarly, on the bus, commuters – male and female – were open to kokua. And patient, too. Perhaps they pitied this oldster and wondered WTF?

You do know that buses “kneel” to enable cane, walker or wheelchair folks to enter or exit the bus.

They don’t know whether I had Wheelchair 101 certification, and laugh if you want, it’s not that easy to do parallel parking on the bus, while scores are watching, either the already boarded, or the small throng awaiting to board.

At a visit to the new Museum of Broadway, a hall of the treasure trove of Broadway actors, choreographers, writers and more, the corridors and the elevators are not as wide and generous

Like those at MoMa, the Whitney or The Met, so it takes meticulous and precise skills to make a quick turn or stop, with your toggle switch, but I had the benefit to have my friend Kevin Iwamoto (pictured in front of a glitery sign at the Museum of Broadway), pushing me cautiously, with the wheelchair on manual mode. Otherwise, I might have had an embarrassing collision with a display or Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” costume or a cluster or real-life Tony trophies.

I share these shameless revelations of wheel chairing, mostly because I fear handicapped folks might nix making a journey to a Broadway show, a dining spot, or a museum. Surely, having a trusty buddy along with the experience is a must. There’s so much culture out there to be enjoyed, and it’s treat to witness the joy of musical theater or experience Cuban cuisine once in a while. There’s so much to explore and savor if you’re willing to take a chance and go for it.

I had surprising fun, doing nothing but sitting in my wheelchair on several instances, watching vacationers in action. Times Square offers free shows year-round, like free performances from budding stars, in the space where there’s the tiered seating above the TKTS booth, watching a model try to build a portfolio with her boyfriend shooting pics, sometimes in the middle of a crowded crosswalk while folks are transiting, or cheapie Mickey and Minnie, counterfeit Spiderman impersonators trying to get unknown folks to get a photo taken with ‘em, then asking for a few days payment.

And that’s Show Biz. …


  1. Despite the physical challenges, it was still fun! I’m happy to have been there to help you and enjoy your company and the mutual love for Broadway shows with you and Vi. Let me know when we can do it again!

  2. So glad you are just going for it, Wayne! Special mahalo from me to Vi, as well, for her being your trusty-honey-navigator! I miss New York!
    Laters, Vicki

    1. When your partner can help, that’s the safety net. Not wholly handicapped — I use a walking cane to trek four or five blocks but beyond that, used an electric wheelchair for mobility. Not an easy way to get around, but useful to preserve energy and avoid the aching back from erupting into major pain.

  3. Had a marv time, especially with your presence. Sorry you had a nightmare of a return, and while we had United delays, too, not as bad as yours. Will share our flight woes in another email.

  4. Hi Wayne, I,too, just recently set off on an I-can’t-walk much adventure, but we used an electric scooter. I was very intimidated at times, but like you had my most wonderful spouse (Gene) with me. We took a two week cruise to Barcelona, spent 4 nights there, then flew to Switzerland, rented a car and drive all over. It was a pretty steep learning curve, but we did it! Yes, I missed a lot that I could have seen if I were able to walk, but I also saw a lot I wouldn’t have seen if we didn’t go for it. Happy 4th of July, and please say hi to Vi for me. I’m one of her Kauai library fans.

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