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In 1945, when the war ended, my wife and I, who had been born and raised on city pavements, decided to try the country life. We settled on a farm in New York State's Dutchess County.
From the windows of our house you could see three mountain ranges. In the summer the strawberries that cost nothing to grow were as big as golf balls, and in the winter the skiing that cost nothing to get to started at our front door. Our infant sons thrived in the spectacular air. My work went beautifully. Our city-tense nerves relaxed until they resembled sagging clotheslines.
And after the first dazed year we got to hate every minute of it.
"I know what the trouble is," my wife said. "This place is too far from New York."
It wasn't too far from New York for our neighbors, some of whom had never even been to New York. Some of them had never worn shoes, either, but we won't go into that here. What my wife meant, of course, was that it was too far from New York for New Yorkers.
After trying for several days to make up a completely honest list of the things about New York that my wife and I missed because we were too far away from it and that could not in some way be reproduced in reasonably satisfactory substitute form up in Dutchess County, only two items survived: the theater, of which we were both fond, and Madison Square Garden, to which we used to go fairly regularly to see the fights and the unfixed basketball games.
So we left the three mountain ranges and the free skiing and we moved to a community that is one hour by car from the New York theater and Madison Square Garden. And in eight years we have been to the theater in New York exactly four times, and to Madison Square Garden twice.
It may be difficult to keep them down on the farm once they've seen Paree, and everything west of the Hudson may be camping out, but one thing with which you don't have to cope on the farm or when you're camping out is the parking problem.
My wife and I soon learned that, when we drove into New York to see a play or a fight, by the time we succeeded in parking the car we had missed either the first act or the first three rounds.