Pretty much every Sunday in the Fall, Winter, or Spring, my parents would load us into the car and we’d drive from our suburban house in Bronxville to one of several wonderful museums in New York City.
We had a red Valiant just like this when I was little.
Cars didn’t have seat belts in the early 60s, so my sister and I could slide around and fight over seat territory in the back. It had a push button dashboard which I always wanted to play with, and snazzy black and white upholstery; the tail lights were especially cool and looked like eyes to me.
Going to museums was a big deal in our house. We’d all meet in the kitchen on Sunday morning; each one of us saying where we’d like to go or what we’d like to see, and then a museum was agreed upon and we’d go after lunch.
My father usually had veto power if the suggestion was too outlandish (or not what he was willing to do) or the desired collection was in too dangerous a neighborhood. For example: by the early 1970s, going to the Hispanic Society of America which was located on the edge of Harlem, was just too dangerous as was even going to the Brooklyn Museum by then.
We always dressed up for museum going. I remember taking the time to choose my outfit which always included my best clothes, and jewellery (brooches, bracelets, rings, necklaces),
and frequently my little white gloves, a small purse to hold whatever small change I had for the museum shop, and my black patent leather shoes (or my white Courreges style go-go boots that I liked to wear with a white mohair mini skirt – I was a very groovy kid).
We also had to have our hair done properly – my mother put bows in my hair, and later ribbons when I had braids.
And on Sundays I became the family’s shoe polisher – especially for my Dad – I made sure that our feet were as good looking as our hair. This I would do sitting on the top step of the basement stairs, using a shoe polishing kit. I polished my patent leather shoes in my room with spit.
We only went to the museums that had free admission. In fact, although the Metropolitan Museum of Art was probably my parents’ favorite museum, once the Met started charging “voluntary donations” in the early 1970s we stopped going there. But by then I was finally old enough to go to the Frick Collection (which had an age limit of 10 years old) and that became a top favorite
My sister and I grew up walking around museums looking at art. We were so well behaved that my parents were often complimented on our comportment by museum guards and other visitors.
Of course there must have been times that I got cranky and difficult too. But my only memories of these trips are happy ones.