Grandpa & The Empire State Building (9:01)

from SPAGHETTIFICATION

(Nine minute historical story song about that iconic building, where my grandpa had an office 50+ years ago.)

video:  https://vimeo.com/224267564

Oh I live on the street where

my Grandfather worked

more than 50 years ago

the 59th floor of the

Empire State Building

                                                  did I ever visit him there? No

but my cousin Georgie

has a black & white photograph

where he’s sitting in Grandpa’s chair

Grandpa’s beside him

They are both smiling

both looking proud to be there

The Empire State Building

opened its doors

on May 1st, 1931

It came in under budget

ahead of schedule

in 410 days

the building was done

Most of the 3,400 workers

were immigrants

who put in long hours

with many Canadian Mohawk

skywalkers with dazzling

balancing powers

Just two years later -- 1933 --

the movie King Kong was released

a blonde beauty named Fay Raye

beguiled that gorilla

the Empire State Buildings’s

fame then increased

But it was The Great Depression

and it took 17 more years

for the offices all to fill up

In 1950 the building broke even

(Today on the ground floor

there is a Starbucks)

In July ’45 a B-25 bomber

crashed into the 79th floor

caused a 4-alarm fire

where 14 people died

a miracle it wasn’t more

‘cause a young bride named

Betty Lou Oliver was operating

an elevator that Saturday

it fell 75 floors but the

springy coils of busted cables

saved her life I’m happy to say

But life ended for a 23 year old

on May 1,1947

who leapt from the 86th floor

observation deck

an unhappy young woman

named Evelyn

Wearing pearls and white gloves

she made quite a scene

when she landed upon

a black limousine

her note said,

“He's much better off without me.

I don’t think I would make a

good wife for anybody . . . “

In 1976 that same observation deck

welcomed it’s 50 millionth

guest in style

a husband and wife

tourists from Germany

Helga and Ingo

for the cameras they smiled

Four years later

the building gets its own zip code

one zero one one eight

on Feb 14, 1994

the first Valentine’s Day

weddings take place

On August 10, 2004

the Empire State Building

dimmed its lights

to honor the late Fay Raye

who accompanied King Kong

the first time he scaled those heights

But if you asked my family

what story they remember

when it comes to this

famous landmark

they’ll tell you the one

about our dear Grandpa

the Crawford family patriarch

No one is quite sure

what year this happened

though we’re sure Grandpa

was pretty old

at 10 AM on a weekday

the elevator operators

went on strike we are told

It was a surprise

no one was prepared

no one knew how long it would last

but as lunchtime approached

stomachs were rumbling

dear Grandpa had to think fast

See, he had a small office

with one secretary

who liked to eat lunch every day

in a diner she now

looked down on with longing

59 storeys away

so he put down his work

and took her order

then headed out the door

many years earlier

he played football for NYU

knew his strong Crawford legs

were secure – he’d endure

Two hours later Grandpa was back

his hungry secretary got fed

she didn’t mind

that the coffee was cold

or that he ordered the wrong kind of bread

And for the rest of the time

she worked in his office

she fondly remembered that day

when our Grandpa – just for her --

went so far out of his way

And all these years later

here I am

living right down the street

from this iconic building

known the world round

where paupers, poets,

and princes might meet

Where movies and weddings

reunions and tragic events

have all taken place

did I mention

In early February each year

up the 86 flights there is a foot race

And I wonder now who sits

in Grandpa’s chair

and what kind of work do they do?

and how many stories

have played out

here at 350 Fifth Avenue?

I stand on the street

and look up at the building    

counting to 59

Is that the window

in Georgie’s photo?

I wish Grandpa could give me a sign

Oh I live on the street where

my grandfather worked

more than 50 years ago

the 59th floor of the Empire State Building

did I ever visit him there? No

but my cousin Georgie

has a wonderful photograph

where he’s sitting in Grandpa’s chair

Grandpa’s beside him

they are both smiling

both looking proud to be there  

59 storeys up in the air . . .    

Credits:

CL: vocal/guitar/harmonies   Steve

Doyle: bass

Brain Bauers: piano

updated: 2 weeks ago