New Yorkers never really leave home even if they spend most of their lives thousands of miles from their hometown.
Here's an ex-New Yorker, someone introduced a fellow. "No," the fellow corrected, "I'm a New Yorker. I just don't live there any more."
No people are more provincial than New Yorkers and they seem to thrive on the accompanying eccentricities.
O. Henry, Damon Runyon, John McNulty, all loved its streets, restaurants and bars and wrote miles of stories about the people who walked, ate and drank in them.
A long-term resident of Manhattan recalled an incident about a delivery boy he used to meet every morning while on the way to pick up his morning paper.
The boy would ride by and say, "Good morning, Mr. Martin," and Mr. Martin would say, "Good morning, Jimmy."
World War II came and Martin was stationed in London and was now a major in the Army.
It was the morning after a heavy air raid and Martin was on the way to have breakfast, and along came Jimmy, now a messenger, riding a bike and wearing a soldier's uniform. Without even slowing down he said, "Good morning, Mr. Martin,' and Martin said, "Good morning, Jimmy," and each day it was their only communication during their stay in London.
Another incident of the provincial sophistication of a New Yorker occurred one night in a neighborhood bar.
Pete's Tavern is a bar on Irving Place and 18th Street where I used to drop in after work at night and talk with a customer named Callahan who was a veteran of WW I and boasted that he had never worked a day in his life.
Callahan had a pension from some healed wounded he's gotten during his Army days and lived by playing the horses. His home was a furnished room around the corner from the bar and his daily exercise was a daily walk to the corner newsstand to buy the racing sheet.
The bar was empty one night except for Pete the owner, who was reading the Daily News, and Callahan, who was reading the race sheet.
There was no juke box to break the silent mood and Callahan was grumpy after a bad with the boookie.
The door opened and two couples came in The women mink. One man was a tall guy and the other short.
The tall guy looked at the bar's big grandfather clock and in a loud voice offered to buy it from Pete.
Recognizing the tall guy I turned to Callahan and said "It's Van Johnson do you know who he is?"
Callahan looked up from the race sheet and said, "No, I never heard of him, but I know the guy. It's Johnny Green, I won some money on him; he's a good jockey."
New Yorkers can laugh at themselves and their paranoia about the crime that surrounds them.
Like the man in D.C. who called a friend to invite him down for the weekend and was told, "I can't, I have to stay here and guard my apartment."
They know that you can't sit with your back to an open window on the subway wearing a new hat, because when the train pulls out a hand will reach in and remove it.
If you don't know what a New Yorker is talking about you, don't belong.
When Willie Mays played with the N.Y. Giants he would go out on his off days and play stick ball with the kids in street.
A New Yorker could be talking with a guy from East Dumpstruck and when the question was asked, "How good a hitter is Willie Mays?"
The New Yorker's answer would be "He can hit five sewers."