Love In The Civil War At The New York State Museum

The Civil War is the subject of numerous exhibitions and special events these days as the country commemorates the war’s sesquicentennial. Most study the battles and politics, but one at the New York State Museum in Albany is focusing on how the war affected the relationship between two lovers.

“I Shall Think of You Often: The Civil War Story of Doctor and Mary Tarbell” opens today as part of “An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War,” a 7,000-square-foot exhibition that examines New York’s role in the war.

Doctor and Mary Tarbell were childhood sweethearts who got separated when Doctor Tarbell went off to war with the Union army. They kept up a regular correspondence until the doctor was captured and sent to a Confederate prison.

Mary heard nothing from him and didn’t even know he was alive until he was released in February 1865. The doctor wasted no time getting leave to go home and marry his true love.

The exhibition tells of their enduring relationship with letters, diaries, photographs and Mary’s wedding dress, giving a personal and emotional side to a period of history so often concerned with death and violence.

Both exhibitions run through September 22.

[Photo courtesy Tompkins County History Center]

Video Of The Day: Times Square In The 1980s

Here’s a bit of nostalgia for all you old-time New Yorkers out there.

This mini-documentary on Times Square really captures my memories of it from the 1980s. Walking around there with my friends at night was a gritty, sleazy, surreal experience. Touts tried to sell you stolen watches or draw you into shell games or strip shows. Street preachers screamed at the crowd and were totally ignored. Lights flashed. Cars honked. People swore at one another or offered you drugs labeled under a bewildering variety of street names (anybody know what “rust” was?).

Despite this footage being a quarter of a century old, I recognize some of these places. The theater marquees are unforgettable, of course. There was one place where you could see a Kung Fu double feature for a dollar. That video arcade in the film was a favorite hangout of ours. We knew about the pickpockets and always watched out for one another. Still, it’s amazing we survived all those trips without ever having any serious trouble.

I haven’t been back to New York for 15 years. From what I’ve heard, it’s changed too much. Times Square has been turned into a touristy shopping mall, and throughout Manhattan many of the small shops, like those wonderful indie bookstores, have disappeared. I have lots of friends and fellow bloggers in New York who are always inviting me to come over. I’m not sure I ever will. I think I’ll just keep my memories of the trashy yet vibrant New York of my teens.

First global private car service app launched on Monday

The first global private car service smartphone app was launched in New York on October 17, 2011. Groundlink, as it is called, allows users to book a private driver from their smartphones from wherever they are in the world. The difference with New York, however, is that they have the option to “Ride Now” and “Ride Later” while other cities only have the option right now to “Ride Later”.

The best part about this app is that the private cars do not cost much more than a taxi. Schedule your private car for the time you would like to be picked up and you will pay a flat rate based on distance, not travel time. For example, New Yorkers can travel from Central Park to the Lower East Side for $27 including tax and tip. And, Groundlink guarantees on-time arrival or your next ride is free. Ratings for this application in iTunes gave Groundlink a 4+, while the Android Marketplace has rated this app 4.8 stars out of 5.

Bonus: Throughout New York, Groundlink is rewarding users by hiding more than $15,000 in cash and prizes in cars around the city.

Available on Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. This application is free to download.