I was remembering when my friends Lois, Maureen, & I would go downtown to CBGB’S, Maxs ,(which was a ongoing joke) Mudd Club, etc. Being in the Bowery reminded me of the story my sainted irish grandmother who hated everything and everyone used to tell about her brother, Willy, who died freezing to death in the doorway of a bar on New Year’s Eve in the 1930’s. We’d get dressed up, organize, and just go to see what was floating around. You name it, it was there. Now Maureen is long dead and Lois long unknown and Miss Tsunami is getting ready to reenact circumstances similar.
I love NY – it’s when I’m from, although I think they are putting something in the water to make every one look and act as though they escaped from an LLBeen catalogue. Pun intended. Regretfully, I moved out to the Hotel California a long time ago, but city streets now call me loud and clear. My answer is to return from whence I came – let the chips fall where they may. After all, NYC had “bag ladies” before it became a national crisis. Sleeping over the heating grates at Macy’s and you’d see one shoe in the street on a meridian. Could never figure out why just one shoe, but it is part of the fabric that holds the place together. Friday afternoons after work, there’d be guys selling flowers by the subway entrances. Poignantly resourceful.
When I was married to Harry Ratfuk, he warned me of the many dangers waiting for me outside. He didn’t know I’d had my first nervous breakdown at Simon Baruch High School when I just left and walked across Second Avenue hoping a car would take me out. One day I went out got out the first bus I saw which let me off at the Staten Island Ferry terminal.Rode it back and forth all day, just staring at the Statue of Liberty, imagining all who sailed into New York Harbor, reading Emma Lazarus’s words. How many of them made it and how many did not. My family did, immigrating from Northern Ireland (Black Irish= dark hair/blue eyes) in the mid 1800’s ins steerage class. A great uncle choked to death and died at the dinner meal. He was buried at sea. The rest made it to New York and never left.
They lived on 57th street before it became fashionable. Stories of babies falling off fire escapes in the summer, the hurdy gurdy man playing “In The Streets of Old New York”. My great grandfather was a gateman (he’d open and close the gates so people could board the El) for the third Avenue el. He slipped on ice one winter day and died the next. My great grandmother Bridget went to work washing floors, and dying her hair black so she could get work. All the children lived at home until they got married. And turned over their paychecks to her each week regular.
When she died in the mid 1930’s, all that floor washing had netted her excellent stock tips. She was living at 94th & Riverside Drive, and left a hefty inheritance behind.Her daughter, my grandmother married my grandfather(born in Abilene TX in 1892) in Dallas – he was mustered out of the Navy at the end of WW1 and she left on a train from NY, not knowing her mother had hired a private eye to follow her and make sure all went well. My grandfather won their house in a poker game. and in another game, won their funeral plots.
I went to NY to live with and marry some one generation off the boat SOB. My grandmother had thrown him off the porch when I was younger and more trusting – she was right. It didn’t last long, just enough to get him out of dental school and graduated, then I was “deleted”. A deal with the devil is exactly that.
So, now it’s time to move on. I’ll keep you posted along the way.
The American Dream was built by those who came so long ago. Who loved and appreciated this country for what it was able to give them. Let’s give it a whirl again.
“(hurdy gurdy music (look it up!) playing…”When Mamie O’Rourke and I danced on the sreets of old New York…” For my father, William, with much love and appreciation.