We had no TV. Florence was worried we wouldn't practice our violins if there was a TV in the house. Instead, we had lots of books, two record players, a small but substantial record collection and many, many radios. There were radios in the kitchen, living room, their bedroom and ours. There may have been even one in the bathroom.
Books were gotten at the library, but records were rare purchases. Besides, I was too little to travel to places that might have had record stores. And even if there had been one in the neighborhood, I had no money, my skill at stealing cash from my father to come much later. So if there was a song I wanted to hear, I'd have to wait to hear it on the radio.
So I clung to the little radio by my bed. Like some of my favorite books it was a portal out, even if I couldn't leave. Late at night it pressed to my ear I'd tune that dial so carefully, bring in WABC AM, my favorite station and wait as long as I could stay awake for the song I needed to hear.
And one summer The Edwin Hawkin Singers sang Oh Happy Day. And night after night I waited to hear a song about something so far from any thing I could recognize, yet singing something I heard in my heart, what I thought was a sound of joy and hope. Years later, like last night, in reading the lyrics I wonder how a little kid's brain could have understood the deeper lesson of watching, fighting and praying.
OH HAPPY DAY He taught me how He taught me Taught me how to watch He taught me how to watch and fight and pray fight and pray yes, fight and pray
And he'll rejoice and He'll, and He'll rejoice in things we say and He'll rejoice in things we say things we say yes, things we say
Oh happy day, Oh happy day Oh happy day, Oh happy day Oh happy day Oh happy day
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.