Tuesday, August 10, 2010

a) Inheritance b) Neighborhood c) Heritage d) All Of The Above: Part 1

Another on-going series of New York stories



Their father grew up next door to our father on Henry Street. Tenements. Not the hip, over-priced, badly renovated, tons of cache tenements of today but the rat-filled, roach-saturated, filthy, over-crowded tenements of then.

Their great-grandfather and grandfather had the stables. They were the blacksmiths. Our grandfather was pro-union but there's speculation it was just an excuse to be self-righteous and punch someone not related.

After the co-ops were built and the tenements disappeared, our parents all got new fancy apartments down the street from one another. Elevators, no rats, less roaches. Trees were planted too.

(Dana's husband, George was one of the couple of men who got those co-ops built.)

The older girl (who went to yeshiva with B.) knew the plaid "lumberjack" jacket from LL Bean and the ked sneakers Florence always wore.

Every once in a while, Dolly their mother would say "Let's go visit Florence" and they would come over. Sitting at the kitchen table, the trains going back and forth.

The girls still live in the old neighborhood that was built on top of the old neighborhood.

When I showed up for ice tea and picture looking, one of them said, "Betcha walked here." Of course I did. Inheritance.

I will probably get details wrong and forget about dates and lose track of which family did what, but I don't get wrong the neighborhood.

5 comments:

bucko said...

great contrast of old and new, new on top of old, and old intertwined with new.

Alana said...

your memories are priceless and beautiful. The old always buried under the new, containing more lessons than the present ever could.

Goggla said...

I always envied my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, talking and laughing about the 'old' neighborhood. They grew up there, as did the rest of the family, all their friends, and their families. The neighborhood tied them together through the generations, creating an extended family that seemed never-ending.

I never had that and wanted desperately to have that kind of connection to a place and family, a home to which to return, both physically and in time.

City Of Strangers said...

re: Goggla's remark: Boy, do I know all about that. Every place I used to know, either as a child or an adult, has either been abandoned or had changed so completely that I can hardly make out WHAT I used to know. Reading CO's piece it's hard to even imagine that continuity, except as an abstract.

Interesting to see these layers still exist in NY, the most fluid of all cities . . .

T.

c.o. moed said...

C.O.S. and Gogla: thank you both so much for such fascinating comments regarding what I take for normal - a long inescapable history on every corner.