Wednesday, May 27, 2009

End of an Era

As some of you may know, while my entire upbringing was within a quarter mile of Virginia's lower Chesapeake Bay, my entire family is from New York. They are primarily Polish, Swiss, and German, and arrived in waves from the mid-1700s to the 1920s. My parents didn't get along very well with their parents (plenty of fault to go around), so we rarely travelled to New York to see any of them.....until I started travelling up there on my own - first at age 12, then 14, then 15, then 17, then all through college and up until the current time. My wife loves the City and jumps at every opportunity to could I say no?
I've enjoyed making all of the visits to NYC (Brooklyn & Queens)...OK...most of the visits....for my grandparents' birthdays, anniversaries, Easter, and other holidays. I have suffered through boiled rabbit at Easter, as well as herring filets on New Year's Eve. Well, today a lot of that ended, as my grandmother Adele passed away from a heart attack at age 90. I am very sad to see her go - although in some ways she left us a while ago. She was also my last living grandparent - and last tie to "Old New York." She'll be laid to rest in our family's (multiple families') first neighborhood in the United States - Glendale, Brooklyn, NY. NYC's most German neighborhood. Read all about it from "Forgotten NY." In fact, the services for my grandmother will be held at the historic George Werst Funeral Home described in the above article.
A lot of outdoors oriented folks hate New York City. Or rather, they hate the idea of New York City. The buildings! All those people! The crime! New York City is a place that displays the very best and the very worst of the United States. Nowhere else is the American Dream so easy to see taking place - the cabbie in med school, the traffic cop in law school, the new American citizens scraping together their own businesses. It's also very easy to see it taken for granted.
Southerners never believe it, but it's hard to find more patriotic people than you will find in America's great northeastern cities - Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York, Providence, and Boston. These are amazing places full of people with amazing stories - and people who LOVE America. If you have any doubt about how American they are, here's a reminder.
The walls DO talk and it's amazing what they'll tell you. Next time you have the opportunity to visit one of America's great cities - GO - enjoy it for what it is. Your family probably has a history there as well.


tugboatdude said...

i was hoping you would do a post like this.I just don't have it in me to write about this kind of stuff,thanks

Kirk Mantay said...

Well as you know, I can talk to a brick wall about cement, so I got you covered. Product of getting older, too, I think.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


I couldn't agree with you more about NYC, it is the worlds ultimate expression of 'city'. All over the world people want to be there and it shows on very street.
I lived there for a few months one summer and one of the things I liked about it is, no one just washed up there, everyone desperately wanted to be there, despite its inhospitable nature 'the city' is whatever you want to make it.


Ben G. said...

Sorry to hear about your grandmother. I've never been to NYC, But I have been to Boston and I would agree there were tons of patriotic people all around

Kirk Mantay said...

SBW, that's a great point.

Kristine Shreve said...

My condolences on the loss of your grandmother. I lost my last grandparent last November and you're right, it is the end of an era in your life.

As for hating big cities, I've never equated small towns with patriotic. I think you can find good people where ever you may go, if you're willing to look.

J said...

very very beautiful written... it actually brought tears to my eyes... and i feel you on the New Year's Eve herring... been there myself... thank you for sharing your life with us readers

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