Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tourist Vs. Resident

I had started to write this blog post last year, so the Carnegie Deli I write about below is strictly a mail order operation now.  But other than that, I totally agree with what I wrote about, and left in my drafts.

I have a sister in law who can not believe that, after growing up in New York City, I would rather not live there.  And, in fact, I haven't lived there in over 42 years.  And I try to explain to her, each time we talk about this, that visiting a place is not the same as living there.  Hence:

The Carnegie Deli, the deli in midtown Manhattan famed for its thick pastrami sandwiches, has announced it will close at the end of the year.  Several of my co-workers, aware that I grew up in New York City, asked how many times I had eaten there.  My answer:  zero times.

You see, there is a big difference between living in a big city and visiting a big city.  If I wanted a pastrami sandwich, I went to the local deli in my Bronx neighborhood.  Why would I travel 40 minutes on the subway just to have a pastrami sandwich?

Similarly, I never went to visit the Empire State Building until I was 16, and that was only because I decided, one day, to be a tourist in my home city.   I might have visited the Statue of Liberty on a school field trip (I know they made me go to the same museum each and every year, and it got boring after a while. 

Yes, boring, in the City of Awesome Museums.  I've never been to Ellis Island, either, although I would love to go.

I only visited the World Trade Center (this was back in 1973, before it officially opened) because the bank near my summer job on West Broadway had a branch in there, and that was back in the days before Direct Deposit was invented.  Imagine that, walking to the bank to deposit your paycheck.  That should be a post for another time.

Macy's in Herald Square was a place where my Dad and I went to people-watch during holiday shopping season.

I think you get the point.

When you live in a city you are commuting back and forth to and from work (or school).  You have to buy food, prepare food, shop, and do all those things that take up time.  Trust me:  most New Yorkers aren't making daily visits to any tourist attraction.

We are just trying to live our lives.

This isn't to say that residents never go to Broadway shows, or visit a museum, or eat in a famous restaurant.  But, even as an adult, if I went to "the City" I was there to visit friends or family.  If I ate out, it was most likely in an affordable restaurant or in a diner.  Or, I ate takeout from the local Chinese restaurant - something I did a lot with my late best friend from childhood and her spouse.

So, if you go to New York City, and I am there, you will sooner see me at the local diner than at the Carnegie Deli.  You'll see me walking on the street and not in a carriage ride near Central Park.

And that is the greatest part of visiting a big city - when you can visit it with the knowledge of someone who lives there, and go to where the locals go. Those are the luckiest tourists of all. 

That beats the biggest pastrami sandwich that a person can build.

Have you ever lived in a place that was a major tourist attraction?  Did you live like a tourist?

Day 24 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Music Monday - Songs Of a Turbulent Time

Today, a post with some songs for our times.

Respect - Aretha Franklin.   This is something we need a whole lot more of.

This is a song I blogged about last year:  "You Don't Own Me" as sung by Leslie Gore.

Janis Ian "At Seventeen".

And, a song from the 1960's, that in a way, seems just as relevant today.

The more things change....which is why I leave you with this song.  It has lyrics thousands of years old, but, again, is still relevant today.

Day 23 of The Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Tale of Two Cousins

Today, a tale of two cousins.  Both are teachers and both live in Florida.  One is my first cousin, and the other is my spouse's first cousin.  One is a native of Florida.  One grew up in New Jersey.  One lives in the Orlando area and the other is near Ft. Lauderdale.  One teaches elementary school and the other teaches high school.

One voted for Trump and proudly declared her support of Trump on Inauguration Day.

For the other cousin, she does not declare her political views on Facebook, but made it clear, after Trump's inaugural speech, that she was not pleased at his remarks about children and education.  She is a devoted teacher.  In fact, many, many years ago, when she first started to teach, I helped her set up her classroom one year, during a visit.

Two cousins.

Two backgrounds.

Two opinions.

But there are things these two cousins have in common.  They were able to get an education, and pursue a career.  They were able to choose whether to have children or not have children.  They both had the right to vote (although one of them had to wait until she was 21 to get that right. The other received that right at 18).

The "Lawn" at the University of Virginia, January 2017
Now, consider this.  When the buildings you see in this picture (not the columns in the front, but the buildings you see on either side, designed by founding father Thomas Jefferson) were built, slavery was legal and even the wives of faculty members were barely tolerated.  This university was not fully co educational (i.e. women did not have an equal ability to go to this college) until the year 1970. 

That was also the year I enrolled in a college.  It's sobering.

Back then, women attending college were still called "co-eds".  Now, they are called "people".

It was a way different world back then.  I, personally, do not want to go back, as appealing as nostalgia can sometimes be.

We have a lot of work ahead of us to make sure that never happens.

Day 22 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Local Saturday - Human Wormholes

The woman pictured below was born five years before women got the right to vote, in 1917.  What better woman to write about, on this special day in the United States?

This post was originally written in 2014.  What I didn't know, at the time, is that someone had written a detailed article about the woman in this picture, who turns 105 this month.

Yes...105.  And her life has been a most fascinating one.

She is also my spouse's aunt.

Many things have changed since my original post.  Later in 2014, after this post was written, this 102 year old woman fell, broke her hip, and underwent a partial hip replacement.  Although she survived the surgery, and she remains mentally sharp, her health never totally recovered.  She rarely leaves the house now.  I wish I could give you, my readers, a happier report but, as they say, "it is what it is".

Won't you comment below, and wish my spouse's aunt a Happy 105th Birthday?

Come, now, to happier days when I blogged about "Human Wormholes".
She is what some call a human wormhole.  And I hope she'll forgive me for saying so, because she knows I love her very much.  It's not the most elegant name, the "human wormhole" but if you think about it a little, the name is a bit catchy.

Yes, I know she looks like a woman of a certain age.  To be exact, she's 102 years old.  But she's so much more.  She's a treasured relative in my spouse's family.

She is a link to the past.  She may be physically frail, but her mind is as sharp as the day she was born. Maybe even sharper.

She's a living link to the past, the past that, for all but a handful of us, exists only in textbooks.  When I touch her, when I talk to her, I am touching history.

She was alive when the Titanic made its maiden voyage (1912).

She was alive when our country enacted a constitutional amendment permitting the income tax (1913).

She was alive during the post World War I flu epidemic (1918-1919) and vaguely remembers wagons traveling from house to house where needed to pick up the dead (what a childhood memory).

We are fascinated by human wormholes.  I've blogged about some of them myself, from the living grandson of a U.S. President who served from 1841 to 1845 to a man who witnessed Lincoln's 1865 assassination and lived to tell the story on a late night game show in 1956.

One story has an interesting twist.  It is said that Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who fought in the Civil War, shook hands with both former President John Quincy Adams (born in 1767) and a young/future President John J Kennedy (whose life was cut short by assassination in 1963).  I can not find any firm evidence for this having actually happened (there is a fascinating discussion online about whether it might have been possible, though). However, Holmes did have a link to more than just the Civil War, where it is said he once saved Lincoln's life.

Holmes, who lived from 1841 to 1937, had fond memories of his grandmother, who could remember red coated English troops marching through the streets of Boston at the beginning of our Revolutionary War. When she was five. In 1776.

If I live long enough, I might be a human wormhole, too.  I don't know if that makes me happy - or scares me a little.

Do you know anyone who would qualify as a human wormhole?

Day 21 of #blogboost The Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Skywatch Friday - Gathering Clouds

Friday, January 13, 2017 in upstate New York.
We are close to sunrise, but the clouds look pretty grim.
It starts to brighten.

Finally, the sun is about to appear, about four miles down the road.

Visit #SkywatchFriday for more pictures of the sky, the sun, and more.

Day 20 #blogboost of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Collective Holding of Breath

"It’s the time to buckle down and work positively as much as you can,” she says. “Just think, ‘All right, there’s nothing I can do about that right now. But I can do my best in my little circle. So if I do that, maybe you’ll do your best and we’ll get through this." Actress Betty White, in an interview with Katy Couric, talking about division in the United States and staying positive. 

There has been so much hate flying around on Facebook this last year or so.  I came so close to blocking people (I did block someone whose posts were non stop hate.  I don't block people just because they don't support my candidate)  I knew for years.  I knew most of the people venting (on both sides) were decent, hardworking people.  I also knew that many of them were scared.  But it just got to be too much for me to read.

A reader of my blog recommended that I just "scroll on by", and that has kept my sanity.

Now, on the eve of the inauguration of the new President, many are pausing to consider what the future may be holding, for better or for worse.   What kind of world?

I don't mean the Trump-Inauguration-As-Twilight Zone-Episode article appearing in a Scottish newspaper.

Or the internet meme started over a comment by Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos in a discussion about if firearms had any place in schools.  

(For the benefit of my readers outside the United States, yes, there are places where students must be protected against wildlife. Grizzlies are no joke.)

No, this world:  A world, for example, where Jewish community centers all over the country are being targeted by bomb scares. 

Or a man accused of harassing a black family is said to have quite an arsenal in his house (and, by the way, his elderly parents were living in that same house.)

Hate crimes in general are on the increase.

But others are happy that their voices are being heard - voices they feel have been ignored by people on both coasts of our country. 

Division, with no unity in sight.

Recently, I have pondered my future actions, and what I will do on January 20, and thereafter. I fear, based on how history has gone before, that the divisions in our country are only going to get worse.  Love will not trump hate.  

Will I be able to work in my own little circle? Will I choose right?  And will it make a difference?

Day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Winter Wonders - She's Golden

Yesterday, actress Betty White celebrated her 95th birthday - by working.

Yes, she is still actively working on television. She's been working for over 75 years.

Perhaps age is more than a number, but what a number Betty White has.

Three years ago, she did a spoof of a famous music video.

But I remember her from the early 1960's, when she would star on a game show called Password.  She married the host, Allen Ludden, who died in 1981 from cancer.  He was the love of her life (she was married twice before).  Betty White never remarried.

Betty White was on TV long before that - here is a clip from 1953. She acted in this show but she was also a producer - a producer, in the 1950's, when that was almost unheard of for a woman.

And then there was the 1970's, when Betty White played a recurring character on The Mary Tyler Moore show.  Sue Ann Nivens had men very much on her mind and it was so funny.  Be forewarned, a lot of White's humor is not on the clean side. 

Then, in the 1980's (1985 to 1992 to be exact) there was the Golden Girls (shown, here, with the late Bea Arthur).  For a 95th birthday present, Betty White was interviewed, and asked for a reboot of this series.

Nowadays, Betty White appeared on a series called Hot in Cleveland,which left the air in 2015.  This clip is from 2014.  Betty White played a 90 year old woman who had quite the life - an escape from the Nazis in World War II, and, yes, she still went after men.

Perhaps that is the secret of youth - never lose your zest for life.  Stay golden, and be outrageous.

We hope you have many happy (and healthy) birthdays ahead of you, Betty White!

Day 18 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.