Monday, January 20, 2014

Update: Return of the Subway Woman

 She wasn't there on January 2nd, but I hadn't expected her to be. The police had ousted the little old Chinese woman from the subway underpass in December and I didn't think she would return. But last week as I approached the corner where she usually sat, I was surprised to see her huddled next to the newsstand. 

 "I didn't expect to see you," I said.  She just gave me a toothless smile and said "thank you" as I gave her my donation.

The musicians have returned, too. I wonder if they and the woman were given tacit permission to return. Perhaps the directives to the NYPD and MTA to eject them from the subways were meant to "improve" New York's image during the Christmas season and shield the tourists from seeing what are typical scenes in the city.  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Long-Ago Thanksgiving

For the past week, some of my McGowan cousins have been visiting New York from Ireland and Australia.  As people tend to do, we cousins thought about some of the celebrations of the past. One of those was the Thanksgiving dinner hosted each year by my cousin John "Jack" Hildemann.  The entire family gathered each November at The Roost in Newark. It was always a wonderful day seeing family members. Jack also made sure there was some form of entertainment for the children.

Here is a somewhat faded photo taken at one of these celebrations. I would guess the year to be about 1970.

(L-R) Patricia Kowalski, Rita Field (seated), Mary Hildemann, unknown girl, Barbara Backus Kowalski, Ed Mahoney, John Hildemann, Peter McGowan, Kathleen McGowan (somewhat hidden).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Not such a merry Christmas

There is a tiny old Chinese woman who sits on the floor of the underpass that connects the Port Authority Bus Terminal with the #7 train.  I’ve seen her there for the past few years, so every time I’m headed to the train, I put a small donation in the bag that she has at her feet.  

One Friday in late December, I had my money in hand as I approached the woman’s usual spot only to see her being ordered by  two New York City policemen to leave. She said not a word and rose.   I spoke to one of the policemen who told me it was by order of the Municipal Transit Authority. The mayor doesn’t like to see this, he explained, the reason being that if the city allows one person to sit here, others will follow.

“It’s Christmas time,” I said. And the policeman answered, “Merry Christmas” in a sharp voice that sounded more like Scrooge than Santa Claus.

Perhaps my sympathy for the old Chinese woman goes beyond her need. Perhaps it’s the thought that there but for the grace of God go I.