A Few Minutes with the Mayor – November 2017

Did you know we have a town historian? Well, we do! He’s one of the many volunteers who serve without pay in our community. His name is Larry Smith and he can just about recite the history of any event, person, or structure within our city. He’s your man if you want to know who did what to whomsoever in whatsoever year.

Recently, Larry took a trip to New York City where he visited my old digs on the Upper West Side. I answered his questions as well as I could about what it was like growing up there, but realized it was an experience we all go through, unique to only ourselves.

We lived on the fifth floor of what is called a tenement. In fancy buildings with doormen, the higher your floor the higher your rent was. In tenements, without elevators, it was just the opposite. But what are five flights of stairs to a youngster taking them three at a time?

Like most people on our block, my parents were the working poor. Around the corner, in the buildings with elevators and doormen, they were middle class. The difference between these two worlds can be illustrated by the shoes each wore. When our shoes wore down to a point where the soles had a hole in them, we stuffed them with cardboard until the money was there to repair them while hoping it wouldn’t rain. Around the corner they simply bought new shoes.

The kids on my block had just as much pride and got just as much out of life as the kids in the high rent district… perhaps more, because we played in the streets. Our favorite form of play was called stoop ball, a game which even the great Willie Mays grew up playing. Income-redistribution proponents would likely never accept the fact that we were as happy as those kids living in their spacious apartments with newer shoes. Still, I would like to believe their motives are humanitarian and are therefore, whether they know it or not, based on Christ’s dictum to, “Love one another as I have loved thee.” However, I do not believe that can be said of today’s political elements who preach hatred of our President and of our country. Sadly, their hatred has permeated every element of our society.

Such hatred was shown after the Las Vegas shooting tragedy when a seemingly intelligent, well-educated woman with a law degree from Columbia University wrote, “I’m actually not even sympathetic because country music fans often are Republican gun-toters.” With 59 people dead, and hundreds wounded on the ground, her remark was so horrific that even CBS, her employer, no bastion of conservatism, fired her in less than 24 hours. Haley Geftman-Gold, the lady in question apologized immediately, admitting she never should have posted such remarks on Facebook for all to see. Perhaps, but the point is she really believes what she said or she wouldn’t have posted them.

Each day some entertainer comes forth to tell the rest of us that we are all doomed with this President. Miley Cyrus was so angry she vowed to leave the United States forever if Donald Trump became President. She hasn’t left yet, but she’s still angry. However, as Mark Twain warned, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

There is another entertainer who showed the world that she is a true class act. Taylor Swift, upon hearing that a police officer from California died in the Las Vegas massacre, sent dozens of flower arrangements together with her condolences to the officer’s police department. A caring person, she also voiced an understanding of the dangers of anger when she once said, “Red is such an interesting color to correlate with emotion, because it’s on both ends of the spectrum. On one end you have happiness, falling in love, infatuation with someone, passion, all that. On the other end you’ve got obsession, jealousy, danger, fear, anger and frustration.”

That’s quite an observation. I’m not angry at anybody and I haven’t put cardboard in my shoes for years, but if I had to, I still wouldn’t be angry.