Posts Tagged ‘Rye’

Thoughts On A Train

November 17, 2013

I love trains and I love rising early to board them going just about anywhere. Accordingly, this Saturday morning I was delighted to catch the almost empty 7:34 a.m. Stamford bound Metro North out of Grand Central on my way to Rye. The first 20 minutes of my journey found me gazing out the window down at the city of my birth, which somehow always looks so strange and unfamiliar from the angles given by the rails. Even the Harlem streets where I work five days a week took time to recognize.

As the train pulled into Fordham Road station at 7:55 my reverie was broken by the sight of something out of the Third World. Indeed, it was something out of the Third World as the Third World now exists in pockets right here in the First World; right here, that is, in the richest city in the richest country in the history of the world: the country with the greatest disparity between rich and poor and the greatest concentration of wealth in the fewest hands.
Dangerously few hands. And fewer and fewer all the time. Wealth moving ever upward to the already obscenely wealthy.

There on the platform stood perhaps sixty men and women who looked nothing like most people on the train heading to places where people look even less like them. The boarders were brown and black. My suspicion is great that many were undocumented: “Illegal aliens “ as the current nomenclature goes, made up equally of males and females.

They entered the train in silence and remained in that state. I heard not a single word spoken among them, only one voice pleading with someone in Spanish on a cell phone. Suddenly the car I was sitting in almost alone was teeming. I study their faces as discreetly as I can. No one is as much as looking at each other. It is a strange, sad scenario — not abject misery but a world seemingly void of joy.
It was disquieting if not disturbing.
They were, I imagine, on their way to the lily-white suburbs of Connecticut and environs to work as servants or menials of some kind or other.
I find myself thinking of their place in this world and in this strange thing called history that seems to move at the same time it seems to stand still.
Yes, jobs are good and all labor is dignified and even a lousy job is better that no job at all, especially if you have mouths to feed. And hasn’t this scenario played over and over and over again in the last century and a half with the wretched of Europe, the Italians the Irish, the Jews and the rest of the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free, ” fulfilling the same roles by the thousands only to see their children and grand children rise steadily in every aspect of American life? Isn’t this part of the process, cruel and unnecessary though it sometimes is, that made this country?

Yes, it was, and yes they did, but that was at a time when organized labor was ascendant, brutal and slow that the ascendancy was. Yes, they did, but that was at a time when, for the most part, the American economy was based on actual tangible goods – things — not legal swindles like credit default swaps, sub prime loans or hedge funds or what ever new parasitical racket Wall Street conjures up and our government treasonably allows or even encourages. Anything to keep the private party going and going. It was, in fact, during the late 19th century, when the government in the person of Teddy Roosevelt, began to awaken from its laissez faire stupor, to at least tentatively attempting to address abominations like child labor, starvation wages and the like. Laissez faire policies, now called neo-liberalism, have come roaring back utterly unbound with no Teddy Roosevelt even talking about reining them in, whatever the cost in human dignity. Indeed, such policies, we are told again and again and again are inevitable. What is more, they are what will save us even as they kill but not before completely degrading us.

So, yes, the situation is both very familiar and very different. Those earlier groups, despised and feared, mocked and sometimes attacked, arrived on these shores for identical reasons and, like these silent souls on the train, were willing to work like beasts of burden to achieve what they came for — and what both came for was some sense of dignity and freedom and security.
But the earlier groups had industries to work in and built institutions to protect each other.
Gone.
Poof.

What will happen to these people I wondered, as I exited the train? Will they spend their lives merely surviving in a world of less and less security and greater and greater surveillance? How will they feed themselves and their children in a world where jobs are not merely not being created but are vanishing at terrifying speed, sent to a land where human being can be worked to death and the environment utterly ruined, but never to return ?

What will happen to my daughter, I wondered. She with advantages the train boarders could only dream of but facing an increasingly similar world. What will happen to most of us, and sooner than we’d like to think, all of us who are passengers on this train not of our making and making no stops, hurtling at ever accelerating speed straight to hell?

Cycling the Boston Post Road

April 29, 2013

cos cob

Perhaps it comes as a result of too much Whitman and Kerouac in the bloodstream but ever since I was a kid and I learned of it snaking its way through the city I’ve been intrigued with the Boston Post Road, the Indian trail that, higgily piggily, became the oldest highway in America. It was not, of course, the car strewn thoroughfare paved of bituminous macadam found everywhere in the USA that I was moved to see, but rather the ghosts of that first, fabled mysterious road.

Or whatever remained therein.

map

I wanted to get a glimpse of the road that Paul Revere had ridden to warn of the coming of the redcoats, that General George Washington had fought to secure during the Revolutionary War, that President George Washington had lit out on for his first presidential tour, and all the rest of that early American boyhood school book stuff.

wagon

My interest was piqued considerably by a chance discovery of The King’s Best Highway by Eric Jaffee, a beautifully written and witty history of the road which I’d recommend to anyone who has an interest in the thing.

With the coming of spring I set out to see what I could see and, with trusty Trek in tow, boarded a Metro North New Haven line train to Stamford, Connecticut. My intention was to slowly wind my way down to New York along the Boston Post Road.
This I did, beginning with the nightmare of corporate architecture that is Stamford on through pretty Cos Cob and Greenwich, past working class Port Chester into pleasant Rye, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle and straight into the industrial entrails of the Bronx. Sadly, I saw no ghosts, only an odd plaque or two commemorating the way or some forgotten battle or general. But I did encounter a lot of beautiful architecture, a tiny old theatre where some great rock and roll bands once played, and a road that, like life, was seldom straight.

Here are some pics I took along the way.

Enjoy!

Welcome to Stamford

Jackie Robison 1

Statue of Jackie Robinson who lived in Stamford.

Statue of Jackie Robinson who lived in Stamford.

Entering the kingdom of Conde Nast

Entering the kingdom of Conde Nast

Along the way.

Along the way.

Church on the BPR<a href="https://raginghorse.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/

Putman monument

Putman Cottage 2

Graceful Greenwich

Graceful Greenwich

Church established in 1704

Cos Cob Volluter Fire Department

Welcome to New York

Entering Port Chester

Entering Port Chester

Capital Theater

Capital Theater

bands

Corporate America comes to Port Chester

Doorway of the Lifesavers Building

Lifesaver's Building

Lifesaver’s Building

Boston Post Road leaving Port Chester

Boston Post Road leaving Port Chester

The BPR entering Rye.

The BPR entering Rye.

Along the road in Rye.

Along the road in Rye.

BPR near the town of Rye.

BPR near the town of Rye.

Rye Crossroads

Downtown Rye

Monument for Rye Firefighters.

Monument for Rye Firefighters.

Sign in a window in Rye

Sign in a window in Rye

Smoke Shop

Smoke Shop

Rye High School

Rye High School

Doorway of Rye High School

Doorway of Rye High School

Wood frame house in Rye

Whitby Castle in Rye

Whitby Castle in Rye

Entering Mamaroneck

Good deal!

Good deal!

A family business survives

A family business survives

Little League

Mamaroneck FD

Mamaroneck scene

Old School House

The BPR in Larchmont

The BPR in Larchmont

Larchmont

Larchmont

Entering New Rochelle

Entering New Rochelle

Lovely house on the BPR entering New Rochelle

Roadside cemetary

Roadside cemetary

Tablet in New Rochelle 2

Armory in New Rochelle

For the Civil War dead of  New Rochelle

Modern

Modern

Empty Building

Empty Building

BPR leaving New Rochelle

BPR leaving New Rochelle

Leaving New Rochelle on the King's Highway

Leaving New Rochelle on the King’s Highway

King's Highway in Pelham Manor

King’s Highway in Pelham Manor

Old KINGS HIGWAY

The BPR over the Hutchinson Bridge

The BPR over the Hutchinson Bridge

A view of the Bronx from the BPR

A view of the Bronx from the BPR

A view of the Knucklehead from the BPR

A view of the Knucklehead from the BPR

Dyre Ave and the end of the journey.

Dyre Ave and the end of the journey.