Plus ca change…….
We continue to hear and talk about school shootings (it is, after all, part of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms). I feel so sorry for parents, not to mention kids, who go to school wondering whether something like this is going to happen today. Just this month, a teacher, a young woman here in Virginia, was shot by a six year old pupil, It is believed to have been deliberate.
This is not unprecedented in our history. I vividly remember, to this day, about 75 years later, when school children were terrorized by the threat of anniliation by thermonuclear bombs aimed at our cities by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during what became known as the Cold War (thank you, God, that it stayed cold). I grew up in the “outerborough” of Queens, about 6 miles as the crow flies from Times Square, which was considered “ground zero” for such an attack. We practiced “Take Cover” drills in case the unthinkable happened. Our schoolbuilding, typical of those built a century ago, featured at least one wall of single pane glass windows. I seriously doubt that our desks, beneath which we sheltered, would have afforded much protection from flying shards of glass, not to mention blast effects and radiation, both prominent features of H-bombs.
As many of you are aware, the City of New York consists of five “boroughs”: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. However, the City is widely considered to be Manhattan, with the others relegated to outer status. Manhattan is where it’s at, the center of culture, money, showbiz, money, political power, money – you get my drift. Queens, the largest in area, was a land of farms (yes, really) until it was developed after WWII. One of the major developers was Fred Trump (name sound familiar?). Fred made a lot of money (much of it inherited by son Donald), but the family never became accepted as A-list celebs – they were from an outerborough, after all. We are all familiar with the consequences (how much better off this country would be if the Donald had been content to remain a useless man-about-town playboy).
Then we have the Cuomo’s, who lived fairly close by the Trumps, also in Queens. Mario, the patriarch, worked his way through law school and rose eventually to become a three term governor of New York, and potentially a presidential contender. His elder son, Andrew, also rose to the governorship of New York (but was forced to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment). He unfortunately took his younger brother, Chris, with him to obscurity.
During my days as an undergraduate at City College of New York, I was a brother in the Zeta chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa, a national Greek letter fraternity. CCNY was, in those days, a first rate engineering school (The Harvard of the Proletariate). Although as a student I was anything but distinguished, I palled around with quite a few who earned degrees, both Manhattan and outerborough kids. Have any of you watched the new TV series. “East New York”? A few of my buds (Tony T., Christo C., and Richie A.) lived there – I got to like the place when I wasn’t getting lost trying to get back to Queens. Ron G,.Ron O. and Alex L. were from Staten Island (talk about an outer outer borough; it should really have been part of Jersey). None of them were rich or famous. Just successful, productive citizens,
Not all my friends were outerborough. Lubomir M. was a Manhattanite, but never would have pretended to be part of inner anything. Maybe it’s all a New York State of mind (with apologies to Billy Joel).