Wednesday, September 30, 2015

7227. BELOW THE WATER LINE, pt. 24

(pt. 24)
Sometime in the late 1990's, Hazel  -  that lady
proprietor of The Maple Tree, of which and of
whom I just spoke, having become friendly with
me, let me get involved just a little bit  -  in the
most warm and good-naturedly way  -  with her
past. She had been born and raised on Perry Street,
New York City, it just so happened. Her last name,
obviously, was something else entire  -  not Pichalski  -
but I do forget right now what it was. Anyway, she
spoke to me often of her 'old' days on Perry Street,
the ways in which they were there raised. The kind of 
street and building lives they'd led, the schools and the
churches, etc. All old-world stuff, to be sure  -  coal chutes,
ice-wagons, dogs running free, no traffic enforcements,
and the rest. On the corner right there, which was at one
time my local NYC neighborhood in my twenties, was
The White Horse Tavern  -  I need not tell you how it
was a legendary, literary watering hole, a place for workers
and drunks, brawlers and Irishmen, dock workers, thugs,
killers and whores, all mashed up together. Great and famed
spot  -  there to this day. Hudson Street fame and fortune,
Dylan Thomas, Dorothy Day, Jane Jacobs, I could go on and
on. (In the year 2005, perhaps it was, I walk in during pre-World
Series playoff-games, and who's sitting there, beer in hand, at a 
table, looking up at a TV, writing and working on his commentary,
for later airing, I guess, but Ron Darling  -  once a Mets pitcher of
fame. Said hi, mingled a moment, shot the shit, and walked on (me,
that is). I'd seen Ron Darling, back about 1979, pitching for Dartmouth
at a Princeton vs. Dartmouth baseball game, before he was anything. I
just laughed him off thinking, 'who's going anywhere, with a butt-of-all
baseball-jokes last name like that?' Turns out I was wrong).
Anyway, in The White Horse, everday day, same time, same 
appointed and reserved corner seat at the bar, was a guy I knew, an 
old-timer, named 'Jackie'. He'd grown up right there, on the corner 
above, on Perry Street, in that neighborhood. Putting two and two 
together, I asked him if knew a Hazel whatever last name it was then. 
He beamed  -  they'd been best friends, girlfriend/boyfriend kids, all 
that. I told him I knew her, etc., etc., and he said he'd love to see her, 
bring her in some day, and the rest. I went back home, told Hazel the 
whole story, and she too was thrilled. Two weeks or so later, having 
finagled all the arrangements, using her car, Hazel let me drive her
in. I parked nearby, no problem, and she and Jack had one of the
grandest, heartwarming and happy reunions I'd ever seen. We stayed 
a bit, then let them be (a few others from Woodbridge area had, 
arrangement, met me there). Getting back to them a little later, 
they were still  -  now with others  -  rollicking in the old times, old 
days, and old people. Alas, now, some years later, Jack is dead, 
and Hazel too. Such, then, is the life we're given. It all amounts 
to love and personal extension.

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