Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Saddest Day of the Year

Leaning over the water fountain, pushing the steel button down with my thumb, bringing my lips in for a burst of water, getting nothing.
The saddest day of the year: when Carl Schurz's water fountains turned off. I was in a constant state of thirst down the park, and with the water fountain shutdown came earlier sunsets, darkness, and chilly winds. Friends scattered. That first day in the park without water nailed in the reality that winter was coming and the park would not be the welcoming home that opened her arms in spring, summer and early fall. Walking out of the park up 84th Street, I was reminded that my grandfather, John Rode and his family lived in 511 East 84th Street when he met my grandmother in 1942 when they served together as Civil Defense wardens during World War II. I don't know how to put captions on the pictures but I'll do my best to explain. The passport belonged to my great-grandmother Adelheid Rode born in 1873 in Riede a municipality in the district of Verden, in Lower Saxony, Germany. She moved to 511 East 84th Street in the late 1930s with her husband Herman, and my grandfather, John. I'll put up other photos next week.

The picture above is my Dad, Bob Pryor and Adelheid Rode on the 511 stoop in 1946 on John & Anne's wedding day. The pictures below is my grandmother, Anne Pryor, speaking at a Service Flag Dedication on the stoop of 511. Below the passport are Herman and John Rode on East 74th Street in 1909. Below that, Maggie Hagen, my friend from Cleveland on the Drive yesterday, then Carl Schurz in 1900 & 1936, and finally a picture of Henderson Place from 1968.

After the winter I longed for one day, one TV show. Channel 2 showed "The Wizard of Oz," once a year usually on Easter Sunday. This not only was the greatest film on earth (at that point in my life) it was a harbinger that Carl Schurz's water fountains would be opened for business sometime soon. I always sat real close to the TV, when Judy Garland sang "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." I didn't want my parents or brother to see me cry.


Anonymous said...

What wonderful pictures. Thnk you

Jeff said...

Thank you for your great blog. It means a lot to me. I love the photos and the descriptions of the places of Yorkville. My parents grew up there. My father, born in Germany, lived on 86th and graduated from St. Joseph's School in '38 and from the High School of Commerce in '42. He enlisted immediately and spent the next several years in the U.S. Navy. My mother, also of German descent, but by way of Maryland, also grew up in area. Her father was the super and maintenance man in a nice building on Park Ave. It sounds nice, but she didn't like it because they were very poor and her neighbors and schoolmates were very well off.
I loved hearing them tell stories of the old days and the old neighborhood. Although our family had moved out west for my Dad's work, our family made several trips back between 1965 and 1979 to visit and stay with relatives. (Grandma and Grandpa continued to live on 86th and Second Ave, and later 89th and Second Ave. until they passed in 1979).
Your blog entries take me back to their stories, and also educate me on their world in new ways. Thanks!

Thomas Pryor said...

Thanks, folks!