Friday, October 16, 2015

Saddest Day of The Year

Carl Schurz
October, years ago, leaning over the water fountain in the playground, I pushed the steel button down hard with my thumb, and brought my lips in for the burst of water.  Nothing. 

This was the saddest day of the year, when Carl Schurz Park's water fountains shut off.

I was constantly thirsty down the park and with the water fountains off also came earlier sunsets, darkness, and chilly winds. Friends scattered. That first day in the park without water was a reality smack to the face that winter was coming and the park would not be the welcoming home that opened her arms in spring, summer and early fall.

Carl Schurz winter

Walking out of the park up 84th Street, I thought about my grandfather, John Rode and his family living in 511 East 84th Street when my grandmother met him in 1942 when they served together as Civil Defense wardens during World War II patrolling the same block.

GreatGrandma Rode & Dad 511 E 84St
The pictures here: my father, Robert Pryor and my great grandmother Adelheid Rode on the 511 stoop in 1946 on my grandmother's wedding day to John Rode. The pictures below is my grandmother, Anne Pryor, speaking at an August 1942 Service Flag Dedication on the stoop of 511 E. 84th St.

The passport below 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.

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 was 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 tearing up.

Anne Pryor on 511 stoop, 1942

511 E. 84th St. 1942

84th Street crowd in August 1942

Rode passport

Carl Schurz 1936

Do you like old New York City photos and street life stories? Then check out my 1960s memoir,"I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood."Available at Logos Book Store and online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

The book has 112 Amazon five star reviews out of 112 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game. My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs.

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