New Hobby

I hate to be one of those obnoxious people who live in New York who talk incessantly about New York and how great New York is… but I’m from Texas and that tendency just comes natural.
My recent hobby has become the study of New York City’s history. Perhaps because the area I grew up in didn’t have much impact on the world as a whole. The study of any 10 year period in Northeast Texas history will mostly include phrases like, “I remember when they put that Wal-Mart there” and “You remember the time that cow got out and caused that bad wreck?”
Conversely, any 10 year block of time in NYC sees more significant changes and fluctuations than can easily be counted. It’s been the backdrop for more American heritage than any other place in these great United States. Architecture, engineering, politics and countless other modern institutions were developed, shaped and implemented here.
The fun for a Hillbilly Yankee such as myself is the ability to go and really touch history. For instance, not too long ago I watched a documentary on the Brooklyn Bridge. The proceeding weekend, I walked across it. I just learned through video and picture books back in grade school. Now I no longer have just a head knowledge of “that big bridge in NY”. I’ve experienced it. I’ve touched the stones that were laid there by some of the millions of immigrants that literally jumpstarted this country. And I think that’s pretty darn cool.

“History never looks like history when you are living through it.” – John W. Gardner (1912 – 2002)


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One Response to “New Hobby”

  1. Samus Aran Says:

    There is so much awesome going on in this post that I am kind of going to gush about it. . .

    1. The accent.

    Okay, granted, you know I’m fascinated by how you play with your accent. Did you realize, though, that when you’re writing you bring it out *more* while talking about New York? I’d noticed it before, but it’s *very* present in this piece, and a really quirky little bit of triva. I’m going to have to pay more attention now.

    2. The way you talk about relating to history.

    Again, something interesting I noticed–you talk about being fascinated by the sociopolitical history–the fluctuations and institutions, but what really gets you is the translation from reality to history–quite literally, the “bridge”. This is something I’d love to talk to you about, sometime, because I’m a total lunatic about it. . . and have you been to the Transit Museum yet? It’s just down the street from me, and so entirely made of cool that Lacy and I spent an entire Sunday in there this summer. They have rail cars from every era of the subway-and a few of the old Ells, too, and you can stand in them and feel the New Yorkers who used them every day, and the city just feels very *present*, if that doesn’t sound too ridiculous.

    3. Northeast Texas History

    Admittedly, I don’t know a whole lot about the history of Texas, but one of my all-time favorite, checked-it-out-of-the-library-once-a-week-and-still-have-it-memorized books featured the northeast, particularly Rusk and Smith Counties, and some of my oldest and earliest, and very juvenile, stories that were set in that area and the Indian settlements at Mount Tabor during the war. DO NOT LAUGH AT THIS!

    Stand Watie and Major Ridge and Buck Watie (who I knew as Elias Boudinout) were early heroes of mine! Boudinout’s portrait was in the front hall of my elementary school, and I used to want to learn Sequoyah’s alphabet so I could read the Cherokee Phoenix that he published. In fact, a lot of my fascination with languages is because of the Phoenix. I was so frustrated that there would be something in print, talking about a place that I knew, that I couldn’t read. . .

    It makes me wonder, though, would you be more attracted to some of that history if it were more physically present?

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