Lydster: scrub a street of Albany?

most artistic

Most Albanians – i.e., people from Albany, NY – know, the city has been holding the Tulip Festival every May since 1949. This started during the 40+ year reign of mayor Erastus Corning. It is the city’s “signature spring event featuring annual traditions rooted in the City’s rich Dutch heritage.”

We love our tulips in Albany much as they do in Holland, MI. Washington Park is strewn with them every year, different varieties planted at staggered times to maximize the beauty regardless of the vagueries of the 518 spring.

As part of the tradition, started in the Netherlands, young women in costume would ceremonially scrub a street, a small section of State Street, prior to the celebration. It’s a bit kitschy, I know, but I would often watch it when I was working downtown.

My daughter was one of eight people from her high school’s senior class chosen for the task on Friday, May 6. It would involve getting picked up from school at 10:30, participating in a photo session at 11 at City Hall. The ceremony with the mayor is at noon, then symbolic scrubbing of the street until 12:20. Lunch at the mayor’s office, then returning to school by 1:30. We all thought this was rather cool.

But she can’t go. She has her Advanced Placement final in Economics on that very day at noon, and that is inflexible. We’re all a little disappointed that she can’t participate in this Tulip Festival activity.

College

At the same time, we recognize that she had accomplished quite a bit in her high school, despite the very disruptive COVID interruptions and distance learning. In that senior superlatives thing they still do, she won most artistic, which is no surprise.

I’m looking forward to the final decision on what college she will be attending. That is, I can’t wait, so I can clear out my email inbox. She applied to eight colleges and was accepted at seven. They are all in New York State or New England. Since she has to give them MONEY by May 1, this will be determined VERY soon.

Soft Spoken, But Not

Art show

Soft Spoken But Not
Soft Spoken, But Not c LPG

Here is a piece of art called Soft Spoken, But Not. It was created by my daughter, who weaved it. She showed me the process but I can’t really explain it to you.

The angle of the photo may not give you a good vantage point, but the object is a megaphone. In fact, it is a replica of one she owns. (What? You don’t own your own megaphone?) Oh, here’s another shot, by the artist.

She bought it in the summer of 2020 when she and some of her friends organized and participated in demonstrations following the death of George Floyd. Ultimately, it became about other unarmed black people who died violently at the hands of authorities.

The rallies were about a block from our house, so occasionally her mother or I would participate, but it was mostly much younger people. What was fascinating is the response of passersby. Not only were they overwhelmingly positive, but they brought items. Ice cream sandwiches and doughnuts. Quite a bit of water, including a case from Sam, the son of a late friend of mine. And one woman, a stranger, brought my daughter another megaphone.

Display

From the Albany School District site: “Five pieces, created by four Albany High School student-artists, were chosen for display in the Art in Three Dimensions 2022 show.

“The juried exhibition, organized by the Capital Area Art Supervisors, runs Feb. 1-28 at the W.B. Haessig Art Gallery at Mohonason High School in Rotterdam.” This was cool.

In other daughter news

My daughter has been applying to college, eight of them, I believe. This involves, among other things, completing the convoluted FAFSA application for financial aid. She was accepted into four colleges and hasn’t heard from the others yet. As the above piece might suggest, she would like to combine art with some social justice and/or environmental angle. I will be extremely happy when this process is over.

February 1972: sectioning; draft number

Gene Hackman

PunchcardSome notes from my diaries.

Monday, Jan 31 – My father drove me to the bus station. I took the 9:45 a.m. bus from Binghamton back to Poughkeepsie. (For reasons unclear, I actually taped the Shortline bus ticket to my diary page.) To my surprise, the brother of my high school girlfriend was onboard, visiting his sister in part to borrow money for a motorcycle. I must admit that I took some small pleasure over the fact that he doesn’t like her new beau.

It’s a slow trip, changing buses in Monticello, and then stopping in Newburgh. My bus was supposed to arrive at about 1 p.m. but was two hours late. My girlfriend (the Okie) wasn’t at the station to pick me up. So my ex kindly dropped me off at New Paltz. [BTW, she remembers this; I did not.] It turns out the Okie’s car was inoperable. I didn’t see her until late the following day.

Tuesday, Feb 1 – While waiting for the Okie, Uthaclena, our friend/Okie’s roommate Alice and I turned off the lights and listened to a weird record of Uthaclena’s about the zodiac. Bruce, the resident advisor, came in, thinking we were up to something.

Groundhog Day

Wednesday, Feb 2 – I had to register for classes, in a process they called sectioning. I got into Intro to Black Studies, Basic Economics 2, and European Politics and Government easily enough. But the freshmen always get what hasn’t been closed out by the upperclassfolk. So Intro to Sociology was my third choice. I also got closed out of one General Anthropology course, and Intro to Philosophy, and had to take an 8 a.m. General Anthro class. The process took about 80 minutes, 20 minutes longer than the previous semester.

[As I recall, there were boxes with IBM punch cards, and when the number of cards designated was depleted, you knew you were out of luck.]

My friend Uthaclena and I were sitting in the dorm lounge when Fred came with the draft numbers. Uthaclena and some others had high draft numbers [which meant they were highly unlikely to be drafted]. But Fred got 23, and I got 2! Lengthy conversations about the implication and the options ensued.

[In an odd quirk, March 6 was 1, and March 7 was 2. My friend Karen wrote to me days later indicating that if I were going to get a low number, why not #1?!]

Six of us went in my roommate Ron’s car to see The French Connection in Poughkeepsie at the Juliet Theatre [which I know because I have the ticket stub – the admission was $2]. I had been worried about the violence, based on previews, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. We then stopped at the Plaza Diner.

The songs on WABC were particularly resonating with me:
Get Together – The Youngbloods, one of the very few singles I ever purchased. I still have it.
Dedicated To The One I Love – The Mamas and The Papas
Without You – Nilsson

Eventually, I went to sleep listening to Chicago [II], side three.

Not incidentally, there’s a LOT more detail that I shan’t be sharing.

Snail mail: college, Medicare

PAEA

snail mailOn Monday, October 18, our household received 23 pieces of snail mail. Good golly!  Usually, it’s about eight. When I opened the mailbox, items cascaded out.

Seven were for my daughter, almost all of them from colleges that wrote that they want her to apply to their college or university. Five were for my wife, catalogs and bills mostly. Two were jointly for my wife and me from organizations we belong to.

Almost all of the nine for me were from insurance companies. The period from October 15 to December 7 constitutes when I can change coverage for my Medicare supplement, including prescription coverage, dental, and eye care.

My Rx coverage is scheduled to go up about 74%, so I would like to find a company that will cost the same or less while providing similar coverage. There IS a process for this, but it involves entering the names of all of my physicians and pharmaceuticals. Tedious but necessary.

One of the pieces of mail is from an organization that I ostensibly agree with philosophically. But I don’t give them money because they mail the solicitation to Roger C. Green. Actually, I get quite a few of them each month, and I haven’t given any of them a dime. Get my name from some mailing list company, then you hope the information is correct.

He brings me no joy

Of course, thinking about the mail makes me think of the dreadful and corrupt Louis DeJoy. I’ve discovered that a lot of people don’t understand why Biden hasn’t just fired him as Postmaster General. It’s not that simple.

“DeJoy still runs the Postal Service because he maintains the backing of its board of governors. This bipartisan, nine-member body oversees the service’s expenditures and operations and appoints postmasters general — and decides how long their tenures last. Six of the governors, including the board’s chairman, Ron Bloom, are Trump appointees; Biden has appointed three.

“Unless Biden wants to try removing governors for cause, he can replace them only when their seven-year terms end or they step aside prematurely. Those rules are meant to protect the Postal Service from partisan meddling and generally make it hard for presidents to reshape it without waging political battles.

The plan

DeJoy’s announcement is to make the service slower and more costly in the near term.

There is a positive aspect of the plan, though. “The Postal Service is requesting that Congress pass legislation that enables us to fully integrate Postal Service retiree health plans with Medicare and eliminate the retiree health benefit pre-funding obligations imposed by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006.” The PAEA HAS been an onerous burden on the USPS and reflects much of the losses for the entity in the past 15 years. This should be passed by Congress.

Cave Inn Coffeehouse in New Paltz

Main Street

mulled ciderSomething triggered a recollection of my days at New Paltz. During the 1975-76 school year, after I broke up with the Okie, then dropped out of college for a semester, I lived in a coffeehouse.

It was called the Cave Inn, something I didn’t remember the name until helped by a New Paltz alumni group. What I DO remember is the address, 143 Main Street, right next to the bus station. It was run by the Student Christian Center, under the leadership of Paul Wiley. But the music played every weekend wasn’t generally overtly Christian.

The residents’ jobs were to rent to set up, serve cider during the event, and clean up afterward. It was not a heavy lift, and I felt that the rent was quite reasonable. This setup went on for a number of years before and after my time there.

That year, I lived with two guys, both named Mike, one blondish and the other brunet. For some reason, they actively hated each other. They yelled a lot, and at least once, chairs were thrown. I tried to be the peacemaker, usually without much success.

The dark-haired Mike sang Alice Restaurant at least once at the coffeehouse. I have a specific recollection of people singing Take It To The Limit by the Eagles, and me being singing the high harmony, usually beyond my reach.

Culture break

The one problem is that Paul wouldn’t let us stay during the winter break, though I could leave my stuff there. I had no other place to live. My parents had moved to Charlotte, NC in 1974. So I stayed in Queens, NYC with my mother’s aunt Charlotte Yates for three weeks.

I went to a few cultural things with Charlotte, but far more with her sister Ida Berman. She was an accomplished photographer. It was probably the first time I had gone to at least a half dozen museums and art galleries.

Meeting Paul

When I first attended New Paltz in 1971, I was having serious doubts about the efficacy of Christianity. Yet I would occasionally hang out at the Christian Student Center on Plattekill Avenue, where Paul worked and I think lived. I wasn’t going to church, but I guess I wanted to be Christian-adjacent.

In the fall of 1974, when the Okie and I were breaking up, it became clear to me that there was no way I could finish my five courses. I just didn’t have it in me. But it was after the midterm point. One could not drop courses unless one had been seeing a professional: a doctor, or psychologist, or the like.

Or a pastor. I don’t know that I had been talking to Paul specifically about my immediate difficulties; I just don’t know. But he signed off on the form, and on December 4, I was able to withdraw from two classes. I received an A and two B’s and 2 W’s, I think, though I could look it up.

And ever since, every December 4, I remember that, sometimes, you just have to give up. Quit. Resign. It was a useful life lesson.

Coda

After I moved out of 143 Main Street, I moved into 145 Main Street, the large house in front of the Cave Inn. I’m told it was the Agonian Sorority House until it was sold. It’s now the New Paltz Hostel, according to Trulia. I met a friend there I’m still in touch with.

 

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