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Tuesday, 19 June 2007

The Times and Me

By Leah Aronoff

I spent much of my childhood playing alongside the Hudson on Riverside Drive. In 1941, I got married and moved to Cincinnati.

The first sign that The New York Times had my personal interest and well being at heart, came in July 1951. Until that time, periodically, articles appeared that tore, like thorns, at the fabric of my childhood. These had to do with my little red lighthouse.

Doubts arose. Private arguments blistered into public light. Questions were raised. How was it used? Had we forgotten its beam had been turned off years ago? Is it worth saving? Should we tear it down? Stuff its holes?

A grown woman with two children, a husband, a dog, and a home to clean, I was wrung limp by the periodic bickering that took place hundreds of miles away. Who in Ohio could console me, have sympathy, understand what it meant to have had the friendly, cheerful, appropriately sized, plumply shaped little structure as a personal playmate. Always there. Always receptive.

In a way, my little lighthouse affected me in the same way as the strangely blossomed jack-in-the-pulpit near its base for of course, this exotic plant grew nowhere else in the world and made itself known only to me.

My lighthouse also possessed a wonderful never-ending shape. Running around it was running a round It. One always knew what to expect, and one never knew what to expect, all at the same time.

Can you begin to understand what it meant to me? Why my life felt so disrupted by the occasional reportorial piece of doom that made the New York section of the Times one that I tried to avoid, but was drawn to nonetheless? How helpless I felt in the face of a threat to a childhood which I could not lay to rest?

Most disastrous of all was the realization that if my lighthouse were destroyed, my jack-in-the-pulpit would be murdered.

Finally, the summer of 1951 brought the news. Lighthouse Rescued. Both my treasures were saved. I could go about my business, feeding the family, cleaning the house, running the dog.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Leah,

I thought I was the only one who loved the little red lighthouse.
Let me make sure we are both talking about the same one. My lighthouse was on the Hudson under the George Washington Bridge. It sounds like the same one except mine didn't have a jack-in-the-pulpit. Lucky you that you could see that flower when no one else could.

Nancy, Yup, the very same lighthouse. I'm happy to share it. I stretched the truth about the jack-in-the-pulpit. It wasn't all that close to the lighthouse, but it somehow seemed all part of the same memory.

Mater,
I love this!!!!
love,
me

Fabulous. Proves that memory trumps 100 percent "moving on" to "higher, more adult, more important" matters. I lived on West End Avenue near the Fireman's Memorial at West 100th St & Riverside Drive. Each time I return to the city, I head for this landmark with the slivered steps, the water fountain, and the plaque placed by the ASPCA in memory of the animals who died while helping to fight fires.

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