By DAVID GREEN
When the small-town boy goes to the big city, he's always amazed and amused. Yes, I'm talking about myself, and I'm talking about a visit to New York City.
We didn't have much opportunity for looking around and exploring. Once we escaped New Jersey, the entire short visit was spent in Flushing and in Brooklyn. We never got near a subway, we never entered Manhattan. Instead, we went to a church bazaar. I don't go to church bazaars when I'm in Morenci, but this was vacation so in I went.
We stayed three nights with Colleen's high school friend, Kay, who lives in Flushing. Flushing is a neighborhood of the borough of Queens. Five boroughs make up all of New York City. To call it a neighborhood makes it sound on the small side, but Flushing itself would nearly rank as Michigan's second largest city.
Many times in the past we walked a couple of blocks from Kay's house to meet the bus to take us to the Number 7 subway for a trip downtown and it's on these rides that I would see America becoming less white and more of a mix of darker tones. Flushing is an amazing mix of Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Afro-American and European (such as Kay's Greek ancestry). Flushing has come a long way since its founding in 1645 as a Dutch outpost.
All of this diversity only adds to the oddness of walking across the street on a Saturday morning to visit the Reformed Church on the Hill Harvest Festival. Kay wasn't all that interested in going—It will take you all of five minutes, she told Colleen—but the Morenci shopper was very interested. So was Kay, as it turned out. I think we ended up waiting for her to finish looking before we left.
My shopping was extremely limited. I spent more time studying a bulletin board that showed photos of the church youth group bicycle trip to Nova Scotia in 1977, a year after I covered much of the same territory. When I had my fill of that, I did what I always do when I visit NYC—I engaged in some serious people-watching. The hunt isn't as rich at the Church on the Hill Harvest Festival, but it was good.
Kay always gets plenty of laughs and surprises from our small-town life in Morenci—she's the one who was horrified that we have didn’t lock our ground-level windows—but I get my share of amusement from the big city, too.
For example, outside the church was a pair of tents where the local Boy Scout troop passed out literature. At least I think they were Boy Scouts. The banner never mentioned the organization and I didn't study the uniforms closely enough. Maybe they were Reformed Scouts. The humorous thing to me is that the boys meet on Friday nights. I just don't think Friday night Scout meetings would go over well in small town America.
Kay is generally puzzled by what I find humorous. We watched her favorite NY1 television station while waiting for Colleen to shower and we tuned into the middle of a program called "In the Papers" in which a spiffy guy in a suit holds newspapers in front of the camera and tells what's published today.
I'm laughing and asking why they don't do their own reporting instead of using the newspapers, but it makes perfect sense to Kay. "We can decide if we want to buy the paper," she says.
Later, Colleen pointed out the fallacy of this plan. If people don't buy papers, eventually there won't be a paper for the TV station to use. Kay pooh-poohed that idea. "People will still buy papers," she said, and I suppose it could go either way. Either NY1 is enticing people to get a paper to read a story or it's taking away the need to get the paper.
Later, I thought about my old video days when I would sort of do the same thing. I would finish addressing papers on Tuesday, then stand in front of a camera holding up the newspaper to provide a brief overview. So what was I laughing at? It's a little different for the newspaper to promote itself. I guess I should be pleased that a TV station places such value on print journalism.
OK, how about this? We were in NYC just a few days after the hurricane struck and there was still a lot of suffering going on in some parts of the city. A NY1 newscast showed a crowd of people yelling at city officials because of some continuing problem—the lack of water, perhaps, or electricity.
I burst out laughing; Kay wondered how I could possibly find the situation humorous. Of course it wasn't the tragedy that was funny. It was that every couple of seconds the audio was bleeped out because of New Yorkers being New Yorkers and not holding back on the obscenity. I just can't see that happening in Morenci or Fayette.
I think Kay is mellowing as she ages. She spotted me rolling an orange around her kitchen counter to break the skin loose from the fruit for easy peeling. She held out a knife for me to use, but I told her that this method worked fine.
Kay as I knew her in the past would have burst out with a "Whaddaya stupid?!?!" sort of response. Instead, she just said, "OK" and walked away.
Wow! Did I hear that right? A Greek woman from Flushing just said, in effect, "to each his own."