Those who know me know of my affiliation with various cultural, historical, scientific and religious institutions in the area. Why do I dedicate so much of my life to these institutions for which I earn little or no financial compensation and struggle with energy-draining chronic health ailments? In a society in which fewer and fewer people join churches, clubs and civil organizations, it’s a sense of duty. It’s the understanding that not only have we outsourced our citizens’ jobs, we’ve also outsourced knowledge and learning itself; our children and grandchildren’s greatest inheritance. We have subcontracted human knowledge out to professionals – scientists, technicians, theologians, scholars and academicians – who are not the reliable guardians they once were.
(Editor’s Note: Since Stanley Greenberg is on vacation this week, in this issue we present an encore of a column that originally ran on Jan. 28, 2005.)
The winter of 1948 prepared me for the future. The snowfall that winter was 24 inches and the East Bronx that I lived in came to a definite standstill. Life to me, a 14-year-old, was a series of basketball and stickball games with a little bit of junior high school thrown in. The snow was interfering with my athletic career.
Somehow, my friend and basketball buddy Herby and I got hold of a couple of shovels. We shoveled off the playground on the corner of Bryant Avenue and 176th Street and we shot baskets, played 21, One-on-One and Horse. We had been served sour lemons and we turned it into lemonade. Guts and ingenuity made for a memorable experience.
Who do I consider people worth remembering during Black History Month? Booker T. Washington? Yes. W.E.B. DuBois? Of course. Frederick Douglas? Naturally. Martin Luther King? Goes without saying. There are, however, four other unsung heroes in the cause of freedom, five men who dedicated much of themselves to the abolition of slavery. For Black History Month, let’s all remember them.
Elias Hicks (1748-1830) of Jericho was from a freedom-loving Quaker tradition that understood that freedom of conscience works hand-in-hand with freedom of body. Consequently, our area became a seedbed of abolitionism wherein manumission was not only advocated, where runaway slaves were not only granted sanctuary, but also where schools and places of worship were established in locales like Jericho and Jerusalem (now the north Wantagh/south Levittown area). From the Quaker meeting house he founded in Jericho in 1788, Hicks became a nationally prominent figure in the 1810s and ’20s as he traveled the countryside preaching. He was the spirit behind New York State’s Abolition of Slavery Act of 1827.
It appears the Webber Law Group, of Melville, isn’t giving up the effort to force an unnecessary and unwanted mall to be built on the Cerro Wire property in Syosset.
They have launched an end run around the area residents and the Town of Oyster Bay by appealing to the Nassau County Planning Commission. We have been living for many years with the result of Planning Commission decisions (build stores on any size, any piece of vacant land in Nassau) … good thinking!
They say construction jobs are needed, jobs will be created, etc. Notice to all the lawyers working against area residents and the struggling Broadway Mall and the Walt Whitman Mall: Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.
Martin Luther King is a national hero on the scale of a George Washington or Thomas Edison in that he changed what seemed to be impossible to change. He galvanized the nation to a cause of injustice. He stood up to oppression in the same way that Jesus stood up to it by saying no and refusing to comply. Without attack, aggression or violence he refused to participate and committed to forging a new way. He said you can take my life but you cannot change me. That, in itself, is a commendable characteristic but we honor him because he was successful.
The first march on Washington proved to our capital that things needed to be changed to reflect the growing educated constituency. Subsequent marches were little more than pomp and fanfare. We constantly want things to change for the better but they seldom do. Dr. Martin Luther King opened the door and now we all continue to walk through it.
I would like to thank our residents, businesses and the employees of Nassau County for their patience and cooperation during last week’s blizzard. With the storm dumping over 16 inches of snow in our community, County employees mobilized early the morning after Christmas Day to deal with its cleanup. Crews were instructed to plow lanes adequate for travel in both directions. First priorities for snow removal included major thorough fares and access to emergency services. In all, over 100 County employees were involved in clearing roadways and dropping over 2,880 pounds of salt on our roadways. When those County roadways were cleared, snow plowing operations were sent to assist towns and villages who requested such help with residential streets.
I would like to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season. Like most, the holidays represent a special time for me. Whether it is decorating the tree, hanging the stockings, or enjoying a holiday meal, it is all made more enjoyable by the presence of loved ones.
Along with the annual traditions and the time I get to spend with my family, my favorite part of the holidays is the spirit in which it brings. Through acts of kindness and a willingness to lend a helping hand, this time of the year seems to bring out the best in people. The charity you see is truly amazing and makes me proud to represent people that are so willing to give during these tough economic times.
Have you made any New Year’s Resolution for 2011? If not, here is an idea for a sustainable one.
There is always a room, a closet, or some other area in your home that is full of stuff. It’s stuff that you avoid dealing with like the 800-pound gorilla in the living room. But when you resolve to tackle it with the intention to pass it on, it will happen.
I was very saddened to hear about Goldman Bros., a beloved business here in Hicksville, which will be closing its doors. Personally, I have bought shoes and clothing there for years. I also know my grandfather, who owned a bakery at the time, used to shop there because they had certain long johns he would wear specifically during the cold nights when baking.
I love trains. I love everything about them.
I was about 7 when my dad took me down to the basement early Christmas morning to show me the brand new Lionel electric train set that Santa had supposedly left for me. It was complete with Plaster of Paris mountains and tunnels that my dad made. He also constructed small towns and villages with traffic cops and mailmen and lots of townspeople that he hand painted all by himself. I don’t know how he found the time since he always worked two jobs, sometimes working through the night. I’m still amazed at how he kept this clandestine project from us, but he did.
My dad led me to believe that Santa had done all this so he didn’t really receive the credit he deserved, yet he seemed ecstatic just watching me. Perhaps just watching me was his Christmas present.
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