Thursday, October 10, 2013

E.B. White's New York Part One

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter--the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last--the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh yes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company. . . .” – E.B. White

The Native: What was it like to grow up in New York?

Robert Friedland: It was interesting from certain viewpoints. You had friendships; they were not like friendships that you make in the country. In many cases you had to create your own playgrounds – like going to Riverside Drive and going to a place where there’s a lot of grass or going to central park where they had outdoor basketball courts and playing in the cold weather with heavy jackets.

It was an interesting world and I was very fortunate that my public school was only a block and a quarter away from my house…

And in those days going to the movies was big, we had four movie theatres within very close walking distance and the price was I think if I remember the best, I think 75 cents.

And of course when you got into the social life when you were older, the dating was very interesting because you had to walk a few blocks and take the elevator up and then take the elevator down. The only problem you had was that it was very dangerous to date two girls from the same building because you might catch the other one on the way up or the way down. That happened to me once…

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