Friday, October 11, 2013

E.B. White's New York Part Two

“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

Would you consider yourself a native or someone who came here on a quest?

Norma Friedland: Well I’m not a native, I’m a New Englander but I did come on a quest. And every dream I ever had was more than fulfilled. New York was magical. We were free on the streets, we were not afraid. When I was little and we would come on vacation to visit my family, my little sister and I could walk by ourselves in our shorts and go to the playground and play all day and never worry about anybody behaving in a way that was inappropriate. It was paradise. It was exciting. One of the major excitements, when my aunt and uncle would go out in the evening, we weren’t allowed to open the door…Except when the newspapers were delivered at ten o’clock at night. The Daily News and The Mirror were delivered, a thrill beyond explanation. I came from a very small town, everything closed down at six p.m. which was fine because our days were full but nothing ever closed down in New York. You could not ask for a more thrilling, exciting, beautiful, generous, intellectually…It excited a curiosity and an understanding that I grew into.

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