Thursday, September 6, 2018

Learning From Mistakes of the Past in NYC

The farmer and I went to NYC last week to spend one last time with our youngest son. Luke is being transferred to Dallas in four weeks and his tenure in the Big Apple will be over. Clearly the weather was getting him ready for Texas heat!!! It was 100 degrees the first day and a local thermometer showed up at 103 the following day... but there's so much to see and do in New York that we didn't have too much time outside... and when we did, well... we were a little sweaty!

I'm in Western New York. It's about 5 1/2 to 6 hours to get to Manhattan, but it's a trip I've made several times a year to see my kids. First my oldest was there working in Manhattan after undergrad... and then she went off for a masters and doctorate in Princeton....

And then son #3 moved to Manhattan as a young attorney. Then his brother joined him seven years later... and spent the last four years there.

Now our time in the city is winding down. We'll still go down to watch a Yankee game or two... but the days of watching the World Trade Center be blown apart...



And rebuilt....

Are winding down.

Freedom Tower at World Trade Center site.

Cool art show surrounding World Trade Center... This looks like a 3-D rendition of apartments and rowhouses as you walk up to it, but when you get close, it's just a woven material, shadowed and shaded to give the 3D look... crazy clever!
 We've gone through the crash of 2008 ....

That sent tens of thousands of people scrambling for jobs, closed stores and created a depression in finances.

Superstorm Sandy (that left #3 son without power for weeks, and people sleeping on couches in friends' apartments for weeks/months as Lower Manhattan worked to fix blown electrical circuits and train lines... it took years to get things done... (can't find those pics..... huge generators outside monster-sized buildings, giving power to thousands... kind of!)

I'm one of the people clogging phone lines every time there was a terror attack in Manhattan because the boys lived on Wall Street and Maiden Lane... and worked in Midtown.... which meant they were blocks from every attack, all these years.

But it's also had wonderful things for us to experience! I got to meet lots of homeless people and heard some of their stories.

I love the diverse population of NYC (although the population has risen the past two years and it's crazy crowded now... Which means subways, shops, restaurants, streets... crazy crowded. That's not really fun.)

The opportunities. I met Zelda the Wild Turkey (now deceased) named after F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife... For whatever reason. Anyway Zelda lived in Battery Park and she was cool. A chill bird.

I've been to Ellis Island and twice to the Statue of Liberty.

 Lots of Yankee games. Food in Little Italy, Chinatown, Upper Manhattan, Lower Manhattan... I've been to the top of the Freedom Tower and cried in the museum buried in the soil beneath the destroyed World Trade Centers.

 I've watched people be mean to homeless people... Or ignore them...

And that makes me pray for the lack of kindness of the human condition.

I've been to several churches there, all lovely. Heard a choir that probably had members of the Metropolitan Opera last Thanksgiving... Stunning!

And I've seen a couple of plays over the years.

But mostly I've been there to see my boys. To walk with them. Talk with them. Check the Seaport, wave at Jersey and Brooklyn, grab bagels and coffee... but not ice cream or pie because good ice cream and pie don't really exist in Manhattan.

Dave and Luke... yes, Luke is tall! He looks like a giant version of me... a really big leprechaun!

How weird is that? The pie thing, not Dave and Luke...

We've ridden lots of subways.... a few Ubers.... a ferry or two... tons of elevators because buildings don't grow "out" in Manhattan. They go up, up, up!

When you look at pictures, you think of what's gone before you. This trip we walked to the Holocaust exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on Battery Place. There are 5 Jewish museums in NYC. There are nearly two million Jews living in New York.

When I saw this exhibit, I thought of a Ben Franklin quote I love.... "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

And at the hauntingly poignant exhibit, done in chronological order, it was heart-wrenching to see how the rights of an ethnic people were frittered away and removed in such systematic fashion... until there were no more rights and no power to demand them back.

Dave, Luke and I spent the morning there. We learned. We thought. We prayed. I came away with some story ideas.... some that I'd been pondering that were reaffirmed by the sights and sounds of the people's laments.

"God cherishes the lament of the night even more than the choir of the morning."

How many laments must God have heard? How many times were countries asked and begged to help? And turned their backs. Countless. Again and again, folks were turned away until Hitler's regime decided their fate for them.


I think every person who leaves that place walks out a little more thoughtful. And maybe nicer.

We'll go back to the city, I'm sure. My editors are there and I like to annoy them... wait, I mean VISIT them, of course.

I'll walk around. Visit the Trinity Church cemetery and little St. Paul's Chapel, a place of healing and help post-9/11.

I'll visit the reflecting pools and pray.

And the 9/11 museum and pray.... The stairs, coming down. So many people, trying to get down those stairs. Some did. Some didn't.

And in a city of now nearly 9 million people, I will pray that more and more will join in the prayers of peace, faith, hope and love.

It was a beautiful, poignant trip. Laughter... and tears. And the promise of a new tomorrow for our youngest, a number cruncher who guided me through the hero's Wall Street role in "Back in the Saddle"...

And gave me an idea for a new story from one of his recent assignments.

Now we're back to the reality of pumpkins and mums here! And while I love visiting the big city... East, West, Home's Best. :)

I love being a country girl!

Wishing you the best of back-to-school September stuff and the joyous colors of fall.

 Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is having way too much fun to call writing work... and when she's not helping on the family pumpkin farm, she's doing something fun with grandkids and kids and possibly a dog or two. Find her here at or friend her on facebook or follow her on Twitter @RuthLoganHerne. She loves to meet readers and chat with them... and other writers, too.  And she doesn't hate winter... until March. And then she does kind of hate winter. But it's March, so everyone understands that, right?


  1. This is a lovely post, Ruthy. A glimpse of another side of NYC, far different from the Broadway shows Times Square we so often think of.

    And amen to the country girl thing. I'll take life in the country over the city any day.

    1. NYC has so many faces. Some of them I like. Some I don't. 9 million people.

      Way too many.

      And more coming.

      Yup, give me the wide open spaces that I love... but then there's a heart of me in the city for lost souls and all that work and effort and diligence and so little to show for it.

      But for so many, this is their normal...

      So they like it.

      I like other normals. But I do love the diversity of people. I miss that here in the country. :(

  2. You gave us a poignant look at the NYC tourists rarely see. By being connected with the city for so long, you've gotten to know it well, and thank you for sharing it with us!

    I'll only visit it through your eyes, though. Cities energize some people, I understand that, but they only depress me. So overwhelming. Even Chicago, a city that I once knew quite well, was only good for a visit of a few hours - and that was years ago. I skirt the edges now, and count the miles until we're back where I can see green grass again.

    But the stories! You shared so many with us in this brief blog post! Such heartbreak and loss mingled with mighty deeds and love.

    Thank you!

    1. I'm so glad we got to this museum. And because there were terror threats against Jewish establishments, the heavily armed police guarding the entrance to the Jewish Museum of Cultural Heritage said so much in their silent stance....

      The whole place was an eye opener and so well done.

      Here's a little story, and this isn't about Trump... although it is. It's about us, as people.

      A Jewish woman struck up a conversation with me. She wanted to know how I felt things were going in our country... and I said we needed less stuff and more faith. More sacrifice. More grit.

      And then she brought up the president, that he's immoral.

      And I said yes... and that I couldn't point to a current politician (especially in her state of NJ and mine of NY) who wasn't... We're surrounded by crooked politicians here. :(

      I said they should all clean up their acts. Be good and faithful people...

      And she said "but what about him, the president? He is such a pig..."

      And I said "You mean the one who moved the American embassy into Jerusalem, like so many promised and never did? Or the one who had Homeland Security arrest a 90 year old Nazi war criminal in Brooklyn and send him back to Germany when three other presidents ignored his presence and did nothing?"

      Her eyes went wide.

      I said "He's a sinner, like you and me. But I don't listen to what the news says about him or what angry coworkers say... I'm a smart lady. I look at what gets done and I go from there."

      I didn't say this to become a Trump cheerleader. He doesn't need me to do that and I see his foul side quite clearly.

      But I knew that this woman was only hearing the darkness and probably had no idea that finally someone... a big, husky, hard-talking, deal-cutting son of immigrants... did what he said he'd do.

      And like him or not, that's a huge improvement over so much of what we've seen for decades.

    2. Oh, dear.

      You argued with a Jewish woman IN the Holocaust Museum, defending a man who called the Nazis in Charlottesville 'very fine people'?

      Did you ask her why she dislikes him? Perhaps, just perhaps, those threats against Jewish people affected her more than moving an embassy. Perhaps the rising tide of anti-Jewish sentiment, seeing Nazis march proudly in the South, was more painful for her than arresting or not arresting a 90 year old war criminal.

      You "know" she only hears the darkness, assuming she doesn't know what he's done. I think it's more likely she does know, that she actually reads his tweets and watches him speak. News is not all fake.

      Sometimes we can hear the words right from someone's mouth and know it's exactly what they mean to say, or not say. We don't need to 'understand their hearts'. Sometimes they tell us right out who they are and what they believe. No spin, no politics. It is what it is, and to put a shine on it or call it fake because we don't like it, that's called lying. To assume someone's opinion is what it is because they're ignorant, that's condescending. You're a smart lady. You said so yourself. Maybe she is, too.

      Le sigh. Sometimes we don't learn from the past, do we?

      God help us. We need to listen more and speak less. Too bad we can't go back and sit down with this Jewish woman and hear what she has to say, listen as a Christian to a God-believing person who bears terrible wounds and concerns. What a blessing and a bridge that would have been. True, he doesn't need you to defend him. And nobody should. Especially not as a Christian to a Jewish woman in a museum about the genocide of her people.

      Signed, an angry coworker LOL

  3. Ruthy, thanks for sharing your trip with us! I've visited the Holocaust Museum in D.C. twice and left a changed person each time. I just wish everyone could visit.

    I hope Luke loves Texas!! You'll have to share your next visit there with us!

    1. I hope he loves it, too. I know he'll love parts of it... and the bigness. Luke is a big guy and Texas will fit! :)

      And I want to get to the Holocaust museum in D.C....

      I heard it's amazing.

      And everyone should make the trip to NYC to visit the 9/11 Memorial. I have never seen anything like it, as you walk alongside the survivor stairs, or see the wall that saved lives or hear about Father Mike... Mychal Judge, the Franciscan priest who lost his life saving others...

      Maybe because I lived it, maybe because I knew people trapped in buildings, unable to tell their loved ones they were all right for long, long hours...

      But the whole museum... absolutely silent except for occasional hushed whispers... because you know you're actually walking in a crypt. So many gone. So much lost.

      These museums always get me, Missy.

  4. I know this heat all too well. I have never been as hot as I was in my classroom today!

    As I mentioned to you, that museum is so powerful. We took our Junior High classes on a trip there last year and it was sobering and enlightening and such a powerful experience.

    1. Cate, I'm so glad you had that opportunity. For you and the kids and for the people at the museum to see that people still care... schools still teach.

      When I hear people saying schools aren't spending time on WWII and the holocaust, I'm appalled... because only if we recognize evil will we be able to conquer it. It disguises itself in so many ways.

      Cate, I'm so sorry I missed you and I'm sending you COOLER WEATHER TOMORROW!!! :)

      My gift to you!

  5. I read through this and I know you are my baby sister. The generation that separates us let's you use terms not even in my vocabulary, still we write alike, given the time difference. A gift from a Mom denied the chance, I'm sure. Don't ever stop being you my darling sister! It's late and this old lady is heading for her pillow now. 😘💗

    1. Oh how nice to see you over here! Hey, Sis! :)

      Guys, this is my sister Patty Kay... and she took me in when I was a teenager and gave me a chance at a much more normal life than I'd known... I'm so glad you stopped by!

      And remember... Old is our age PLUS 25 years. So we're just "middlin'". :)

    2. Hi Aunt Pat!!!!! So good to see you here! :)

  6. Ruthy! Thank you for this post. I've only been to NYC once and my time was limited to only a half day. We were able to do so little. I'd love to go and let you be my guide! You've painted such a beautiful picture of NYC. I've always told my husband I'm going back for a real visit but now I MUST!

    1. There is so much history and heart in this city, shrouded by the glitz and the glamour... and the sheer numbers.

      When I go to the Trinity Episcopal Cemetery, it's a walk into the past, when so many died so young and life was valued because it came with so few guarantees.

      Pat, there is so much to see behind the scenes... I'd love to be your guide! :)

      That would be so much fun.

  7. Ruthy, I guess you and I will just have to add NYC to our list of upcoming road trips...