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The Identify Within the Stone

On Living with the Lack of a Son in Wartime.
My identify, “Gerard Van der Leun,” is an unusual one. So unusual, I’ve by no means met anyone else with the identical title. I know about one different man with my title, but we’ve never met. I’ve seen his identify in an unusual place. This is the story of how that occurred.

It was an August Sunday in New York City in 1975. I’d determined to bicycle from my condo on East 86th and York to Battery Park on the southern tip of the island. I’d nothing else to do and, since I hadn’t been to the park since transferring to town in 1974, it seemed like a destination that could be fascinating. Just how attention-grabbing, I had no approach of understanding after i left.

August Sundays in New York can be the best occasions for the town. The psychotherapists are all on vacation — as are their shoppers and most of the opposite professional classes. The town seems nearly deserted, the visitors mild and, as you progress down into Wall Road and the encircling areas, it turns into just about non-existent. On a bicycle you own the streets that type the bottom of the slim canyons of buildings where, even at mid-day, it is still cool with shade. You then emerge from the streets into the vibrant open space at Battery Park.

Tourists are lining up for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. A couple of persons are coming and going from the Staten Island Ferry terminal. There are some scattered clots of people on the lawns of Battery Park. The whole lot is lazy and unhurried.

I’d coasted most of the way in which right down to the Battery that day since, despite the fact that it appears to be flat, there may be a very slight north to south slope in Manhattan. I arrived solely a bit hungry and thirsty and acquired one of the dubious Sabaretts scorching canines and a chilled coke from the one vendor working the park.

We were in the midst of what now may be seen as “The Long Peace.”

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The twin towers loomed over all the pieces, thought of, in the event that they have been thought of at all, as an irritation in that they blocked off so much of the sky. It was 1975 and, Vietnam not withstanding, America was just about at the midway level between two world wars. After all, we didn’t know that at the time. The only war we knew of was the Second World War and the background humm of the Chilly War. It was a summer time Sunday and we had been within the midst of what now can be seen as “The Lengthy Peace.”