Sunday, December 2, 2012

Nathan, Don't Go

I always try to improve, to find new ways of expressing myself, to keep looking for truth and originality.

Burt Lancaster


Hello Sue


One day I was standing with a stranger on the corner of 48th Street and 8th Avenue. I was looking across at B. Smith's and I remarked that it was the only 2 story building on that stretch of the avenue. It was such a prime piece of property we wondered how long it would be before someone bought it up and built a high rise on it. As far as I know it's still there. We also remarked how in New York if you turn your back they take down one building and put up another and you forget what was there.

But the last time I was around 43rd Street I noticed that Al's Diner is gone. I think Al was open all night, but I went in at about 5 a.m. when I was responsible for the morning news on WQXR in the NY Times building across the street. One morning I saw a sign that he would be closed for repairs. And so he was, for about 3 weeks. When I went back he charged me 40 cents for my coffee instead of the usual 50. When asked he said he lowered his prices to celebrate his improvements. Now that whole block has been renovated and Al has retired.

In my lifetime as a New Yorker I have known the following things:

* The fabulous Penn Station torn down and an uninspiring replacement built.

* The original Metropolitan Opera House torn down.

* Grand Central Station completely renovated.

* Luchows went out of business.

* The Russian Tea Room went out of business and reopened.

* Times Square renovated.

* Yankee Stadium demolished.

* The Astor Hotel demolished.

* The building and destruction of the World Trade Center.

Just to name a few.

Now Nathan's of Coney Island is closed to repair the damage done by Hurricane Sandy. Will it open again? Millions of New Yorkers hope so. Nathan's has been open and serving its famous hot dogs 365 days a year for almost 90 years. How can it disappear? If it does, something else will open up and Nathan's will be a memory.

What is the lesson? Life is about changes, but it's also about improvements and finding new ways of doing things.. Luchows is gone and now something else is there. Al closed to make improvements The Metropolitan Opera House moved and rebuilt somewhere else.. The Yankees are still playing baseball.

Every corner of our lives can be a place for change, improvement and originality. We will find new ways and old ways will be forgotten. We don't need a hurricane to make it happen.

Vagabond Journeys

Dana Bate

Never Give Up



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