Archive for the ‘anniversary’ Category

We all know what happens to a dream deferred — or what might happen to it, anyway.

This week, we’ll use up some words (it’s cool, they’re free) asking the same question about dreams that get abandoned.

What happens to a wedding anniversary after the divorce?

It’s supposed to be a date dearer to us than any other, except for children’s birthdays. We put effort into rendering it indelible.

And then, the change comes.

Perhaps an uncelebrated anniversary chafes and stings its principals all day. Or maybe it only raises its head once or twice, a minor irritant, like a cough stuck in the gullet or a passing cloudstorm.

Perhaps, given enough time and will, it disappears entirely.

I imagine there are always reminders, though. Too many pictures get taken, and too many words get put on paper, to ever be fully excised.

June 19, 1972.

June 19, 1972. The Mets get one-hit.

This is the second straight week I’ve mentioned my cousin Bob, and the second straight week I’ve mentioned his (long-ago) divorce.

I don’t think he reads this; but if he does, I assure him it’s coincidental and not personal.

I was trolling the archives for blog-fodder, and this old mention of his anniversary brought to mind thoughts of faded dreams, frustration and resignation.

Not his faded dreams, specifically — I don’t know them, and I wouldn’t repeat them to the world if I did.

I’m thinking more generally of the hopesĀ  of millions of people who pledged their futures together and then, for any combination of reasons, turned away again.

Think of all those unopened (maybe even trashed) wedding albums, and all those promises, and all those shared memories that seem in retrospect like they couldn’t possibly have been that happy.

(Think, too, that walking away from each other is in some cases the correct decision. The intent of this is not to lecture those whose dreams change course on them, but to ponder what the old ones mean after they run out of steam.)

I am no authority on divorce, and neither were the Blumenaus of Hope Street (married almost 60 years) or their children (each past 40 years).

But an uncounted number of Americans — hundreds? thousands? — will, at some point today, remember what this day was supposed to mean to them.

Everything put together falls apart, as the song says. There is no single answer to how we all learn the lesson, or what it means to each of us after we do.


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This week Hope Street reaches its third blog-anniversary. I’ve marked previous anniversaries by taking a week off, and I’m going to do the same this year.

My continued humble appreciation goes out to those who tune in every week.

If you’re new here, please keep in mind that my best stuff is in the archives; I’m kinda scraping the dregs lately. If you want to see Hope Street at its best, poke around in the first two years’ worth of stuff. It’s really better. (The end of this blog is still within sight, though I do not feel it is imminent.)

I’ll throw in some links to some pieces from the past year I actually liked, and you can check those out if you want:

– My grandparents say goodbye to a friend.

– My grandpa and the challenge of creativity.

– My aunt delivers big news.

– Live to ride, ride to live.

– Grandpa gets hammered. No, really.

– My great-grandmother loses reality, then finds it again, more or less where she left it.

– An all-American theme park … in the Bronx?

See you next week, I hope.

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I come from what I’d call a close-knit family. And, thinking about it, I think I owe some degree of that to geography.

My mom and dad grew up in the same city. They’re not from the same neighborhood, I don’t think — I’m pretty sure they didn’t go to high school together. But they both come from the same community.

(Mapquest tells me that the homes my grandparents lived in when I was a kid were less than two miles apart.)

This contributed to a cross-familial closeness that I’m not sure is present in families with broader geographical roots.

When I went to visit Stamford as a kid, we would stay with one set of grandparents, but always spend quality time with the other. The grandparents took turns hosting.

There was never a sense — at least not to me — that we had to work to balance our grandparental time, and never a sense that anyone felt left out. It seemed organic: A visit to one was a visit to both.

My parents’ parents also got along nicely. Again, maybe there were subtle tensions that a little kid wouldn’t catch; only my folks know for sure.

But by the time I came along, it was common for my dad’s folks to get invited to events on my mom’s side of the family, and for my mom’s folks to stop by Hope Street for a dinner or other occasion.

This week’s calendar entry features one such occasion — another link in the knot that binds a close-knit family together.

April 27, 1974.

April 27, 1974. The Yanks come out on the short end of a seven-hitter thrown by David Clyde, who is nineteen years and five days old.

The event, on an unseasonably warm day, was the wedding of my cousin John and his wife, Maria.

John is the son of my maternal grandpa’s brother. I don’t know as he was that close to my paternal grandparents. But by 1974 — seven years after my folks got married — those grandparents were woven strongly enough into the family fabric to get an invite to a wedding on the other side of the family.

Being in a close family has its obligations, of course. I imagine my paternal grandpa might have spent April 27, 1974, working in his garden or washing his car, rather than putting on a suit and going to a wedding.

Still — given the million ugly ways in which dysfunctional families can shatter and wound — it is infinitely better to have the obligations of a close family than the pains of a distant one.

I’m glad to report that John and Maria’s 40th anniversary is coming up this spring. They are grandparents themselves now, and just hosted their kids and grandkids at a family get-together a couple of weeks ago.

My mom and dad were there, too. All these years later, the family ties still exist.

This pic doesn't have

This pic doesn’t have anything to do with the family-ties narrative, but I’m adding it anyway ’cause it’s so great. This is my dad on April 27, 1974, outside Stamford’s Sacred Heart Church after the wedding. The violin is my mom’s, the briefcase probably has organ music in it, and the camera is well-protected against the elements.

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Yeah, I think this week we’re going out to eat again.

Last year around this time, we dropped in on my grandparents in May 1969, as they marked their wedding anniversary with a splurgey meal in the upscale town of Westport.

This year we revisit them six years later to the day. They are still married, of course, and still committed to going out for their anniversary.

But some things have changed: My grandpa is retired now, and has a little less money to throw around. He’s probably watching what he eats a little bit more, too.

For this year’s celebration, they stay a little closer to home, choosing a Stamford institution for their big dinner:

May 3, 1975.

May 3, 1975.

A little searching on the Internet, and the place starts coming alive:

The Stamford Advocate tells us the Chimney Corner did business for 41 years at Long Ridge and Webbs Hill roads, and was particularly popular among elderly diners for its early-bird specials.

This undated, unused postcard brings us inside the main dining room, decorated in an early American style.

This ’50s-era postcard shows us the distinctive slope of the building’s exterior, as well as a landmark depiction of a horse and sleigh that stood over the parking lot entrance until somebody knocked it over.

This matchbook tells me my grandparents would have called Davis 2-1264 to make a reservation. (Well, OK, not by 1975 they wouldn’t have.)

This sugar cube tells us … well, it doesn’t really lend any historical insight per se, but it’s sorta fun to imagine my grandma putting one in her coffee. (There was a time when sugar didn’t come from sealed paper envelopes, apparently.)

And this article from the New York Times (which may be trapped behind the Gray Lady’s paywall for non-subscribers) fills us in on what became of the place: Most of it was torn down in 1991 to make way for a shopping center. The corner of the building with the namesake chimney was retained, apparently as some sort of tie to the past.

Pretty sure

This building is where the Chimney Corner was. It has three chimneys now, and I don’t think the one in the photo is the one they kept. (There’s space available, if anyone’s looking to sublet.) Photo courtesy Google Earth.

The one thing I can’t find online is a menu that would help me get a sense of what my grandparents would have sat down to on May 3, 1975. (I do find a past eBay listing of an old menu, but wouldn’t you know it, it’s closed. The menu. Not the auction. Well, yeah, both, actually.)

I note that the New York Times’ archives do not include any reviews of the Chimney Corner Inn — unlike the Westport restaurant where my grandparents ate in 1969, which received a NYT review a number of years later.

If the Chimney Corner Inn was around for 41 years and New York’s paper of record never went to the ‘burbs to check it out, its culinary reputation couldn’t have been too noteworthy.

I’m guessing the place was one of those stolid, upright, not-tremendously-creative locally owned restaurants every city has — the sort of place you go for high school graduations or anniversaries that don’t end in zero or five. I imagine they broiled a lot of prime rib, stuffed a lot of pork chops and baked a lot of potatoes over the course of 41 years.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, of course, if that’s what you’re looking for.

It seems to have struck a chord with my grandparents: A little further research indicates they’d been there the year before.

May 2-4, 1974.

May 2-4, 1974. Hey, Rod, you didn’t call.

I guess predictable and reliable are good things to be after 30-plus years of marriage — whether you’re talking about the marriage, or the place you go to celebrate it.

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The approximate location of 1107 Hope Street, spring 2013. Courtesy Google Earth.

This post was originally scheduled for April 15, more or less the second anniversary of Hope Street. But it seemed dreadfully slack to ask people to vote for me in a blog contest and then take a week off. So my week off will wait … until now.

I think I’m going to continue the tradition I established last year, and mark this blog’s anniversary by taking a week off.

Doesn’t seem like two years since I started doing this, but indeed it is.

It’s been an interesting 12 months here at Hope Street. See, I front-loaded the first year with the calendar entries that seemed to offer the easiest blog posts, as well as those that seemed to be the grabbiest for a non-family audience.

As time goes on, the calendar entries I have to work with tend to be more open-ended — which means the posts tend to be more about me, and more impressionistic, and more creative, as opposed to being recaps of some specific moment in family history.

Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. (But look on the bright side: At least I haven’t written any more of my awful poetry lately.)

I’ve still got a bunch of calendar entries saved up. Some of ’em will be more interesting than others, of course. But if you like it here, be assured we’ll keep doing this for a while yet.

I appreciate all those who follow the blog and read every week, or even some weeks. I’m not sure why you do it sometimes, but it’s nice of you.

The usual grovel is still in effect: If you like what you read, please consider sharing a link on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media in which you participate. Hope Street remains a strictly noncommercial thoroughfare; I’m only in it for the eyeballs.

Perhaps you will enjoy revisiting (or, if you’re new here, reading for the first time) what I consider my greatest hits from the past 12 months:

I’ll be back with more next Monday (unless I get guilty about taking a week off and decide to post something else in midweek.)

Be good.

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