Thursday, 23 Sep 2021

‘We Could Not Find a Sign Pointing Us to Home Plate’s Former Home’

Finding Home

Dear Diary:

On a trip to New York City, I convinced my wife, Linda, to join me on a baseball pilgrimage: a walk to the spot where Ebbets Field’s home plate once was.

After taking the subway to Prospect Park, we wandered toward Sullivan Place and the large apartment complex where the Dodgers’ ballpark used to be.

We spotted Jackie Robinson Park down the street, but we could not find a sign pointing us to home plate’s former home.

Suddenly, we heard a loud voice bellowing from a distance.

“Are you looking for the home plate?”

We looked up toward the apartment building entrance and saw a female security guard with a big grin.

Linda and I looked at each other and laughed.

“Yes,” we yelled back.

“Follow me,” she said, waving us up the stairs.

Soon, we were following her along a walkway and down a set of stairs to the parking lot at the back of the complex.

“I have people like you coming by here all the time looking for home plate,” she said as we came to the end of our impromptu tour.

“Here it is,” she said. “You can take your pictures now.”

We thanked her and took a couple of photos.

She turned and walked away while my wife and I stared at the plaque: “Site of Ebbets Field Home Plate. Home to the Brooklyn Dodgers 1913-1957. At this location on April 15, 1947, Jack Roosevelt Robinson integrated Major League Baseball.”

— Gary Poignant

Ars Poetica, Bronx

Dear Diary:

It was the untold stories
Irish aunts with fiery tempers
men with straight lines for mouths
and eyes that changed like the moon
It was the cry of sirens
din of the street
thin apartment walls
slap of a ball on concrete
smell of smoke
bakery boxes tied with string
kitchen parties
the jingle of change in my father’s pocket
It was ordinary magic
that made me a poet

— Mary E. Cronin

Reading Again

Dear Diary:

I was waiting for the G train at the Bergen Street stop. I sat down on a bench and took out my copy of “Tender is the Night,” a perennial favorite that I like to reread each year when the weather turns warm.

Next to me on the bench, a stranger pulled out the same book — the very same version and cover.

We grinned at the coincidence, acknowledged it and then turned back to our solitary reading.

I unfolded my copy, and he noticed we were both at the beginning.

He unfolded his copy, and noticed we were both on Page 16.

— Kayleigh Butera

Lunchtime at Tiffany’s

Dear Diary:

It was the early 1980s. We were stopped at a light going to work around 55th Street and Fifth Avenue. The rain was coming down in buckets as people shuffled quickly past the front of our car.

I was on the passenger side. Someone had dropped their wallet, and no one seemed to have noticed. I went to pick it up, hoping to find the owner. The person who dropped it seemed to have disappeared into the crowd of umbrellas.

When I got back into the car, I looked for identification. There was a business card with a woman’s name, phone number and title: senior vice president, Tiffany & Company.

When I got to my office, I called her immediately. We arranged to meet at 12:30 at the entrance to the Tiffany building.

By then, the rain had stopped and the sun had broken through. When I got to the building, a middle-age, well-dressed woman was there to greet me.

She expressed her gratitude as I gave her the wallet. Then she reached into the wallet and gave me her business card.

“You never know,” she said. “Perhaps I can help you someday.”

Six months later, I got a call from a friend who had been out of work for more than a year. He was trying to get an interview at Tiffany’s for a management position. He asked whether I knew anyone there.

Maybe, I said, and made a call to my new contact.

She answered the phone and seemed happy to hear from me.

I explained the situation, and she asked for my friend’s résumé.

Two weeks later, my friend called again.

He got the job.

— Albert Crecca

Staten Island Ferry

Dear Diary:

In 1969 I was 21 and visiting New York from Vancouver, British Columbia. I had never been away from home, and had been lured to the city by Broadway and every old movie from the 1930s and ’40s.

My first night in Manhattan, I was excited to get on the Staten Island Ferry. I was hoping that someone would sing “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” à la Astaire and Rogers.

Wondering which side of the boat had the best view of Manhattan, I asked a deckhand where I should go to see something beautiful.

“Florida,” he said.

— Verna Hall

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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