Monthly Archives: October 2013

In Memoriam: Dália M. Leonardo

Dalia2

It has been a year since Dália Leonardo died. She was a friend and colleague at the CUNY Graduate Center. I was her immediate supervisor but, in the case of academia, we worked collaboratively. Dália went into the hospital in the summer. At the time, I was preparing to go on sabbatical and had so many things to do. I never got to see her after she was in the hospital. Shortly after her admittance, her visitors were restricted to family only. I was able to talk to her by phone though, and she sounded like the same Dália I’d talked to for years.

The last time I called her, I was on sabbatical and happened to be at the Graduate Center when her office was needed for use by other faculty. I was surprised that Dália answered the phone on the second ring. She sounded well and I explained that her office was needed and that someone had to pack up her things. I  thought that Dália might want me to do this rather than anyone else, and I was right. I apologized over and over but Dália told me not to worry about it. I asked how she was doing, and she was beginning chemotherapy.

I returned from Tennessee at the end of September to find that Dália would not be coming back to work, that her illness was terminal. I was shocked and upset. I sent Dália a letter to see if she would let me visit her at the hospice. I never got a response. I later found out that Dália was already slipping away. It was too late to talk to her.

Dália’s death effected me. I went into a deep depression for weeks, sorry that I had not visited her when she first went into the hosptial. I never really got a chance to say good-bye. I did talk to Dália’s aunt briefly. The family was heartbroken. They had lost a very beloved daughter and niece. Dália had only begun her professional career in academia, and it was a promising one. To have it cut so short was not fair.

Dália had a great sense of humor, which made her popular with so many people. Many a time I would sit in her office and we would laugh about something we found absurd or ironic. She loved movies and television shows. She adored her Boston Red Sox and hockey. As a friend of mine said, dying on Halloween was, well, a good day to die. I think Dália would laugh about dying on such a day.

Rest in peace, Dália. Your friends will always remember you.

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Fall and Halloween in the Hollow

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Fall has finally arrived

Okay, the first pic is actually of an area along a highway not too far from the Hollow. I took this in the wee hours of the morning after I had done laundry. I was rewarding myself with breakfast out when I looked up before going into the diner and saw the beautiful trees on the hill opposite the highway. I took a picture. The peak leaf season is quickly approaching the area, if it hasn’t already arrived.

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The Sleepy Hollow Village Hall on Beekman Avenue, decorated for Halloween

Things are moving along here in the Hollow as Halloween approaches. This weekend, the village is having a block party on Beekman, the main drag through town, to celebrate Halloween. It’s to accompany the hayride through a part of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, but the “haunting” is taking place in Douglas Park. Supposedly, the hayride follows Icabod Crane’s ride past the Old Dutch Church and across the bridge and into the Hollow to escape the Headless Horseman. (Notice the mural of the Horseman in the high window in the village hall. That’s not a decoration. The Headless Horseman mural is a permanent fixture.) Every weekend there’s been things going on around here, and tourista have been posing in front of the village hall to take their pictures with the corn stalks and the pumpkins.

Sleepy Hollow Village Hall (2013-10-16 007)

A close-up of the Headless Horseman mural, which is a permanent fixture

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Why I Love New York

The history sign

The history sign

The Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Sleepy Hollow used to be St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. It was built in honor of Washington Irving, the famous 19th century writer whose estate, Sunnyside, is by the Tarrytown/Irvington border.

I pass by this church regularly whenever I walk into Tarrytown, which is often. Recently, the church started celebrating Maronite masses on Sundays. The Maronites are a Middle Eastern group whose church is in communion with Rome.

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Grand Central Terminal Tour

Grand Central (2013-09-30 016)

Grand Central Terminal

Monday night after work, I signed up for a Men Event walking tour of Grand Central. The group met at the Pershing Square Café, then headed out and onto 42nd Street. Our guide was Dave Cervini, from the New York Social Network.

Why is Grand Central a terminal and not a station? Because trains start and end in a terminal whereas a station has trains traveling through it on to other destinations. Why was the Biltmore Room once called the “Kissing Room?” Because it is the entrance and exit from a set of tracks once used to move troops during World War II. The room was where lovers and family would say their good-byes–or hellos.

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The clock that crowns the Grand Central facade

This is the third Grand Central that was built. The clock is the biggest example of Tiffany glass in the world, being 13 feet around. The six on the face opens to allow adjustments and to peer down onto Park Avenue. The clock is framed with Hercules to the left, Minerva on the right, and Mercury standing above it. Oh, that statue at the front of the building where Park Avenue comes together? That’s Cornelius Vanderbilt, railroad magnet and the prime mover that got Grand Central built.

Fourth Avenue started at 42nd Street and for several city blocks behind Grand Central was the huge, uncovered train yard; there was no Park Avenue here. When it was decided to cover the train yard so that more buildings could be built, the railroad yard slowly disappeared. Once the train yard was completely covered, the new street was named Park Avenue, and the new road went around Grand Central and emptied onto what had been Fourth Avenue, now renamed Park Avenue.

I always wondered why the light fixtures were so ugly—ugly in the sense that the light bulbs were exposed with no covers. In 1913, the electric light bulb was new, and only the rich could afford them, so the new Grand Central had light fixtures displaying this symbol of power (literally and figuratively.)

The faux staircase that leads to the Apple store was not part of the original design. There was no staircase because there was no entrance. It was decided during the restoration in the 1990s to match the Lexington side of the building with the staircase leading up to Vanderbilt Avenue.

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The tennis court

There’s a tennis court in Grand Central. When facing the building on 42nd, it’s in the upper left corner. For $275 an hour, anyone can rent the court for however long they want. (Prices drop on Saturday nights to $125 an hour.) This was really funny. Who would have thought that a train station would have a tennis court?

The walkways are behind the decorative window. You can see figures on them

The walkways are behind the decorative window. You can see figures on them

In order to generate revenue, offices were put into the terminal as well as the selling off of the air rights above the building, which is where the Pan Am Building (now Met Life) was built. The offices in Grand Central can be reached by the corridors behind the glass windows. You can sometimes see people walking along those glass corridors.

The information booth

The information booth

The information booth with the famous clock on top where everyone meets once had no entrance; there’s a circular stairway that leads down to the lower information booth, which is where railroad workers would enter and exit. The enclosure upstairs is more recent.

The terminal clock

The terminal clock

And the clock? Southby’s has estimated that it is worth 23 million dollars.

There was a lot of information. Afterwards, some of us had a drink and socialized. It was a great tour, and lots of fun.

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Filed under History, New York City

End of Questions and Answers Site

I decided to delete the page that offered to answer questions about libraries. It wasn’t popular, and I only had two postings on it, one on carbonated water being bad for the teeth, and why Library of Congress subject headings are better than keywords. I added these two entries to the home blog.

I will continue to add to the home page as well as do book reviews, as time permits. If anyone does have questions, there’s now a tab on the main menu to ask a question.

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