July 02, 2007

Another Babka Bites the Dust

It's not that I miss the old culture all that much -- let a hundred trendy restaurants invade the Lower East Side, I say, who needs the knishes and the dry goods stores? It's become such a cliche to lament the passing of some commercial semi-institution from bygone generations and to rail at the uncultured rich young vampires who move in. Yes, populations change, new immigrants replace the old, and demographic patterns shift. Otherwise New York [substitute the name of your own place] would become an ethnological museum.

What moves me about this very short New York Times article is not the disappearance of an old bakery or even of my parents' and grandparents' historical environment -- in which they were mostly miserable -- but the emotions of the reporter, which come through so strongly through his journalistic prose. It's not every day that a Times writer gets to tell the world how overjoyed his family was when their father brought home a cake after a day's work at the hosiery shop. The telling is better than the cake.

And let's face it, though I've never been to Gertel's, I'm one of those "grandchildren…of striving sewing machine operators." On both sides.

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