It’s always good to get away from home, even if the threat of a hurricane is responsible for your leaving. For one thing, the farther you are from the metropolitan New York area, the more interesting the obits in the papers seem.
Last Sunday I read The Daily Freeman, the local newspaper in Kingston, New York, where we had gone after our house on Long Island was declared part of a mandatory evacuation area. The paper had an obituary of a woman who had worked for an oil company “for over twelve years in inventory control where she was admired by her peers. She was a very hard worker and known for being very stern but always fair.”
Another lady, a school teacher, “was known for her direct manner, apple pie, Christmas breads, nut pastries and hallway murals,” according to The Daily Freeman. While the first woman “enjoyed donating to food banks during the holidays,” the second had a fondness for “multiple spoiled cats and dogs.”
Another refreshing thing about the obits was that the ladies “died.” They didn’t pass away, go to be with the Lord or any of that other euphemistic clutter you frequently see in small newspapers. They did what people do. They died.
We’ve been to Kingston several times and even made the four-hour-plus roundtrip there one day for lunch at a French restaurant we like. This time we were there two nights and discovered Kingston has another thing going for it – a diner that still serves Greek salad with anchovies on it. Yes, it also came with the usual 14 pounds of Feta cheese, but I can’t remember the last time I had a Greek salad in a diner with anchovies. While I was savoring my salad, in walked a teenage girl wearing a sweatshirt with “Kingston Hurricanes” on the back. I wonder if Kingston has ever had a real hurricane, but I’m nitpicking. Kingston Hurricanes is much catchier than Kingston Tropical Storms.
Our son and his family stayed on Long Island during Irene’s winds and rains. Although they live just outside the mandatory evacuation zone, the more we watched television coverage of the storm the more we were concerned about the safety of Jack, Deena, Daniella and Cristiana.
The reporters and anchors for the New York City stations did a solid job, I thought, except for occasionally giving figures for the thousands of “people” without power instead of the number of “customers,” which is the way utility companies calculate outages. I found it depressing that the local stations had all these talented people doing fine work on a major story, but most of the time the same reporters and anchors are asked to cover or read trash news.
(On our way home, we did hear one jarring report on a commercial radio network. A newsman who normally works out of California was in a town next door to where we live. I don’t think he had done an ounce of reporting on Long Island. If he had, then why did he keep talking about what people were saying about the actions of the mayor of New York City and the governor of New Jersey?)
Irene brought strong winds and hard rain to our haven of Kingston, pushing the Hudson River slightly over its banks and knocking out electricity in at least one part of town.
Once the storm had passed over Long Island, Jack drove to our house to see if the three tall trees in our backyard were still standing. They were. And we had power, something he didn't. His neighbor's tree had fallen on a transformer, so he, Deena and the girls moved themselves into our house.
As Irene, my always dependable editor and navigator, and I drove home to join them, the south-bound traffic was bumper-to-bumper on many sections of the New York State Thruway that were still open. One woman got out of a car headed south and started walking across the Thruway, apparently to the rest stop on the other side. It seemed a very dangerous thing to do because the traffic on that side of the road was moving - make that zooming - normally. Did she desperately have to go to the ladies room? Was she running away from her companion? Tired of hearing him or her repeat the same five boring things every damn day? Or did her companion insist on playing over and over the same cut from a Foo Fighters CD?
I do not know. I do know I had never seen anyone try to walk across the New York Thruway. I also know that I had never seen before the white limousine we followed for several miles with New York State license plates reading ACCURACY. The limo had darkened windows, so we weren’t able to get a glimpse inside. I’m leaving a blank space below for insertion of a cheap political shot of your choosing.