When I was a little girl I attended St. Peter’s Catholic Parochial School. Because we seemed to move around a lot, I attended this school for first grade and half of second. Then it was off to Miami, FL. By the way, this school is located on Staten Island, NY.
It was such a blessing to live on an island. With the safety of New Jersey on our left, by about a mile, and New York City about five miles across the bay, it always felt remarkably secure, because sometimes the Atlantic would pound the island pretty hard during storms.
The northern most tip of the island where we resided was extremely hilly. Nicholas Street and Scribner Avenue were so steep that I always had to lean forward as I walked up the hill to our home. We lived at both of these locations during the years we were in New York.
At our first home on Nicholas Street, we could sit on the front steps, face left and see the entire panoramic view of Manhattan. Breathtaking! We would always have breezes off the bay and the Atlantic Ocean was just five to seven miles away. The tangy smell of salty water and bay were intoxicating. Some days I could close my eyes and taste the sea.
Nicholas Street was within one mile from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Back then, it was normal to drive your automobiles on board to travel across the bay to the city. The fee was only a nickel for passengers and perhaps a quarter for the car. Nowadays it’s a free ride, but only passengers are allowed on board.
By the time I was enrolled for the first grade, we had been living on Scribner Avenue for one year and not only was I excited to go to school with my sisters and brother, it meant I would once again be close to the bay.
Many people share the same love of being around water as I. There is nothing so liberating as to smell it, taste it, bathe in it, cook with it, drink it, swim in it, watch it, listen to it, float on it, boat on it, fish on and in it, or to stand next to it. Born from the ocean we are children of the sea.
There was no uncertainty of my feelings as I gazed out my classroom window to view the utter beauty of my beloved Statue of Liberty. Across the bay and a little bit to my left she stood tall and regal. Just behind her and a little to the right sat Manhattan. From my privledged front row seat, I could watch the world float by.
I observed the ever changing view. Weather, sun and clouds played over the water and buildings. I cared not if it was raining, snowing, cloudy or brilliant. This view was my gift from God.
I cannot tell how many times Sister reprimanded me, reminded me to apply myself, to stop gazing out of the window. We were allowed to rest our heads on our desks for a brief time each afternoon. Many of my nap times were spent daydreaming or watching the freight ships being guided by the little tug boats.
Every so often a cruise ship would drift by, all stately and gleaming white, boasting our US flag flying high on her mast. Sometimes ships from foreign lands would appear and they too flew their flag proudly.
We were an important port of call. We were New York City. The most popular place in the world.
As it is the Fourth of July today, I want to thank the French for bestowing Lady Liberty to our country. I love her dearly and am grateful that she symbolizes everything that is good in our country.
As a North American I want to apologize for all the wrong the present leaders of our country have done to your country. Because of a few…please do not hold in contempt, everyone who loves this great land of ours. I pray for positive change.
We care for you and your countries too. Many of our citizens came from all around the world. In truth…we are world citizens.
That said, I want my readers to remember that liberty is in the stature of the lady that stands for all of the goodness this country and her people has to offer. I pray for peace and ask that everyone do something good and meaningful for someone each and every day. After a while it will catch on and I look forward to the day we can join hands together and smile.
“I LOVE NEW YORK!” I really do.