It was a long time absent from a city in which I gave 20 years of my life. Of course, the giving is not over. In fact, the City of Newburgh is a lifetime affair. It is hard to leave it completely. I have always called Newburgh, "The Prison without Walls." The streets, the people, the debris of abandoned cars, old refrigerators, and TVs have their place set in a disturbing normalcy.
Somehow I got out of the prison and removed my self to Westchester County. Upon re-visiting Newburgh this past week, the contrast of my new life was stark. In Newburgh there were food lines outside of the church, more abandoned houses, and all this signs of a city with the highest crime rate in the State of New York. There is no place in Westchester County that can compare...expect maybe Mount Vernon. In Scarsdale, Pelham and New Rochelle, these conditions of life are not visible. There is no recession here. At least not visible. Occasionally, I hear of a downsizing from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom townhouse. Here in Westchester, that is major decline. But in Newburgh, decline is ever present.
Not to sound so bleak, there is hope. I heard from Carmen Vasqueztell that the ever-philanthropic Mr. Kaplan has converted the Armory into a center of advancement. It is called the Newburgh Armory Unity Center. http://www.newburgharmory.org/message/ It is a very exciting and positive program that has succeeded in bringing together various non-profit and social service organization to address the needs of the Newburgh community.
Vasqueztell and other educators and professionals are volunteering their time to make a difference. Kaplan owns the waterfront which is productive and clean. Everything he touches turns to success. Maybe he should just buy the City of Newburgh and transform it back to the Queen City on the Hudson!!!
I was sitting at Primo's Pizzeria with an old friend, Mildred Starin. I am writing again. And she is my new subject. Stay tuned. An old friend of mine came in and said hello. She chided me about not updating my blog. So here I am again.