Not one car and not a single pedestrian.
It was early April. I was standing at a window in our midtown Manhattan apartment, overlooking Park Avenue, usually brimming with traffic and now completely empty.
The coronavirus pandemic was running rampant in New York with reported cases hovering around 10,000 every day. Every day Governor Cuomo held TV briefings, giving detailed accounts of what was happening. He also advised us as to the precautionary measures we must take, such a wearing a face mask and gloves, keeping a safe distance, washing hands frequently, and, at all costs, avoid large indoor gatherings.
Things had come to a weird standstill. Quarantine was more or less required. Most stores except groceries and pharmacies were closed and other than the frightening sound of sirens, silence reigned throughout what had become a ghost town. Since subways were no longer a good option, Roxie, my wife, moved her studio from Long Island City to our living room. In June she returned to her studio, walking most of the way and taking the ferry across the East River.
April and May are also remembered for the tributes made to essential workers. Every evening, at seven pm, I would hand Roxie a saucepan and a large metal spoon. She would lean out of the window, bang the saucepan and, intermittently, at the top of her lungs cry out “THANK YOU! THANK YOU!” Neighbors in nearby buildings joined in, and cars honked.
Wearing a face mask became the thing to do in New York City. Even statues such as Patience and Fortitude outside the Public Library, and Atlas at Rockefeller Center did it - not to mention the giant dog balancing a yellow cab on its nose outside the hospital at 34th Street and First Avenue.
If they can do it, so can I. By late summer almost everyone wore a mask.
People had left our building, mostly young professionals going back to their parents’ homes in upstate NY, maybe Ohio, or Virginia, and others left for summer homes on Long Island.
Because indoor dining was not allowed, many restaurants moved outdoors filling the sidewalks and even parts of the streets.
One good thing: as you can see on the chart below, New York has flattened the curve enormously.
When will it end? Nobody knows.
Gargoyles,Girders & Glass Houses by Bo Zaunders has created a picture book tribute to seven of history's most celebrated architectural wonder-workers and takes readers from the domes of Florence to the mosques of Turkey, and from the Eiffel Tower to the Chrysler Building. Illustrated by Roxie Munro
“Where am I?”
The smiling young pilot was apparently nonplussed. He had landed at Dublin’s airport without a permit – or even a passport – and was now confronting several frowning custom officers.
“I took off from New York with the intention of flying to Los Angeles,” he explained. “After twenty-six hours coming down through the clouds I was puzzled to see water instead of land. I must have misread my compass and followed the wrong end of the needle.”
The Irish, never averse to a good yarn, looked at his primitive plane and cheered him for his audacity. When word of his remarkable flight reached the United States, the pilot, Douglas Corrigan, became known as “Wrong Way” Corrigan.
The story of Corrigan, an Irish-American mechanic, has been called an Irish fairy tale, an impish yarn spun with a straight face. It unfolded in 1938 but really began when Corrigan, at age twenty, worked on the team that built The Spirit of Saint Louis, the plane that took Charles Lindberg across the Atlantic. Lindberg became Corrigan’s hero. His dream: to make that same flight himself.
But Corrigan was just an ordinary guy struggling to make ends meet. Still, he managed to get a pilot’s license, and began flying in his spare time. In 1931 he bought his own plane. It was a battered old machine, but Corrigan loved it, and radically changed it, so that, one day, he would be able to duplicate his hero’s transatlantic flight. He was set to go – except for one major obstacle: more stringent regulations for trips overseas.
Applying for a government permit, he was turned down because his plane was too old. Then, in 1938, he got a license for flights between Los Angeles and New York. Seeing him him take off for Los Angeles, people wondered why he headed northeast instead of west.
The world laughed - an unlikely hero, a mirthful, courageous individual who thumbed his nose at authority.
Back in New York, Corrigan was treated to a ticker-tape parade on Broadway. A nationwide tour followed. He met with President Roosevelt, received membership in the Liar’s Club in Wisconsin, was hailed as “Chief Wrong Way” by a Native American tribe, showered with compasses, and given a watch that ran backward.
Asked about his flight, his response was always the same: a grin and “Man, I didn’t mean to do this at all.”
Bo Zaunders has written four nonfiction books for children and illustrated two. He is also a photographer specializing in food and travel. Like Corrigan, he loves adventures. You can find Feathers, Flaps & Flops in the iNK Books & Media Store.
For Vicki Cobb's BLOG (nonfiction book reviews, info on education, more), click here: Vicki's Blog
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that 30 People Who Changed the World has been selected for Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2018, a cooperative project of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) & the Children’s Book Council
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