Thursday, January 13, 2011

There's a story to be told

“Hey boricua!”
Passing the projects, a burly latino guy in Northface yells at me. In my winter jacket, baseball hat, sunglasses.
“Hey, you Spanish, right?” I ignore him and keep walking.
“You Chinese?” I keep walking. A woman is passing.
“Hey, mami, that’s my father,” he yells at her. “He look Dominican, no?”
So I’ve covered three ethno-cultural groups in one block. 
The keys are still on the steps. And a mini bottle of tequila.
Ted and I stop into Barney Greengrass  for coffee and to await our appointment with Norm Bleckner. A friend of his from the 92nd Street Y stops by. We talk about what we’re up to, the upcoming 100th anniversary celebration. Ted asks her if she’d like to be on the committee. And she actually seems interested.  Something about the vision intrigues her. 
Norm meets us in the church. He creates displays and museum exhibits. He came to the house party at Ted and Mim’s. The vision moved him.  He’s here to talk about setting up an archival exhibit for West-Park. An interpretive exhibit. Something people can see when they walk in. Something to see the impact of the church on social history. Another of Amanda’s ideas coming to life. 
I show him the memorials to Lewis C. Bales and the Rev. David R. Downer. Their inherent mystery. The Spanish names on the World War II plaque. There must have been Latinos here before the creation of La Iglesia Presbiteriana de West-Park. We stand in the sanctuary, I tell the stories. Then give him the tour, stories as I go.
“There’s a story here. You have to tell it,” he says. “It intersects with the story of our neighborhood, the city. People forget. They have to know. I want to do this.”
There’s work to be done. Gathering our paper archives. The proclamation from the city on the 25th anniversary of the More Light movement. West-Park’s pioneering in the gay marriage movement. The history book from the 150th anniversary. Online photos. Architectural plans. T-shirts, sweatshirts, artifacts from the work groups that came through after 9-11. The catalogue of all the windows. The Tiffany contract. The Kilburn contract. The agreement with God’s Love We Deliver. Hours of work ahead. He sees an old 48 star flag in the session room. Old sets of tarnished communion ware. “All of this, we can use all of this..” he says. 
There’s a story to be told.

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