Now hear this: The older you are the more your birthdays deserve remembering - not a popular notion when it comes to people, but it’s a revolution this columnist still struggles to obtain. But most will agree the older a community newspaper, the more its birthdays deserve celebration and to recall the many ways and many individuals who made life better – its safety and quality.
Of course, I speak of Our Town’s 45th birthday, and how last week’s anniversary issue needs future issues with more about those ways, people and places which need remembering for current and future nowadays’ well-being. Safety from violent crime was a top priority of founding publisher, Ed Kayatt. He called for more police power and strict enforcement long before the dailies took note. And the pols mostly listened. Our Town friend and contributor, Msgr. Harry Byrne, always believed strongly in the “Thou shalt Not Kill or Steal” commandments and his related “First Civil Liberty” essay was aired in The Paper of Record. Byrne was also a key member of the multi-faith council and involved in saving and providing affordable housing. His homilies which related scripture to everyday life regularly appeared in Our Town. They need re-reading along with the First Civil Liberty op ed.
Our Town also helped assemble and distribute crime-prevention material like Robert Nicholas’s Safe Neighborhood free monthly - and so much more in those high crime times, many now do not remember. There were even more of what I call “crimes of traffic,” which I’ve forever adamantly eschewed, above all, the most deadly motorists’ “failure to yield” kind. But there’s also bicyclists’ flagrant disregard for the laws of the road, which Police Commissioner Ben Ward once said “are scaring the public to death.” And former council member and Parks commissioner, Henry Stern, agreed how “Bikes scare you more than a car, because they are silent. swift and come at you from any direction.” Kamikaze walkers also have to go. But so very thankfully, this paper under editor Kyle Pope has made the fight against motor vehicle crime especially a real and ongoing crusade.
Saving small businesses is also a major and continuing concern of this editor. Ah, ongoing and major coverage is needed to stop robbing New Yorkers, and often the elder ones, of neighborhood places which meet their everyday needs. That includes emotional ones - affordable places to eat, but not be alone. The staff knows you by name. Recently, East End Gristedes cashier, Dajeeka, dashed out to help an elder customer she saw trying to cross a suddenly icy avenue. Co-managers Ellen and Joe share this concern. So is the staff of the gracious East End Kitchen restaurant located in the now unfortunately sold six-story 1906 rental apartment building also housing Gristedes. Ah, just so many reasons to save these places that make for a caring, safe and neighborly community. This paper has always been in the vanguard of this mighty endeavor and especially now – especially now.
It’s also been in the vanguard of saving endangered faith groups which also meet non-religious community needs with meeting places for 12 Step and other helpful activities. My apologies for giving the wrong address for the Our Lady of Peace Church whose members hold 6 pm daily reveries outside to pray the Vatican will reopen this not only landmarked but self-supporting century-old beautiful church. The location is 239-241 East 62nd Street, between Second and Third Avenues. And these reveries need media coverage!
Infinitely more needs to be remembered for nowadays health about those ways and people who contributed so much to the paper, which, editor permit, will continue at least for one more column. And maybe some of those relevant recollections will also appear in the columns of former Our Town editors, Arlene Kayatt and Bill Gunlocke. The good newspapers do desperately need to get out there. And here’s hearing from you, dear readers. Somehow everyone should have email access.