Did you ever see so many pee-wee hats, Carl?" "They're beanies." "They call them pee-wees in Brooklyn." "But I'm not in Brooklyn." "But you're still a Brooklynite." "I wouldn't want that to get around, Annie." "You don't mean that, Carl." "Ah, we might as well call them beanies, Annie." "Why?" "When in Rome do as the Romans do." "Do they call them beanies in Rome?" she asked artlessly. "This is the silliest conversation...
People always think that happiness is a faraway thing," thought Francie, "something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains - a cup of strong hot coffee when you're blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you're alone - just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness.
Yes, when I get big and have my own home, no plush chairs and lace curtains for me. And no rubber plants. I'll have a desk like this in my parlor and white walls and a clean green blotter every Saturday night and a row of shining yellow pencils always sharpened for writing and a golden-brown bowl with a flower or some leaves or berries always in it and books . . . books . . . books. . . .
Because the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination.
It's come at last," she thought, "the time when you can no longer stand between your children and heartache. When there wasn't enough food in the house you pretended that you weren't hungry so they could have more. In the cold of a winter's night you got up and put your blanket on their bed so they wouldn't be cold. You'd kill anyone who tried to harm them - I tried my best to kill that man in the hallway. Then one sunny day, they walk out in all innocence and they walk right into the grief that you'd give... Read more »
It was the last time she’d see the river from that window. The last time of anything has the poignancy of death itself. This that I see now, she thought, to see no more this way. Oh, the last time how clearly you see everything; as though a magnifying light had been turned on it. And you grieve because you hadn’t held it tighter when you had it every day.
No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps, and it was the only tree that grew out of cement. It grew lushly, but only in the tenements districts.... That was the kind of tree it was. It liked poor people.
You took a walk on a Sunday afternoon and came to a nice neighborhood, very refined. You saw a small one of these trees through the iron gate leading to someone's yard and you knew that soon that section of Brooklyn would get to be a tenement district. The tree knew. It came there first. Afterwards, poor foreigners seeped in and the quiet old brownstone houses were hacked up into flats, feather beds were pushed out on the window sills to air and the Tree of Heaven flourished. That was the kind of tree it was. It liked poor people.
Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn New York. Especially in the summer of 1912. Somber as a word was better. But it did not apply to Williamsburg Brooklyn. Prairie was lovely and Shenandoah had a beautiful sound but you couldn't fit those words into Brooklyn. Serene was the only word for it especially on a Saturday afternoon in summer.
There is here, what is not in the old country. In spite of hard, unfamiliar things, there is here - hope. In the old country, a man can be no more than his father, providing he works hard. If his father was a carpenter, he may be a carpenter. He many not be a teacher or a priest. He may rise - but only to his father's state. In the old country, a man is given to the past. Here he belongs to the future. In this land, he may be what he will, if he has the good heart... Read more »