BEFORE SEVEN A.M.

‘Seven A.M./gunther

May 6, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     UPPER NYACK, N.Y. — On the charming corner of School Street and Broadway, in this charming village 24 miles north of Gotham, there is a charming former store made famous in an iconic 1948 painting — “Seven A.M.” — by the foremost American realist, local native Edward Hopper. 

     The artist captured a small-town American scene, the store’s wall clock hitting seven in the morning, an awakening time for work, for commerce, but also for a changing America in the post-war years.

     What would lie ahead in social/economic/political changes? Would small towns thrive or decline? Would the clock’s hands move forward?

     The look of the storefront is classic. Once there were many, many thousands across the nation. By 1948, the Upper Nyack store had already been many things, offering goods and books and the gatherings-for-sale by the Perry Family and others. 

    Now, in 2019, the store is empty, though the building has been rescued by a good neighbor who now lives there. She is already advancing the clock hands on fine but oh-so-careful restoration to assure that we never forget, never forget in small-town America the time that came before seven a.m.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

OF TREES, OF HOUSES, OF PEOPLE

‘TALL HOUSES’/gunther

April 29, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     In dense forests, trees grow tall in competition for light. Yet each stands straight and proud, keeping the species together. Though the single tree seeks its majesty, it is also there as a buttress against storms that might take down its neighbor.

     Such dense forests are a natural collective in joint security while each tree competes as a rugged individualist.  

     Tall houses, too, become the neighborhood collective, offering the hum of daily existence while each structure reaches for the sky, a particular color giving the individual due.

     Move on to humans, and do we not see both the collective and the rugged individualist reaching high and above?

     The writer is a retired newspaperman, ahgunther@yahoo.com

WORLD OF HUES

 

WORLD OF HUES/gunther

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)  

There’s this thing about color — it’s supposed to be this or that, according to scene. You know, bright blue sky, white sun, green mountains, straw fields. Every hue in its place, and the world’s clock keeps perfect time.  

But who decides? Where is the democracy in an “expected” color scene? Why not a darkish sky, an orange sun, a field of lime, yellow, white? Why not any color in any scene?  In a landscape. In life as well.  

The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

ROOM OF HER OWN

 

April 15, 2019 (in advance)

‘HER ROOM’/gunther

By Arthur H. Gunther III

(also on Facebook)

     There can never be full existence for any of us if we do not have our space. It is even truer if you are a woman — every woman must have a room of her own.

     Virginia Woolf, in an extended 1929 essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” argued that women writers require space (and money) in a field dominated by men. But her argument was metaphorical as well.

     Women, who bear more than children, lifelong carry the world’s rhythms, progress, hopes, defeats and emotional nourishment. They constantly do and do, and do — for others. 

     When do women escape to go beyond their given, assumed, taken roles? When do they just be “me”?

      Women must have a room of their own.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

     

BEYOND THE OBVIOUS

‘VERSO,’ gunther

April 8, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     Perhaps this column should have been written for April Fool’s Day because the accompanying painting seems a joke. But it is not.

     The piece, titled “Verso,” Latin for reverse of a painting or document, looks like the other side of a framed painting. Yet it is really the painting itself, unframed, acrylic on a 24-inch-square wood panel.

     The idea was to be different, to spotlight what is hidden, even neglected, to show the strength, the character, the meaning, the substance of what we usually do not see.

     Everything — everyone — has value. Just have to look beyond the obvious. 

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

HOOKED ON ‘THE HOOK’

GUNTHER/photo

 

April 1, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     There is a literal “hook” to the Hudson River shore just 25 miles north of New York City. It is Hook Mountain, its high cliffs dwarfing the mighty waterway. Subject of countless photographs, drawings and paintings, it was saved from disfiguring as a quarry about 1900 by the Rockefeller family and is now part of the state park system.

     Hendrick Hudson saw the Hook on his river journey; Native Americans fished the river and set caves in the sandstone long before that. 

     The trail below is a magical tour for the spirit and soul, every step taking you away from all that bustles, keeping you safe in the arms of such a high place that you feel utterly protected.

     That the Hook was rescued is a tribute to the rich who would go beyond profit to make a mark. That the cliffs and the river path below dispense their salve daily is a blessing.

The writer is a retired newspaperman. angunther@yahoo.com

    

ON THE PORCH

GRAND VIEW ON HUDSON/gunther

March 25, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     Porches are the soul’s resting spot. They are also the teaching sit-a-spell for one generation to the next. Whether it’s a traditional American small-town front porch, a Southern veranda or an urban stoop, there is emotional gold in tarrying there.

     The newborn child is rocked on such porches. The old while away the sunset in their memories. Young, budding love greets each other.  A kindergartener leaves for the first day of school from that porch, and, suddenly, he/she is going to college.

     A grandmother imparts wisdom and encouragement to her family; neighbors stop to talk; someone in need is given care. 

The porch is a thresh hold to the minutes, the hours, days and years of life.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

     

 

A DAY FOR TEA

 

‘IRISH TEA’/gunther

March 17, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     (For St. Patrick’s Day) 

     There cannot be the Irish without tea. When the person holds a cup, it is the soul that comes to visit, both to nourish and to be nourished. Every sadness, every joy, every birth, every passing, every harvest, every leaving home of a once child, all that is before you, in reflection, in that cup of tea.

     My own mother, of pure Irish out of Donegal and an English father from Hartlepool, never had a morning or an afternoon or an evening without her strong tea. During the world war, she gave up rationed sugar and saved on milk by using a canned condensed mix. But the tea she would not be without.

     There are moments when you have tea. If you stir quickly, you might be nervous. If you sip with two hands on the cup, you may be enjoying your company. If you are a woman in love, you may leave a bit more lipstick on the edge.

     Tea is that friend who never leaves, never ages, never talks back. It is the wisdom, the lessons, the sacrifices of generations there, in that cup. And the future, too.

     

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

SWEET SMELL OF LIVING

‘CUPBOARD’/gunther

March 11, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     A very long time ago, a young fellow staying overnight at his grandma’s house would get up before his brother so he could put one of those small, individualized cereal boxes on the kitchen table. There might be just one package of raisin bran, and he wanted it.

     Every memory of that brings me back to 14 Ternure Ave., Spring Valley, N.Y., and age 5. The home itself, a charming federal/mixed style built in the early 1900s by the Haera family, was inviting for its comfort, and my grandmother made it even more so with her homemade treats.

     She kept ingredients, especially spices, in a tallish cabinet at the top of the cellar stairs, where the small cereal boxes were also tucked in. You could not open the cabinet without a whiff of cinnamon, all spice, etc. Just getting near the top of the stairs was enough to make your insides warm in anticipation of something tasty.

      Actually, in hope of something more: assurance that life could be safe and secure, with accomplished living ahead. Grandma made it so.

     Recalling that cabinet today — its fragrance — renews that assurance.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

 

NOT YET, ANYWAY

March 4, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     On the South Mountain, in Pomona, N.Y., named for the goddess of fruit, there came in 1711 Nicholas Concklin, a descendant of an English family arriving in 1637. Nicholas bought 400 acres and began the orchards that continue today. Looking toward the rise from South Mountain Road, you can feel the magical pull on your soul. The view is magnetic over the apple trees and old family barn. It makes you linger though the speeding vehicles of “progress” push you to the side of the road.

     You can feel the strain that hit so many farming muscles over the generations, lifting the endless rocks in tilled soil, the wind hitting your face as it swirls in the valley as if a small tornado, the sweet smell of spring and the fruit tree budding.

     Harvest time brings its own emotion, reinforced by what a father/mother saw, a grandfather/grandmother, those forebears in the early 20th, the 19th, the 18th   centuries. Endurance, though change has proven inevitable.

     In the 1936 Broadway play written by South Mountain resident Maxwell Andersen to help save the High Tor cliffs from quarrying, the Indian in greatcoat who is the wise man of the story notes that there is nothing made by succeeding land owners  “that will not make good ruins.” This has been true as all America continues to develop in its manifest destiny, certainly in once-rural Rockland County where Pomona lies.

     Yet, as sure as fruit matures from the pink and white blossoms that are the underpainting of South Mountain Road’s  beauty, the “ruins” are far off, “progress” so far unable to bulldoze the leprechaun-like magic of South Mountain Road, from the Concklin Orchards at state road 45 to the drop of High Tor at state road 9W.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com