Friday, April 23, 2010

Shakespeare's 446th

My friend Steve says he got this clipping from his mother's mother back in 1978. When he sent it to me a while back, he said it was still on his wall:
Arthur Weyne’s sister used to take the Avenue A bus from 10th Street to Houston almost every work-day morning. "At Fifth Street," he recalls her telling him, "almost every morning, a short, frowzy, chunky shlump of a woman would be waiting for the bus and board it with groans, glowers,protests, and have exertions. She carried bundles – always. They were of a clumsy dimension, varying sizes and divers degrees of vulnerability; there were never fewer than four."

"She always paid her fare grudgingly, then flopped into a seat at the front, sometimes commandeering one with an authority no one ever disputed, and sat there frowning, creaking and giving off emanations of menace. Since she had started her cascade of complaints on the step of the bus, and went on from her seat, haranguing the driver: he stopped too far from the curb; the step was much too high; the fare was unreasonable; he drove like a wild Indian. She went on beyond Houston, so my sister never knew whether she ever stopped caterwauling.

"One day in April, as my sister's bus was approaching Fifth Street, she was relieved to see that Complaining Cora – as of course she known: her name was Cora – was
not at the curb. But a woman was waiting for the bus, and the driver stopped to take her on. Lo and behold! – my sister insisted this was the only way to express it – the woman was Cora: bundleless, dressed in a lovely frock, a flowered hat and long white gloves. More startling than her costume was her face. She was beaming – pleasant, jovial, gay.

"Cora didn't merely board – she made an entrance. She paid her fare, even the coins tinkled gaily. Then the startled passengers began to call out, 'Is that you, Cora – really you?' The driver pulled the bus to the curb, stopped and faced her, 'What's "hoppen", Cora?'

"'Nothing is "hoppen"', she said, as though proclaiming an amnesty. "'Today is Shakespeare's birthday.'

--Lawrence Van Gelder New York Times,
The Living Section, page C2, June 27, 1979.
Weyne is a writer, editor and Jewish author.

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