Saturday, February 01, 2014

How to Assure that Your Child Will Wind Up
With an Obituary in The New York Times

Skimming the obit page of The New York Times this morning, I find myself meditating on the puzzle of upward mobility. Here is an only slightly skewed series of extracts.  Names have been stripped out as a distraction.
    [He]was born in Manhattan on   the only child of   a tailor.  
    His mother was a milliner; his father  was a Broadway ticket broker
    His mother was a homemaker, and his father  worked in the livestock industry.
    His father was a farmer, and until high school [he] learned his lessons in a one-room schoolhouse.
    [He] was born   the last of six children. His father,   a postal employee, was a music lover ...
     His father, a Pullman porter, was often away on cross-country railroad trips, and [he] was raised mainly by his mother, a nurse.
    [He was] the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia. His father and grandfather were tailors. 
    His father owned a series of small millinery and garment-production businesses.
Of all the obits that I scanned  this morning, only three seemed to come from anything remotely like noteworthy backgrounds. One is psychoanalyst Martin S. Bergmann, whose father is identified as  "a noted philosopher."  The second is Irving Milchberg, born into  " a Warsaw housewares merchant’s family;" he gained distinction as a street urchin and gun runner, working under the nose of the Gestapo.  And the third was the child of a musicologist and concert violinist. That would be Pete Seeger, famed as a Communist, banjo player, and voice of the people.

Still, it seems the lesson of all this is that if you want your kid to wind up with an obituary in The  New York Times,  go into the rag trade.  Millinery is good.  Tailoring may be even better.

No comments: