My elderly neighbor grew up in East Harlem at the beginning of the 20th century. I enjoyed many good stories of her neighborhood, a block from the East River, its muddy banks rising from each side before concrete and steel, joggers and benches, and stop-and-go traffic on the FDR civilized her river.
My favorite story was of her sitting by the park on Fifth Avenue, sketching dresses of elegant “ladies” for her immigrant mother to make after her other children were asleep, so her teenage daughter—my elderly neighbor—would look nice for her Macy’s switchboard-operator job, her very first.
One of my favorite museums is the National Museum of American History in D.C., whose exhibits include the original Star-Spangled Banner, the World Trade Center steel, Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves, the First Ladies’ dresses, and many other displays of Americana. What about my neighbor’s sketches and her mother’s dresses? They deserve an exhibition. Well, they now have one—here in my museum.
Everyone has light and dark back-in-the-day stories. Exhibits. With An Old Man’s Museum under Construction, I built a museum to house mine. And who knows? At the beginning of the 22nd century, someone may see them and think good stories.