Monday, May 2, 2011

"Memories of a Long-ago May 1st"

Sydney M. Williams                                                                                                                 May 2, 2011

Note from Old Lyme
“Memories of a long-ago May 1st”

“The world’s favorite season is the Spring.”
All things seem possible in May.”
                                                                                                                Edwin Way Teale (1899-1980)
                                                                                                                American naturalist

On Sunday, being the first of May, I went to Central Park to discover if an ancient rite of passage, familiar to those who went to school and college in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was still being practiced.

The custom was memorialized in a two-line poem – the gift of an unknown genius – the first line of which goes:
“Hooray! Hooray! ‘Tis the first of May!”

The second line I am unable to repeat, this being a family-friendly piece, but I am sure most, if not all, of you (regardless of age) will be able to complete it.

My search took me alongside Sheep’s Meadow and up to the Great Lawn. Not being a pervert, and afraid of what I might see, I did not venture into the Brambles. After scouring the Meadow unsuccessfully, I walked past Daniel Webster, standing erect with right hand in vest. I went north, west of the Lake, eyes swiveling left and right. I walked past the Delacorte Theater, past Turtle Pond with the Great Lawn on my left. I saw nothing and despaired that the younger generation had lost their taste for romance and adventure. I kept moving, passed the statue of Wladyslaw Jagiello, the Polish King who overthrew his Teutonic masters 600 years ago. I walked down Cedar Hill and past the statue of “Alice.” I kept wondering if Erica Jong’s writings on “zipless” methods, as described so eloquently in her 1973 novel Fear of Flying might have been lost forever.

Finally, nearing my walk’s end, not far past the Conservatory Model Boat Pond, a blanket-enshrouded couple gave me hope that the spirit of ’59 lives on. Of course, the two could have been studying for the GMATs, but I doubt that.

Perhaps next year my wife might join me in the quest?

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