Speaking of Staten Island

OK. I am not from that God forsaken land, but I do have cousins there, and my Grandparents lived there when they were still alive. I have a few aunts and uncles, too.

What I could never understand was why anyone in their right mind would want to live there. Firstly, you have the tolls. $20 Verrazzanno to Brooklyn! Then you have the island-wide traffic. Then you have the bad attitudes. If that’s not enough, you have all these wannabe gangsters everywhere trying to live out Al Pacino fantasies.

It’s a mess. So when we went there this year for my cousin Sherri’s 30th birthday, I was about as excited as you might guess I would be. I went anyway, I mean I love my relatives.

I was raised in PA. So when we visited my grandparents, it was a trek. I remember when we’d get to the bridge, the sky would be orange. There were steamstacks and industry all around, and the air smelled.

Then there was the landfill. It had been the largest in the entire world, but that changed at some point. It was horrible. We’d cross the Goethals Bridge, then head down some highway, I think it was the West Shore Parkway or something. Literally had to drive through miles of dump. And, it was massive. You couldn’t get what I am talking about if you haven’t been there, or seen it from space, which apparently you can.

So my cousins showed me this website with Staten Island News called the Staten Islander. It was okay. I don’t know why he was making such a fuss over it, though. It did not seem very special to me. But it was okay. There were a lot of local interest stories. But that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Why would some person from Pennsylvania, now a New Jerseyan, care at all about what goes on on some hockey puck-sized island?

I do remember going there as a kid. I’m not that old, so don’t think I was there when there were still farms. But there was horseback riding by my family’s homes. And that stinking dump! I don’t know, I guess they got used to it or learned to block it out. Or, convinced themselves it smelled good. The entire island is one sorry lot in a state of denial.

We’d go there for Sunday dinners, sometimes to church, and for holidays. They lived in Huguenot in an old house. It was like a giant swamp back then, with million dollar homes in the middle of a bog. My grandparents’ house was more modest, but it was still big and had six bedrooms. So, we’d all sleep over New Year’s Eve and 4th of July.

Staten Island news is so local, it’s not funny. Like it’ll be about who got married. The island is a lot like a small town, but there are a half million people there. Now that I’m older, I can’t stand the place. The dump is closed and doesn’t smell (much), but all the horse stables are gone and there are sixteen million houses everywhere. Up the block from my cousin’s house, an old farmhouse that was torn down to make way for SIXTEEN units. That’s why I dislike Staten Island and don’t really think much about it. It’s ruined from the days I visited, and I don’t care about the news of who marries whom.

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