Christopher Columbus Day 2016

Christopher Columbus Day passed with nary a notice this Monday, October 10, 2016, with about as much attention as that garnered by Thanksgiving in Canada.

Columbus Day was a celebrated holiday during my boyhood.  I remember very well standing in front of the 1/2 bathroom of 269 Lincoln Blvd. Merrick, New York that stood at the cusp of our kitchen and screened porch looking at the Meadowbrook Bank calendar affixed to the door and seeing the caricature of Christopher Columbus wearing what appeared to be a round crowned sombrero on 10/10.

My 2nd. Grade teacher Miss Glugatch at the Merrick Ave. school had us make little models of the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria by tracing around construction paper forms to make little flat models of Columbus’ ships from the very same construction paper forms that would make little flat models of Thanksgiving turkeys.

Brown for the boats, yellow for the sails and red dots for the sailors with all of the hues available from the Crayola 64 crayon box, you know the one with the sharpener that stripped off the paper and got jammed with 1/2 of the silver crayon.  You do know, don’t you? 

Coloring within the lines was even at that age a challenge for your narrator but my “art” passed enough muster to be displayed on the refrigerator of 269 Lincoln Blvd.

51 years ago!

Columbus Day here in the Boston of 20-25 years ago found me selling pretzels from a “truck,” actually a 3-wheeled pushcart, in the then still Italian-American neighborhood of East Boston.  As the 21st. century progressed the crowds thinned and aged and it was no longer earning effective to pay the permit fee for an event that was sliding into irrelevance.

It was around this time that the historical worth of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of America became an increasingly contentious issue.  During my elementary school days my well thumbed copy of the SBS/Lucky Book Club THE INDIANS KNEW by Tillie Pine with art by Ezra Jack Keats disavowed me of any notion that European settlers were the end-all and be-all of knowledge.

However, I was impressed that Columbus had sailed across the Atlantic piloting 3 ships and returning safely by means of dead reckoning without the benefit of celestial navigation.

(The fact that the Spanish Inquisition played no small role in Ferdinand and Isabella commissioning Columbus would come into my consciousness during my Junior High North Shore Unitarian congregation religious education).

Having been interested and active in the cause of statehood for Puerto Rico I am very aware of the rightfully disputed nature of Columbus’  exploration/exploitation of that island.

However, as a beneficiary of Christopher Columbus I know that my life would be very different, if it existed at all, without Christopher Columbus.

Columbus Day festivities were not covered by NECN(New England Cable News) and the BOSTON GLOBE offered an article on the prospect of an “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” holiday to be celebrated.

I have no objection to an “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”.  Indeed the mainstreaming of the varieties of Native American history and culture into formal education is still all too under-served and long overdue.

Still, I miss the visage of Christopher Columbus gazing at me from the 1/2 bathroom door framed by the 10/10/65 Meadowbrook Bank calendar and memorialized by the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria hanging on the refrigerator door.

Bit by byte, childhood recedes.

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  1. October 19, 2016 at 3:45 am

    From: Steve Gallanter’s Blog To: stevegallanter@yahoo.com Sent: Friday, October 14, 2016 3:01 AM Subject: [New post] Christopher Columbus Day 2016 #yiv5427251503 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv5427251503 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv5427251503 a.yiv5427251503primaryactionlink:link, #yiv5427251503 a.yiv5427251503primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv5427251503 a.yiv5427251503primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv5427251503 a.yiv5427251503primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv5427251503 WordPress.com | stevegallanter posted: “Christopher Columbus Day passed with nary a notice this Monday, October 10, 2016, with about as much attention as that garnered by Thanksgiving in Canada.Columbus Day was a celebrated holiday during my boyhood.  I remember very well standing in front of ” | |

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