Tom would come up with critiques of and pithy quotes from that morning's observations by Arthur Krock, or John Drebinger’s report of what happened last night with the Yankees. When we were kids, Tom must have picked out a thousand newspaper articles for us to read and talk about.
And the Yankees ... Tom could tell you what the Sporting News was saying about the latest Yankees streak, or how many home runs Babe Ruth hit at the Stadium in 1927.
At any rate, it was Labor Day, September 7, 1964. The annual awards ceremony was over, and people were starting to roll their wagons packed and ready to go down Broadway to the dock. In those days, the season pretty much ended at Labor Day.
Tom is sitting there in front of the Sweet Shoppe, and he says "you should read this story.”
It was an essay about Labor Day from that morning’s Times. I read it, and I figure I have read it again almost every Labor Day since. No great shakes, that essay. Tom wasn’t sentimental that way. His sentimentality had more of a Holden Caulfield edge to it.
Then I think of the millions of stories over that vast expanse of time that Tom never got to read, that he never got to talk about, laugh about, make sarcastic remarks about. I still think of Tom...
So for what it's worth: here is the article Tom told me to read:
End of Summer
It's gone it now, the whole thing. That's all there is, there isn't any more. It seemed just a moment ago when, on a Memorial Day Beach the summer stretched ahead to a rockets a flight beyond infinity. Obviously this was not so. The seashell held to the ear that day sang a gay lyric based on sunshine, sparkling water -- and all the time in the world. Hold that shell today and it weeps with sadness and is dour with foreboding. Good-bye to the beach, which to all intents and purposes today is turned back to the gulls. Farewell to the clams and the driftwood fires, to the castles and the fishermen and the legend of the singing sand. This holds that to walk over it when the tide is right will compress it in such a way as to sound like a song. The tide was right that day the summer started, the result having a lilt like something composed by Meredith Wilson for 76 trombones. Today the tide is all wrong. Today is Labor Day and the end of summer. Good-bye.
Lake and Mountain
Farewell to the lake and to the mountain just behind it. Under a late May sky the water was deep blue and the mountain a brilliant green, and the scene cried for a painter to record it. Today there is something bleak about the sky, and an occasional dab of red and brown disfigures the green, like careless spatterwork. No artist would care to touch it today, now at the end of summer. Good-bye. Farewell to the trout at the bottom of the stream and that bass the bottom of the lake and to the loon that makes its home near where stream and lake join together. Back in May the call the old fellow made could be recorded as a cheerful salute to the season, although this could stretch the imagination somewhat. Today, there can be no question about the call. It is rude, sardonic, and it spells out its message -- you're going back where you came from, and good riddance.
The Winding Road
Farewell to the dirt roads which lead to picturesque hamlets and pretty, cared-for farms. Back at the end of May, the spirit was adventurous and it took no more than a touch of the wheel to leave the superhighway world and find a better one. A whole new country opened. Roads were found which followed the natural course of roads -- beside the natural course of streams -- the best of them not even on the wavering thin blue lines on the road maps. On Memorial Day it seemed right to plan an entire summer away from the highways, but good-bye to that. Farewell to lanes going through buttercup meadows, and the brooks lined with weeping willows, the lanes on which twice a day the herds of cows have the right of way. Good-bye to the road stand with box-top counter, where sweet corn is still warm from the sun and practically given away by a proprietor or honestly glad and to see you. Farewell to the country store. Of recent years these have sprung up everywhere, vending atmosphere along with antiques, but they are imitative, not real. The real ones are on the back roads which, starting in late May, went everywhere. Tonight, going home, they will lead but to the superhighway at the end of summer. Good-bye.
Farewell to It All.
Goodbye to the weekend, which never is quite long enough, of course, but is the next best thing to the official vacation. Farewell to tennis and golf and the rocking chair on the hotel porch and the hammock beneath the tree. In late May it was possible to itemize all the worthwhile books which would be read in that hammock, but today the fact must be faced that "War and Peace" has suffered its usual postponement until another summer. Farewell to the little carnival, set out for a week in the town's dusty lot -- about the only relic left of the great circus tradition. Farewell to watermelon, held in the hand and not on plates, and grilled chicken drumsticks, served minus forks, and peanut butter sandwiches seasoned with just the right pinch of fine white sand. Farewell to the summer. Late last May it seemed likely that even the office time clock would cooperate, by slowing its hands or stopping them altogether. That was just an illusion, so recognized now. Instead of stopping on the sunny hours, the hands of all clocks everywhere moved forward like lightning, to reach today. Good-bye.
New York Times
Septemer 7, 1964