Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year, Now Go Outside

It’s now 2012, and I’ll make a bold prediction that most of the world will survive to see 2013. I’m not going to give much credence to catastrophic predictions from an ancient people who played soccer with severed heads.

I have the usual litany of New Year’s resolutions that I won’t bore you with, but share one that I suggest you adopt, which is to enjoy being a tourist in your own city or town. Go walking in places you don’t normally see or walk to because they are close by or you don’t think there’s much there. You’ll be surprised at what you find.

Today I went for a walk in my new neighborhood of Flushing, Queens. In addition to discovering more obscure roads and lanes that share names and numbers with nearby streets and avenues, I came across some interesting parks and memorials.

The first was a small park connected to Flushing Memorial Field, most of which is now dedicated to Flushing High School’s athletic fields. My fiancé told me that the park is usually full of angry old men and as a future angry old man I appreciate that there will be some public green space for me. The small park has a few rows of benches and grass and a memorial plaque that is relatively unassuming. The plaque was dedicated in 1935 to Flushing residents who died in the First World War. I noticed that there were two people named Frederick Nix listed next to one another and found that odd. A quick Internet search when I got home told me that both were Army Privates who died of pneumonia in October of 1918. Frederick A. Nix, from 289 Barclay St., Flushing, was with the Army’s 43rd Company. Frederick J. Nix, of 130 Washington St., Flushing, was with the Army’s 3rd Company. Both died less than one month before the war’s end.

Walking down Francis Lewis Boulevard, we came across a faded street sign at a small, triangular island where Clintonville Street and 163rd Street meet the boulevard. Upon closer inspection, I was able to decipher that this was Cpl. Larry Muss Square. I walked around the small mini-park looking for some information on who Corporal Muss was. Cpl. Larry Muss was a Queens native who was serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He served as a gunner on a B-29 fighter plane that crashed shortly after takeoff on a training mission at a base in Cuba in February of 1945, taking the lives of Muss and six other crew members. The local chapter of Jewish War Veterans of the United States, Post 145, is named for Muss.

There will be plenty of things this year for you to not care about. We’ll see our share of manufactured outrage on both the left and the right as the presidential election goes along. Our celebrity-obsessed culture will generate more ridiculous non-news that people win inexplicably give a shit about. Make an effort to take some time to learn something about the world immediately around you. You will learn interesting things and be glad you did.

1 comment:

Briannus said...

Frederick A. Nix and Frederick J. Nix were cousins.