Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Remembering Rosie



 Down the hill from where I live is a neighborhood of Philadelphia called Manayunk. The name is derived from a Leni Lenape word meaning "place where we drink," which is appropriate given how many bars there are on Main Street.

When I was new to the area, I discovered a diner on Main, its name long lost to my memory, and the place itself long lost to gentrification. It was old school: shabby, comfortable, and unpretentious, and the first thing you noticed coming in was that somebody had scrawled DROP YOUR DRAWS -- ROSIE'S BACK! on the blackboard behind the counter. Nobody ever erased those words.

The diner was presided over by Rosie. She was a vigorous old neighborhood woman who had a mouth on her. All the regulars loved her. I knew her a little because I would occasionally drop by for lunch and to keep in touch with reality.

One day, I was sitting at the counter and Rosie noticed me reading a paperback. So she came over to comment. "I don't hold with books," she said. "If you've got something to tell me, just come out and say it to my face!"

Now, I have dedicated my life to "books"--to knowledge, to literature, and specifically to fantasy and science fiction. I gave up a lot in exchange for the freedom to write. A couple of times I came close to starvation. So she was denying the validity of my entire life.

But, listening to Rosie, I had to admit that she had a point.

Above: Image taken from Philadelphianeighborhoods.com, an e-zine well worth the reading. Because if you don't know the neighborhoods, you don't know Philly.


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