By Arthur H. Gunther III
NYACK, N.Y. -- On a recent day in “town,” in this later 1800s village not long ago of antique charm and just now of mini-cosmopolitan ambiance with restaurants and some small shops but back in memory of a working-class, traditional American commercial/industrial community, I found solace in a $1 container of coffee to go, any size. And call it just that, coffee, not grande or pocachino or whatever moniker is offered at $2.50.
Though the palate is not extensive, I’ve at least managed to sit at enough fine dinners to appreciate what has been offered even if I was not eating it all. And there were some well-connected people, too, given the reasons for the political, etc., dining in the first place. But the urge to keep it simple, and in that to seek a certain honesty, is more this life’s theme, and so it is that a $1 container of coffee to go from a basic but as American-as-apple-pie eatery on Main called Johnnycakes did more for the soul on this one recent day in Nyack.
Now, you don’t have to live in this village or even to know what it looks like to enjoy it. From Alaska to Hawaii, to Texas, Colorado, Maine, Florida, there are Nyacks and Johnnycakes in them, ordinary places that are anything but since it is within those doors and outside them -- on the sidewalks, on Main, on the back streets, down by the river, in the park, on a bench, outside the community (not international) bank, by the church, the synagogue, across from the hair salon, next to the lottery store, in the aisles of the hardware place, in the small bakery and all about -- that so much of this nation shows its heartbeat.
I took my walk, with my container of coffee at $1, and went past my old newspaper building, now an architectural office with additional uses, at 53 Hudson. I recalled the steps I made as a little boy with my parents, buying things for Christmas in what were then many stores, soon to be replaced by suburban strip shopping. And I remembered that just yesterday, literally, my son, his wife and the grandchildren were with us on Broadway. Way back a long time ago now, my own grandfather walked in Nyack, too.
That container of coffee was a fine companion on my travels, for just $1 helping me obtain what is priceless on a fine day in America’s Nyacks.
The writer is a retired newspaperman.