I find it poetic that the quote next to Sylvia’s yearbook photo is, “She will never pass into nothingness.” Lately, as I walk around Brooklyn, I try to notice traces of the past. Each neighborhood carries the weight of it’s past so differently.
Some traces can be found because of neglect. The land has been left untouched or the real estate hasn’t been deemed valuable enough to call for renovations.
Other traces are found because of conscious preservation like a memorial to a person or an event.
I live in one of those so called “up and coming” neighborhoods where there is a 24/7 organic food store and several new coffee shops. Most recently a new burger place opened up that reuses and rewrites the past. It’s called “Dutch Boy Burger” and calls attention to itself by utilizing the widely recognized Dutch Boy Paint logo (logically enough a Dutch boy painting). It has that 1950s diner quality to it and fetishizes the cute old-timey marketing of Dutch Boy Paint. In my household Dutch Boy Paint is most noted for it’s criminal marketing of lead-based paints to children. The dutch boy symbol directly appealed to children and parents who might then be enticed to paint their children’s rooms, toys and cribs with a coat of lead. This burger joint probably isn’t banking on that association for it’s business but I think it is a pretty direct re-writing of the past and employment of nostalgia for a new product. “The whole space used to be one of the Dutch Boy paint shops that were bought by Sherwin Williams,” Roff tells Grub Street. “When we took off the old storefront, the original sign was hanging there and was in pretty good condition and now it’s hanging in the restaurant.” (http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2010/03/dutch_boy_burger_opens_friday.html)
Then there are traces of history that are right in front of you but you fail to notice them because they are part of your daily setting.
Then there are traces that are so subtle you can’t help but have them catch your eye.
Sylvia was just about my age when she lived on Navy Walk with a young child. Whereas I am still trying to learn how to take care of myself she was already wise enough to take care of another human being!