The Washerwoman’s Genes

May 22, 2006

Holes in the record

Filed under: Story,Uncategorized — by WWG @ 6:59 pm

Children often died young, we hear, in the old days. As far as ancestry is concerned, dead children are invisible holes in the record. If they lived through a census, and then disappear from future ones, we know of their existence but then their continuance comes into question. If they are born and die between headcounts, they are difficult to discover. That’s where graves come in. The best way to certify a life is to find a grave.

The mid-century censuses show Cornelius and Janette had nine children between 1837 and 1856; only George, the second born, is missing from the 1860 census, and by that time, if he still lived, he had left home. I have not yet found a grave for him.

Lost child found

Edgar was a name that was never passed on. It was so unfamiliar, so unlike the other family names–Benjamin, George, William, Elisha James–that when I came across it among the Ulster County grave transcriptions, I doubted it. At the time I saw it, I was so much a novice at cemetery research I thought the date given was his birth, and it had him born, impossibly, seven months after great-grandmother Josephine. Of course, it was his death date, and the mysterious numerals that followed represented the span of his life: 0-6-26, numbers like a locker combination, when spun this way and that and back, gave him a life of zero years, six months, twenty-six days.

One plus one is one

Josephine knew she had been born a twin. But she didn’t remember him: Edgar. His was a companion body to hers in the womb; he was half of the pair of them. Born, they separated; before she acquired memory, he died. To her, he was a name that had no form, no body at all. When she grew old enough to understand the meaning of graveyard, he was someone under the stone that bore his name: Edgar, son of Cornelius H. and Janette. He was gone in the Terpenning Family Ground.

For four years Josephine was the baby. Then Willie came along, and she became the sister to another boy. She and Willie stayed home the longest, when all the other seven had grown and gone. They both went to Brooklyn, she first, following older siblings Elisha James and Josiah, and he, last, after their mother Janette had died. Willie married, but by 1910 he and his children were living in Josephine’s house on 17th Street. In 1917, he died there.

By then, Josephine’s daughter, also Josephine, had married and begun her own family in the house. Young Josephine and her husband John had twins in 1917: John, Jr., and a second whose name is still lost. John died after three months, the other at an unknown time.

The matriarch in a household of three generations of descendents, Josephine lived within a nexus of family all her life. Did she sometimes sense the shadow of her dead twin, a white shadow of vacancy, that travels like a ghostly outrigger beside the survivor day by day? She kept close her younger brother, as if he somewhat replaced the half she had lost.

The tenth of nine

But now I have seen his grave myself: a small stone, just to the left of the stones of Zachariah Burger, d. 1836, and Elizabeth Burger, d. 1847. He tells me, by nestling at their side, that these are indeed his father’s parents. I had gleaned Cornelius descended from Zach and Liz from a family tree in the LDS files on the Internet, but had lacked other corroboration. Edgar has tightened the connection.

Like that of all the others, all who are bones under stones, his existence has shrunk to a name and a relation: a nearly empty vessel. I will never know more of him. The story of his first smile, his favorite toy, his last breath, cannot be told. Edgar, who had no namesakes, whose unfamiliar name stalled in 1852, incised on stone, a surviving emptiness.

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Mrs. J. Burger

Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 4:16 pm

I have just acquired some reproductions of maps of Port Ewen, Stone Ridge and Marbletown drawn in 1875. Coincidentally, I had just attended a meeting of the Main Line Genealogists, where I heard a presentation by a Philadelphia-area archivist about old maps, including cadastral, which show land ownership.

I took out my magnifying glass—even with it, some of the writing is too small to make out easily—and began with the Sleightsburg map where Jeannette lived in the last census before her death in 1884. I looked in the area we visited, high on the bluff across from Rondout, the enclave of four streets, without luck. Then I followed the road down into the village of Port Ewen, and there, along the “Turnpike” was a row of small properties, each with a small house marked. “Mrs. J. Burger” says the legend crossing two adjacent parcels. The washerwoman lived here.

At a scale of 50 feet to the inch, one property is tiny; showing as 1/8- by slightly less than 3/16-inch, the land was probably a 50’ x 75’ plot, a size somewhat smaller than my father owned when I was growing up. The house demarcated on this plot is L-shaped: its longer sides appear to be about 25’ x 25’. Next to this parcel, to the south, is a longer one, 5/16 x nearly 1/ 8-inch, a plot of about 125’ x 50’. Much of her name is across this piece, so it seems she may have owned both. To the rear of the shorter property is another parcel, stretching across the back of hers and the parcel to the north, and ending at a property line—and possibly a street or alley—of a huge parcel owned by I. Sleight. The owner of this back land may be “E. McMahon, who owns the plot just to the north of Mrs. B. The McMahon house seems to front on the property-line of the Sleight land, leading me to think this may be a street or alley, and perhaps the McMahon place of business, a shop or whatever.

There is another small structure, a shed perhaps, adjacent to Mrs. B’s longer property but on the Sleight land, perhaps an out-building used by those in residence along that road. There do not appear to be any buildings on the large piece of the Sleight property, although there is a house owned by Wm. Sleight about 300 feet up the road at the northwest corner of the land and adjacent to the many parcels of land in the village of Sleightsburg. The small plot adjacent to Wm. Sleight’s is owned by Isaac B. This is a name I have seen in the censuses, but I cannot say I know of any relation to my B’s.

Comparing this map with current ones, it is difficult to tell if the road in front of Mrs. B’s house, running down from Sleight’s ferry into Port Ewen, is the same road as today’s North Broadway. There are currently no strips of little houses along this road where Mrs. B’s house would be. My third cousin once-removed—whose grandfather B. lived in Esopus and raised her mother there—said she was told the family house “went under the Turnpike” (that would be the new Route 9w that comes across the Rondont on an expansion span and in Port Ewen merges with Broadway). It is possible the current “North Broadway” is a new road build to the east of the original Turnpike, if the old road was overpaved by the new one. Googing up satellite pictures, there doesn’t seem to be a strip of houses or yards in the area where I think the house should be; there are just a couple of large houses with very large above-ground pools. I have no way of knowing at this point whether the old Mrs. B. property went down to the grandson of Elisha James, but I suppose it’s possible. Or, Elisha’s descendents bought other land, perhaps to the east of Mrs. B’s, and it was paved over.

And of course, the accuracy of the old map is always a question. I would like to find others done in years before and after 1875, and perhaps by other makers. Seeking them will be on my list when I get to spend some time in Esopus.

slightsbgB1875.jpg

The houses toward the lower left include Jeannette’s property. The unlabeled road running roughly N-S is what was then called the Turnpike.

From this map it seems that Esopus, which was a vortex of Burgers earlier in the century, was the place they left behind by 1875. Jeannette was to die within a decade.

Genealogical Risk Factor

Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 11:57 am

Referred to as “the twins,” my father’s siblings have been obscure. Deceased in infancy or young childhood, they never appeared on a census. Trying variants of our last name, I did discover one: a son, named after my grandfather. His last name in the online index was a predictable mutation, one M swapped for an N, another dropped entirely. When I saw the listing, I just knew he was mine, and when the paperwork arrived, bingo. My grandparents, names spelled correctly, were right there on the certificate. Now that I know the date of their birth in 1917, I can calculate from any death listing whether the person is possibly the second twin.

This child Anne I had noticed several times. Her last name seemed implausible, a one-syllable oddity, a probable transcription blooper. Her age (one) seemed correct: the twin would have been about twenty months at her death, but parts of years are not tracked. I wrote the check, requested the certificate by number, and waited.

The shame of it is: now I have in my files the paperwork for a dead baby born to the McMies.

It’s not my first miss. I also have a death certificate for a Q lady who looked likely to be the wife of James, Josephine’s brother. But the certificate showed Q was her married name, and she was not a native New Yorker but a Scandinavian immigrant.

When I got the piece of paper, I wanted to kick myself. Of course, James’ wife Elsie would have his last name. (Now I realize they both probably died upstate: their last known residence was Esopus, despite their living their whole adult lives in Brooklyn.)

That was regrettable, a waste of money. But it didn’t cause the cringe I experienced on opening the unknown baby Anne’s certificate.

Betrayed by laundry

Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 11:39 am

“Mafia boss caught thanks to clean laundry and love letters” (The [London] Telegraph).

“Mafia Godfather was ‘betrayed by his laundry’” (The [London] Times Online).

Let’s face it: a mafia don hiding in a farm hut is pretty funny. Capturing same without a shot makes for buffoonery. And add in some laundry, and the whole scenario becomes freakin’ hilarious.

At least it seems so, to read the European media. To them, it has all the makings of either a soap-opera romance or an absurdist comedy.

The common-law wife of a mafioso kingpin sustains her man for decades, passing on the essentials of life—lasagne, good cheese, and clean undies—to him through intermediaries, until finally, the cops catch on. She’s been running a laundry, living modestly, raising the two sons she managed to conceive in secret trysts with her guy. All the while, “Zu Binnie,” (Uncle Bernie), a.k.a. Bernardo Provenzano, lives in a series of obscure and déclassé hideouts near Corleone, a town on the island of Sicily. Reputedly the mastermind behind as many as 400 killings and a racketeer to the tune of millions of lire, Provenzano had been living underground for an amazing 43 years and directing underworld operations as top-dog for as many as 12.

After all that time, upon getting a tip that Serveria was sending him a packet of washed and ironed socks, shirts, and underpants, the police staked out his laundry, watching it travel from Serveria’s house to various stops on the underworld railroad until finally it was driven up some back-farm rut to a cheese-making shed where his pale hand snaking out the crack in the door to take the bundle gave his presence away.

The laundress in question is apparently no innocent lass with her hands in a tub of suds. Severia Benedetta Palazzolo is, rather, a criminal herself because of her complicity in Provenzano’s money-laundering schemes. She had been sentenced to prison years ago, but evaded serving her term by going into hiding (a peculiarity of Italian law), most likely in Germany. When her unserved prison sentence expired, she returned to Corleone, a headquarters of Italian mobsterdom, where she became a washerwoman, of a modern sort.

One arresting officer commented that Provenzano didn’t look much like his mug-shots from forty years previous. Rather, “dressed in a checked shirt, a white scarf, a navy coloured winter jacket and a pair of old jeans, he was ‘calm, rather beatific-looking, a bit like a priest.’” And clean.

The laundry angle is only one of several that makes Provenzano’s capture story-worthy. The squalor of his hideout, more appropriate for an impoverished shepherd than a fabulously wealthy don; the discovery of dozens of his “pizzini,” or little notes, covering everything from operational orders to his mob subordinates to his loving requests to Severia for “more cheese” and other foods; and his incongruous stockpile of Bibles and religious doodads have all left European heads shaking.
According to an Italian police chief, it’s not unusual for a mafioso to be undone by a connection to a woman. Nicola Cavaliere noted that one had been discovered when his wife’s neighbors complained about her blasting radio tuned to the police frequencies. “Women have always unwittingly been the ruin of criminals on the run,” he continued. “So it was in Provenzano’s case that a woman committed a fatal error which led to his capture.”

No matter how much she washed, his was always dirty laundry.

Crime and the Wash

Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 11:38 am

The juxtaposition of laundry with crime is seemingly classic. Disguising the origins of ill-gotten gains has long been called, “money-laundering.” The process is one of ins-and-outs, putting money in here and taking it out there until its place of germination becomes obscure. Looked at another way, the process is more one of dirtying up the provenance of money so no one can tell where it came from. But the metaphor of washing persists. Kind of gives laundering a bad name.

May 5, 2006

Going to Church the Genealogist Way

Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 12:44 pm

Family researchers spend a lot of time in churches, figuratively at least: before there were vital records maintained in government offices, there were the ledgers in which clerks recorded memberships and marriages and baptisms. These books mapped the Lord’s reach on earth. They testified to the spread of community, civility, and other-worldliness in a world busy constructing itself in a wilderness.

Now, these books are the bible to a genealogist: they hold a treasure trove of the “begats” that is a researcher’s raison d’etre. Whatever the hope for everlasting life held by the members, now the genealogist doggedly hopes for a family name to surge out of the mass of souls.

In the early records of New York, there’s only one choice of church record: the Reformed Dutch. They are the oldest records, but even they miss the first hundred years or so of colonization.

In those records, I have found several references to Hieronymus and Lena, but none showing that Zachariah is their son. I have found Zachariah and Elizabeth baptizing children up through 1806, but Cornelius was born later. And for Cornelius and Jeannette’s children, I have found no records at all besides the census.

Did they not baptize? Are records missing? Or was the event just not recorded? Were they attending in a town whose records I have not encountered yet? Or perhaps that church’s records, and its existence, too, have dissolved in time.

Or do I have the wrong denomination?

In membership the records of the Reformed Dutch Church at Esopus, “from its organization on the 26 and 27 Feb. 1791,” the arrival and departure of members is frequently noted (unique among membership lists I’ve seen).

None of the notations pertain to my direct ancestors. Still, it seems that changing churches was a significant reason for departing the congregation. The listings provide columns for name and family ID and then admission date and method (as in, letter from another church or baptism).

The final column is for outcome. Sometimes, it’s dead. Often it is blank. Other times the entries chart relocation or upheaval:

Sarah Burgher, wife of Peter Le Fever ad. 1867 Apr 13 on certificate, dismissed to Hurley

Oliver E. Winfield ad. 1843 21 Mar . . . . joined Methodist

Other entries from the last column tell the story:

name dropped 1892
Suspended 1890
dismissed to Presbyterian Church Rondout N.Y.
dismissed to M.E. Church of Esopus N.Y.
M.E. Church Port Ewen
c/o St. John M.E. Brooklyn
died in Chelsea, M.E., N.Y.C.
trusting Christ

This fits like a piece of jig-saw puzzle. My grandmother Josie, descendent of Cornelius and Jeannette, was Methodist. She was Brooklyn-born, and I don’t know how far back the conversion was.

I’m reading around now, in all the Protestant denoms.

In the New Paltz Methodist Church records, I made a find—though it’s a bit off the main line. Hannah, my step-great-great-grandmother (Corn’s second wife), and her daughter Mary (who might be considered my half-great-great-aunt: she was my great-grandmother’s half-sister) and husband Moses Schoon, all turn up on the membership rolls there. Moses and Mary join in late December 1890; Hannah J. is recorded as baptized on Jan. 24, 1891; she had earlier served as a witness, along with an A. N. Evans (possibly the wife of minister Wm. R. Evans) to the marriage of Walter Freer and Sarah J. Farrow in May of 1890.

A few years later, Moses and Mary have Rev. Wilcox baptize their son Clarence J. at their home in 1895. (Census records indicate Mary and Moses had been married for quite some time; by the 1900 census, they have a 17-year-old daughter Jennie as well as six other children including Clarence (my grandmother’s half-cousins?)

Even though these church records start in 1866, they do not account for twenty-five years of this family’s worship.

And, of course, Cornelius is not listed in this church; he may still have been in Fallsburg at this time, as he was in 1880. I don’t know how much of a church-goer he might have been. His descendents in my line have tended to “trust Christ” –or not.

On the Clothesline: Missing Churches?

Filed under: Clothesline — by WWG @ 12:44 pm

The membership records of the Reformed Dutch Church of Esopus betray the existence of other Reformed churches: Hurley and Port Ewen, to name two. But there is no transcription of the Port Ewen Dutch Church that I have found. Those records might contain missing connections: a church in Port Ewen might be the place Cornelius and Jeannette married and baptized their children. Likewise, the references to M.E. churches in the area suggest questions. Have the records of the M.E. Church of Esopus been transcribed? Do they exist? Is it possible that some important records were lost, or that they are hidden in some church file cabinet?

A need: a “census” of churches by town. What congregations existed in each town, decade by decade. With such a list, we might be able to gauge what records have not been located or even sought.

Eighteenth Street Church, Brooklyn

Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 12:25 pm

According to a source on the web—a document written about 1870—the Eighteenth Street Church in Brooklyn was formally known as the Sixth M. E. This was my Grandma Josie’s church, where she taught Sunday School and belonged to the Ladies’ Aid.

Founded in 1842 (forty years before her birth), the first building measured 25 by 35 feet and cost $700. Its membership comprised South Brooklyn and New Utrecht. It was, as its name indicates, the sixth Methodist Episcopal congregation to form in Brooklyn.

The first—the Sands Street Church—had been established as far back as 1794. Named for site donor Joshua Sands (“whose impulses were never limited or restricted by denominational prejudices, and, who though himself an Episcopalian, was ever ready to respond to the wants of the master’s servants”), the church experienced such rapid growth that the first edifice was quickly replaced by a larger one, and then again, and again, until the final building was erected and, after a fire, again rebuilt. The resulting building concretizes an intensity in the faith: “It is of brick,” the report of 1870 notes, “sixty feet front and rear, by eighty feet deep, the outside presenting a very neat appearance, interior plain, but commodious, and is calculated to hold about one thousand two hundred persons, without crowding.”

Indeed, the nineteenth century saw a welling up of religious fervor—not unlike that which had stormed through the early eighteenth. As early as this history of Brooklyn Methodism is, it lists dozens and dozens of churches and missions, as well as describing the schism leading to the African M.E. Church and the related denominations of Primitive Methodist, Methodist Protestant, and Protestant Methodist.

This denomination grew in what had been Nieuw Amsterdam. The Dutch had come for business, not religious freedom; their Reform Protestantism came with them as a matter of course. What we now refer to as religious diversity followed quickly. The Dutch filled their colony with whatever folk could be induced to go there: Huguenots, Quakers, German Lutherans.

The Brits took the place by 1667, pretty much, and from then on what happened to English and Scottish souls pretty much happened to Americans too. By the 1740s, New York and the middle colonies were hotbeds of evangelism, with the British George Whitefield and other itinerant preachers both imported and native-born touring the countryside in search of hordes ripe for conversion. God had bestowed special grace on the colonies, calling the people to him and making it his special chosen land.

Purdue Professor Frank Lambert’s take on the so-called First Great Awakening shows that Whitfield, in particular, and the movement in general, practiced PR at a virtuoso level : advance men, press manipulation, crowd exaggeration, trumped-up testimonials, and publication blizes succeeded then as now: the Great Awakenings accepted by most as an historical event were minted by marketers savvy in creating buzz, priming fads, and hyping God’s hand in daily affairs.

Another upsurge, in the early 1800s, was dubbed the “Second” awakening. New York—then a frontier—remained a hotspot of religious impulse. (It was in nineteenth-century western New York, for example, that Joseph Smith invented the Mormons.)

For months I’ve been reading church records and not thinking about the context: religion as cultural climate, a stabilizing force, a personal structure. A history fan, over several years I’ve read quite a bit about the religion of early America. Yet, regarding these ancestors of mine, I have pictured a daily life crammed with family and work, a life preoccupied with survival, of isolation borne of physical distance and personal reserve, of the bitterness and despair inherent in self-reliance.

I haven’t thought much of their religious beliefs or considered the possibility of spiritual struggle. I haven’t imagined emotional need that seeps toward the channels of organized religion. Knowing the current descendents, I’ve assumed detachment and skepticism that goes way back. That could be projection. Grandma Josie taught Sunday School. She belonged to the Ladies’ Aid.

Sources
New York Methodist Conference at White Plains, NY. “Brooklyn Methodist Episcopal Churches: History / Members / Pastors.” Report, Undated (internal evidence suggests 1870). http://www.bklyn-genealogy-info.com/Worship/Meth.html. Accessed April 26, 2006.

Lambert, Frank. Inventing the Great Awakening. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1999.

Culture War

Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 12:17 pm

In school, at the Smith Street Elementary, I had a friend whose father was the pastor of the Methodist Church in town. I walked by it often, if I took a certain route to school. It was a classic white clapboard Protestant Church, with a tall, pointed steeple and, out front, a giant mock-up of an open Bible, the pages a golden yellow, the lettering archaic. I have not retained the Bible verse it bore.

We did a class play that year. My friend became notorious: she was not permitted make-up. Instead, she came to school with a set of fat waxy crayons, made for rouging the lips and cheeks. At that age, anything that made you different was a crucifixion. Kathy was brave, and the stage mother rubbed her mouth with color in front of us all. I knew the truth of the matter, even then: if you used it to make red your lips, it was “lipstick.” The capriciousness of grown-ups amazed me.

Grandma Josie was a Methodist, too. At that time, I was certain she was of another sort. In fact, she came to see that play. When my mother fought me to smear her stinky drug-store lipstick on me as I left the car that morning, my Grandma laughed along with her from the passenger seat. Then they drove around the building and sat in the auditorium to wait for the show to begin.

(I wiped off the stuff long before the curtain rose. They noticed. They spoke to me when I got home.)

My father told me years later that as a young teenager, his Methodist mother made him take the confirmation oath never to drink, dance, or smoke. He’d started smoking soon after that, I imagine, and had a drink of beer as a regular course. It was the end of church for him.

J. mentioned this oath, too, just recently. My older half-brother, he was reared by my father’s parents, by this same Grandma. He’d smoked for forty years, quit for health, and used what would be beer money to buy a boat.

I once got a glimpse of Grandma Josie’s religious bent.

She lived upstairs after Grandpa died, in a separate apartment my Dad built on our second floor. One day, I was permitted to go up and visit her. I think I heard she was lonely.

The television was on: she followed The Guiding Light. I could hear the music play and the announcer boom from downstairs. My mother said soap operas were garbage.

This day, Grandma asked me if I read the Bible. I felt as dumb as a child could be: I barely knew what it was. Catholics didn’t read the Bible—they went to Mass and had it read to them. She told me a story about a blind man who was overtaken with the spirit of God and went around preaching. He was on TV. For years I thought she had said Pat Robertson, but of course, that cannot be true. Whoever he was, she was astonished I hadn’t heard of him. I in turn was astonished that someone other than a priest, someone not in robes, someone without Latin, would go around preaching in a business suit and be believed. She taught me something from the Bible that day, opening it before me and turning the whispy pages and pointing with the long fingers we shared. Perhaps I was overwhelmed, but the actual details of this lesson are lost to me. All I can remember is her wanting for me to be saved.

My mother was scandalized when I came down and told her about my visit. “The nerve,” she railed to my father, “the nerve to give her a Bible lesson when she knows she’s Catholic, the sheer gall to push her beliefs on an innocent child.”

I was not permitted to go upstairs again, despite my pleas. My mother was up-front: “She won’t stop teaching you to be a Protestant.” “She does not respect your religion.” The women warred. Visiting of all types withered away.

The only other time I went to her apartment I was made to go.

Grandma lay in bed, on her back, in a night dress, her long gray braids down her shoulders and on to the coverlet. She had always worn them crossed over her head, like a crown, and now they lay long and ropey on the bedcovers. The tortoise-shellcombs she always wore in her hair to keep the strays in place were on the nightstand.

She was taken to the hospital the next day while I was at school.

I think now about how much loneliness there was. My mother, downstairs, cleaning the four rooms and a bath that were ours, running our clothes through the Whirlpool and hanging them on the line; starching and ironing school dresses and husband’s handkerchiefs; giving us oatmeal and oranges, toast and weak tea for breakfast; making tuna salad sandwiches for the moment we girls arrived home during the school lunch hour; cooking for our supper, chops or chicken or meatloaf or, for Fridays, founder fillet or cod cakes.There would be string beans or peas from a can, and potatoes, nearly always boiled, but always potatoes. And grandma, above us, would be doing pretty much the same, dusting her house, ironing her crochet-edged hankies, making a bit of food for herself, watching The Guiding Light, reading those gospels.

So we were not close, my grandmother and I. Later on, I questioned this. My friends had grandmas they saw every day, grandmas who knew them well, grandmas who doted on them. My mother told me her view: it wasn’t good for children to become too attached to their grandparents because they were going to die.

Her mother had died not long before: another granny I hardly knew.

Mom herself was not a huggy person. She never said, “I love you,” to me, not once in my life. It was, I suppose, to be understood. But never to be spoken, never dwelled on, never hinted. I didn’t know until much later, in college, even, that parents and children could say they loved each other.

Irish writer Nuala O’Faolain bitterly resented the coldness of her mother, the distance, the silence, the self-enclosed depressiveness. She feels the deprivation still, as a woman in her fifties. She never makes the connection: a population living through the holocaust of the Famine might well inure itself to human bonds, might well harden itself to love. And generation after generation, this self-protection would become a family trait passed down, a recipe for survival of the soul.

My daughter has called me twice so far as I write this: she is in the grocery store near her skating rink, with a short list of things I need for dinner. Do I mean her to find a big-and-juicy–brand tomatoes (she made that up) or just big, juicy tomatoes, as opposed to little grape tomatoes? Then, how big are medium onions, and would Vidalias be okay? There the phone again: there are no leeks—there’s a sign for leeks but nothing underneath, and there are scallions nearby. “Get scallions,” I say, thinking, garnish, thinking, she’s trying so hard, thinking, I could stop at the Korean market near the fishmongers tomorrow. (I am planning a bouillabaisse.) I say, “Love you.”

“Love you,” she says back: Three times now in five minutes.

I am near seizure when she drives at night, but I still say, Love you.

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