|Kingston is a small city with some interesting history; site of revolutionary war skirmishes, burnt by the British, then rebuilt to become the first Capitol of New York State. With its large, deep harbor on the Hudson River, Kingston was and remains a natural gateway west.
Remnants of its past economic activity dot the landscape, from the sinuous remains of the D and H canal, which snakes along the Rondout Creek, to the brick strewn Hudson shore line; all thats remains of the once large Brick Industry.
A large IBM facility, sits on Kingstons outskirts, built to last as only IBM did, but now closed and mostly deserted.
Kingston is in that in-between state of geez what are we going to do now.
Tourists and weekend New Yorkers keep the economy going.
This is a warm day in March, Saint Patricks Day.
Weather is uncertain here in March, could still be winter, so this perfect day is a rare gift to be appreciated.
Thousands of people are congregating in the Rondout, the area of Kingston nearest the river, for the annual St Paddys day party.
A slight breeze blowing up Broadway carries the smells of out door cooking. Bands are playing rock and country and even a hint of traditional music; people are buying jewelry and tee shirts.
Goldie Yaple, majestic in mass, is walking slowly down the steep hill towards the water and the crowd. He is using a cane to help move his large bulk one careful step at a time.
Goldie is Dutch, his family settled here in the sixteen hundreds, they prospered and multiplied.
He is an amiable fellow; today wearing a green shamrock pin on his shirt and a large straw cowboy hat. His face is concentrated in a struggle with pain.
His stomach in fact his whole body hurt from interferon treatments, its a drug only for the brave or the highly motivated.
Goldie is both and would really like to live a little longer.
The Doctors told him he should be dead already.
Liver is shot, needs transplant, but theres the hepatitis.
Sort of the black sheep of his family.
His brother and sisters all Lawyers with big jobs in important firms; but he had a rebellious spirit which pushed him onto exotic roads.
He was a Diver working the bottom of the Hudson in NYC, doing underwater plumbing jobs. Hes made repairs on the thirty-foot high intake valves in the cold dark East River, among dumped cars and all sorts of castaway things few will see.
In those days He could be sent anywhere in world, on short notice, had a suitcase packed at all times. He investigated sunken ships at sea; often-hazardous work and he liked that.
He was married once but it didnt stick. No Kids, wouldnt talk about it.
To day He was here to let the crowd lift his spirits.
Watch the people, smell the energy that was slipping away.
He had been very ill for several weeks barely able to leave his bed.
He lived in a small silver trailer behind his mothers house.
He could have been inside in a real bed with nursing care by his mom but he wouldnt.
Dutch are stubborn. There were other reasons too.
Accepting pain and accepting that it might never cease is a difficult thing. It makes you long for younger days when your body was healthy and invulnerable,
It made you think what you could do if it got much worse.
He had been visiting old friends when he could muster the strength. Was up to see Carl Sweet, not long ago, which took a great effort.
They sat around a campfire in Carls yard, like they used to and talked. Lone wolf the shepherd now old himself sat with them, his grey face staring into the crackling fire, Carl was drinking brown whisky and had a pistol on his lap. He occasionally shot into the woods, to punctuate his sentences. When Carl got drunk he always talked about his daughter who he hadnt seen in years, if he drank enough hed start crying and wipe the tears an old red handkerchief.
Hi Goldie, People said as he made his way through the dense crowd. He would tip his hat or nod, and sometimes smile.
He threaded his way down to where the bands were playing. There were picnic tables set up for eating but all the seats seemed to be taken.
A little girl, maybe 6 years old and eating an ice cream looked at Goldie and got up from her chair, she said, you want to sit down Mister?
He smiled at the simple kindness, and said, Yes, Thank you dear.
He sat and watched the people going about the business of fun with no thoughts of dark mortality. The reality of limited time faced him squarely in iron hard color and sound. Yet the sweet look of that little girls face cut through his gloom.
He felt the breeze, coming off the water and it seemed to carry the promise of renewal. He felt deeply the eternalness that existed in this almost frozen moment, and he sensed that there was more going on here in this sad ragged life than ever meets the eye.