“LOST MUSKET DIARY” Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Sunny 79F/26C in Rancho Las Musket
Unleaded = $3.85 gal €2.92
Bonjour, mes Amis! Buon giorno!
And today I would greet you with, “Goedemorgen.”
For this reason. Around this day in August, I stop to think that I could have grown up speaking Dutch instead of English, if it weren’t for the gift given by King Charles II to his younger brother, James II, the Duke of York. (Today that title is held by Queen Elizabeth’s third child, Prince Andrew, but in those days the Duke was a Scotsman; the last male Stuart to reign over the British Empire). But before he became king, the Duke took possession of a little Dutch colony called Nieu Amsterdam. Yes folks! It became present day New York, aka “The Big Apple,” or “Nueva York.” It may be a milestone in history, but it’s an anniversary that New Yorkers themselves studiously ignore. If it weren’t for Sam Roberts’s excellent piece in the New York Times this morning, I would have gone all day wondering what I’m going to write about in my blog. My muse has been AWOL this week. But, I’m grateful for the Times and Sam Roberts for giving something to say.
The most noticeable remaining impact of the Dutch on present day New Yorkers is that they talk funny. Every school kid in the Empire State goes through grade school reading about Henry Hudson and his ship the “Half Moon,” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and Ichabod Crane, Rip van Winkle and his 20 year siesta. New York stayed British during the American Revolution, and George Washington suffered some of his biggest defeats there: Long Island, Brooklyn, and White Plains. He did much better in New Jersey, at Trenton, but he bombed in New York. And, New York still has a lot of Dutch place names: Harlem, Spuyten Dyvil, Staaten Eylandt, and Lange Eyland (Staten Island and Long Island).
But, overall, the regime change goes largely unnoticed. Unlike St. Patrick’s Day or Columbus Day the anniversary of the English takeover is just not celebrated. In fact, it was further obscured in 1974, according to Roberts, when Paul O’Dwyer the Irish-born president of the New York City Council saw to it that the date “1664” was replaced on the official city seal and flag with the date “1625” to honor the Dutch founding of New Amsterdam. So, there you have it, New York fans, a bit of history.
Hmmm! It’s almost time for me to head to Linda’s French class, but Lola and I can’t leave the apartment for a few hours because the carpet layers are installing a new carpet in our hallway and we live on the third floor. Now, how does that excuse compare with “My dog ate my homework?”