People outside Schenectady are sometimes surprised to hear that I bought a house here. And by surprised, I usually mean horrified.
Those who pretend not to be surprised say sympathetically that it’s too bad I don’t get paid enough to live in the nice suburbs.
But I don’t live here because I have to. I live here because of people like Grandma.
Let me explain what life was like in the suburb where I grew up. There was no Grandma, and when kids yelled at each other or misbehaved at the bus stop, nobody even stuck their head out their window to yell at us. Kids were often very cruel to each other, and no adult ever intervened.
But in my Schenectady neighborhood, we have Grandma.
Today, I heard a commotion outside as kids were walking to the nearby elementary school. I hurried to the window.
A small boy, perhaps 7 years old, had fallen off a stoop, where I had recently seen him attempting to balance on the edge of a stair. He was surrounded by five other kids, all of whom were clearly very worried about him. One was shouting that they should call 911. I grabbed my cellphone and ran outside. But there was no need.
Sitting next to the boy was Grandma.
She had run down the sidewalk, trailing her oxygen line behind her. She determined he’d just gotten the wind knocked out of him. Within five minutes, the boy was comforted, lightly scolded for his actions, and sent on his way to school. And then Grandma limped back to her house, two doors down the street.
Grandma watches over our entire block. She’s outside every morning when the kids (including her granddaughter) walk to school. Her voice can be heard ordering children to look before they cross the street and to put down that fool stick before someone gets hurt.
In the afternoon, she’s on her porch again, watching the children as they come home from school. Heaven help the child who tries to cross before the intersection, or worse, tries to stroll down the center of the street.
I’ve watched her run ACROSS the street — yes, dragging that oxygen line with her — to scold a misbehaving child. Only one of them is hers, but they all behave when she talks to them.
She asked me for help with a yard sale, once, and I happily drove her down to City Hall to get the permit. She thanked me and apologized for bothering me.
It was no bother. I wish we had a dozen Grandmas on my street.
Reach Gazette reporter Kathleen Moore by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.