Thursday, September 15, 2016

Patrick Kearney After 41 Years

In late August of 1971, Sally Steinhardt and I were returning from a trip to New Brunswick, where we bought yarn and ordered sweaters. At the border with Maine we picked up a hitchhiker named Patrick Kearney, who was returning from a long hitchhiking trip around the US and Canada. Sally and I were driving in my red Alfa Romeo Veloce 2-seater, the one I bought in Chapel Hill and rebuilt in a garage in the back of our house in Carrboro.

This is a long story.

In the summer of 2011, Linda and I went to a Leslie family reunion where we met Les Jacobowitz's cousin Barb and lots of other cousins and family. I told the story of picking up Patrick which included this family connection: When we driving through New York on the Major Deegan, Patrick was talking about his school work at NYU in architecture and mentioned domes. That reminded him of a cousin who fell through a dome in a synagogue in New York. The cousin was named Robin.

Why, I have a cousin named Robin who fell through a skylight in a temple in Flushing. This is the same Robin Danziger. Here is how Patrick and I are almost cousins: Robin's mother Eva Leslie Danziger has a brother named Sam Leslie who married Peggy Kearney who is Patrick Kearney (Sr)'s wife. Patrick is Patrick's (and Rose's) son.

When Barb retold the story, Patrick recognized it and had been telling it from his point of view with other details. He remembered that there was really no room in the Alfa, but we got him in anyway. He said he was in a hurry to get home because he got ill while in Canada. I said I was driving back to North Carolina the next day and would drop him near his home in Pennsylvania across from Trenton.

So we stayed at Sally's, and in the morning we drove south. We made it Massachusetts and decided to call my friend Muffet who lived in the country nearby. She said they were invited to a barbecue that evening but we were invited to join them. So we got fed and stayed the night.

Here is the part of the story I forgot but Patrick filled in:
The next morning the Alfa front brakes started making noise, so I drove by doing a lot of downshifting and using the handbrake to stop. We headed for the Alfa distributor in Newark (where I used to pick up parts for Kingsfield Motors in Englewood). We got there a little before 5, when they closed, but the guys helped me out and sold me the parts the car needed.

Now that we knew we were cousins, I wanted to meet Patrick's family, and he invited me to come to their house in Levittown, PA, to use his dad's tools to fix the brakes. Now I remember coming in to dinner (large pasta dish) with greasy hands.

Patrick told me recently that he deliberately didn't ask for contact information because he thought we would run into each other again. It took only 41 years.

We have lots in common. We both ride Surly bikes and are inordinately interested in biking. I volunteer at Local Motion and take long rides. Patrick does distance touring and recently signed up to ride a randann... in late September -- 200 kilometers -- on his single-speed Surly Cross Check.

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