The Bridge had been the first disappointment. Looking at it from the roof of her house, she had thought that crossing it would make her feel like a gossamer-winged fairy flying through the air. But the actual ride over the Bridge was no different than the ride above the Brooklyn streets.
The Bridge was paved in sidewalks and traffic roads like the streets of Broadway and the tracks were the same tracks. There was no different feeling about the train as it went over the Bridge. New York was disappointing. The buildings were higher and the crowds thicker; otherwise it was little different from Brooklyn. From now on, would all new things be disappointing, she wondered?
She had often studied the map of the United States and crossed its plains, mountains, deserts, and rivers in her imagination. And it had seemed a wonderful thing. Now she wondered whether she wouldn’t be disappointed in that, too. Supposing, she thought, she was to walk across this great country. She’d start out at seven in the morning, say, and walk westward. She’d put one foot in front of the other to cover the distance, and, as she walked to the west, she’d be so busy with her feet and with the realization that her footsteps were part of a chain that started in Brooklyn, that she might think nothing at all the mountains, rivers, plains, and deserts she came upon. All she’d notice was that some things were strange because they reminded her of Brooklyn and that other things were strange because they were so different from Brooklyn.
I recently reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. It’s a “coming of age” story for “young adults,” though it’s really just a good novel. I’m always surprised to meet people who didn’t read it in school, though some people might be surprised that my school didn’t have Tractor Day. We’ve all missed out on something.
This photo is of the water tower in the town of Brooklyn, Indiana.