Haw’s “The Brooklyn Bridge” and Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”

Richard Haw’s Brookyn Bridge: A Cultural History sits well next to Walt Whitman’s magnificent “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” Haw’s thesis is that the Brooklyn Bridge is more than just a stunning feat of engineering and architecture; it is an icon that has come to mean so many things to so many different people—in responses as varied as postcards, advertisements, and poems. Similarly, Whitman begins his poem focusing first on his own perspective as a ferry passenger but quickly he asks the reader to ponder what others are thinking as they come home from a hard day at work (interestingly, the poem’s original title was “Sun-Down Poem”). By the end of the poem, Whitman demonstrates the multiple ways one can experience an East River commute. He connects it to the ride of life (“life’s ebbs and tides”), he makes connections across time and space (“And you that shall cross from shore to shore”), he expresses feelings and thoughts that are unique to the individual but also shared (“Just as you are refreshed by the gladness of the river, I was refreshed”), he regularly juxtaposes opposites (Manhattan and Brooklyn, shadow and light)–ideas and images that ultimately serve to present the ferry passengers, readers of the poem, and Whitman himself as disparate yet part of a “well-joined scheme” (“a part” and “apart”).

In the opening chapter of his book, Haw too insists on an understanding of the Brooklyn Bridge from a multiple of perspectives. He describes how city leaders pushed for a celebration of Brooklyn Bridge as an “idealized version of the modern city…a transcendent, democratic space.” Yet, for all the fanfare, it seems that the working classes and the darker side of American society were whitewashed in favor of a magnificently orchestrated “pseudo-event.” Chapter three in turn focuses on how the Brooklyn Bridge was interpreted in early prints as exuding “expansive optimism” or fostering the idea of “mastery, possession, and dominance.” Photographers and artists represented the Bridge in many different ways as well. Most famously, Hart Crane and Walker Evans sought to make the bridge a symbol of connection, science, and human progress, a “mystical synthesis of ‘America” while other artists and critics (Haw among them) associated the Bridge with power, control, and dehumanization.

For the blog, I ask you to convey your perspective on Whitman’s poem. What is your favorite part or line? What do you bring away from this work? Alternately, how do you feel about Haw’s approach to the bridge and history?
——————————————————————————————————————For me, Haw’s book helps me to think about my own students at City Tech, many of who come from low-income backgrounds. I have found that many have never walked the 20 or so yards off campus to experience this world famous attraction for themselves. Certainly, they do not seem to view the Brooklyn Bridge as their bridge. But again, this perspective can and often does change.

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35 responses to “Haw’s “The Brooklyn Bridge” and Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”

  1. Diane Whitney

    It is Whitman’s energy I admire and enjoy, even as I wade through his excessive verbiage.
    The 9th part of the poem is my favorite:
    Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
    Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves!
    Gorgeous clouds of the sunset! drench with your splendor me, or the
    men and women generations after me!
    And later in that same section: “Thrive, cities…bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and sufficient rivers, Expand…”
    As I leave the poem, I envision a scene much like the Boulevard paintings of Monet and Pisarro, and I lament that what Whitman encouraged came to pass in such volume. I acknowledge what Haw has pointed out, that even as “the poet and the bridge seem to be natural companions”, the celebrations on and about the bridge have reached far beyond what was the bridge itself. It truly became the “anthropocentric” object he labels it. But that is what we tend to do with our monuments, statues and historical sites. (See THE HERITAGE CRUSADE AND THE SPOILS OF HISTORY, by David Lowenthal, for interesting discussions of what has been done with historical evidence).

    • The construction of the Brooklyn bridge for me is best exemplified in Haw’s critique. The multiple perspectives the Bridge evokes. In essence, the perspective of the city godfathers superimposed that of the struggling poor. The city prided itself with a magnificent fete of architecture yet could not take care of the thousands of its residents living in tenements under the bridge’s shadow. This I think is a difficult set of contradictions to reconcile.

    • Diane, I think it’s the “excessive verbiage” that *creates* the poem’s energy.

  2. Haw’s text forced me to regard the visual and written art related to the Brooklyn Bridge and New York through a new lens. I especially enjoyed his discussion of Sennett’s perspective about sympathy and how the modern city is created to reject difference as “threatening, not energizing.” Whitman’s view of the city is different from the grand style or anti-social art discussed by Haw. His poem is replete with references to people. The author not only “loved well those cities, loved well the stately and rapid river” but also “[t]he men and women [he] saw were all near to [him]” and those he imagined in the future. The persona of the poem seems to vacillate between reassuring parent and creepy stalker, reminding the reader that humanity is complex.

  3. (will van dorp) My favorite passage comes from section 4, echoed in section 11: “I loved well those cities;
    I loved well the stately and rapid river;
    The men and women I saw were all near to me; …” Whitman, writing as a ferry passenger rather than someone traversing a bridge deck more than 100 feet from the water, was connected to the natural setting pre-opening of the Bridge. In enjoy Haw’s pointing out the dearth of Whitman references to the Bridge, a structure he did live to see. More personally, I love walking over the Bridge; if ever a pedestrian/bike lane were established over the Verrazano, I’d feel more connection to that Narrows.

  4. an earlier reading we had mentioned the great (religious) awakening in western new york in the early middle part of the 19th century. and further mention was made of the flow of those beliefs westward into chicago and their manifestation in the persons of george pullman and marshall field.

    i think in walt whitman we have another but very different religious awakening from the other side of new york and a bit later in time. i’m not sure what to call it, perhaps buddhism without buddha. it is not christian as that term is usually understood. whitman sings of his connection to everything, even beyond his own time. i think he loves the world around him, including the built world of brooklyn, but that is not his focus. he, and he hopes we, see beyond that plane.

  5. I enjoyed Whitman’s perspective, from “me” and “I” to “you” (“face to face”), “they,” and finally reaching a crescendo of “we” at the end. Whitman is at one with the faceless, nameless crowd, bound by their humanity: “Curious what is more subtle than this which ties me to the woman or man that looks in my face, Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning into you” (105-6). Then by the end, he seems to conflate water, city — all of the environment — to an even larger identity, one great Soul. We are all one by the end of the poem: “You furnish your parts toward eternity; Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul” (145-6).

  6. I like Eileen’s comment. For me, Whitman is the greatest American language poet, writing the experience of our city. Lacking a coherent tribal or ancient past that would rank the self in relationship to monuments, Whitman produced exquisitely beautiful poetry and theory articulating the individual’s relationship to a grand, inclusive and democratic design. “The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme—myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated, yet part of the scheme:
    The similitudes of the past, and those of the future;”
    Whitman loved the waterfront and being close to people. Perhaps he didn’t feel as close to the universal, shared rhythms of life suspended up on the Bridge. He was a commuter [ and wasn’t his lover a conductor?] living close to the common crowd, being one and single and lost in its common face. The Bridge elevates you above the crowd, above the river of life, above all the people riding in cars and boats. The sensual, soft feel of the planking on the walkway, the breeze hitting you like a soaring gull, is an individualizing experience in a heavily populated city.

    On Haw, historians deal with how shared constructions, which begin in fantasy or response to the real, shape history and become a verisimilitude of the person, object or event. He describes the bridge as an art object and “a mosaic composite constructed at different angles.” The “jarring trends and patterns that constitute the cultural history of the Bridge” are made the object of critical analysis by the contemporary historian. The mosaic turns into a kaleidoscope of interpretations and poetic views, the nature of the object’s interpretive existence is steadied by the massive stone arches and the elegant suspension of the bridge. The historian can address the history of the physical object, the Brooklyn Bridge [the province of engineers and the history of architecture and science], or a history of representations about how people thought about the Bridge. A bridge, like a painting or a photograph, cannot speak for itself. It must be interpretted. Most of the things people have said about the Brooklyn Bridge are in a peripheral relation to the Bridge itself.

    Apply this to yourself: describe how you live in objective, material and physical conditions, how you experience your relationships to other people, living things, objects and events, and how people construct or miscontruct you… out of love, communion, envy or malice.

  7. I was very interested in the Irish workers response to the date selected from the bridge celebration and the use of the bridge to contrast America. I have, in the past, read about the Brooklyn Bridge and thought about in terms of New York City history almost exclusively. Seeing in as part of Americas and Americans conversation with the world changed my understanding of its symbolic role.

  8. Brooklyn is a tough chew. The latest assignment a poem by W. Whitman, toughest thus far. Residing in N Central Texas the last nine years offers no frame of reference; rivers, historical bridges, ferry boats. Just whining, end of semester.

    Anyhow, what intrigues me about this poem is a ferryboat as part of your daily commute. Walt captures an environment unlike any other daily mode of transportation. Most of us have experienced the grind of a daily commute via automobile, train, trolley, subway, bus, taxi and few an airline. Depending on the mode, we may recognize a few passengers, similar landmarks or an occurring event; such as the sun 1/2 hour before setting.

    I truly enjoyed stanza 2 linking the passengers’ interaction with each other as well as the environment. “Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross from shore to shore; others will watch the run of the flood-tide; others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east;
    Others will see the islands large and small; “

    These lines also capture the human/environment emotions whether interacting with the natural environment or passengers. “Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt; just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd;

    I need to walk the Brooklyn Bridge and take a Ferry ride on East River. Anywhere will do!!!

  9. My favorite lines were “Flow on river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide! Frolic on, crested and scallop-edged waves! Gorgeous clouds of the sunset! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations after me!” It made me think of the permanence and power of nature and how appreciation of its beauty has connected people forever. I did a 25 mile bike ride today (am training for a week-long bike ride across Iowa at the end of July) and saw robins, goldfinches, cardinals, orioles, and bluebirds and heard them sing, and I saw a snake and a turtle on the trail. I was reminded of the restorative force of the natural world and how it has served that function for people for generations. As we have been reading, though, about the negative effects on the environment from industrialization, I wonder about the permanence of nature; can it withstand the environmental degradation from humans? The threat we increasingly pose to its beauty is troubling, as we are all reminded as we see footage of the BP disaster in the gulf. The thread of many of the readings makes me think about the tension between private ownership and the public covenant. Why should corporations like BP be able to destroy our natural world for profit and greed? Just tonight on the news, someone devastated by the effects of the disaster made that very point–it is not BP’s ocean or shoreline but belongs to the people. Even with historic landmarks that may be privately owned, where is that balance? Should they be preserved for the good of the people? I loved Whitman’s speaking to future generations throughout his poem. As I look at the full moon tonight, I am connected to others who are admiring its beauty tonight too–but I’m also connected to people centuries back who did the same thing. I hope we can find a way to strike a better balance between a corporation’s right to make money and their obligations to not do the kind of damage to the natural world that they so often do. I fear that we won’t until after far too much damage is done.

  10. A BRIDGE TOO FAR? ART AND THE WB

    A bridge we haven’t mentioned, a bridge much abused, and used on foot, rail and auto, a bridge that Henry Miller and other famous writers saw as a child, and countless artists of varying reputation, is The Williamsburg Bridge. Perhaps its original design is covered over or partially rusted out and forgotten, and thus its being ignored as a true landmark. I don’t know. Over time, Brooklyn Heights and lower Manhattan became “bourgeois”, while the working classes and the poor traversed the WB on foot, bicycle, train and bus to get to and from work. Walking off the bridge onto Delancy Street and the predictable discount shops in poor neighborhoods. I first walked over the Williamsburg Bridge in the early 1990s, before they repaired it. Up high, young men spray painted graffiti, drank, sometimes fought. It was a dangerous view of the world. I saw the old walkway with its rusted metal plates covering holes that threatened to drop you into the river, its delicate, rusting scrollwork, the highest expression of turned steel at the turn of the century (much lost by rust, time and necessary repairs). I saw its steps leafed in gold by a mad famous artist, and later, the powerfully ugly caged new bike and pedestrian walkway [no addition to beauty-makes the dangerous and wild older walkway a cherished memory]. I think the Williamsburg Bridge is beautiful, somewhat diminished from its original aesthetic qualities, but nonetheless, not to be ignored. My colleagues in the English and Art departments may know of references to the WB Bridge.
    http://www.nycroads.com/crossings/williamsburg/

    http://books.google.com/books?id=snArAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Williamsburg+Bridge&source=bl&ots=xInIwpwlLw&sig=sk1Vg_T738EyTEWwMRZpqajM3iI&hl=en&ei=tpz-S9jPAZL0NZ2rhDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=12&ved=0CE0Q6AEwCw#v=onepage&q&f=false

  11. Let me begin with a sidenote–I was lucky enough to be invited to read as part of a National Poetry Month celebration at the Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington, NY on Long Island. As important as Whitman is to Brooklyn and Manhattan, he is just as so for Long Island. So if you can, visit: http://www.waltwhitman.org/

    Now onto the poem (fair warning–give a poet a poem to discuss, and, well, said poet thinks she may own the poem, the poet, and all that is said about it). This poem is signature Whitman with his long lines, listing, and anaphora that propel everything forward, pushing towards the next idea and the next. He creates a timeless universality in being an everyman with the lines: “Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd.” He is the anonymous flanuer (which I mentioned in the earlier post about Lucy, indicating another of Whitman’s poems, “To A Stranger.” https://alongtheshore.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/reading-lucy-2/#comments ). He then becomes prophetic in his discussion of the Other in Part II and later on when the speaker says, “others who look back on me because I look forward to them.” We continue to look back to Whitman for a wholeness of history concerning the Brooklyn Bridge and other New York history.

    The line “myself disintegrated, everyone disintegrated yet part of the scheme” describe some of the “views” Haw mentions in Chapter 3: Stieglitz’s photos and Arms’s etching, “The Gates Of The City.” The reason to have a bridge is to connect places and things, but mainly to connect people. Yet these views do not show a populated scene. It’s all water and brick, yet people must be there.

    The line “Brooklyn of ample hills was mine” makes me wonder if the essay collection’s title _Brooklyn Was Mine_ was inspired by this line or if it is just a coincidence. I am now reading the rest of the essays, and the introduction does not make this connection. Instead, it suggests that the title offers some wisdom about arbitrary possession. That is what Whitman is getting at here. The speaker follows up with “[I] received identity by my body . . . / of my body” showing how Brooklyn is not only part of him, but is him.

    My favorite part is the tone shift from Part 8 to Part 9. Part 8 is a series of questions. Part 9 is a series of commands. “Flow on!” “Stand up!” “Throb!” The speaker makes these demands not on the people of the city, but of the city itself. He recognizes the city as a living being.

    The part of the Haw reading that is quite amusing is the powers that be delcaring Whitman would not only be present at the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, but that he was writing a poem specifically for the occasion. Yet, Whitman did not show up and never wrote a poem that focuses on the bridge (he mentioned it in “Song Of Exposition” http://www.bartleby.com/142/245.html and in a prose piece entitled “Manhattan from the Bay” http://www.bartleby.com/229/1151.html ). The good folks wound up reading “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” which, as we all read, does not discuss the bridge either. However, Whitman’s view of Brooklyn and his eloquent, grand description of the land he loves helps some of us describe our feelings about the places and things we love when we can’t quite say it ourselves.

  12. On a different note, the epigraphs in Chapter 4 caught my eye as I finished up Chapter 3 in Haw’s book. They are:

    “History is selective memory.” Albert Boime

    “Time dissipates to shining ether the solid angularity of facts.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “In the end, he who screens the history, makes the history.” Gore Vidal

    These quotes immediately brought me back to Thelen ( http://wp.me/pU81y-S ), Ruskin ( http://wp.me/pU81y-J ) and Lowenthal ( http://wp.me/pU81y-E ) in that they indicate that the history of a now iconic object is subject to the personal and professional views of all who surround it. The introduction and even parts of Chapter 1 allude to this idea. The media hyped the opening of the bridge. ( http://wp.me/pU81y-1z ) In light of its iconic status, it deserves fanfare. Now. Back then? That was a different story, yet because we praise it so much today, believing that there was ever dissent is difficult.

  13. Diane Whitney

    Yes Christina, you nailed it! “Wading through the excessive verbiage” is a delight and what I treasure about Whitman – the way his litanies languish over the imagery. There are rhythms in his work and , as a musician, I delight in their ebb and flow.
    Consider: Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large circles high in the air;
    Receive the summer sky, you water! and faithfully hold it, till all downcast eyes have time to take it from you.

  14. I am not a poet. I am admittedly neither a reader nor writer of poetry. Nonetheless, what I took from Whitman’s poem is his sense of himself and his place in time as part of the future. He spoke to future generations and connected the humanity of himself and the world he lived in with that of the future. It seemed that he took for granted his interpretation and embrace of the world around him would be that of future generations. For example, “Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt.” This presumes people in the future would, indeed, even notice the river and the sky. I wonder how often people stopped at an intersection sit quietly and actually notice the grasses along side the street blowing in a gentle breeze instead of anxiously waiting for the light to change. I loved Whitman’s poem, his observations, and his connection to the yet unborn.

    As a social historian, I appreciate Haw’s writing. Inclusion of the actual workers who built the bridge and the class realities of the day that informed the events of the bridge opening and the press coverage enriches our study of the bridge and its place in New York history. Haw’s approach helps us better understand how reality (or truth) is created and challenges us to question this reality. I can’t wait to “experience” the Brooklyn Bridge!

  15. “…The simple, compact, well-joined scheme, myself disintegrated, everyone
    disintegrated yet part of the scheme…”

    This is my favorite passage from Walt Whitman’s poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” I like the realism it conveys, and, to me, it captures the essence of urbanism. It conveys a sense of place, but at the same time, a sense of loss and disillusion. Haw’s chapters seem to embrace similar themes. Viewpoint has a lot to do with image. Things are not always what they seem. What I find most interesting in the Haw readings is the revelation that despite the frequent association of Whitman’s poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” with the Brooklyn Bridge, the poem was written over a quarter century before the bridge’s opening. Perhaps this is another example of history’s illusions. I tried to reconcile this disparity, so I read the poem again. Whitman understood the details and the relationship of Manhattan and Brooklyn. So now, I see Whitman as the bridge.

    • Deb, I love the idea of Whitman as the bridge. In this poem and many of his others, he does take on the identity of things, not outrightly, but subtly. I read this poem as the speaker becoming not just the bridge, but the city, and then seeing others become the same.

      The passage you chose is one I also noted ( http://wp.me/pU81y-1D ) because of some of the photos in Haw’s Chapter 4. The “disintegrated yet part of the scheme” image is what Stieglitz’s photos reflect.

  16. jennifer hauss

    I didn’t know this poem – what I read of Whitman, of course, was Song of Myself and Lilacs, but reading this my mind keeps returning to Wordsworth’s Composed Upon Westminster Bridge – a poem I love. I’m sure Whitman knew this poem and it seems he’s created the American version – he’s perhaps a bit naive and overly optimistic – but his Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is beautiful and rambling and forward-thinking. My favorite bit:
    “Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large circles high in the air; Receive the summer sky, you water, and faithfully hold it till all downcast eyes have time to take it from you!/ Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of my head, or any one’s head, in the sunlit water!”
    Wordsworth too couldn’t used too many exclamation points: “Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!”

    Bradley brought up the point about commuting, and this reminded me of a time my husband and I visited friends in San Francisco, and we were there for a long weekend. We went into the city and followed our friend’s weekday daily routine on a Saturday. She commuted from Marin County (Fairfax) into San Francisco proper to work at a huge building as an immigration lawyer right near Pier 39, I think. We had this beautiful ferry ride – high sun, water breezes – completely relaxing and untroubling. All the ferry workers knew our friend by name and they chatted – because she was one of about 5 people who did this during the week. It was mostly a tourist thing -our boat was full for the Saturday trip into the city.
    Anyway, this points to what many have said at different times during our readings: we need to change our thinking, our habits, our technology and move away from non-sustainable/destructive ways of living.

  17. You all have done such an energetic job of parsing the poem, there seems little to add except perhaps that Whitman does not see the dichotomy we see between nature and progress. We have been working with pristine v. pollution (nature v. development) and Whitman celebrates human progress/enterprise within the panorama of river/sky/sun. Man, commerce, nature function cooperatively in both present and future.
    Richard Haw points out that later the older/wiser (more jaded) Whitman recognized corruption in commerce–“the country’s morbid appetite for money”. But in the ferry poem, Whitman creates a synthesis of the disparate parts of urban life at a time of great energy and promise within the omnipresent force of nature.

  18. I guess the line of the poem that made me think the most was

    “Ah, what can ever be more stately and admirable to me than mast-hemmed
    Manhattan?”

    It got to me because it made me realize that whenever I think of New York, I never think of the sea. I know it’s an island and had a historically significant port and all, but as a visitor when I go to Manhattan I think of the buildings and the streets and the like. I think of land. I normally don’t even notice the water unless I go to Battery Park or the Statue of Liberty or somewhere. I’m not much into poetry, but it does make me appreciate Whitman’s ability to step out of the rush of the world, to really stop and see what is around him. Something, apparently, I didn’t do myself when I was in his place. Also, the line reminded me of the sweep of history, that the sea that was the centerpiece of his world can be an afterthought in mine.

  19. Dale T. Adams
    Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme is not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my favorite: “I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit-up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, . . . .” For me these lines are Whitman’s imprimatur, as it were, for my similar experiences as a boy who went forth on his own “Brooklyn Bridge” in microcosm. As I’ve indicated in a previous response, I grew up in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Directly across from Freeport was Velasco (the town where Sam Houston held Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto before allowing the Mexican leader to return to Mexico—all Texas history is parochial, I must admit). For many years, one had to take a Ferry to cross the river to Velasco from Freeport. But by the time I came along, a bridge had been built, and I walked that bridge a thousand times, often stopping in the middle to look toward the Gulf to observe, like Whitman seeing the “white sails of schooners and sloops,” the shrimp boats coming up the river to dock at the shrimp houses. (And many, many times as my buddies and I would swim in the river, we would invoke the name of Steve Brodie as we jumped off the bridge—how we small-town Texas boys knew about Brodie I don’t know.) And thousands of times, like Whitman, as I walked across the bridge, I observed the laughing gulls. In fact, it was seeing three laughing gulls fighting in midair over a mullet (one gull would drop it, and before it hit the water another gull would grab it and soar high in the sky with the other two gulls in pursuit) that inspired one of my schoolboy poems: “A Moribund Mullet.” So when I have taught “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to freshman students, I’ve shared with them my personal experiences of my “Brooklyn Bridge” to get them to see that although they (Texans mostly) might never see the Brooklyn Bridge and certainly not Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry itself, they too have their personal Brooklyn Bridges that can reveal to them what Brooklyn Ferry revealed to Whitman. The results have been very rewarding to me as a teacher. As for reading Richard Haw, he removes the pejorative associated with “Revision Historian.” His “The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History” has the essence of all truly fine history: surprise value. And that concept is no better illustrated than with his observations about how little Whitman had to say about the Brooklyn Bridge itself. And like so much outstanding history, Haw has to “unlearn” us about what we thought we had learned. I must say, however, as Haw rightly chastised the organizers of the ceremonies for the opening of the Brooklyn for not including the lowest of those who had worked on the Bridge and with Haw’s obvious storehouse of the cultural history associated with the Bridge, I had a tinge of chastisement for Haw for not acknowledging perhaps the lowest trivia of culture literacy associated with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge: the Bowery Boys/the Dead End Kids/the East Side Kids and Johnny Weissmuller’s 1942 “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” all of which were my first awareness of Brooklyn, New York and especially Brooklyn Bridge—Haw’s “historical mischief” at work in my childhood indeed. Although I would not have realized it at the time I first saw “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” on seeing it recently I realized that an inherent theme if not too far from some of Haw’s observations. That is to say, when the noble savage Tarzan comes to New York, his every word and movement highlight the contrast between technology and nature and social values—a theme Naw surveys in his chapter “American Memory.” And Tarzan diving off the Brooklyn Bridge and living is an exclamation mark to that theme. Of course I will never have the opportunity to cross the Brooklyn Ferry, but I can’t wait to cross Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can relive some of Whitman’s emotions and sentiments that ironically we associate with crossing Brooklyn Bridge, even though, as Haw so surprisingly points out, Whitman had very little to say about the Brooklyn Bridge. I especially wonder if seagulls will be there because on a very personal level Whitman’s lines in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” about seagulls are my fa
  20. Addell Austin Anderson

    Of the readings assigned, thus far, I have been most intrigued by Richard Haw’s writings in The Brooklyn Bridge. His book exemplifies what scholarship in the humanities ought to be – an exhaustive study which adeptly illuminates an aspect of human endeavor. Chapters 1 and 3 demonstrate how historical perspective can be manipulated via the media and the arts to shape popular perceptions in order to serve particular ideals. Moreover, the questions posed at the conclusion Chapter 3 – e.g., What is the relation between symbols and context, between rhetoric and reality? – beg for much more reflection on these topics.

  21. So frustrating! Sometimes my computer does a little glitch, and I lose everything I’ve just written. WordPress isn’t forgiving like gmail. This happened last week too. So now I’m writing offline and will paste. Let’s see if I can manage to repeat what I just said.

    Haw’s analyses of the opening-day ceremonies and of the depiction of the bridge and skyline in photographs were eye-opening for me. I wish there’d been reproductions of every image he talked about. I think I’ve gone through life coopted by the magisterial view of the city. And certainly “in thrall to Whitman’s infectious idealism.” Now I really look forward to seeing the Ken Burns documentary again – to think about it in those terms. And to meeting Haw.

    Chapter 3 really hit home, since I’m working on a Progressive-Era public-school architect, who in the wake of the 1893 World’s Fair put up all over the city Beaux-Arts, Collegiate Gothic structures for primary and secondary students. I was first drawn to the schools on aesthetic grounds. Plus, my first contact with many of them (and only contact with the demolished ones) has been through “eerily silent,” reverentially-looking-up photographs of the buildings. I now wonder if I’m prioritizing the built environment over the human, social context. And yet my hippie sympathies are with Progressive social reforms. In fact, I’ve – romantically? I now wonder – seen the buildings as part of that.

  22. For me, Haw’s text represents a wonderful synthesis of what we have read thus far – the relationship between historical “fact” and cultural/technological meaning-making; the scope of economic development and the overshadowing of the work/workers on which such development relies. As we prep to take our own pictures, and document our own trespasses through the borough, a nice complement to this reading might have been an essay on photography – one focused on why we capture what we do, and how the meanings of more banal images are used, manipulated, changed by everyday producers/consumers.

  23. I saw what Karen noted: as Whitman could not foresee, the growth of the “sprirtual” city (section 9) would come at the expense of the river, the fish, the air, the birds, the sky.

    “Thrive, cities” –and of course they have and must;

    “Bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and sufficient rivers”–rivers may still be ample and sufficient, but water is not;

    “Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more spiritual,”–I am not quite sure whom/what this imperative is directed at;

    “Keep your places, objects than which none is more lasting.”–The bridges, statues, and buildings are such objects, but today I cannot help but think of our plastic water bottles, disposable diapers, computer monitors and other “necessesities” which are all too lasting.

  24. Brooklyn Forever

    I have no particular favorite line. I can’t even begin to separate out “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” from the whole of “Leaves of Grass”. I guess the fact that to be truly Whitmanesque, one has to see that his poem encompasses all people and the whole of human understanding. The line that gets at this notion for me is in stanza 2 “The similitudes of the past and those of the future”. And again in the final stanza: “You furnish your parts toward eternity, Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul”. The idea that we are part of the larger universe, call it what you will, Hinduism, Astrophysics, whatever, is the quintessential Whitman vision. Another poet who taught in Brooklyn, Allen Ginsberg, certainly viewed Whitman as one of his ancestral poet fathers. I have been inspired by Whitman’s notion in Democratic Vistas that “We see our land, America, her literature, esthetics, &c., as, substantially, the getting in form, or effusement and statement, of deepest basic elements and loftiest final meanings, of history and man — and the portrayal, (under the eternal laws and conditions of beauty,) of our own physiognomy, the subjective tie and expression of the objective, as from our own combination, continuation, and points of view — and the deposit and record of the national mentality, character, appeals, heroism, wars, and even liberties — where these, and all, culminate in native literary and artistic formulation, to be perpetuated; and not having which native, first-class formulation, she will flounder about, and her other, however imposing, eminent greatness, prove merely a passing gleam; but truly having which, she will understand herself, live nobly, nobly contribute, emanate, and, swinging, poised safely on herself, illumin’d and illuming, become a full-form’d world, and divine Mother not only of material but spiritual worlds, in ceaseless succession through time — the main thing being the average, the bodily, the concrete, the democratic, the popular, on which all the superstructures of the future are to permanently rest. I believe that true democracy encompasses everyman and woman in the universe.” The last time I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge was in a torrential downpour. I emerged soaking wet but definitely reminded of the power of nature, and that I was only a small wet droplet in the cosmos. Brooklyn Forever.

  25. What Kathy said Karen noted, that Whitman could not have known that “spiritual” growth would come at the expense of nature, sadly rings true. Yet, paradoxically and parallel to this observation, artistry has come as the result of commercial, dehumanized progress (reminding me of how out of the portrayal of a product oriented world came Sinclair Lewis’ wonderful novel, Babbitt, propelling us, by examining that world, to become more process oriented and richer in thinking). It’s again an expression of the line from Wallace Steven’s poem, Sundy Morning: “Death is the mother of Beauty…”
    The photography of Stieglitz, for instance, that, as Haw states “celebrates the business process while omitting the city’s social reality” took on an aesthetic life of its own. Another one of many ways that chapter 3 in The Brooklyn Bridge reminded me of Lewis’ Babbitt was when Haw notes that commerce and technology usurped some of religion’s power. This section calls to mind Babbitt looking up at the tall buildings with the reverence once paid to things not material. My teaching of Babbitt next Fall will be enriched by Haw’s text.

  26. If anyone still has _Brooklyn Was Mine_ lying around, then read Joanna Hershon’s “Bridges” if you haven’t already. It offers a clever tale that brings together this discussion of the bridge and our previous discussions about memory (and misremembering http://wp.me/pU81y-S ).

  27. Being a native-b0rn Brooklynite, living in Texas for too many years, I love teaching “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” I especially love the “flaneur”(a new word for me) aspect of the poem and the connection I feel with Whitman contemplating that we have both walked these same streets, saw these same sights! My students, on the other hand,do find him a bit “stalkerish.” I have not been able to get the Haw book yet, but my vision of the Brooklyn Bridge is dimmed by a horrific automobile accident that my parents suffered on the Bridge,and brightened by my “Absolut” Brooklyn poster of the Bridge!

  28. Lots to think about here, but Richards last comment about creating pedagogical interest really resonated with me. Anyone interested in talking face-to-face or online about pedagogical issues this week? Or afterwards via the blog? I intend to post abit about this is (and many other things) soon; I confess I was too tired last night to do anything other than upload my photos.

    Interest? Suggestions?

  29. Pingback: Anticipating Whitman | Brooklynforever's Blog

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