Jonathan Zimmerman: As a Region Battered by Sandy Braces for the Nor'easter, I Think of Grandma

Roundup: Historians' Take

Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).

What’s going to happen to Grandma?

That was my first worry, when I heard that hurricane Sandy was coming. Then I remembered: Grandma’s not here anymore. It’s easy to forget, because she was with us for so long; she passed last December at the age of 104. And I stayed at her Greenwich Village apartment two nights a week for 16 years, while commuting from my Philadelphia home to my job in New York.

So when the rains began, and the lights went out, I found myself lying in the dark and remembering Grandma – and the New York we had shared.

From the studio apartment that I now rent, just one floor above Grandma’s place, I made my way through a pitch-black hallway and down the stairs, guided only by the weak light of my cellphone. And I thought of 9/11.

On September 11, from the street outside my office, I had watched one of the Twin Towers crumble into dust. Then I went to Grandma’s apartment and we watched both buildings fall, over and over again, on her old television set....

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