Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wild Woman of Queens: Notes on Urban Creativity from across the East River.

Charlie by Sandra Lee Schubert 2009


My father was tall, slim, a red head with a gift for creating. I know that he smoked a pipe and used Old Spice. He liked to drink. My sister and I would spend warm summer afternoons in the neighborhood bar drinking soda and eating Slim Jims. I know he was a gifted artist. But, I have no record of his art work, except, for a copper printing plate for the Schubert oven. My patent check shows no such oven.

He would take us on adventures in the neighborhood. We would go down to the Sunnyside Yards and watch the freight trains coming in to deliver merchandise to the various factories in Long Island City. I have the faintest memory of going down to the dumps, which were islands of stuff, dumped on dirt, in the middle of the urban landscapes. Occasionally we would come back with things that my mother never seemed to like.

When he came home from work he would bring salty french fries in oily brown paper bags. My love for french fries has not been quenched by dire diet warnings. My mother worked at night, leaving us with my dad. He would give my sister and I tiny mugs of beer and then tuck us in. He would tell elaborate stories to lull us to sleep. I remember his story telling the most and sitting at the kitchen table drawing pictures for us at request.

He died when I was five years old.

My great sorrow is that I never got to have an adult conversation with him. We never shared stories together. I don't know what he thought about politics, love or life in general.

Even though I don't know these things about him I know his DNA runs through me. My father had a decidedly Asian look to him. I carry his cleft chin, high cheekbones, and a distinguished forehead. The red hair missed me but his poor eyesight, bad teeth and fair freckled skin is some thing we share.

Since my mother has been gone for 29 years I have to make my own decisions about what I inherited from my parents and what is uniquely my own. I don't drink, yet, still love the faint beer smell of a bar in the afternoon. My talent lies in storytelling, photography and spontaneous acts of creativity.

Today I honor my father. My memories of him are fleeting and too few. Yet what I have is sweet. I remember a man who had a strong physical presence, a sense of humor and a gift for creating. His legacy is in his daughters. Each day I hope I can express a bit more of the talent he gave me.

Sandra's e-course leads people to be their creative best through telling their stories and talking to interesting people on her online radio show-
Wild Woman Network: Radio for Creative Vagabonds, Thinkers and Innovators..

She is a creative vagabond, a poet, and a writer who co-facilitates the Wild Angels Poets and Writers Group at the historic Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.Writing for Life: Creating a Story of Your Own. Visit her blog: Email her sandraleeschubert(at) or @writing4life via twitter.

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