Forgotten and historic
I spent part of Thanksgiving on the Yankee Ferry.
Built in Philadelphia in 1907, predating the Titanic, the Yankee Ferry is New York’s oldest ferryboat. All 150 feet once transported immigrants to the greatest nation on Earth — God Bless America.
Ignored by civilization, forgotten in history, launched before moon rockets and one more “Mission: Impossible” Tom Cruise snooze, the Yankee Ferry is now home to a couple who also once tasted fame, success and stardom.
In the ’80s, artists and creators Victoria MacKenzie and Richard Childs opened MacKenzie-Childs on East 57th. Their brilliant, offbeat, whimsical home designs — tableware, furnishings, kitchen craft, chairs, tables, pots — became a must-have. So celebrated that their one-of-a-kind, expensive hand-tooled creations were also sold in top department stores.
Like the Yankee Ferry they, too, faced a finish line. Bankruptcy, poor management — they were brilliant artists, not savvy financiers. The shop remains. The name remains. The creations remain. The names Victoria MacKenzie and Richard Childs now gone. The place taken over. The ownership new. The ability to reuse their original designs or rebrand their famous names legally forbidden.
Once super-famous and wealthy, this couple now live on the remnants of a leftover forgotten hulk — an emblem of American history.
With waterways not deep enough to bring passengers to Manhattan, this last ferry transported immigrants to Ellis Island. Its long steel hull with guns and cannon guarded Boston Harbor. It carried our WW1 soldiers to ships. Its gun was used for protection. It stood guard watching for torpedos. It brought the Hearsts, the rich, the VIPs, the officials to Liberty Island.
Moored now in Staten Island, I was on this now-rotted, wood-warped, ropes-frayed forgotten veteran. The wreckage of its 16-member crew’s bunks, hammocks, empty trunks. A can on deck reads “Black Bear Glue 1888.”
It’s SOS time
In this specter of history, on its top deck, Victoria and Richard and their family made Thanksgiving lunch. Served on breathtaking one-of-a-kind platters, dishes, mugs, glasses, a table, a chair they managed to save.
This ship — is this the way to treat American history? Is this to be how we care for our elderly? Should not the United States of America revere and remember its veterans?
Staten Island could use a sight-seeing monument. A look into history. Another reason to come to this borough. This is a museum.
Is there no senator, congressman, politician, anyone to realize we are ignoring a treasure? And having had home-made (or ship’s kitchen) baked cake made by Victoria — how about her making it into a tea shop?
Will someone pay attention?
IN the immortal stammer of our immortal Chump of State Biden: “First thing I’m doing next year to lick this recession is I’m going to get all those deadbeats out of the soup kitchens.”
Only in his fog, kids, only in his fog.