Grandpa said that the worst thing that ever happened to him, the thing that kept him from becoming a rich man, was the Williamsburg Bridge. He had owned a cigar store on the Brooklyn Side of the East River, right where the ferry docked to take on passengers. The shop was always crowded with men buying smoking tobacco, chewing tobacco, and Havana cigars as they hurried to catch the ferry to Manhattan. But after the Williamsburg Bridge opened, he could have closed the door of his shop behind him, kissed the wooden Indian at the entrance goodbye, and just walked away. And that was why Grandpa never became a rich man. It was because of the Williamsburg Bridge.
Mother said that the worst thing that ever happend was that the First National Bank of Yonkers was the first bank in the country to fail at the start of the Great Depression. It was the bank in which she deposited daddy’s life insurance money, all the money she had in the world. She swore that if she ever got her money back, she would hide it under her mattress.
I knew that the worst thing that ever happened to us was that on the night my father was doubled over with pains in his stomach, our next door neighbor would not take her car out of the garage and drive him to the hospital because her driveway had been paved the day before, and she was afraid the cement had not hardened. She would not risk ruining her driveway, even if it meant saving my father’s life by getting him to the hospital before his appendix burst.
If the Williamsburg Bridge had never been built, if the First National Bank of Yonkers had not failed, if Miss Carrol had not paved her driveway, how might our lives have been different?
The possibilities are staggering.