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Riots at Astor Place and Hairpin Lace

May 11, 2010

After a late night of musical notation editing and wiki designing, I woke up this morning to a segment of NY1  “Today in New York City History” in which I first heard mention of the ASTOR PLACE RIOTS. My ears perked up for several reasons: one of them being that Astor Place is the locale of COOPER UNION, where I teach knitting and crochet through their Continuing Education program.

NY1  "Today in New York City History"  ASTOR PLACE RIOTS may 10, 1849

According to Wikipedia:
The Astor Place Riot occurred on May 10, 1849 at the Astor Place Theatre in New York City and left at least 25 dead and more than 120 injured.  It was the deadliest to that date of a number of civic disturbances pitting immigrants and nativists against each other and ultimately against the upper classes (who controlled the police and militia) in the urban United States of the 19th century, particularly in Manhattan.
It was the first time the National Guard had been called out and had shot into a crowd of citizens, and it led to the creation of the first police force armed with deadly weapons.  Yet its genesis was a dispute between Edwin Forrest, the first great American star, and William Charles Macready, the greatest English actor of his generation, which largely revolved around which of them was better than the other at acting the major roles of Shakespeare

I, Lisa, believe that there are connections all around us in our lives and, if we  pay attention to them, their patterns will be revealed to us. This past weekend, I taught a class on hairpin lace and broomstick lace crochets at Knitty City. In preparation, I decided to finish up a shawl that had languished in an unfinished state for more than a year (ps. it continues to languish, but I did get enough of it put together to serve as an inspirational/informative sample of the blending of these two gorgeous techniques).  When I do my work, I love being told stories. Minnesota Public Radio provided the soundtrack for the evening. It was an interview with a man who related his story of being in love with a woman whom he met while living in Japan. Had he stayed in the US during the time he met her, he would likely have been a student at Kent State around the time when events there showed a startling similarity to the above mentioned Astor Place carnage.

As my dear (now departed) friend Raymond (any Gryphon Record fans out there?) used to say on many an occasion, “There ARE no coincidences.” So, for me, in my week, these were some of the seemingly unconnected events among which I found connection. Some of it painful; some of it beautiful.

I thank that man on MPR who shared the story of the tea ceremony and the acceptance and forgiveness he witnessed in people who had suffered much at the hands of others – others to whom he bore a potentially unforgiveable resemblance. That story is now etched into my memory: memory that is triggered when I look at those stitches I worked as he told the story. Now those fabrics (that of his tale and that of my hands and hook) are, for me, inextricably intertwined.

Hairpin Lace and Broomstick Lace Crochet Shawl (detail showing only the hairpin section)

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