"The Kingdom of Inwood"By William Dyer
available at www.kingdomofinwood.com
Kingdom of Inwood Prologue:
"DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY" Won a Grammy for Song of the Year. The year is 1988. A band was playing, waiters were serving cocktails, and the people on the deck of the S/S Rotterdam were in a party mood. They were on their way to Bermuda. Fifty-two year old Billy was leaning on the railing as the ship slowly headed for the open sea. He took a sip from his Bloody Mary, and when he lowered his glass, Ellis Island came into close view. It was not a place that would make anyone feel welcomed. He looked at the buildings on the island and began to remember the stories that were told by his Grandmother, Aunts, and Uncles. Those stories meant more now than they did to a ten year old. It was a solemn moment that caused him to feel something that he had not really felt in all his years, genuine gratitude and admiration for the courage of his grandparents. He continued staring at the island as long as it was in his view.
Kingdom of Inwood Excerpts
"Now, it was time to get the family and go up on deck. The ship was getting close to New York, and everyone wanted to be the first to set eyes on the Statue of Liberty.
On this voyage, they had beaten the averages. Of nearly two thousand steerage passengers, only eight had died during the voyage, two infants, a young woman, and four elderly people and the little murdered girl. Now, they had to prepare for the last hurdle, Ellis Island.
Johan kept repeating instructions to the children, the instructions about walking straight, standing straight, and smiling. Everyone knew that they had to be proper. If Johan was nervous, it didn’t show."
"Everyone looked out across the water. Watching, watching, watching. Families hugged and looked off in the distance. All at once, a shout rang out,
“America, it’s America. There, there, I see it. I see it. I see it. America.”
People began to cheer, even those who could not yet see it. The ship moved closer and closer as it entered New York Harbor.
The cheering and singing continued. Now, suddenly, there was silence. People were mesmerized. People were staring. People were looking at the Statue of Liberty and they weren’t cheering any longer, many were crying. Some knelt down on the deck and began to say their Rosary. Ten Hail Marys and an Our Father, were repeated over and over again. Many children, not understanding the moment, seemed confused by the tears of their fathers. Many had never seen their fathers cry. Hugs were in large supply. A Rabbi stood rocking to and fro with his hands clasped on his chest, tears dripped from his eyes onto his cheeks, and then trailed down into his beard. Some people waved at Miss Liberty, as if they expected her to wave back, but she didn’t. She did what she was supposed to do.
William "Billy" Dyer
Writer, author, or storyteller - he prefers the latter. He began inventing stories about 22 years ago for his grandchildren. Today, they range in age from “due next month” to 28 years old. His stories are centered on family. The stories he puts on paper are meant to remind the older folks about the past, and tell the younger folks what the past was like. Grandmothers, grandfathers, parents, and young folk are the targets of Bill’s tales.
He was born in 1936 in Savannah, Ga., and is now retired just a few miles from there. He lived in the south until he was five years old. It was then he started his love affair with the Inwood section of New York City. He lived in Inwood until the age of 17, at which time he became a paratrooper. That filled a dream that was born when he saw the 82nd Airborne march in the Victory Day parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City at the end of World War 2. He has always been proud of the fact, that during his time in uniform, he served with men who jumped into Normandy on D-Day.
He married the girl who lived around the corner, Irene, in 1954. The wedding took place in Inwood, in the same church they received their First Communions and Confirmations, Good Shepherd Church. They had five children and the eleventh grandchild is knocking at the door.
"Oh! Come on in sweetheart. Has Grandpa got a story for you."
Billy Dyer can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org