For the past two days I’ve been trying to recall which of my high school friends dragged me to a Joan Baez concert in Central Park. I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of her music. In fact, I had forgotten that I ever attended a Baez concert. I was reminded of that evening when I read of the death of former mayor Ed Koch.
I did remember that I once shook hands with Koch and that I had gotten his autograph. I closed my eyes and visualized the scene. We were at a concert venue in Central Park on a summer afternoon around five or six o’clock. I was not terribly enthused about being there until I spotted the mayor. To me, he was a far bigger celebrity that the singer. It took a few more minutes of visualization to remember that the performer on stage was Joan Baez. Thanks to the super awesome power of the Internet, I am reasonably sure that the concert in question happened on Friday, July 7, 1979. If it were two days later, I could have seen one of my all-time favorite bands, Blondie.
Through my blog, I have reconnected with two sisters who worked as librarians in my hometown. They emailed me a link to Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s blog post about Ed Koch. It included the text of a speech Koch delivered last year while introducing Dolan. Koch talked about his love of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and his friendship with three previous cardinals, most notably Terence Cardinal Cooke.
My mother’s aunt Mary was a volunteer at St. Patrick’s. We often encountered her as she worked the information table near the entrance. Aunt Mary arranged for one of my sisters to participate in a Ladies of Charity event where we all got to meet Cardinal Cooke.
I thought about St. Patrick’s recently while watching a biography of Vince Lombardi on HBO. My father and I attended Lombardi’s funeral at St. Patrick’s. Now, of course, my most vivid memory of the cathedral is from my cousin Terry Hatton’s funeral.