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Poetic License: Where were you on May 6, 1937?

By Staff | May 5, 2011

In the late afternoon

pounding the pink “Spaldeen” ball

between the screened windows

of the Telephone Building on 13th Street

in our slum version of handball,

my friend Danny and I looked up

and saw the Hindenburg,

immense shining silver

shaped like a cigar

floating directly above us

so close

Danny threw the “Spaldeen” up

as high as he could to try to hit it

but of course he missed

and we both laughed…

later I heard

it crashed in Jersey

and the whole next day

everyone listened

to the announcer on the radio

sobbing and I remember thinking

radio announcers are always cool

but not this time

so this must be real

and later that week at the movies

they showed it in the Newsreel,

the Hindenburg collapsing

like a huge balloon on fire

and people burning and screaming

as they tried to jump

and my mother and the women

in the audience crying,

right then I wished that Danny

had been able to hit it with the ball

and changed its course —

maybe that would have saved it.