erik lundegaard

Wednesday November 24, 2021

Cagney's Old Man

I'd forgotten that James Cagney lost his father to the pandemic 100 years ago. This description of the cemeteries in New York City, taken from his 1974 memoir, reminds me of some of the descriptions of New York City in April 2020:

I was at Columbia [in the WWI-era in the Student Army Training Corps] when my dad died. I got a message he was about to leave for the hospital, so I hurried home to accompany him, but he had gone. I took the streetcar, and when I arrived at the hospital I went to the desk nurse and said, “I want to see Mr. James Cagney.” Her face fell. “Oh, I'm sorry,” she said. “He died this morning.” The flu epidemic was then raging, and caskets were piled six or seven high outside the cemeteries, so many people were afflicted. Mom was carrying Jeannie at the time, and Dad was sent to the hospital so that Mom would be safe from infection. So quickly had my sunny, charming old man left us. Old! He was just forty-one.

Posted at 08:44 AM on Wednesday November 24, 2021 in category Books  
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