After Thirty Years on Death Row, Anthony Ray Hinton Tells His Story to Scarsdale Students
- Written by Sydney Piccoli
- Hits: 1208
A man who spent 30 years on death row in Alabama, after he was wrongly convicted of murder, visited Scarsdale High School on November 17, 2021.
Students had the chance to meet Anthony Ray Hinton during fifth period which was split into three sessions to allow visits with Hinton in the Scarsdale High School library, where he spoke for a short period of time and then opened the room up to a question and answer session. Although many Scarsdale High School classes wanted to attend, the facilitators of the day’s events had to limit the in-school field trip to only the most relevant classes as Hinton could only stay at SHS for a few hours. Some classes that were able to go were AT Government, Criminal Justice, and AT Art History among other humanity driven courses. In order to accommodate Hinton’s presence, dozens of chairs were set up at a social distance in the library, both on the first floor and second floor, to maximize the numbers of students who could hear Hinton’s words. Hinton was introduced by art teacher and advisor of SHS Innocence Club Beth Colleary and English teacher Kathleen McGreal, both of whom have extensive experience in the field of social justice. Scarsdale High School students wore yellow, orange, and red clothes to show Hinton that the "Sun Does Shine," which is the name of his best-selling book that journals the failures of the justice system and how to maintain hope in the most dismal of situations.
After a welcoming introduction, Hinton gave an impassioned speech, telling SHS students that when he was incarcerated, he started a book club which helped him maintain his composure through the years he was wrongly convicted. He discussed the power of having an imagination, which he would often use to escape during the hardest days he spent in prison. Hinton offered a connection to the contemporary world, shockingly asserting that racism is currently worse than when he was a child in Birmingham, Alabama. After a speech filled with inspiring and courageous sentiments, a few students asked Hinton questions; How did you keep faith while being incarcerated? What lessons did you take away from your experiences? How do you think we, as a world, need to combat institutionalized racism? Hinto answered that the key is simply going up to a stranger, especially one of a different race, and having a conservation. He told dozens of students and faculty that by doing so, you will discover how many similarities you have despite the apparent differences.
Hinton words resonated with the students and teachers who were lucky enough to be in his presence. “I really enjoyed hearing him speak in-person because I felt a lot more connected to what he was saying when it wasn’t through a computer screen and also him answering the students questions directly made it a lot more impactful for me...I think everyone in that room was just as impacted by his word as I was which is pretty astounding,” remarked SHS junior Charlotte Davis. “I really liked how personal it felt...and it felt like he was giving his story in a way that felt like he was giving advice to a friend. I think his words had the effect of collectively uplifting peoples’ spirits,” added SHS junior Akhil Srivastava.
On SHS’s annual Global Citizenship Day, SHS’ students heard from the founders of Hudson Link, a non-profit organization that provides college education to those currently or formerly behind bars and seeks to create a positive impact. On Hinton’s behalf, Scarsdale High School students collected fifty boxes of food filled with pasta, sauce, spreads, canned vegetables, and more to be donated to the individuals Hudson Link helps—in addition to food, the boxes contained other goods, including thermal gear (hats, gloves) and Scarsdale mementos. A singular bag of food can serve four individuals, so in-total SHS will help 200 people in-need this season.
Last year , during COVID-19, Hinton visited Scarsdale High School through Zoom, telling his story for the first time. The visit sparked impassioned discussion in classrooms all around Scarsdale High School about the social justice system and the importance of helping others. A local bookstore, Bronx River Books in the Scarsdale Village, even worked to promote Hinton’s book The Sun Does Shine and offered signed copies to residents. Nearly a year later, Hinton made a special request to his assistant to attend SHS—this time in-person—to thank the students and teachers for hearing his story and supporting his mission to improve the lives of individuals across the United States.
Hinton’s kindness and generosity can be a lesson for all ages— “Despair was a choice. Hatred was a choice. Anger was a choice. I still had choices, and that knowledge rocked me....I could choose to give up or to hang on. Hope was a choice. Faith was a choice. And more than anything else, love was a choice. Compassion was a choice,” he writes in his book. As Scarsdale High School seeks to create change-makers, embracing a motto of Non-Sibi, it is heartwarming to see students foster such a close connection with activists like Hinton, but also with the greater community that needs our collective help.
Recreation Department Presents Proposal for Pop-Up Dog Parks
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 879
When we last covered the possibility of a dog park in Scarsdale, the response from the public was so negative that we called the article, “Not in My Backyard: Residents Growl About Proposed Dog Park.”
That was November 2018 after the Village had retained consultants JMC to examine the feasibility of a dog park at the Weinberg Nature Center. At the time, the Quaker Ridge Neighborhood Association and residents who live nearby had a host of reasons for why this site should be turned down. They raised concerns about traffic on Mamaroneck Road, preservation of wildlife at the nature center, tree clearing to create parking, the size of the site, use by people who don’t live in Scarsdale, barking and dog waste.
Similar arguments were made against building a dog park at Drake Park and Crossway Fields.
However, with dog owners pining for a place to meet and run their dogs, the Village continued to pursue options and eventually began discussions with the NYS Department of Transportation on the feasibility of creating a dog park by licensing a site between Mamaroneck Road and the north exit ramp of the Hutchinson River Parkway. The Village submitted a concept plan to the DOT in July 19 which would not involve tearing down trees. The proposed site would be about one acre in size.
Now two and half years later, the Department of Transportation has still not approved the plan due to the proximity to the parkway. The DOT also asked for the entire site to be fenced in. According to Superintendent Coleman, the Village plans to resubmit the application with the proposed changes. Coleman expected a decision in two months.
But resident Josh Frankel said he recently spoke to someone at the NYS DOT and concluded that it is “highly unlikely that the state is going to change their mind because the site is too close to the Hutch.” Frankel said, “You are barking up the wrong tree here.” He said the Village would get resistance from “folks on Mamaroneck Road and Colonial Road.” He suggested that the Village look into building the dog park at the maintenance facility where he believes there is ample room for a dog park and parking.
While the Village continues to pursue a permanent dog park, Recreation Superintendent Brian Gray presented an alternative idea. He suggested that the Village consider building temporary or pop up dog parks that could be constructed using temporary materials and stand for a month or two. The sites would require an 80 X 80 foot area, less than the acre for a permanent site.
The four potential sites he presented were Drake Park, George Field Park, the Freightway Garage and the lower parking lot at Village Hall.
He proposed three fencing options and associated costs that you can see below. In addition to the fencing, the Village would need to rent porta johns, purchase waste stations for disposal of dog waste and synthetic turf if the parks were built on concrete surfaces.
The proposal elicited many comments.
Trustee Lena Crandall asked to get estimates of costs for monitoring of the parks, clean-ups and enforcement of use by people with dog licenses. About the three scenarios for fencing, she favored “C” because it is easier to set up. She wondered if the Village could rent the equipment out when it was not in use to help to fund the parks. About alternative proposed sites she said, “about Chase Park I am concerned about parking. You can’t find a parking space in the Village during the week or on weekends.” And about George Field, she said, “I am against a permanent installation in George Field because it’s for flood mitigation and I would not want dog waste getting into our water system.” She also called for dog owners to buy licenses.
Trustee Whitestone agreed. He said, “The number of dog licenses has been about 400 in the last ten years – and is now at 268 – which is appreciably down.”
Trustee Ahuja asked, “Why are we not focusing on a permanent solution? This is time consuming so let’s look for a permanent place for a dog park.”
Trustee Arest said, “For the pop ups, we need enforcement and restrictions for use.”
Greenacres Neighborhood Association President Andrew Sereysky spoke in favor of a dog park and said, “We started on this journey six years ago.” He said SNAP was unanimously in favor of a park, but “it has been slow going.” He asked if the pool complex could be considered for use from Labor Day to Memorial Day. He said, “what are the alternate plans if we don’t get approval from the state for the Hutchinson River site.” He also discussed an event that the GNA held in George Field Park for dogs a few years ago. He said, “I think the idea of a pop up dog park is interesting, I am just not sure how you go about it.”
Madelaine Eppenstein said, “I applaud the effort and hope there is progress,” and Bob Harrison said, “I support this idea.” Susan Douglass heartily supported the idea and asked if the fees residents pay for dog licenses could be used to build a dog park. She also noted that the garbage bins for dog waste in Scarsdale are always overflowing.
Discussing the use of other locations, Superintendent Gray said, “The pool is a good site but the pools are half full (of water) year round – if something fell in it would not get out. We also have irrigation – and that could be damaged with the fence construction. The sanitation lot is smaller – we were looking for sites that were an acre or more in size.”
NIMBY opposition remains. Carol Schechner said, “I live downhill from Drake Park – I was not happy to see it in the popup scenarios. The concern about dog waste is real – dog waste needs to be cleaned up daily. Dog parks attract rodents.”
Mayor Jane Veron concluded the conversation by saying, “In terms of next steps I will ask staff to come back to us with a proposal that seems right based on this input.”
Frustrated Customers Wait and Wait for Prescriptions at CVS
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1120
If you had to pick up a prescription or get a flu shot you may have noticed that the CVS Pharmacy on Popham Road is short staffed. Signs on the glass ask for your patience as they are short on pharmacists in the department.
On several days last week customers waited for more than an hour just to pick up a prescription. And those who stopped in to get a flu shot, which you could do in past years, were told to make an appointment online. But the catch is, there are no flu shot appointments available at this location, period.
To make matters worse, there are no weekday pharmacy hours after 7pm and NO weekend pharmacy hours at all. One Scarsdale man who works in the city said, “I am not sure how a commuter is ever supposed to pick up a prescription. I was in there the other evening, and there were 10 people ahead of me, with a 20-minute wait to pick up a prescription. Needless to say, customers were very unhappy. To aggravate everyone even more, the pharmacy had signs apologizing for being “a bit” understaffed.”
The First Chapter: Book Excerpt from "He Gets That From Me"
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 857
Local author, Jacqueline Friedland, has just released her third novel, HE GETS THAT FROM ME to rave reviews. Trade giant, Kirkus Reviews, said,
"It is hard to imagine a better book for a book club discussion." -Starred review.
We're reprinting Chapter One of the novel below so you can get a taste of this riveting book for yourselves. After it draws you in, you can buy the book anywhere books are sold, but we recommend supporting our local indie bookstore, Bronx River Books here:
I’m just wrapping a towel around my wet body when I hear Wyatt calling for me on the baby monitor. I should have expected this, should have planned better or moved faster. Wyatt’s been waking earlier from his naps with each passing day. He clearly no longer needs the marathon midday snooze that was a staple of his first year of life. I’ll have to figure out how to keep him occupied for another few minutes if I want any chance of making it to work on time.
As I hurry to his room, I ignore the mess of mail that’s been sitting on the hallway table for the past three days. At the top of the stack is an unopened invitation from the one and only high school friend who still condescends to keep in touch with me.
Instead of thinking about a trip back to New York for a bridal shower that I don’t want to attend, and can’t afford to get to anyway, I focus on the large plastic jar of rubber fish resting near the laundry basket at my feet. I scoop up the jar, and one of Wyatt’s blankies from the pile of dirty laundry, and scurry down the hallway.
He’s standing at the edge of his crib, his brown curls pointing in every direction as he shakes at the bars like a jailbird.
“Here, sweetie.” I unscrew the large lid from the jar and pull out a squishy red fish. He reaches for it, looks at it curiously, and promptly brings it to his mouth. The fish is much too big to fit past his lips—a fact that will hopefully puzzle him long enough to allow me to finish dressing.
“Mommy has to get ready for work. I’ll be back in just a few minutes.” I place the jar in the corner of the crib so he can extract additional fish to manipulate as necessary, and then I dash back to my room.
I realize I’m still holding the blankie. It’s the one Nick’s aunt and uncle sent, a soft chenille square with Wyatt’s Hebrew name embroidered along one side. I know that the white threading spells out “Yehuda,” a name we chose in an effort to honor my deceased grandfather, but I never learned how to actually read the boxy Hebrew letters. I toss the blankie onto my dresser and quickly towel-dry my hair, hoping my own curls won’t resemble Wyatt’s ridiculous bedhead after this hasty personal grooming session. I have twenty-five minutes to get to Bed, Bath & Beyond on the other side of town, and if Nick doesn’t get home within the next five minutes, my manager is going to chew me out six ways to Sacramento.
I pull on a pair of black jeans, my last clean pair, and rummage in the next drawer to see if I can find a tunic long enough to cover the small hole at the top of one of the pant legs. I hear myself sigh as I run the numbers in my head again. At nine dollars an hour, it’s delusional to think about saving up money, to imagine returning to college. It’s a joke to have any dreams at all.
Wyatt suddenly lets out a frustrated wail.
“Mommy’s coming, Wyatt,” I shout into the air. “Just one more second!” I slip on my black sneakers and scurry back into the nursery.
Wyatt’s diaper is bulging against his tight little pajama pants. At the sound of keys jingling in the front door of the apartment, I scoop him out of the crib, grab my purse from where it’s sitting on our coffee table, and meet Nick as he walks in the door.
“Sorry for the stinky welcome,” I offer as I hold Wyatt out in his direction.
“Hey, kid.” Nick smiles and reaches for our son with one hand, a bag full of takeout containers hanging from the other. “Oh,” he adds, wrinkling his nose.
“Gotta go!” My keys are in my hand, and I’m placing a brisk kiss on Nick’s cheek. The scent of garlic and cilantro is strong as I push past him and out the front door. Then I’m flying down the concrete steps toward the parking lot below our building, heading toward my ’92 Honda, rushing against the clock, racing against luck.
When I come skidding through the doorway of BB&B at exactly 4:01 p.m., my co-workers, Kim and Dougie, are chatting across their registers, and they don’t even look up. The store is unusually empty for a Thursday afternoon. I set my tote bag beneath the register at my station and punch in a few numbers to awaken the machine. Cynthia, my manager, is nowhere to be seen.
“Why is it so quiet?” I call across to Kim, whose register is three stations over from my own. The ones between us are always empty at this time of day.
“Post-holiday lull,” Dougie answers from the register beyond Kim’s. Dougie is in his early thirties and is the most senior employee among us, having worked here for three years, ever since he moved to Arizona from Tulsa.
An elderly woman walks into the store with a list in her hand. We stop our chatting and watch silently as she makes her way toward the first aisle, where a wealth of toasters and smaller kitchen gadgets await. We’re still quiet when Cynthia appears from behind the displays of holiday-themed wrapping paper and gift bags, now all on sale, and begins making her way toward me.
“So dead today,” she says by way of greeting, and she glances around the store for emphasis.
I stand a little taller as she approaches me, noting that her bleached hair looks freshly blown. If I’m lucky, that means she has somewhere else to be and won’t spend the whole night breathing down my neck.
“What’s dinner?” She tips her chin toward my stowed tote.
“Pulled beef burritos and Mexican street corn,” I answer, remembering what Nick told me last night as he was cramming the takeout containers from the restaurant into the fridge.
Cynthia has so many self-imposed dietary restrictions that she won’t touch anything unless she can read all the ingredients before digging in, but she likes hearing about the dishes Nick creates at work. She nods pensively in response and then continues down the row of registers toward Dougie. They quickly get involved in a detailed discussion about the placement of makeup mirrors in the stock room.
Standing here without customers to ring up is about as interesting as watching a cactus grow, and I miss the busier days of the holiday season. I resist the temptation to pick at my cuticles, if just for something to do, and instead, I study the displays of impulse-buy items placed throughout the front portion of the store. There are economy-size jars full of candies and colorful popcorn, kitschy potholders, hair accessories and curling irons, all piled in precarious pyramids meant to entice the customers.
My gaze travels to the back portion of my station, where there’s a dog-eared copy of Arizona Parenting Magazine resting on top of the stack of store bags. It’s an outdated issue that I assume was left behind by a customer. I reach for the magazine and start flipping through the pages, trying to entertain myself by reading the Thanksgiving recipes.
A customer finally appears, pushing a shopping cart full of turquoise-colored bath towels, but she walks towards Kim’s register, so I turn my attention back to the magazine. After the recipes, there is a final section full of advertisements and coupons, and I’m annoyed that this diversion has lasted only a few minutes. There are still more than three hours left of my shift, and after a long morning trying to entertain Wyatt at home, I’m already dragging. I wonder if I should walk over to Kim’s station and let her fill me in on the latest drama she’s having with her mother-in-law, or if I could possibly close my eyes and steal a little cat nap while I’m standing up.
I’m just closing the magazine when I notice an ad that says, “Compensation of $35,000+.” I stop the page from turning and pull it closer to read the ad in its entirety.
Can you help create a family? Become a Surrogate Mother! Satisfaction Beyond Words! Generous Compensation! You can make a beautiful dream come true!!
My excitement dissipates as quickly as it had arrived. I wonder if these ads actually work, if there are really women out there who read these quarter-page displays and then raise their hands, screaming, “Pick me, pick me!” I suspect that most of these advertisements are the basis of one nefarious scheme or another, a way to get people to release personal information about themselves so that some lowlife can steal their identities. I can’t imagine that fertility clinics would truly find their baby carriers this way. I snort to myself as I notice that the requirements for carrying someone else’s baby seem to be even less rigorous than the prerequisites for my cashier job. They want a US citizen between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-eight who has previously birthed at least one child. That’s it.
Since I’m so clearly qualified, based on these conditions, I actually consider it for a few seconds, fantasizing about handing over a baby to a formerly childless mother and then skipping off to an education course at a local university. A nagging thought about my parents creeps up on me then—the idea that I could reach out and ask them for tuition money—but I tamp it down like always, unable to stomach the notion. I am not going back to good old Gail and Leon with my tail between my legs and proving that they were right all along.
I close the magazine and push it back to the corner where I found it, shaking my head at myself for daydreaming, for imaging that my prior fuckups might ever stop standing in my way.
Read more! Get your copy of "He Gets That From Me" at Bronx River Books.
On Your Walk Today: Young Artists at Work
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 463
The streets of Scarsdale were alive with young artists and their parents for the annual Halloween Window Painting contest on Sunday October 17, 2021. Everyone looked happy to be outside in the sunshine continuing what is arguably one of Scarsdale's best traditions. Take at look at painters at work here and send your photos of Scarsdale to email@example.com to share with your neighbors. Happy trails!