Ed Koch, the three-term mayor of New York City through the 70s and the 80s, died this morning at the age of 88.
New York was a crazier place back then when he was mayor. Crime and corruption and real estate moguls were all out of control. And Koch--despite his enormous presence and charisma--could do little to rein things in.
Still, most people, myself included, regard him as a successful mayor.
He had taken over from a bland technocrat named Abe Beame. Under Beame, the city's future seemed as moribund as Beame's demeanor.
Koch was different.
He was energetic.
Sometimes shrill, but always boosting the city and its prospects.
He infused life into a city that was nearly bankrupt. He began the long, slow process of turning New York around.
You can read any number of obituaries about Ed Koch, but none of them will include this story.
Back in 1988 as my daughter Sarah approached her first birthday, my wife and I planned a party for her. She was both our families first kid and a wonderful kid at that, and cause for great celebration.
I sent Mayor Koch an invitation to Sarah's party.
A week later a package arrived in the mail. In it there was a hand-written note from the Mayor expressing his regrets that he couldn't make it. Also in the package was a leather folio embossed in gold with the seal of the City of New York on the cover. Inside the left hand panel was beautiful grosgrain. The right hand panel held a proclamation from the Mayor.
He declared July 31st (my daughter's birthday) now and forever "Sarah Tannenbaum Day" in New York City.
That's a great story. And it proves the power of the pen.
A few years ago, I tried to convince my daughter to send a hand-written Bat Mitzvah invitation to President Obama. I'm positive she would have got some kind of cool response.
She didn't do it. But she did get a check for $18 from her Aunt Penny.
Such a great new york story.
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