Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hard By

Now that's how to write an obit. Not only do we get the delicious bits (And really, what else do we whisper about over the cloying scent of carnation at the wake?), but Margalit Fox has used a phrase you don't hear much anymore. One that encapsulates the deceased:

At the time, she was living in Manhattan with her sister in a fourth-floor walkup hard by the Third Avenue El.

Update: Big Island Jeep Guy: I've answered your question in the fourth comment, but thinking more about it, I bet Margalit Fox is a Brit.

10 comments:

Cooper said...

It’s so wonderfully full of salient details! I’d never heard of Barbara Sears, but I now feel like I know something of her spirit, which was the point, of course.

Being an avid lover and reader of names and their origins, I enjoyed discovering that “Jievute is a Lithuanian diminutive of Eva”. And, I particularly adore this tidbit … “Bobo’s mother and stepfather, who were unable to attend the ceremony because they were making a batch of Lithuanian cheese on their Indiana farm”. Says so much, that.

Margalit Fox has an interesting name, herself. I wouldn’t mind sitting “hard by” her at a dinner. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen that expression used that way before.)

R J Keefe said...

And who can remember when there were "eligible bachelors"?

bigislandjeepguy said...

maybe this is a stupid question, but what does "hard by" mean?

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Dear BigI.J.G.,
I love "hard by" because it is one of those phrases that does double duty, like the British phrase "Steady on". If you are in a London pub and a drunken stranger starts to menace you, you would say to him "Steady on", which has a face value of "Be careful not to fall" but really means "Back off, you jerk".
'Hard by" has a face value of "really close to" (think of "hard edge") but it has a deeper meaning of "uncomfortably and unfortunately close to" (think of "hard times"). It lends a certain subtlety and propriety to the account that would be missing if the writer simply said "They were piss poor."

bigislandjeepguy said...

thanks for the explanation!

tater said...

I'm Hard By myself.

SubtleKnife said...

Wonderful. If only my obituary is half as interesting a read I'll have died happy.

TedBear said...

And I thought I was the only one that reads the obits.

Mondschein said...

Another "hard by" reference in the NYT - and not an obit.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/27/nyregion/27brooklyn.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion&oref=slogin

Third paragraph, second sentence.

A trend revived??

Mark H said...

Yes, that IS a fabulous Obit! What a life.....hard by any description. GREAT to have met you in NYC - - -SO SORRY we missed a chance at Coffee on Monday with you, Tony..... IF you and Chris are ever out this way, we hope you'll stay over a day or two with us.